Hey Dr. NerdLove, I have a question for you that I haven’t been able to find an answer to anywhere else. So, I am a 26 year old guy who has been single for about 10 years now and I solely hold the blame for this for refusing to put myself out there, a couple reasons aside but one unique that I’m sharing now.
In my last relationship, when I was about 16, I was dating my best friend, who I met through both being bullied and standing up against our said bullies together and both suffering with depression and suicidal tendencies. Our relationship was possibly one of the most toxic you could think of. She would break up with me, say she had messed with other guys then get together again within days, but as my first girlfriend, I would be hurt but accept her back again. She would self-harm, cutting herself with safety pins and boxcutters, and this had hurt me so, to the point that, (so ashamed) I started to cut as well, in an attempt to get her to stop, and she had for a few weeks. Eventually, I got addicted to it and would cut not even being depressed.
After a year of this, there came a point where she had to break things off with me indefinitely (we lost our virginity to each other and her parents found out) and I lost it, I tried to commit suicide right after, and I had used a razorblade to carve her name into my left wrist along with about 20 more scars across it. I was taken from the school, and institutionalized for 5 days and was forced to go to a therapist for about a year.
Fast forward to now: While I do still have my bouts with depression and social anxiety, I have many other ways to cope but the scars, her name included are still there, very present to see and have never went away. I have had some female interests but I always hold back emotionally and try to mind keeping my arm folded over to not have my arm seen. I’ve slipped up before and a girl would ask “What’s that” but I would just say “Oh, I had an bad accident, fell into some glass as a kid” or “Not sure what you mean” and change the subject swiftly and it usually works for that time but I know that it can’t really go away.
But my most recent dating disaster was the last straw for me as there was a girl that I have been seeing for 2 months now, and I got comfortable enough to tell her over the phone, at least that I used to self-harm and about that ex but she never physically seen it, it was the winter months and was in a hoodie or long sleeve the whole time and didn’t think about it when we seen each other next. But eventually she broke things off with me Christmas Eve but over other reasons, but I felt it was a part of those reasons but it was one of the hardest breaks I’ve had in a few years now.
I hate to throw one more layer on this, but if it matters, also being a black man, I feel even more insecure about this as mental health conversations stereotypically aren’t a thing in the community and the fact that I have gotten much shit from other black people for “doing something white people only do” (not my words, don’t mean to offend), I feel even more isolated trying to get comfortable and own up to this or get to the point I could or even would explain it to someone at all, to someone of my own race or not.
Only thing I could think of is just having to wear long sleeves now all year long or maybe get a tattoo over it, but to be honest, placing myself in any girl’s shoes, and hearing a guy had cut an ex’s name into his arm years ago, I understand perfectly why they would do an about-face and run for the hills immediately after. But, do I deserve this forever for being a shitty person in my teens?
Thank you for the help.
Scars of The Past