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Words Can Hurt Me... I'm Like An Open Wound

There are some days when everything hurts. Marsha Linehan, the psychologist who created Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, wrote that people with borderline personality disorder are

'similar to people with third degree burns over 90% of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement.'

Today this was my experience. I felt as raw as an open wound. I felt brittle like I could crack into a thousand pieces.

It was as though everyone around me had the power to wound me: a brief word said by a colleague, a passing glance from a stranger, a text from a friend all felt like they could pierce into me.

image of a crying girl with pink hair (Rosie's artwork)

I had to try really hard today to get distance between my thoughts and the actual situation occurring in front of me. I had to use mindfulness to notice that the agonising memories from the past were no longer my present reality. I had to challenge my thoughts: 'Yes, I just made a mistake. No, that does not mean I am terrible at my job'.

Today showed me how far I have come. I have felt vulnerable today, but it has not interfered with my routine. I have not spent hours crying. I think that being able to notice my thought without judging them is the key difference. I never used to be able to do that: they used to strangle me.

During therapy tonight, I cried quite a bit. Mostly because I talked about how happy and relieved I feel to have survived all of those years. I spent many years fearing that I would not survive this pain. Now that I feel safe, maybe I mourn all those years I longed for this feeling of safety?

There have been so many days where all I have felt is pain. Maybe you are going through one of these days right now? Today was not quite one of those days for me. This is because I now (mostly) know how to take the pain, welcome it, accept it- and then make some room for pleasure and warmth too.

Does everything hurt for you right now? I want to hold onto hope for you that things can get better for you. Feel free to share your experiences...


Linehan Marsha, Armstrong HE, Suarez A, Allmon D, Heard HL., 'Cognitive- behavioral treatment of chronically parasuicidal borderline patients', Arch Gen Psychiatry 1991;48(12):1060-4.


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