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Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me. We grow up hearing it but most of us were too smart to believe it. Physical wounds heal much faster than emotional wounds. Cut me or bruise me but don’t tear down who I am. That is why self-mutilation is so popular in today’s youth.

I was one of them growing up. One of those lost souls who looked for a way to bleed out emotional pain the only way that felt effective. I grew up with brothers. I knew how to deal with physical pain. I was ill equipped to deal with the emotional pain.

Children of alcoholics will go one of two ways: into the bottle that destroyed their lives or away from it entirely. I was the latter. I lived in fear for years that if I drank, at all, I would become my mother. If I couldn’t hide from my pain with alcohol I needed another way to deal.  I decided I would turn my internal pain into external pain.

It was like a band-aid on a bullet hole. It covered the problem but I was slowly bleeding to death. The pain never went away. It only got worse. My story could have ended like so many, in tragedy. But it didn’t. I survived.

I had support. Even when I felt completely hopeless, alone, and not understood I was loved. God loved me enough to put people in my life that loved me. My parents were far from perfect but as alone as I felt I always knew I was loved. That was a big reason why I couldn’t end it. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t bear the thought of causing more pain. And I knew if I killed myself I would cause truckloads of pain for the people who loved me, whom I loved.

I was trying to live a lie: that what people thought and said didn’t matter to me. What brought me out? The truth. That what people said made a difference whether it should or not, true or not, but that it didn’t define me. I learned that I am more than what people tell me I am. I am everything God tells me I am. If I can alter myself for a lie, I can complete myself with the truth. I am loved. I am worthy of love. I can make the world a better place starting with myself because I am more than the lies told about me. Know that you are loved even if, like me, the truth is buried deep and love someone else so they can find the truth too.