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Sach , 14 May 2016

Fostering feelings of empathy for oneself

Hi there,
This is the first time I'm posting on this forum.

I'm a twenty five year old mixed race female. I've been consistently picking at the skin on my arms since I was seventeen, although I have also had bouts of skin picking that lasted a year or so when I was in Elementary school and High school. I have had keratosis pilaris on my arms since I was a small child that I was self conscious of, and the skin picking is a way to unconsciously "groom" this. I enjoy squeezing out the small white pieces of "gunk" in my arms. When I was seventeen it got so bad that I had huge infections on my arms, and I will have scarring for the rest of my life (something I am self conscious of). I started thinking about suicide due to how uncomfortable I felt being in my own body. I started going to therapy after that.

The skin picking originally started because of the stress with my parents divorce, moving away to college, racism, figuring out how to deal with sexual harassment, and dealing with a "narcissistic" and "borderline" mother.
I realised recently I used skin picking as a way to mute my feelings in relationship to these things, fostering co-dependant relationships which allowed me to shirk the responsibility of creating safe environments for myself, and more importantly, within myself.

Recently, I have been trying to foster sympathy and empathy for myself as a way to foster my responsibility of self care.
I have so much self loathing around the skin picking.
I began reading others' stories on this site. At first, I didn't want to read them. They reminded me too much of my own harrowing story. But once I got past the initial reaction I began to feel a deep sadness and empathy for the stories on here. Giving this feeling to others has helped me give the same feeling to myself as I have had similar struggles.

I am also working on not seeing the skin picking as "bad" or "good," "positive" or "negative," "helpful" or "unhelpful." I want to work on viewing it as a habit I have formed that I would now like to change.

How do you foster sympathy/empathy for yourselves when society will often shame us?

1 Answer
May 14, 2016

Sorry for the huge paragraph. There was a formatting failure. As a creative writing minor this bugs me to no end, ha :)

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