condensed version of a long, very long story.
married 19 years. Two boys, 18 and 14, both are freshmen( high school and college ) both are aware of situation. wife- 37 ( 38 in a few days) dated me since she was a junior in high school, 21 years together. About three to four years ago, she began self injury. it began with threats of self injury/suicide, then progressed to actual cutting. hair pulling, burns, carving, leaving blood notes. (notes written in blood usually discribing how evil I am, or how I made her do it). I thought at first I could deal with it and make things all better. things have went from perhaps one "episode" every two months to it happening almost every two weeks, just like clock work. When I try to stop her fr4om self injury, she doesn't stop. when I ignore her self injury it makes it worse becuase she feels I don't care. I am no angel. I do not want her to self injure anymore, I never wanted it to start. I am at my limit, I do not want to see it anymore, I want my wife back.consueling had started for her but with my lay-off, there goes the ins. I never know what is the truth with her. We had marriage cons. some time ago, and learned how to argue without fighting( which she no longer follows). Personally, I do not believe Consueling is for me, but I do think she needs it. I am embarrased about the whole deal, tried to hide it, told her parents(made things worse), went to a p****t, talked lucidly to her about how I did not want her to self injure anymore, all to no avail.
Make no bones about it, our lives stink right now, broke, job making half of what I used to, no ins, boy in collegecan't afford anything. But were alive, we have our boys, we have a few friends, some good relitives,we have each other. life is worth living. I want my wife back (yes I am being selfish I do want her back) any suggestions?
I am a self-injurer and one thing that I can say is that stress definitely is a trigger for me. When i am stressed about things- my cutting is at its worse. I want my husband to feel responsible for my cutting- because that takes the focus off myself. As long as I can blame him for it, I don't have to look at what I am doing. It is an excuse. Self injury is a habit. It is a very bad one- but it is one like any other bad habit. In order to stop it, you need to replace it with something healthy.
Now, that being said, I am wondering if there might be more going on with your wife. The bloody note thing sounds very frightening. I don't know a whole lot about different mental illnesses, but this does sound strange to me.
When I cut, I get a sense of satisfaction and pride- like I accomplished something. The accomplishment I get from it is from feeling as though I have dealt with my emotions, since they are too painful to feel the way we were meant to, I make myself feel them physically. I am pretty sure this is why most people cut. But I could be wrong as I can only speak of my own experiences with it.
As far as threats of self injury go (and again, I am speaking from my own experiences), My biggest reason for threatening that would be to get a reaction. How much my husband reacts to it tells me how much he cares about me. If he gives me a reaction I am not looking for- it makes me want to cut that much more just to hurt him- hoping that I will finally get what i am needing from him. What could he do in order for me to not feel the need to cut? probably nothing- since the *real* reason for cutting has nothing to do with him. My reasons for doing what your wife is doing (making threats of suicide and cutting) are always to get attention. It is a cry for help. I want desperately for my husband to see how much I am hurting- to feel the pain that I am feeling. And when I sense that he is not grasping the gravity of it, it only frustrates me more. So you see how it really is a no-win situation for you? I had to really sit and think about why I was doing this to my husband- why I needed him to feel this, for me, it was for validation. I needed my pain to be validated, and if I didn't get it, I needed the physical proof on my body as a reminder- an outward reflection of what is inside.
It sounds like there is a lot of stress in your life right now, and it may be a really good idea to sit down with your wife and talk about what decisions you two can make that will help alleviate some of the stress. Does your wife work? Perhaps she can look into getting a job if she doesn't. I am/was a stay at home mom when my cutting was at its worse, I am now going to school full time and while that may seem like it would add more stress (and I am now a recovered agoraphobic =P), it has given me the chance to have pride and confidance in a healthy accomplishment. Can your son contribute to his education at all?
I don't know the details of your wifes past- or the history of your relationship, but I know that your wife must be in a lot of pain, and that she is just unable to express in a healthy way. If you cannot afford counseling, there should be self-injury support groups she could look into getting support from. My husband used to threaten to cut himself if I did so he could show me how much I was hurting him- that didn't help me at all. It almost made me want to challenge him to see if he really would, and gave me reason to get mad at him- since he was unable to support me the way that I needed to be supported (he had/has no idea how to support me through that because it really is up to me to fix- there really isn't a whole lot he can do to prevent me from self-injury). I can say that a few things that have helped me not do it (and I haven't done it in like a month) are:
1) Getting active in something I enjoy (i.e. going back to school)
2) Having a sense of contribution to my family- which also give me a sense of accomplishment (-again- this is because I am back in school)
3) Learning how to express myself by working through my thoughs- an example is: -my first thought-"I am ****** at my husband because he left me home by myself with the kids" (my reaction to that thought is that I need to go cut myself because he hurt me so deeply be leaving) then I go to thinking it through- in other words- why am I so upset that he left? what will happen while he is gone that makes me so uneasy? And by going through this I can get to the bottom of my reaction, which for me is usually fear, and has nothing to do with him at all. Going through this thought process helps me to figure out what is going on inside my head.
(It also helps when my husband actively listens to what I have to say)
I know that many cutters are pros at turning off their emotions- we turn them inward- which is where the self-destruction comes in. She needs to start turning those emotions outward and expressing them in a healthy way.
And one more thing- this is not your fault. You are not making her hurt herself. You are the scapegoat. It takes a strong man to stand where you are standing. I know you said you do not go for the counseling thing for yourself, but it seems like you could use support from an objective person (doesn't have to be a counselor, just someone that can look objectively at the situation and offer you the support you need to make it through this).
(btw- my counselors weren't real helpful with me on the cutting thing. The only thing they really said was that it was a bad habit, and that I needed to write down a list of healthy behaviors to do instead of that).
And also- it may be a good idea to talk to your family doctor about your concerns (especially the suicide thing) Look into medical for insurance, or healthy families or something like that if you are in the US, they can provide counseling for her.
Keep us posted, and I am so sorry this was so long! I wish you the best of luck!