There were times when it WAS “using pain to cope with my emotions”. But that was usually really minor pain, and what I think of as minor emotions too. That was scratching myself once lightly, while sitting through a confusing lecture. That was tapping my tennis racquet against my leg repeatedly, to focus on trying again instead of being embarrassed for doing badly. That was hitting the heel of my hand very lightly on the edge of the table, while trying to think in a noisy room.
The big serious emotions I dealt with in the usual ways. The big serious “self-harm behaviors” I did generally without negative emotions.
It’s only very recently that I’ve had anything I’d call an urge to do any of those things. For the most part, previously I either did them without really thinking, or out of “I wonder if I can”. It’s only very recently that I’ve thought “I want to” and told myself I shouldn’t.
I feel like the things I’ve done verge on things that I’d call messed-up, but I really don’t feel like they’re that bad.
Like, generally, social consensus exists for a reason, and being all sort of turned-inward so that you can blandly do things that other people would consider completely messed-up is not usually a good thing. It’s not a good attitude to have, being so closed off to outside perspective. And I have had a little of that attitude. But obviously social consensus is not always right, and I am thinking about this now, and… everybody does this to one degree or another. This is what people are doing when they use the restroom but don’t wash their hands. This is what people are doing when there’s someone else in the room but they quietly masturbate under the covers anyway. They’re doing something that they know intellectually isn’t appropriate, but it doesn’t really seem wrong and it doesn’t hurt them, so they keep it as a dirty little secret.
And officially, on the face of it, “causing yourself pain to cope with your emotions” is pretty much the definition of a problem. But I really don’t think I did it in a bad way, like I’ve talked about before. I still did practical things to deal with my problems; I still also dealt with my emotions in other ways. I didn’t have any sort of addictive behavior– I didn’t start doing it more and more for less serious things, or anything like that.
I just know that my line of thought about it can easily sound fucked up.
For the record: I haven’t done anything really bad in something like six years. I haven’t done anything minor recently either.