Yesterday I had a rough day and an even rougher evening. By 10pm I was experiencing the strongest self-harm and drinking urges I had had in weeks. I was walking in the warmth of the night, feeling triggered by absolutely everything around me. The shards of glass on the floor were begging me to pick them up so that I could hurt myself with them down an alley. The pub was calling my name, beckoning me to go in for a drink, or two or three or more. I was in an unfamiliar slightly dodgy area, almost wanting something bad to happen to me, because the feeling of needing to be destroyed was so overwhelmingly strong.
As I was walking past the pub in slow-motion, grasping at all the reasons as to why going in would be a terrible idea vs an amazing one, I noticed a McDonald’s on the other side of the road. In front of the McDonald’s was a banner with a photo of a McFlurry on it.
The whole evening I had been stuck in a wilful state of thoughts, urges and intense emotions which I was perpetuating by refusing to help myself by using skills. However, as soon as I saw the McFlurry sign, something within me shifted. I had a moment of “insight”, or something similar, and felt my brain kick into a different gear.
Suddenly there were two roads in front of me instead of one: A destructive path, versus a loving path. It was like I could see the options for what they were, and actually make the choice about which one to go for, instead of feeling so driven to act on my urges. There was option A) the pub, which would be highly ineffective for me in that moment, or option B) McDonald’s, which would be much more wise and kind. I didn’t even mean to but something within me had decided in that moment to stop being so wilful, and actually do something about the way I was feeling. I said to myself in my head, “Okay, you can stop being a bitch to yourself now, and go buy yourself some bloody ice cream”, mocking the wilful part of myself in a loving way.
So I walked past the pub, quickening my pace, and crossed the road in the direction of McDonald’s – where I purchased a Dairy Milk McFlurry. In doing so it was like I was actually looking after a part of myself that felt really young and was hurting, instead of metaphorically trampling all over her as I had been just minutes earlier. I took my 99p plastic cup of creamy goodness, walked back out into the warm night, and savoured the first McFlurry I have had in at least a year, whilst walking under a blanket of stars.
I think the act of doing something to soothe myself intentionally, as opposed to the specifics of the act itself, was what helped shift something within me. Before I saw McDonald’s, all I could fathom was hurting myself in some way. As soon as I saw it, it was like my brain realised that being destructive in that moment was a choice, and that actually I could do something nice for myself instead – even something as simple as buying myself a McFlurry. Considering how rotten I had been feeling prior to that, the change in how I was relating to myself actually felt pretty profound.