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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Writer reveals fight with self-mutilation

Vanessa Vega
Vanessa Vega

By Keisha McDuffie/reporter

Vanessa Vega
Vanessa Vega

As a child she strived for academic success, as a teen she yearned to stand out, as an adult she excelled in her profession. However, all the while behind closed doors, she secretly abused herself.

Vanessa Vega lives in Irving, where she is an English teacher, in addition to an author, former model and motivational speaker. Her list of titles, achievements and awards is even more impressive. Although she earned two degrees and was named to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, from 2002 through 2007, perhaps one of her toughest achievements was one she has crossed off that list: self-injurer.

After battling her inner-self, friends and family—even her spouse—for years, she finally began to take therapy serious. She began the final session in 1995 and continued to work through her therapy process until 2005.

“As I progressed through my therapy, I started to gain insight into why I self-injured,” she said in a Collegianinterview. “This was shocking to me. I always thought my self-injury was a genetic mutation or something since I’d never found anyone else who self-injured.”

As a very young girl, Vega, began hurting herself as a coping mechanism to deal with her high anxiety. She often found it the only way to deal with her inability to control everything in her life: her role as oldest sister, her father’s lack of approval and her parents’ divorce were just a few hardships that led Vega to hitting and eventually cutting.

“To realize there might actually be reasons for it meant I had control over it and could work at stopping it,” she said. “This was empowering. I thought if there is a reason behind my self-injury, maybe there were reasons for other people’s self-injury.”

Cut-free for just over two years, Vega has now come clean.

She no longer hides her past by wearing long sleeves in the middle of summer, giving excuses like “it’s a cat scratch” or using the “mysterious accident” story over and over.

“I have quite a few scars that are clearly visible in the daylight and then many more smaller scars that appear after I’ve had a hot shower.”

Realizing she was not alone and that there were others that could relate to her situation played a significant role in the healing process.

“I have heard from people all over the world who can relate to my situation,” she said. “On one hand, it is sad that so many people are hurting the way I used to. But on the other, it has been tremendously healing to hear from these people and realize that there is a kinship there, even if it is with strangers.”

Writing also played a large role in her healing. Initially writing only at the suggestion of her therapist, Vega realized and forgave so much that she’d been harboring since she was a small child hiding in her closet. Ironically Vega’s “therapy writings” were not only a stepping stone to closure but eventually became so much more.

“Those writings eventually became the foundation for the book.”

For more than 30 years, Vega struggled to conquer the desire to cut and injure herself. She was finally ready to talk about it.

Through her book, Comes the Darkness, Comes the Light, her online blog and her motivational speeches, she is sharing her message. And, Vega’s message is reaching people. She shares her story about her struggles with self-injury and cutting (from adolescents), coping with an eating disorder that almost killed her and recovery.

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