So my dirty little secret is coming out for some line drying. I have nibbled on my fingers for as long as I can remember and still do to this day. It is certainly a disgusting habit that has crossed the line into addiction/obsessive, and I’m writing about it in hopes that admitting to the world, that my chances of actually stopping for good will increase. I notice it getting worse the older I get and I don’t think my hands can handle it for much longer.
There’s apart of it that can look flirty and teasing…
It’s a great posture for picture taking…
It’s always been a problem, it’s always been awkward, and painful, and has always brought a bag full of negative emotions on my life. Yet, at the same time one of those habits that was never deemed bad enough to get any real serious attention. I don’t have an addictive personality and the only other thing that I must have consistently in my life is change, so this one habitual action that I haven’t been able to change has hit it’s tipping point.
There’s a point when it gets a little out of hand…
I remember being pre-teen and my oldest sister’s friend from london was visiting us in NY. She was in medical school and working in psych ward. She randomly told us a story about one of her residents that bit her finger nails to the extreme. Pretty much, she was knawing away the tips of her fingers. She had nibbled away the actual finger nails long ago and now continued to what was left. Her finger tips were starting to turn black, but there wasn’t much they could do. (btw, as I reread this sentence, I realize I have my finger in my mouth) This story has haunted me my entire life, and I’m terrified that if I don’t stop I will become the lady with black finger tips.
Later on in my life I was under contract at a theatre and in rehearsals for a play in which I was cast as the wife of a high brow politician. I was a ridiculously fun trophy wife. While in rehearsals with stage managers and the designers, the director stopped everybody in the middle of a scene, turned to me and pointed out how nasty my nails looked and that my character could not possibly have hands that looked like that. He then commanded the stage manager book me a manicure and fit it into the budget. Although a free manicure was very nice, the incident was insanely embarrassing. My habit had pulled a rehearsal to a screeching halt.
So after years upon years of trying all the suggested tips and tricks of stopping:
bitter tasting substances to prevent biting
assigning a close personal friend to slap away your fingers at all times
rewards for chunks of time without biting
carrying around files and clippers at all times
getting to the core of anxiety, boredom
So I’m at the bottom of the list of ideas and tactics and I’m trying this last one out…
I’ve taken myself to the fanciest drug store I know in search of bandages. For the next two weeks I’m keeping all of my finger tips wrapped up and protected from my chompers. Even to me this sounds like a crazy idea. Especially because I’m working with my hands constantly. I believe I’ve arrived at a conclusion that I chomp so much and so mindlessly because of rough edges. So, if I have all bandages instead of finger tips, I’ll simply have to replace my old scraggly bandange with a nice new designer band-aid, instead of ripping off my skin. At least this is the idea.
I’m on day three of bandages, and as long as the bandages stay on its working. What it has done very successfully is make it extremely apparent every time my fingers head to my mouth. I leave one lonely finger uncovered and I’m aware at all times if it ends up in my mouth. This hasn’t stopped me from attacking it, but is making me completely aware how many times a day these digits go to my mouth. And it’s scary amounts. I realize that this isn’t going to be easy. I’m not going to all of the sudden just stop. This has been apart of my life as long as eating food and walking on two feet. It will be a process to undo.
So here’s to never giving up, never being ok with the status quo, and letting your dirty laundry fly if it’s going to help get it clean.
Thank you in advance to Kermit the frog, Miss Piggie, Gonzo, and the Cynthia Rowley designer bandaids that are safetly guarding the ten precious digits.
Sometimes its about the small things
From Somewhere inside a puddle