a real nail biter

a body focused repetitive behaviour.  an anxiety and/or panic disorder.  onychofagia, a word i am not even sure how to pronounce.  there is a different word for the skin picking that goes along with it, excoriation.

i have been a nail biter for as long as i can remember.  as a child under the age of 10 my parents tried a few things to get me to stop.  the one i remember most clearly is the bitter polish.  it didn’t work because i would chew it all off the nail and then begin biting again.  disgusting, i know.

my nail biting became a serious source of embarrassment.  i remember being self conscious about it from before i was 13.  my friends all had nice painted nails for functions like grade 8 grad and other more formal parties.  our visits to the mall often included lengthy time in shoppers drug mart looking at make-up and nail polish, neither of which i had any business using, or so i thought.

i was convinced that the cross-bite structure of my teeth was a result of this habit and thus an even greater source of mortification.  yet i had no plans to stop the biting or confront the reasons behind it.

for years i just ignored it.  forgot about it until someone would bring it up and i would make a joke to ease my own tension.  every once in  a while i would notice the pain i had inflicted upon myself, through broken skin or nails so short i had exposed parts of me that should never have met the air, and the horrid state in which i had left my hands.

there are regular entries in my journals over the years which indicate that my hands were mangled.  a word which became so familiar i often didn’t give it or the state of my hands a second thought.

in the past year i have tried things like wearing a rubber band like a bracelet and snapping it each time i catch myself biting.  that worked for a short time and i was pleased with the result but i slipped back into the most revolting habit i can think of…

they say nail biting can be a learned behaviour, though neither of my parents possess this trait, er, flaw.  i have been worried that my own kids [that do not yet exist] would see this habit and take it on board to my humiliation.

not sure what the change has been but i am now in recovery.  it could have been the first manicure of my life a few days before christmas 2014.  i was nervous about it and apologised to the lovely wee korean lady for the state of my hands.  she laughed and said they would look a lot better when she was finished.  they did.

shortly after christmas, about a week later, i had my second manicure and first pedicure.  the long and the short of it is that i’ve gone about 3 weeks without biting my nails.  they are currently painted and my hope is that i will not longer partake in such a vile past time in future.

i still haven’t tackled the reasons behind it but i figure if i can stop it once and for all, who cares why i did it in the first place?









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