1. I would like to stop biting my nails and tearing my cuticles to shreds. I remember exactly where I was the first time I started biting my nails. I was in 7th grade. Mr. Sherriff's class. It was a new school, new kids and I was already on my second or third desk assignment (they switched up every semester).
I wasn't your average kid, even then. I remember reading George Orwell's 1984 for my book report. I was 12 or 13. There is a sex scene in that book. I remember being confused about the whole thing, but generally understanding the idea of Big Brother. (FYI - Facebook is Big Brother and we're all responsible, but that's another post). Sorry, tangent.
My mother thought that putting your hands in your mouth was gross. Disgusting. Which it is, in fact. My nails were long and white and I'd always liked them, but life was starting to get out of control. My parents' marriage was on the rocks and I understood my father's midlife crisis about as much as I understood George Orwell. I was in a new school where I was pretty unpopular as the brainy know-it-all I'd been raised to be. One or two semesters hadn't changed that.
I had braces and bad hair and dressed like Molly Ringwald two years too late and it was just the beginning of one of the lowest times of my life.
My long nail broke at recess and in class I picked at it. Suddenly I was disgusted by how uneven that made my hands, revolted by their imperfection. I'd seen other kids bite their nails and somehow, in my inexperienced, naive mind, I thought that maybe biting my nails would make me cool.
So I chewed one. And then another. A little bit at first, just to even things out. 20-something years later I still do it. I do it in meetings, while I'm working, it must totally creep out my colleagues. I've worn my teeth out from the chewing, given myself a permanent jaw click from the repetitive chewing, but I don't know how to stop.
I've stopped for months at a time. Going for regular manicures helps. I am totally aware now that I do it when I'm slipping into the unconscious, the disengaged me. And sometimes I tell myself that I'm just OK with knowing that.
My daughter has started to bite her nails. I can't get her to quit. We're in this together. Another case of "have to fix myself, not just for me, but for my family."
I've made an appointment for a manicure Friday. It's the first one I've had since the summer. But this time I'm going into it with the thinking that it's a means to an end. Leo says it takes 30 days for a new habit to stick. I'm sure that a lot of good psychological junk is going to rise to the surface as I rid myself of this crutch. I promise to write it all down.
Leo says one habit at a time -- don't try to change too many things at once or you'll be doomed to fail. Not sure how exciting a month of nail-biting updates will be, but it's me -- even I feel confident about it today. Look: I set out to write about bad habits and you got a piece of me circa 1987. This could be fun.