“Where there’s one, there’s probably more”
That’s an understatement. I live with a smattering of body focused repetitive behaviours, including hair pulling, nail biting and skin biting/picking (hands).
I’ve been pulling out my hair since I was about 12 or 13, and biting my nails/skin for as long as I can remember. About five years ago I suddenly stopped biting my nails. Yes folks, I just stopped. No, I cannot tell you what made me stop, I did not try, I was not paying attention. One day I looked down at my hands and saw something I had never seen before on my own hands…a tiny sliver of white nail growing in. I remember feeling like what I imagine it feels like to win something on the Price is Right. “OH MY GOD….ME? ME? Don’t mess this up, dear god, don’t mess this up”
On and off for the last five years I’ve had nails, moreso than painful mangled fingers, which had become my norm for so many years.
Before this, people that just “stopped” used to annoy me to no end.
“What do you mean you just stopped? How?”
I didn’t know then and I don’t know how. I was just grateful that my body gave me the experience of seeing white nails for the first time.
But with this gift, came a more challenging issue for me, perhaps one I always had but never realized. I now fluctuate between my nails and hair pulling. There is never an equilibrium. Either my nails look like they’ve been gnawed to death or I’m sporting bald patches (or on my way to them).
It’s confusing and complex. It has taken me five years to be able to say with confidence that I finally see this pattern of behaviour within myself, and find myself with more questions than answers.
I can wear a wig to hide the spots on my head.
I can wear fake nails to hide and protect my poor fingers.
But I cannot decide for the life of me if there is one issue I’d rather deal with over the other.
Right now I keep my hair buzzed and wear a wig at work. Why? Because this time around when my hair came growing in, and my fingers took the brunt of my attention…I figured it wouldn’t be long until I had to don the wig again and decided I just didn’t want to deal with questions from co-workers. But in my personal life, my friends and family, facebook and the like see me with the buzz cut.
All I know is I tend to enjoy not having painful fingers. I enjoy not wearing fake nails (apply your own) that pop off whenever they feel like it or feel cumbersome. I don’t go to professional nail salons because again, like the wig, I wish to not deal with questions or ignorance. But I dislike my sweaty, itchy, uncomfortable wig too.
Are there any other BFRB’ers that swap one behaviour for the other? I feel like when one goes into remission, my body chooses another to compensate. I can’t be the only one!