I have decided to address one of my lingering self-destructive behaviors: nail biting.
This is not a New Year’s resolution. The timing is just a coincidence; I’ve reached this point now because I had time to think about this over the holidays. My daughter has been urging me to address the issue for months; she has inherited her grandmother’s beautiful and strong nails and looks askance at my thin and dry ones. Or, more often, at the bleeding and inflamed beds of flesh where my nails should be.
I’ve resisted trying; I’ve been telling her that I have a lot of things going on and it’s not yet the right time for me to tackle this bit of self-improvement. If you read me regularly, you know that I have reasons to pick my battles, and I suppose I think of my nail biting as no big deal even though it is severe enough to require band-aids now and then.
But I’ve been given the honor of talking with and listening to her on a new level lately, and I know she will soon be facing new challenges and be asked to adjust to more new information. She feels overwhelmed too, and her Higher Power didn’t ask her whether she was feeling overwhelmed before dropping these things in her lap.
One of the reasons she can share things with me is that she, whether consciously or unconsciously, trusts my strength more than she used to. She sees me as more present and reliable, and feels safe being a little more vulnerable–and I cannot find words to express how happy I am about that and how much I want it to continue. I was thinking about this in relation to my nails, and I realized that I don’t want her to see me bite them, or wince in pain, or make excuses about why I’m not ready to stop yet. It may not be much compared to other behaviors from my past, but it’s not carrying the message I want to carry.
As an addict in recovery, I carry a message when I live my life. As a person living with mental illness, I carry a message when I live my life. As a parent, I carry a message as well; one that is even more potent. When I treat myself in a loving fashion, that message is one of hope and self-respect. When I screw up but take responsibility for it and get better, that message is one of hope as well. When I suffer from symptoms but work hard not to make things worse, and she gets to see me get through it, it’s a message of hope that may help her in her own struggles. The message is carried by all aspects of me; none are exempt.
So if I have the power to boost the positive content of that message, I want to do it. I’m not trying to be perfectionistic, but I want her to see me saying: yes, there is a lot going on, and life can be like that, and I have faith that I will receive the help I need instead of not now.
The truth is, I do have faith. That faith gets hidden under a pile of bullshit from time to time, but it’s there. It’s proven its power too strongly for me to deny it–the thought that my spiritual source, having done what it’s done, would not be up to this task too is quite frankly absurd.
It’s just one more layer of the onion; one more surrender. It won’t be the last, and I get to do this one with a little extra love.