I remember the first time I noticed I was stressed. I was six years old, and I was right before my first piano recital EVER in the second grade. My teacher was Mrs. Mattera, and I was one of the youngest in the recital. I had been picking/scraping at my scalp, and because of that, I had some raw patches. Since I was blonde as a little kid, it was very noticeable, and I remember my mom cajoling me with a “prize,” if I didn’t do it the week prior to the recital so my hair “wouldn’t look yucky.” How about looking at the root cause, Mother, no fucking pun intended?
Years and years passed, and I learned to resist the urge. Then after I left an abusive home situation, I started the same thing to the sensitive area behind my ears. Fortunately, at this point, I was in therapy for what happened in my childhood, and my therapist made the connection as a self-harming mechanism, much like my restricting eating (anorexia) was. I was 5’7″ and 107 lbs. At age 20, I decided I refused to restrict my eating any more. I willed myself to be better. And I was… as far as consuming calories went.
Recently, I’ve noticed the self-harming habit of picking at my cuticles creeping in. I don’t even notice it most of the time, just wake up bruised and sore. My husband notices it constantly and will swat my index fingers away from viciously picking at my thumbs. I’ll do it until I bleed.
Today I noticed my daughter watching me, and I had no idea I was picking. She gestured at my fingers, making an affirming noise, and started copying me. I cried. Please, gods, no, don’t let my sweet baby have this same bullshit. They see; they do. What a wake up call. Take care of yourself, because the best little bit of you may be watching and copying.