Biting My Nails

I bite my nails too much these days. It was a habit that was one of my best friends as a kid, then it slowed down in my twenties, but wouldn’t you know that the minute I arrived in New Zealand it was on my front doorstep, knocking and wanting to be let back in to crash for awhile. It wasn’t something that I was planning on starting up again. No one says “I want to shove my fingers into my mouth and tear off my skin”. Instead it’s something that just happens, an unconscious response to whatever is happening at the moment. And for me that move to New Zealand was a big change, one that I don’t think I fully prepared myself mentally and physically for. I took the blue collar “you work and you die and you just get on with it” approach that I’ve talked about before. The physical response of all of that stress manifested itself in the destruction of my fingernails and cuticles.

My damaged nails and cuticles are a visual reminder of the stress and change that I am going through. In one way I’m happy to have it around. It lets me know that there’s something off in my world. Visual reminders work well for me. On the other side this brings up an ashamed feeling that washes over me when I see my nails and cuticles ripped apart. I feel bad that this habit has taken over me once again. The bad feelings lead towards the route of depression. Left unchecked, things can take a dark turn. I don’t want to go down that route but I’m aware that I may.

I don’t know if I fully understand how to deal with stress. Maybe this is the way that I deal with it, but it has never felt like it worked. As a near 40 year old human being I should probably think on this and figure it out. I wish I had had the training to do it in the past. Maybe no one gets this training. Maybe we’re all just making it up as we go along.

And as I type that last line, I catch myself nibbling on the corner of my left hand ring finger. I’ve got a lot of work to do.


  1. Believe it or not I’ve had the opposite happen. I have stopped biting my nails here in Tonga. It wasn’t something i planned. Normally I only manged to resist biting by getting expensive manicures.

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