Until recently, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t a Nail Biter. Up to the age of about 27, I had chewed hands, stubby little fingers and no hope that my nails would ever have those lovely elegant “white bits” on the end. Nail polish has always lasted me a life time.
So one day I was a nail biter and then I was not. And I really wasn’t. The approximately 54th attempt to give up was a charm, and finally I had beautiful nails, painted in vivid colours that collected compliments left, right and centre. I won’t lie; it felt good.
Then, a couple of months ago, I broke. Or rather a nail did. And when the first domino falls, so must the rest. Except I gave them a extra push to make the fall go faster. Or, rather, a little nibble. And suddenly, like all falling dominos must stop, I had no nails left, slightly sore and exposed finger tips, and nothing in the way of polished and pretty hands to enjoy.
Damn, but no big deal, right? They’ll grow back, and when they do, I’ll just dig out my favourite nail varnish and they’ll shine again. No problem.
What’s interesting though, is that this – when this sounds like an enormous tragedy rather than what it is, a slight gross bad habit – happened at all.
You see, it started when things got a bit fuzzy up in my head. Checking started taking up a bit more time. Worry upped its rhythm to an uglier beat. Normal knocks started to bruise a little bluer and for a little longer. Ugly ideas and behaviours mixed together to an unattractive and unpalatable end. No huge deal really. Honestly, just a bit of a “head” cold, a mind-flu, if you will. Nothing that alters how life goes on. Nothing that anyone else would probably notice.
And so it drove me to a bit of nail biting, so what? It’s winter, my hands are going to be in gloves from now until March anyway, right?
But it’s the fact that my bitten nails are the only outward sign of an internal change that gets me. The only physical symptom of a change, for the worse in this case, in thinking and in behaviour is my slightly scrappy looking nails.
So, while my vanity can deal with less than perfectly manicured digits, these nail biting times have to become my outward reminder to look inside and take just a little bit more care.