Were you to ask me, “How are you?” on many days I would truthfully reply, “I’m good, thanks.”
On the other days, when I’m only being polite (read lying), my fingernails tell the real story.
As you know from a previous post, I’m a picker: cuticles, scabs, dry lips. Myself. Others. I don’t discriminate. Whatever will relieve stress is fair game.
Cuticles are my first love; soft, yielding, with the right amount of give and tension. Not a pushover like a scab. Cuticles are fighters; tough and satisfyingly resistant.
If my cuticles resemble a puppy’s ragged chew toy, you can be sure I’ve been anxious, bored or agitated.
If they are smooth and soft, you can be sure I’ve been drugged to within an inch of my life taking good care of myself and feel connected and secure.
Like a mood ring, the cuticles reveal the story of my day. Here’s a detailed guide (with the feeling I’m avoiding in parenthesis):
- Ragged Index Finger Cuticle (Boredom): I likely spent several hours at the park playing make believe, possibly portraying a wicked witch trying to capture and eat Hansel and Gretel. Over. And over. And over. (I may have even brought my kids with me to the park this time!)
- Frayed Thumb Cuticle (Insecurity): I probably volunteered at my daughters’ school and didn’t get a warm enough reception from the cool moms or felt hopelessly dowdy and dull. Or I avoided the school principal so I wouldn’t say “yes” to yet another volunteer opportunity. Because I really would mean “no.”
- Torn Pinky Cuticle (Joy): I possibly had a great idea for an article or a post (e.g. I’ll write next from my cuticles’ point of view!) or had a fun adventure with the girls minus any arguing or whining. Life is GOOD! I picked this cuticle to avoid exploding with excitement. I’m adorable like that.
- Raw Side of Thumb (Fear): Guess who missed a few workouts and is feeling fat today?! Or I’ve been impersonating a drill sergeant, pushing myself mercilessly to finish a project. No bathroom breaks. No weakness. Go, go, go.
- Jagged Ring Finger Cuticle (Anger): I likely spent time contemplating ways to blame my husband for some real or imaginary transgression (e.g. the shampoo bottle falling on my toe in the shower, a dresser drawer closing on my finger, a stinky clogged toilet). Even though he’s been at work for hours.
I’ve tried various methods over the years to curb my picking – deep breathing, meditation, manicures, snapping rubber bands, sitting on my hands, cuticle cream – and many have worked for periods of time. But the picking always returns.
I bet you have a more evolved (and sanitary) way of handling stress and anxiety. Please share! Is there hope for me and my cuticles or am I doomed to a life of scruffy fingernails?