Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Nail Biter of a Cautionary Tale

This is one of those posts that is embarrassing to write. It's not embarrassing in an inappropriate sort of way, because I have a few, very low standards for myself and my blog, but just in a "now people will know how weak and silly I am" sort of way. Regardless, this life occurrence must be documented because 1) it's good for me to have an extra dose of humility and 2) it is monumental.

Ok, on with it.

I am (or was?) a nail biter.

Surprise!! Not that surprising. 

I do not remember a time in my life where I didn't bite my nails. And I do not mean the occasional nibble on a nail now and again when I was feeling extra nervous or watching something especially suspenseful. No, no, no. I was a nail GNAW-er. At any given time on any given day you would find me furiously devouring both my nails and my cuticles-- though I did especially favor nail biting while driving in the car or reading-- but I was always biting. Sometimes I would even catch myself biting them while nursing in the middle of the night or pausing my workout in the afternoon to just get a little biting in.

Seriously, it was BAD.

I remember a middle school teacher in the 7th grade who would call me out in front of everybody-- almost every single day-- telling me to stop and I would flat out refuse.

That's really the story of the habit in my life. I just refused to stop.

I would get to a point where I decided it was time to stop and make a big resolution and try for 20 minutes-- or maybe even make it an hour-- and then decide it wasn't worth it. It was cathartic for me, it was a habit that wasn't hurting anyone, and it helped me deal with life's stresses in a quiet, minding  my own business, smoke free, drink free sort of way.

I had gotten to the point of really, genuinely wanting to stop this summer. I got my first gel manicure on vacation and hoped that that would encourage me to leave them alone, and when it didn't (or when I did not have the will power necessary to stop even though I was ruining my pretty, freshly manicured nails) I decided I was done trying to stop. For good. I just wasn't ever going to be able to stop, I had even started praying about it and telling God that it was just too much for me to do so I just wasn't going to try anymore.

Then about 3 weeks ago, while driving in the car biting my nails, I noticed one of my fingers was hurting (my right middle finger, coincidentally) and was hurting especially when I was biting that nail. It did nothing to deter me from continuing to mess with it, because frankly I am a total idiot.

A few more days passed and I realized it was hurting to touch things with that finger- it hurt to take Fred's tray off the high chair, it hurt to turn the steering wheel in the car, it hurt if anything at all went near that finger.

I probably still kept on biting it.
Mightily preggo with Fred, chomping away
Finally it got to the point where the entire top of the finger was visibly infected, and I was running a fever.

A FEVER, people.

After a bit of Googling the problem I concluded that I had inflicted this on myself with my nail biting (and I also came to the conclusion that my entire finger would soon fall off, thanks to Google's worst case scenarios.) Also I am never not totally irrational.

My finger did not fall off, mercifully, but my doctor did have to prescribe an antibiotic and a finger soaking regiment to clear up the infection, which worked for the most part.

But what really worked and what is a much bigger deal than the fact that I kept my beloved right middle finger is that I STOPPED BITING MY NAILS.

Ok it's only been a little less than 2 weeks, and technically it takes 21 days to break a habit, but I can assure you readers that I have never gone this long before and I think I am effectively scared straight.

The funny thing is that I really and truly believe that there is no other way that someone could've gotten through to me and convinced me to stop biting my nails other than an infection which spread to my body and made me fearful of losing my finger. That is just how completely enslaved to this terrible habit I was and how little self control I had in this area. Clearly God knew he needed to take over and answer my prayers in His own way and I am so glad He did.


  1. Girl! I feel ya! The only thing that broke my nail biting habit was me chipping my tooth while biting... THREE times! Way to go! :)

  2. dude, me too! I'm awful about nibbling on my fingers. My mom did it and now my daughter does it too. I think mine stems from an inability to just be still. When I'm bored, stressed, uncomfortable - I bite. Even if the tv show I'm watching isn't engaging enough! So sad. I want to find a way to be at peace instead of filling my moments with an unhealthy habit.

  3. If I didnt get a gel manicure every 2/3 weeks, my nails would be bitten down to stubs. I was a lifelong nail biter & this is the only way I've found that has made be me able to stop. If I go too long without getting my nails done, l go back to biting. While it's an expensive fix, it works, so I'll keep doing it. Way to go kicking the habit!! Glad your finger is ok!

  4. Congrats! Keep up on the manicures, it'll help!

  5. Sooooo you're telling me there's no hope for me until I risk losing a finger?! 😩 Gosh I need to stop. I'm much better than when I was younger but still need so much work.

  6. Congrats! That's awesome! Reminds me of my eating habits - I was overweight for my whole adolescence and finally reached at least 250 pounds and total fear and despair and one day I told God "I can't do this. I can *not* do this. It's totally out of control and YOU need to fix it because I can't." Five years later, I weigh 180 and I actually *enjoy* exercise and I don't even *want* the same foods as I was eating before. No gritting my teeth, no big plans and bigger failures, just God. Thank God.

    Anyway, congratulations, again! Thank you so much for sharing! I wish more of us had the courage and the humility to share this kind of thing with each other. It always helps me relax about my own failures when somebody else shows me that they're not perfect, either. So thanks!