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There are always a few painful moments in my day when I am faced with how disgusting my habit is. The rest of the time I am unaware...frankly I am used to it. I am used to looking down and seeing blood smeared across my fingers. I am used to the sting of the salt when I eat chips. I am used to the hard callouses and small fragments of dried skin scratching my husbands back when I intend to softly touch him. I am used to keeping my hands out of the water when we go hot-tubing to avoid the grotesque white corpse skin that puffs up when water absorbs and accentuates every flaw. I am very familiar with it all. My mind has somehow, after 20+ years, avoids at all costs to be conscious of this haunting scene. Most women have beautiful hands. Perfect nails. And when a co-worker asks to see my stunning wedding ring, I smile and stretch out a trembling hand with shredded cuticles, skin pieces every which way, some fresh blood and dry blood spots...some on each finger. I pray to God they don't say anything. Sometimes they do...sometimes they don't. But it is in these particular moments that I am pulled from my fantasy reality that my habit isn't too bad and drawn back to the horrific realization that I peel, pick, pull, chew and eat my fingers alive til they throb, swell, bleed, infect and I can no longer write or bend them. They Heal. They always heal. First a bloody scab, and if it's sore enough to keep away from, then overnight it will callous: and here begins the cycle once again. There have been times when my fingers have healed completely. I got fake nails on when my husband and I went on vacation to Mexico. I couldn't pick them. I could chew and bite them, but not at the same frequency that I can pick. So they healed quickly and I was so encouraged by the sight of smooth skin that my hands healed over, past the calloused stage and I began to look down upon my hands like they were a strangers hands. There was discoloration on the pads of course, because of scarring from the years of violent picking. However when I woke up the next morning after taking the fake nails off....i discovered my hands were once again bloody, shredded and ugly again. I must have picked them in my sleep. I haven't been able to get them as healed as they were that August of 2009. This is a part of my life. I am ashamed, embarrassed, disgusted with my own action. However, its all I know. I yearn to sit with calm, unmoving hands. I yearn to eat chips without searing pain shooting through my hands. I yearn to one day not carry band-aids in my purse, desk, drawers, car, etc. I yearn for soft hands to touch my husband with. I yearn to come out of the shower without white fingers. Are there any other finger pickers out there? Anyone who can relate to these events? I more hopeful just to know I am not the only one.