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The Naughty Se… , 08 Sep 2012

It started when I was in college...

Hi, I've been lurking for a few weeks. Sad to see so many people affected so much by what seems like an adolescent habit, but good to see I'm not the only one. My target areas are my arms (KP), sometimes my legs (more KP), my back, my boobal regions, and worst of all my face. During my childhood, my parents divorced and my mother made it her job to take out her self-hatred on me. She would make sure I felt fat and ugly and stupid, and to this day I find it extremely difficult not to hear her berating me in my head. In late 2001 she had a severe stroke and my grandmother (whose prime objective was pointing out my fatness) arrived from TX to cart my mother away. I saw Mom one time after that, and then she committed suicide in 2004, just before I graduated high school. As a high school girl I would occasionally pop a zit on my face, but rarely. I had some acne, but I didn't make a habit of touching it or picking at skin anywhere else. Picking didn't become a problem for me until my senior year of college. My roommate started an internship/independent study program that first semester and also her boyfriend moved into an apartment nearby, so she quite literally was NEVER around. I had no friends at all, even though freshman year I had tons (they all dropped out, joined sororities and stopped talking to me, or just became these puke party losers that I couldn't stand to be around anymore). I was very, very academically inclined and I worked very hard on schoolwork and did nothing else, ever. Somehow someway, the time that I might've spent doing something fun became time I spent in the mirror touching my face. I didn't have much acne before, but when this began, my face became riddled with acne and clogged pores, and it just sort of became a wicked cycle. I'd pick it, break out, pick those, break out, ad nauseum. I did severe visible damage to my face. My roomie and her boyfriend, when I'd hang with them, would give me discreet sidelong looks, and I just knew it looked terrible. All during high school and college, I NEVER had a boyfriend, I figured all men found me repulsive, and I resigned myself to accepting that as my lot. Fast forward to graduation and going home to my dad and stepmom. Pretty much the month I graduated, I immediately landed a job as a secretary in a local marketing research firm. I lived at home for about a year, working full time and saving money and wishing above all to get away from my parents. They treated me like they thought I was this selfish, insufferable asshole who just refused to thrive in their upright Orthodox Jewish household. My opinion was that I would follow all of their rules regarding kosher upkeep and Shomer Shabbas, I'd never disparage Jews, but that I would never, under any circumstances, try to be Jewish, and I'd keep my own books and ideas and music. I'm very, very different from most people in my family, my opinions and interests are vastly different from my parents' (particularly my dad's), and I was too old and grown to try what I did in middle school (i.e., try to be like everyone else). They thought I had a horrible attitude about everything and it got to the point where I just flat-out could not speak, at all. I was the odd one out, I was the bitch. So, I spent every second, from the time I got home from work until the time I went to bed, alone in my room. I had my own bathroom, and I wasted hours in there, picking my face until it was swollen and sore and as angry-looking as I felt. It was around this time that I started picking my arms. At an appointment with my GP, I asked her if the picking was a form of self-harm or self-mutilation, like the cutting that used to be my habit in high school. I guess I didn't frame the question properly, because she had no idea what I was asking her. The following year, I moved into an apartment by myself. My stepmom made a big to-do about how I didn't have the wherewithal to live alone, because I "didn't know how to pay bills or buy groceries or dishes". I was immediately SO HAPPY to be on my own, I had no worries or struggles, I had plenty of money for everything I needed. Complete freedom. Even though I still had no friends at all and spent every second alone, I was happy. The picking, everywhere, completely stopped. Then, last spring, I met my boyfriend. Technically, we had already met--in high school. We have been together ever since. He has absolutely, completely, irreversibly changed my life and made me a much happier person. So I can't explain why the picking habit started up again a little after we met. This time around, I pick my face, arms, sometimes my legs, my boobs occasionally, and my back. I guess it's still nowhere near as bad as it used to be, but I would like to stop. He gets upset when he can see I've been doing it, and ever since I told him about a week ago that I really do think I have a bona fide compulsion, he asks me every day, "Did you touch your face or pick at anything today?" and I have this need to be honest. Just before I told him that I wanted to stop, I'd had an episode where I just picked and picked at my face and arms, exfoliated my face WAY too hard, then used up three mini peel pads on my face. The next day when I woke up, my skin was peeling off. Ugh. But I've been good about not picking since then. I'd like to stop completely, and just never do it again. Well, I've written a book here. Thanks for reading, folks.
3 Answers
September 08, 2012
I understand in the sense that if we didn't do anything to our skin, it would probably be totally fine. No worse than any average, pretty woman out there. Why do you think you started again? Did your skin heal in the period of time you lived on your own? I get this feeling that a lot of people who pick their skin had some stressful periods in their lives. I certainly did. But I can't say I'm unfortunate. On the outset everthing is fantastic. But around the time I started picking I definitely endured a few nasty comments by my mother. My father and I barely have a relationship due to a couple years of abuse. Which is a weird thing to admit to openly. Im 22 and recently I've aknowledged the sad truth that, I've been doing this for 7 years. And that's such a scary thought. I honestly believe that if I truly believed I was beautiful, I wouldn't do this to myself. I dont' think I've ever accepted who I was. You know the funny thing is, and the reason I feel compelled by your post. is one of my instigating factors for picking is about a guy. Because I can't find it in myself to have self-esteem and feel sexy and desirably, when I think about or fret about a guy I like and am seeing I immediately feel anxious, self-conscious, stressed and almost instantly stop what I'm doing and scan my entire body for flaws. And pick mercilessly. Then I avoid this guy for as long as I need to until the redness subsides. Its crazy, it's ridiculous and if I loved myself, I believe I wouldnt do this. Truth be told. I dont understand why even in the midst of picking, I can't stop. Goodluck tho!
The Naughty Se…
September 10, 2012

In reply to by msmadness

You might be right there, what you said about if you thought you were beautiful (or rather, I think, if you ACCEPTED that you were beautiful), you might be able to kick your habit. I think that goes for all of us who have this problem. As far as me and the boy-related picking, I think it was the stress. I assumed that a girl like me would have a hard time holding onto a boy like him. He's my first, and when we originally met, he was the guy that ALL of the little goth hippy wenches wanted. I found him again on Facebook about two years ago. Same as ever, he could pretty much have any girl he wanted. One day I posted a photo of myself on Facebook and he messaged me his #, and that was it. It was so easy to nab him (considering him, and I thought, considering ME) that I wasn't sure about anything. I just doubted myself, I felt like a high school girl all over again. Luckily the picking I have been doing is very occasional, and it's getting fewer and farther between these days. Does your guy know about your habit?
September 14, 2012
Hello! First of all, have you considered writing or editing as a career? I love the way you write and you are very articulate. It was actually a pleasure to read your post (not, of course, to hear of all the pain you have endured in your life, just your writing ability!) Good luck to you in your journey to quit. I'm in the same battle here, too. Here's something I've been working on that may help you too: when you quit picking, you will be REGAINING control of a part of your life. It is empowering to think about having some control in a world of events and people who you cannot control. You are, as I said, an excellent writer--have you considered also writing a journal of your journey to non-picking? Or doing a blog? I would read it!! :)

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