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sofamouse , 15 Jan 2010

thanks, mom! (and other word-vomit I can't share anywhere else)

My mom has always joked that, "The only reason I had kids was so that I could pop zits, pull teeth, and pick scabs." She's also been a big fan of peeling off sunburned skin like it's wallpaper... Anyway, it's funny because when I think of my childhood I don't remember seeing her pick a lot at all. She would put her nails in her mouth - she always had really long nails - and just kind of hold them between her teeth, not chewing or anything. I don't remember her doing any picking for me, either, probably because I was already doing it. Interestingly, I do remember my mother picking my sister's scabs, she was (and is) a bit more squeamish and self-controlled than I am, so she wouldn't pick her scabs ever. I remember once she accidentally picked a scab from a mosquito bite when she scratched her leg, and then she just sat still and wouldn't clean up the blood, just let it dribble down an inch - and it drove me crazy that she wouldn't let ME get it, either. She just wanted to let the scab dry, leave it alone, etc. She also can't stand hearing the sound of knuckles cracking (I don't know how she manages to have so many male friends, she's 22 and still screams "Ew ew ew!!!" if she hears even one "pop"). Do other pickers here like to crack knuckles as well? I think the reason my mom didn't pick herself was because she always smoked. I do remember her shaking her leg a lot, and it seemed to be uncontrollable, but that's never been a real impulse for me. Sometimes I do it, but maybe only once every couple months, and I can stop it. So yeah, she was always either smoking or writing... I think this helped her. Whenever she was talking to someone, in person or on the phone, she was always kind of doodling, she always used to draw these giant arrows with shading around them, they'd just grow and grow... she still does them, really. I think that's something I should try sometime. Still. I can't imagine that the picking itself is genetic. Maybe becoming easily stressed is, or a lower self-control or willpower, but the habits we choose are CHOSEN - in this case, picking is nurture, not nature. I remember my mom telling me not to pick my nose once when I was 7 or 8, but I just hid it from her after that. She moved away when I was 12, so I only saw her a couple times a year, and then she had other things to "pick on" me about.. I still have a picture from christmas, 2001 when my acne was still really bad. It's terrible because the picture is really blurry but you can see the dark scabs from where I couldn't stop picking my zits. Yeah. I always picked my scabs and my zits, my pimples less so when I got on the pill and most of the acne cleared up. It's just so hard not to pick at scabs because sometimes they itch, and if you scratch and accidentally get one just half off you HAVE to pull the rest of it off. I first realized that my picking had sort of "crossed the line" three years ago when I was in therapy... I picked a zit scab on my forehead and my therapist actually said something. I always have picked in public (and immediately HATED myserlf for it), and just pretended to kind of like, wipe my face casually, lick the line of blood off my hand casually, whatever, and no one had said anything. I'm sure people noticed, I can remember my chin bleeding in chemistry class in HS many times from one particularly bad zit, but no one had ever SAID anything. I guess it's just human nature to be polite, pretend not to notice (you know how people pretend not to hear/smell farts?), but my therapist did say something because she knew it was something I was doing by CHOICE. At that point I was living in an institution and one of the other girls there had problems with picking, and she just called it that. She had really really bad OCD, like she couldn't stand the way I blew my nose when my nose was runny... But living in a group situation like that instead of alone really makes you notice what you're doing, so I stopped picking for the most part. At some point in the last year or two I started picking the skin off my lips... and that I can't stop. I still pick other stuff, but my biggest thing now is my lips. and they're always bleeding, and I always have to put gunk on them, and my boyfriend gets so mad at me... but i just CAN'T STOP. I just think it's really interesting, though, that I developed this "new" type of picking as an adult in my twenties. I remember I used to bite my nails all the time as a kid, then I decided to stop, and I was able to do it, no problem... but since then (I was probably 6 or so) i haven't been able to quit any other kind of picking... My current therapist now says the nose-picking & eating (terrible, I know) is because of a childhood thing, like a lot of people hang onto childhood behaviors like nose picking and thumb sucking because they're emotionally underdeveloped, and I guess I see that as part of it, but I still need to talk about the rest of the picking. Anyway. So glad there are others like me. I like this site but I am kind of disappointed to see that it is primarily focused on selling the guy's book... clearly, people like us NEED a forum, NEED to talk. At the same time, though, I worry that if all the people who do it but feel bad about it talk to eachother and feel less bad, it will be harder to quit... but I don't know. Good luck to all of you, hopefully we can all spend a little less time hating ourselves.

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