Wednesday, December 12, 2012


So there's this:

What the hell?

You are probably wondering--with good reason--why I've put up a picture of my hand, seemingly focused on some pretty crappy fingernails. Well, it's because they're unbitten.

I bit my nails for over forty years. I quit in March.

If you've ever developed the habit of biting your nails, you understand that it can be a very strong compulsion. When people used to ask me why I had such a bad habit, I'd say, "It's more of a hobby, really." It was a blithe response to a question I really couldn't answer.

Over the years, I tried many, many times to stop. It was always an organized effort, with goals and data and all the things that I know work best for me. It never worked, though. I think I made it almost ten days once, but usually it would collapse after a few days, at best.

Even though I had a strong conceptual aversion to what I was doing, I was still doing it. I can only imagine what alcoholics and drug addicts must feel.

In March, I just stopped. There was no plan, no official attempt to quit. I just woke up one day and didn't want to bite my nails anymore. It was almost as if a chemical need had vanished. A few times, I started to raise my hand to my mouth, then thought, "Oh, I don't do that anymore," and put it back down. It wasn't difficult at all, because I wasn't even trying.

I do still pick at my nails, on occasion. At times, I clip them fairly compulsively. What I don't do, though, is bite them.

I've tried to go back in my mind and figure out what event might have precipitated the change, but I've found nothing. No big emotional events. No dietary changes (it's as terrible as ever). No supplement or nutritional changes.

After the first three weeks, I was taking Eli 11.4 to hockey and I said, "Hey, something is different about me. Do you know what it is?"

Immediately, he said, "You stopped biting your nails."

Amusingly, Gloria still doesn't know, even though she always wanted me to stop. So she's going to read this post tonight, then come into my study and throw a book at my head (or something).

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