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Energetic Healing: Part I

Thanks for being open to a little tag-team blogging so we can communicate to you the full story.

Carrie: I’m not sure when I started biting my nails. I don’t know why I did (and sometimes still do) it.

Mom: Before she was a chronic nail-biter, there were other similar habits. I can remember two of them specifically from her earlier childhood that stuck around for a while. As a toddler she would pull the neckline of her t-shirt up to her mouth and suck on the material until it was wet and mangled. When she got a little older, she would fiddle with her hair and put it in her mouth. Every time the new unusual habit would reach a point of concern, it would suddenly drift away as quietly as it had come, and I'd relax again. Phew! Just a stage! But then came the nail biting a few years ago, and it was different than the rest. The activity was growing more frequent and more intense, and she was now clearly inflicting harm on herself and risking infection. It demanded my attention.

Carrie: Nail biting happened when I was bored, happy, sad, excited, and everything in between. It might have even happened when I was asleep. I obviously can’t know that for sure, because I was, you know, asleep. It could have been a way for me to concentrate, but it happened at the movie theaters too, so I’m doubtful.

Mom: We had so many heart-to-heart conversations about this, because as a mom, I wanted to understand what was generating the nervous, uncontrollable habit. I felt like it was a coping mechanism for some unidentified stress she was experiencing. I worried that it was somehow because of me. "Honey, are you upset? Nervous? Anxious or angry about something? Did something bad happen at school? Did Dad or I say or do something that hurt your feelings?" But as I observed her more carefully, I could tell it was something she did regardless of the environment, the company she was in, or even her emotional state. "I just do it, mom. I don't think about it." For a while, her sore, raw fingers and toes didn't seem to bother her, or cause her any embarrassment, and so I didn't want to make a big deal of it either. But eventually she told me, "Mom, I don't want to do this, but I don't know how to stop." And so we partnered together and set out to try ALL THE THINGS.

Carrie: So, now you all must be wondering what my mom and I tried or considered using to break the habit. (Or if you weren't before, you are now.) And it’s quite the list. *Stretches fingers*

  • A fidget ball to keep in my hand

  • Cream to help my cuticles heal

  • Waterproof bandaids

  • Gum chewing

  • A reward system where if I went a week without biting my fingers (much), I got a book

  • We considered using the nasty-tasting nail polish

  • The incentive of a special Girls Day mani/pedi

  • Hot sauce

  • Googled finger gloves (but decided that was too weird)

  • Took away all nail clippers

Mom: None of this worked for more than a few days. We weren't necessarily discouraged, but we could definitely tell we were going down the wrong path with our efforts.

Carrie: Then there was a turning point, and it stemmed from a comment made by one of my absolute favorite adults. We, including my mom, were discussing my habit openly and honestly, and this adult remarked that she was surprised that I did bite my nails, because I had so much self-discipline in all other areas of my life. "You're so put together in every other way. This thing you do just doesn't fit the Carrie I know." And that made me wonder if maybe my nail biting was an outlet for me. Do I know for sure? Nope. But that was the first time that I ever actually started to ponder it.

Mom: Meanwhile, I was researching on my own, and asking for advice in all my health and wellness groups. Was it a mineral imbalance? Amino acid deficiency? A detoxification issue? Just another developmental stage? There were so many different ideas and suggestions, I wasn't sure where to begin. I wanted it to be a nutritional issue - something I could fix with the right food and supplements. The most troubling comment came from a colleague whom I've never met. She said that nail biting of this nature actually has a formal diagnosis (dermatophagia) and that there's nothing you can do about it. That comment didn't sit right with me or my outlook on life and faith, and so I decided to keep digging.

Carrie: This is about the time my mom started trying out some... unconventional ideas.

Mom: During all of this, I was praying for wisdom and guidance. I felt certain there was more to this issue than habit alone, or even stress management. And I knew there was an important lesson waiting for us both, and hopefully many others, if we didn't grow weary and lose heart. The truths we have been discovering since then are still unfolding, and we are excited to share more about it next week!

Images from April 2023

Proverbs 25:2 The Message - God delights in concealing things; scientists delight in discovering things. NIV - It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.

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