(and how it might help you)
Recently, I just couldn't take my picking anymore. It was just too much. I had been picking for four years and I had really let it destroy my life...to the point where I just wouldn't really do anything anymore. I had been lying to everyone (Why can't you go here? Why aren't you coming over? Why weren't you at work today?) and I hate lying. I just became a person that I hated. I hated myself for picking and I hated myself for not being able to stop.
So, I decided that it was time to go back to therapy. I thought that I had dealt with all my issues in my prior 2 1/2 years of therapy, but I had never talked about my picking with a professional. So I went. And I didn't really want to go because I don't really like talking about my picking. It's embarrassing. "Hey, I'm Kathy. I pick at my face. For hours on end I will sit by the mirror and gouge my skin with my nails and other tools" Lovely. Anyway, I told him that (not in those words ;) ). And then I talked about all the different methods I had used to try to stop. I can't even count all the things I've tried. Using gloves, covering my mirrors, removing my mirrors, habit reversal, giving myself gifts for not picking, keeping notes on picking....God, like a million things. I told him all of this.
He put that on the back burner for a while and we talked about my life in general. My childhood, my parents, people in my life, what my life is like. He realized that there was so much more to me than just this, but (and this is so key) one thing that was apparent throughout my whole timeline- I always had something going on in my life that would stop me from doing other things. Stop me from living a normal life. The life that I wanted. Whether it be anorexia, panic attacks, OCD, perfectionism, whatever, there was always something there. And it was always self-inflicted.
After said realization, he said that we should not focus on the behavior part. The actual act of picking was not the issue. That was surprising to me because I guess that I expected him to give me other behavior modifications to try. But he didn't. He told me that I had, as I said, already tried everything, and obviously that method wasn't working (that seems like a no-brainer now, doesn't it?) What he said to me, and this was so important and true, was that my behaviors (all of them) were all just my way of holding myself back. Because of events that took place in my childhood, I firmly was believing (subconsciously, but still) that I did not deserve to be happy. You see, people in my life punished me and made me feel guilty for a very long time. Made me feel like I was worthless and shouldn't have a good life! So, sure, I stopped letting them make me feel that way, but I DIDN'T STOP MYSELF FROM CARRYING ON THAT ABUSE!!! It was what I had always known, and therefore I kept it with me! That I didn't deserve to look good everyday, have a normal life, maybe even have relationships. I was using my behaviors to keep myself from the life that I "didn't deserve" in my mind. And, you know what? He was right.
I went home and I thought about that for a while. A long while. At first I didn't fully believe it. I thought, I'm never going to stop picking because he won't tell me what to do to stop. But, then, when I really starting thinking back on my life and how much stuff I have MISSED simply because of all these behaviors, and especially picking, it really started to make sense to me. With my panic attacks, I would miss class, I couldn't go in elevators, I couldn't go in airplanes, I didn't go to interviews, social things, anything! Think about that. It was my way of keeping myself from having a good life! That I thought I didn't deserve!
I have not picked since I have had this realization. But, more importantly, I haven't had the desire to pick. Do you want to know why? (of course you do!) Because I have decided that I do deserve a good life. I deserve a great life! I don't deserve to hurt myself and hold myself back in this way. I am a good person and no matter how I've been treated in the past, I am going to be better to myself because I never deserved to be treated that way in the first place! And, I think that the main part of my recovery is that I FIRMLY believe this. I remind myself of it everyday. I am great. I deserve a GREAT life.
I think this applies to us all. No one deserves to have a life like this, you guys. No one deserves to do this to themselves. It's just self-punishment that's all it is! You think it's what you want, you think you need it to relieve stress, but you DON'T! You are GREAT people, just like me, and you deserve to have a great life. I'm going to have a great life from now on, and I hope that you will all join me.
If you have a success story and want me to post it, send it here!