Written by Haylie Miller
I have an OCD habit that makes me scratch my skin. This started young for me; it’s evident in pictures of me as young as six or seven. As one might imagine, it is embarrassing because it is pretty gross. Every time I feel like I am losing control, my hands look for my imperfections and try to remove them.
Great solution, right?
What It’s Like
Because this is technically a form of self-harm, the emotions I feel are conflicting. I feel in control when I scratch my skin, like I am perfecting myself. However, the results are nothing but harmful. I have felt shame about this on basically every level, but I’m trying to hide it less lately.
I still struggle with this, but I have had successes. I have expedited my work with a higher education in emotional intelligence.
I want to cry just thinking about it. It is SO hard.
Giving myself compassion is the most vulnerable thing I have ever done because it requires me to let downALL my guards. Therefore, I think (even though my disorder is so unique) it is relatable and beneficial to talk about.
You are either ugly or beautiful, gifted or stupid, first or last.
I look bad in that photo. I have a huge scrape on my forehead. I'm such an idiot.
I can just untag myself from that group photo. It’s not worth the memory if I look ugly.
I clearly have no control over my skin so it must not matter. I will just not take pictures.
These definitions might sound extreme but they are prolific. In high school, it was mostly about looks. The scary thing is that lately, I’ve found ways to shame myself over EVERYthing I cannot control explicitly. Queue work, paychecks, my relationship status, my weight… A girl can only have so many goals.
In Brené Brown’s bookDaring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and LeadI learned that these guards are natural human defensive moves for shame.
Shame shouldn’t be welcomed in any relationship, especially that with our bodies. My body is my first home and shame has only ever taught me how to destroy it.I fight this emotion with all my strength.
I think of the book You Are Special by Max Lucado. His children’s allegory sets up a village of puppets who put black stickers on one another for bad things and gold star stickers on one another for good things. I find this powerful not only because I literally mark myself with judgements, but we all do allegorically.
The most interesting character was a girl puppet who had no stickers. This girl’s markings fell off as she visited her maker routinely. “The stickers only stick if they matter to you.”
She meditated on what qualities mattered to her and that gave her freedom to enjoy and love her body.
It’s not about control; it’s about compassion. This is something we all deserve but it takes so much effort. I hope by sharing this story I can add clarity to your work – please reach out if you want to talk!