Emotional Dermatillomania…. Or Picking Our Mental Scabs

blog socially awkwardBeing a teenager is tough. No doubt. Being a fat teenager was extremely hard for me. I was very shy and hated being in rooms full of people I didn’t know. I was not social. It affects some of my behaviors today. There are routines and patterns that have been worn into my head like convoluted hiking paths down to my inner core. blog rocky pathThey are worn down so heavily, so many times, with rocks protruding up to make me stumble as I try to get to my inner most thoughts at times. These familiar paths and patterns hold me back from going forward other times. Take, for instance, the scenario of me being in a room full of people I don’t know. When I was much younger, it could bring on panic attacks for me. I’d hear a whisper, laughter, a “certain” tone of voice, and assume it was a negative attack on me. There were times it was true and I was the butt of some ill-based jokes. But so many times it was MY ASSUMPTION that I was being mocked. It was a Pavlov’s Dog reaction to being exposed to bullying, snide remarks and such as a result of my weight and my attitude that developed along the way.

Those insults and negative behaviors created a very large wound in my self esteem.

scraped kneeLet’s look at what happens when a part of our body gets physically wounded. I’m outside, walking and say I fall and scrape my knee open. Blood rushes to the surface.   As air hits it, over the next few days, it becomes hardened and the wound is encased in a scab. So I’m sitting outside. Bored. Looking at my knee and start picking at it. I wince because it hurts and it’s not quite healed. But I can’t stop picking at it. I flick away the scabs and watch as more blood comes to the surface. I say to my daughter, “Hey, look at this cut, doesn’t this look nasty?” She agrees and I get attention for it. Another day goes by and it has scabbed up again. I’m at work stressing over an issue and subconsciously start picking at the scab. It starts to bleed, a little heavier because I’ve broken new skin with my fingernails.  I clean it up and it starts the healing process over. Now, what if I keep picking and picking and tearing open that scab? Well, the skin around it will inflame and if enough dirt falls into it from my fingernails, it could become infected and then I have an even bigger problem. Now, being adults, you’re going to look at me and say, “Pam, would just stop picking at your damn knee and it will get better!”

You see, that’s what I did with the wound on my self-esteem and my thoughts for many years. There’s probably a thousand little insults I’ve heard in my whole life. If I keep going back over and over in my mind, and pull up all those times I was embarrassed, tormented, made fun of, bullied, stood up, dumped, etc….it’s like ripping the scab off that wound of bad self esteem everytime I do it. I’m never going to get over it and be able to move forward if I keep picking at that scab. I’m going to become a slave to constantly ripping that scab open to avoid getting over it. To give me a reason to be upset. And hey, it gives me attention to have that “injury” and wound to cry about.  To give me a “right” to be righteous about those who judge based on looks and size. I can point the finger and say it’s THEIR fault I feel this way, my father, my mother, my siblings, my ex-boyfriends, my ex-husband, the kids I went to school with, the public school kids on the bus who made fun of my parochial education, strangers in public, teachers that humiliated me, people I didn’t get along with, strangers in the clothing store, people in restaurants I thought were watching what I was eating, and how many other people I could blame!

Bottom line… it’s MY fault I feel bad because I keep thinking about it. I keep pulling up those bad feelings and continuing them.

It’s time to let the past pains scab over and heal. It takes soul-searching, journaling and some good quiet time to come to peace with these things. If you can’t do it on your own or without hurting loved ones, then it’s time to get professional assistance in this. Talk to a third party like a counselor who won’t take it personal when you need to get angry, but has the professional training to guide you in letting it all go.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. You’re never going to be truly happy and successful until you let go of all this ugly scabby damage.

I garden outside in the warm weather. I get scores of scratches, cuts and little wounds, it comes with the territory. But I wrap them up, protect them and then expose them to air and they get better, most times without a scar.

What happens when you pick at a scab repeatedly?

The area becomes scarred, mangled and the skin has scar tissue and is never the same.

That’s what happens when we keep picking at our emotional scabs. We become scarred, hardened, harsher and generally tough to manage. It gets in the way of living and happiness. You see that scar and you remember the injury and it makes you unhappy and the cycle starts again. blog gold appleYou can be the prettiest person, thin and healthy but your negativity can make you very ugly to yourself and others.

I am 48 years old. It doesn’t matter what a group of boys said to me back when I was 16.  I am not that scared lonely girl anymore. Time to let it go.  But what if I still am that scared lonely girl inside? Time to let her go. If repeated bad behaviors have made us feel crappy, lethargic, even suicidal at times…. Then repeated GOOD behaviors should do the opposite. I’m doing that.

We cannot stop people from talking about us, confronting us, trying to include us in their drama, or listening to the silly diary-like statuses on Facebook that annoy the snot out of me. And it annoys me MORE when they come from ME!!! That’s when I stop myself, unplug from the computer, back the hell away from Facebook and all that social media bullshit and go outside and get some fresh air!

We_Can_Do_It!But we CAN stand up for ourselves. We can be our own bodyguard. We don’t have to wait for a super hero to come along. We are our OWN hero! It’s never too late to stop the cycle. It’s never too late to adopt new patterns. It’s never too late to change. It’s never too late to correct the path on our journey!

It’s time for healing. Trust me, it makes the journey healthier, happier and easier.

rearviewmirror1Like I told my son years ago in the Rear View Mirror post… the rear view mirror is a reference to the past, it is NOT where we are going. If we keep looking in it, we are doomed to crash. However, if we look forward and have a positive attitude, I feel anything is possible! Not JUST weight loss, but with anything we set our minds to!

Now…. Stop picking those scabs, it’s time to heal!

Hey! If this helped you, inspired you, pissed you off, cheered you up, gave you that weird feeling in your stomach that you know it hit you right where it counts…then pin it, share it, email it, share the love!!!

Check out my website at pamkaelin.com  and follow me on Facebook!

Categories: Anger, Dealing with Sabotage, Emotional, Growing Up Fat, Psychological, Relationships, Weight Loss | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Emotional Dermatillomania…. Or Picking Our Mental Scabs

  1. Patricia Zuraw

    thanks pam, i needed to hear that and you are right on.  we can change our thinking and if not will remain in that victim mentality.  “we are more than conquerors” says the bible. and we all need people in our lives to say it like it is, with love, so we can help one another.  so… thank you. patti z.


  2. Excellent, loved it! Very right on, very heartfelt to the reader. I am grateful to have taken the time to read this morning Pam. Have a beautiful day, dear.

  3. Love this! so true. and I can relate on so many levels. Reminds me of the quote from Wayne dyer: Change your thoughts, and you change your world.

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