Finger Spots

1/10/2018     10:44pm

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I wanted to share my latest coping skill – memory on my fingers. Ever since my drawing Spots of Self-Compassion I’ve been using my pink Sharpie to remind me to have self-compassion. I put dots on my fingers or the inside of my wrist or up my arm. When I see the dots I hear “self-compassion” and, even if just for the moment, I soften my stance against myself and breathe. I choose what’s best for me.

A friend got me a collection of a bunch of new nail polishes and I’ve had designs running through my head for weeks – literally. What I really wanted to do was way more complicated. In my mind I saw white with pink dots on my left hand with “BE” on two fingers instead of dots. I wanted my right hand to have a different color on each finger and for the fingers to spell out “CHOOSE” in black letters with an infinity symbol on my middle finger instead of the letter Os. That was way too complicated for me to pull off right now and I’m pretty sure it would cost way too much for me to ask for at the nail place. I decided to go with just white and pink dots.

Yesterday I had an appointment with my doctor in the morning and I was actually on time, except that she forgot I was supposed to be there so I didn’t get to see her. That gave me some extra time to pick up my shoes from the cobbler and sit in the car marveling at the rain. I had time, which is new to me. I sat in the car listening to piano music and started the process. I’d hunted down some cheap white nail polish. This has been on my mind for weeks. I didn’t try to make it pretty. What’s the use if I’m not finished? I needed to be on time for David’s anyway. I finished the white, which honestly looks like white-out, and went into my appointment. He was quite unkind about the messy nails. I think he should be more appreciative of coping skills that live on my hands.

That night I finished them. I tried making dots with nail polish but it was nearly impossible to make circles so I switched to Sharpie. Tip – If you put a top coat over Sharpie the color runs a little. I put glitter over the top of that and the parts that ran are less noticeable. I left the two fingers with nail polish dots as somewhat of an exposure. Each time I look at them I choose to accept that they don’t match and to keep them that way.

Are my nails perfect? No. Neat? No. Will the polish last a long time? Not likely. Do they look great? Not really. Will anyone else understand without an explanation? Not likely. But you know what? I don’t care. These dots on my nails have already proved majorly helpful in redirecting me from intense emotion or self-judgement or shame to self-compassion, to moments of breathing, to small reminders that in every moment I get to choose. I am grateful for the coping skill that lives on my nails right now.

I challenge you to put a coping skill on yourself somewhere you look often. Where could Sharpie spots help you?

© Michelle Routhieaux 2018

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The Importance of a Fingernail

2/11/2016         4:27pm

It’s been a long time since I wrote. I’m sorry. I’m a bit distracted. My brain is trying to kill me. I’ve been doing maintenance ECT every week since December and it was h2016-02-09 16.33.54-1elpful until about two weeks ago. I’m not sure what happened.

I’m sitting on a bench at Fashion Valley outside L’Occitane. I just got a free facial and arm massage. I’m soaking in a moment to myself. The world weighs heavy on my soul.

I have a really hard time with grounding. I work on it with Soleil and David – and being present, feeling safe and here. I have safe objects or places or people that help me with that. Like a kid with a security blanket.

Some people would call it petty but one of my safe things is my fingernails. I take pride in their length and shape and strength. I play with them all day. Like the floor, they’re always there for me. They’re important but, unlike the floor, they’re fragile. I take caution, pay close attention to them. Then something like Tuesday happens.

I wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to do physical labor, but S asked and I really need the money. I was sick and irritable and tired. I didn’t want to be there and was trying very hard to do what she asked and protect my nails. Somehow, while moving heavy boxes and sorting things, I incurred black and blue bruises on both feet and broke 3 nails. I was devastated. Bruises I can tolerate but the nails were for me. My heart sank and I stopped in my tracks. My breathing stopped for a moment before it returned angry and incredibly hurt. Core belief: I don’t matter. Her needs are more important than mine. Everyone’s are really. And I’m angry.

Soleil posted this quote on FB that keeps popping up in my head:

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I don’t know how to do that. Everyone’s needs come before mine. It’s an important skill to have but only on a limited basis. I hate people for a reason. I’m ANGRY.

The importance of a fingernail is more than you might think. That fingernail is me. Now I’m broken. No one stops to see.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2016