Finger Spots

1/10/2018     10:44pm


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

Waking up

10/1/12     12:20am

I’m sitting in the quiet of my living room. Zoe is wrapped up in a blanket beside me. I feel time moving. I don’t try to fight it.

Mom and Don are asleep. I’ve been tasked with waking them up in an hour so they can drive to New York. I don’t want them to go. Mom’s nervous. I want her to have fun. I want her to enjoy her life.

I’m just waking up from several weeks of intense fog. Something happened to me and it was not okay. There isn’t really a word for it. To me, it was rape. My therapist says it was “a physical trauma to your sexual organs.” Any way you put it, it fucked me up. I wanted to write about it but I couldn’t think or write or do anything. So confused, so scared. Not moving. My doctor doubled my Seroquel and we wait.

Yesterday I felt my brain coming back a little. I’m starting to think. My head hurts. My eyes feel open. I did have flashbacks today but they are fewer. I still can’t take in information. But tonight’s stress of Mom packing and leaving, and my Sunday night radio, and now the quiet has me able to write for a moment. My throat feels filled with vapor.

I feel so far away from last week when Jesus was a unicorn and Christmas a rainbow. Dr. N said, “It makes me sad to see you like this.” I just stared. I am emerging into anxiety, agitation & physical pain, which is probably a good thing. Better on the whole to be freakin’ out than non-responsive, like in the ER. It doesn’t feel that way.

Strange how waking up, coming back, is unwelcome. There is a comfort to the peace, to being sick. When I am incapacitated I take care of myself. I put myself first. I give me permission to feel and cry and do what I need to do without guilt. The rest of the time I’m supposed to be perfect. I’m not perfect. I don’t want to be. But it’s expected. I should push myself. I should do it anyway. I should. But I is not me. Why can’t I have compassion for myself always? Or even most of the time?

My head hurts.

I’m sleepy.

I need to cry.

Mom’s going to New York. I feel overwhelmed. I want to go back to sleep.

I am not okay.

© Michelle Routhieaux 2012