You can pick your friends. And you can pick your nose. But you can’t pick your friend’s nose.
You know that saying, right? It’s a handy parenting tool. It teaches your kids that they have control over their friendships, over their own bodies. And that they should keep their hands to themselves. All good stuff, no?
No. It took me 42 years to realize that you actually can’t pick your nose. Not as often as you might like to anyway.
On Monday I turned 42. Forty-two trips around the sun. More than a handful of close friends. And if I am painfully (and I do mean painfully) honest I have picked my own nose about forty-five thousand times. (It likely took me a couple of years to really have the dexterity but once I got the hang of it – I just really like the way my nose feels when it is squeaky clean! So forty-two years, three hundred and sixty-five days a year times three or four picks a day.) Forty-five thousand nose picks. And it’s fine, right? You can pick your friends. And you can pick your nose. But you can’t pick your friend’s nose.
Sometime last summer I had what I thought was a zit on the end of my nose. I did what I do. Home surgery and some peroxide and I should be good to go. It scabbed. I picked it. Wash and repeat.
I knew that it had been around a while. But when my birthday rolled around I remembered thinking last summer that the pool would probably clear up my zit. And here it is nearly Memorial Day again. My birthday. Same scab on the end of my nose.
So, I googled. Obviously, Dr. Google informed me that my death is imminent. But when I looked beyond that diagnosis of certain death it was pretty obvious what was going on. I had a cyst, not a zit. And you know what causes a cyst on the end of your nose? Picking it.
I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t commit to year-long lifestyle choices. But now and then I just quit something. I quit smoking a lifetime ago. It took more than a few tries. But I did it. I quit for good.
So, I am 42 years old and I am going to quit picking my nose. You heard it here first.
But it didn’t take me four days to wrap my mind around picking my nose.
I think it is time to stop picking the scabs. All of them. I’ve spent the better part of the last decade healing, healing and making peace. Healing from a broken heart, healing from childbirth, healing from a really outrageous view of my body and the damaging self-talk that I indulged in as a young woman. Making peace with the end of a marriage, making peace with the stability and comfort of being with MQD. Making peace with being a strong, fit, capable woman. Making peace with exactly who I am right now.
You can’t make peace when you pick the scabs. The healing that is happening in that scab is not just halted, it is set back when you pick open the wound. For just a moment there is no scab, there is just new pink skin and you can imagine what it felt like before there was any damage, it’s just smooth and like new. And then the skin gets red and maybe there is even blood. And so you begin again. New scab. Wash and repeat.
I am sure you’ve heard that old joke about mental health professionals being the craziest in the bunch? Maybe people are drawn towards helping others in the arenas in which they themselves need the most help. As a group fitness instructor and as a personal trainer I talk a lot about what holds us back. We identify the road blocks. We find solutions.
And I think I figured out what is holding me back. I pick. I pick and pick. I heal and then I pick.
But I am going to try to quit. I am certain that I won’t quit cold turkey. After all I have done it at least forty-five thousand times. But I have identified what’s holding me back and it’s not that I don’t know how to heal. I just can’t seem to stop picking.
So it turns out that you can pick your friends. And maybe that’s all you need to do. Thank you, thank you, friends that I have made in my 42 trips around the sun.