Today I cut my fingernails. This is a big deal to me. This is only the second time that I can recall having to cut my fingernails; the first occasion was last Friday. I am a life-long nail biter. It is a disgusting, unhygienic, unattractive habit that I have struggled – & failed – to overcome on many occasions. There have been times when I have managed to grow my fingernails to a reasonable length, but they have never stayed that way long enough for me to need to cut them. The habit has always reasserted itself. Like all bad habits, it’s hard to break. My current nail amnesty may not last, but I am trying hard to make sure that this isn’t simply another attempt that will fail. I like the noise of my new nails on the keyboard as I type. I like that they now look groomed & well-cared for; I don’t think I realised how ashamed I’ve been of my hands until I noticed that I now feel quite proud of them. I have always thought that my hands were one of my least attractive features (hence a large glove collection) – but now I think they look lovely.
My other very bad habit is drinking. It has lot of parallels to my nail-biting: I have given up both on numerous occasions, only to slip back into previous ways sooner or later; I am ashamed of both; neither are consistent or compatible with how I see myself & how I live my life now. I really struggle with drinking; old habits, as they say, die hard. I know all of the arguments for not drinking; I’ve rehearsed them over & over often enough. I know I’m a bad drunk. I know why I’ve drunk at certain times in my life. I know I’ve run out of excuses. I know that I’m tired of feeling like it’s a battle – a battle that I always seem to lose.
I don’t want to live with this in my life anymore. It’s not that I’m some raging alcoholic, cleaning my teeth with cider & hiding bottles under my bed. But I have an uneasy relationship with alcohol; to be frank, I don’t trust myself when it comes to drink – I always want one more. That is really hard to admit. It seems so awful, so shameful. But I feel better for admitting it.
I knew when I set out to re-build my life – to create a life of my own – that this would involve some difficult decisions. And this is one of them. Driving back from dance class this evening, I saw lots of people heading out to pubs & bars. I love that feeling: the excitement, the anticipation, the conviality & sociability. I don’t want to sacrifice those things. But I think I do have to sacrifice the booze. I’ve wrestled with it long enough to know that I can’t live with it – so I’ll have to learn to live without it. My recent success on the nail-biting front has encouraged me to think that I can do this. I have the power & ability to make these changes. And I have a wedding to attend tomorrow – the ultimate first test of strength.