I spend hours thinking about how much I procrastinate instead of doing those tasks I put off. I’d like to blame it on what Yahoo calls “too much TV watching as a child induced ADD” or lack of attention or ability to focus on any one thing for very long, instead I’m blaming this one on my abundance of nervous energy. Even when my body is tired and my brain needs a rest I have anxiety that hangs like a cluster of fluttering wings pulling at me ever so slightly. The current bleeds inertia into my thoughts and actions requiring change.

One of the more embarrassing manifestations formed as a picking sort of tic. I comb my fingers through my hair searching for follicles and when I find one I eat it. The searching motion and process soothes and calms my busy hands and antsy jaw. I’ve had a hard time sitting still since I was a kid. I remember watching horror movies with my dad and not being able to remain glued to the set despite the impending drama.  I’d usually be on the floor and he’d be sitting behind me eyes catching every movement from the couch, “Shannon, be still.” I’d try so hard by sitting on my hands and feet but inevitably I’d be vibrating again.  “Shannon, stop moving.”  The problem persisted throughout my childhood and followed me to the present.

I’m constantly chewing gum, eating or drinking, cracking my knuckles, picking at the skin around my fingers, rubbing my nails against neighboring fingers and any form of fidgeting I can do or make with my hands. I used to bite my nails but luckily I spit that habit out a long time ago.  I was a smoker for a few a while too but I extinguished that nasty cancer-fuel when I started running, and now like most former smokers I can’t stand the smell or taste of cigarette smoke and I’m highly judgmental of smokers. However, it seems like it’s more acceptable to smoke rolled second-hand killers than it is to openly admit to munching on head debris. I’m just saying, and making myself feel better.

I remember when I first admitted my tactile and oral vice to Susan. (Sounds juicy, huh?)  I tried to hide it for as long as I could but my urge to preen was unavoidable. It happened during one of our morning coffee-talk times when we first started dating. After an intense conversation about the kids etc. she went to the kitchen for a second cup and I went to digging through my strands. I was determined to find something and then it occurred to me to tell her knowing she’d catch me sooner or later. I yelled into the other room, “Babe, I have something to tell you. Hopefully it won’t gross you out or turn you off too much. I dig in my head and eat the goodies I find.” She laughed and said, “So what you’re telling me is that you enjoy a hair follicle every now and then?” I said, “Yes, it relaxes me when I’m feeling stressed or anxious and it also helps me focus.”

For a while she tried grabbing my hand whenever I reached for my hair, but my steadfastness wore her down. In addition, she found numerous ways to tease me about it saying things like, “Did you find a good one?” Or, “How was that one, did it pop in your mouth?” For the most part she’s comfortable with my grooming unless it becomes compulsive due to changes in any one of the anxiety laden side dishes of my personality.

For example, I started pulling weeds from my scalp over an unopened card my mother sent me for my birthday, and because of a birthday text from my younger sister,  “Hey Shannon, happy birthday.  I wish you would make an effort to reconcile with mommy. People make mistakes. I hope you have a fun birthday.”  She also mentioned how upset she was that I was writing in my blog about our mother and how she thinks I live in the past and that I should forgive my mother. What hurt the most was when she compared my experience as a child with my mom to how my children will be affected by my divorce and gay-lifestyle. I was reminded of how family ties can hack away at my sense of security and how quickly I can come undone.

I don’t own anything my sister said, but I toyed with her words like a child with putty just to make sure the imprint was hers and not mine.

If I could go through my to do list the way I do my skull I’d have more accomplished in one day than hairs on my head but I’m easily sidelined by events concerning family. I’ve been at the center of my issues and taking it out on the shafts of my hairs. However, I think I’ve come up with a solution that will both nurture and motivate my spirit, and ease my nervous hands.

I was too afraid to do this in the past but I’ve decided to view the answer in a way that benefits me. I’m going to write my mother a letter-which I’ve never done before-as a closing thought or as an entry in my book.  I don’t know how else to process and relay  my feelings in regard to her, but I think its time. I’m not sure how it will read, but even the thought of writing to her makes my legs shake. I’ve never written to her but I’m thinking this letter could be the missing piece in my outline. What do you think?


About Runs With Tigers

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6 Responses to Scalped

  1. Kendra says:

    Yes!!! I cant believe you’ve never written her a letter before!
    Your sisters comments, so trite and simple, so naive. Remind me
    of my own young sister who just will never understand. I dont know that a
    letter will keep your mom at bay though, people have a way of reading around things
    they dont want to hear…

  2. Susie Lazega says:

    So many things happening here to comment on. Firstly -eeewww gross. I love to learn about people, and feel better that I have grown enough to not always ask the questions that are peppering my mind, but erg. I have a confession to make though – I too am a nervous picker. I am so thankful it never led to eating the ick. Mine is of the bumps found on my back, or head. I remember grossing out my Dad, and his saying something. I don’t think I managed to break the habit until I realized how gross it must look. Truth be told, I would get so bored nursing Danny that I would do these things out of boredom. it finally dawned on me the view from outside, and I have managed to keep it to a minimum ever since. Somehow, and sometimes I seem to be able to do this.
    Now, onto this letter. I have a feeling this would fall under cathartic, and getting it out of your system/off your back. I know we differ on the approach. I suggest you begin writing right now – while it’s in your mind. This will make great fodder for the book – the many letters that you may write will be so revealing. You may not have to share as much with her as you initially expunge. Oh these can be as “juicy” as you want to begin with. My closet editors mind is on full tilt. The final one you send may be quite short and sweet, but the road to get there will be pure gold. Sounds like song writing gold.
    The last thought has to do with editing again. Our cousin is a musician. He has a cd. I remember listening years ago. He had so much to say, and we were listening. In talking about the song, he knew he didn’t have to say every thing he was feeling in one song. He knew it was hard to stop, but that’s the beauty of your craft, there will always be more to say. She doesn’t have to get the full story, and sometimes you don’t need the last juicy metaphor – you already made your point, save it for a rainy day…..
    Thanks for sharing. By the way, I am really enjoying the camp mommy writing. xoxo, Susie

  3. Kat says:

    Brave sharing! My whole family is pickers, we pick at ourselves and groom each other like little monkeys. I don’t think any of us are consumers, but I know one relative who used to be a saver (as in, keeping a jar in the bathroom). I think he stopped that after he got married. I read an article by a consumer who said that he was compelled to eat whatever he picked off himself because it was a way of keeping all of himself together…it might be a scab, but it’s still a part of him, it was still his body cells and he felt funny throwing it out. Interesting viewpoint.

    The sister…try this. Only acknowledge the acceptable parts of her communication to you. She sends you a text like that, send her one back that says, thanks for the birthday wishes, have a great day. Ignore any insanity that she’s trying to pass on. And isn’t the fun part of being a writer the fact that you get to write about people that have pissed you off? Do it enough and you might find that people are a little less likely to create drama around you for fear that they will end up in your blog. When someone acts up around me, I just look at them and think, one day you’re going to end up in my book, so bring it on!

  4. Barb says:

    Anxiety is a carry over… It will be with you until you counter act it with some thing else that makes you feel good. Once you forgive yourself for not doing what you think you should be doing or just decide to do it your anxiety will decrease. I don’t think anxiety from an abusive childhood is uncommon. You will get where you want to go. Now if I could only transfer those thoughts to exercise….everyone has an Achilles heal….write on Shannon!

  5. ayla says:

    I loved this entry because I felt like I was reading about myself, and I’m sure that there are others that felt the same way. We all have our weird little things we do to deal with our anxieties and stress, and it’s just nice to know I’m not alone. Love that you own it, thanks Shannon!

    I think you should write your mom, even if the only thing it does is take a little weight off your shoulders.

  6. Ginger says:

    Shannon, I just read your post on Sharewik (I’ve been off the face of the earth for a few months…) and I thank you as well as would love to connect with you! Good for your for writing because you want to! I can’t wait to read your blogs. Contact me at 🙂 Best, Ginger

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