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Can We Not Talk About Your Feet?

Can We Not Talk About Your Feet?

Whenever I worry about things, I pick at my feet.

If I’m particularly stressed out, my feet look terrible. Is there a good reason for me to be stressed out right now? I don’t know. Is there ever a good reason? Is it normal to pick at your feet to cope with stress? What is normal? Is the fact that I’m even asking these questions a bad sign?

Inevitably, there arrives a situation which calls for someone — an outsider of some kind — to see my feet. A pedicurist, masseuse. A shoe salesman. It will be uncomfortable. They’ll say, Do you have some kind of, uh, injury, here? And I’ll say, Oh that. No that’s just this nervous habit I have. I know, it’s so gross. Because I do, And it is.

I hate it, I hate myself for it. And the worse it gets, then the worse they get, until sometimes it hurts me to walk on it, but only a little bit. Not a ton. Not enough to keep me from walking. Just a little bit, to remind me of a problem nagging at the back of my brain.

I’ve always hated my feet anyway. They’re too wide — that’s the part I get from my father. But the toes I get from my mother. I look at them in my sandals and I think of her. I am pretty sure you are supposed to look at things that remind you of your mother and be happy but that is not how I feel. I think, I should not wear these shoes. Or at least, I should not wear these shoes and put my feet up on the dashboard of the passenger seat like that, because when I do it’s like we are driving to San Diego again, in the yellow Volvo or the brown Peugeout wagon, and I am ten, and Abba or Fleetwood Mac is playing on the stereo and there is nothing I would not do to escape this skin of mine.

When I do I wonder if Mini will ever feel that same way and it’s like my heart will break in two at the thought of him ever having to feel any of it the crazy messed up, slanty way that I do. And just then he will catch my eye and ask me, Mommy, is that an owie on your foot? And I will say, Yes, baby, but it’s OK, Mommy will fix it. And he will kiss it, and say, All better. And for a moment, it is.

Comments (8)

  1. Jul 27, 2010

    I don’t know what to say to this.

    Wait, I know two things:

    1. Everyone is screwed up.
    2. Everyone (well, everyone who is not a shitty parent) worries that their kids will get their issues. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they get their own issues instead. But everyone is screwed up, so it doesn’t matter.

  2. I agree with Kerry. Being screwed up is part of life, but what Mini will have is knowing how loved he is regardless of that reality. And knowing that you are loved makes all the difference.

  3. Jul 27, 2010

    My wife and I (no kids just yet), often have the conversation of what our parents screwed up in raising us and what we’re absolutely going to avoid doing in the raising of our own children when the time comes. Fortunately, we see eye-to-eye on just about everything, including what we deem were our parents “mis-steps” and how we would approach similar situations ourselves. We talk about how their actions in those situations screwed us up or made us the way that we are now in some long elaborate chain of emotional events, and how we’d never want to inflict that sort of stuff on our kids. But the conversation never goes too far without realizing that when you shy away from one thing too much, you inevitably push yourself over to the other opposite side, and ultimately… we can spend our whole life trying not to screw our kids up the way that our parents screwed us up, but we instead will just manage to screw them up in our own very individual way – a way different (maybe better, maybe worse, but definitely different) from the way our parents did.

    Because like Kerry says, that’s just what happens. I think it’s part of being a parent, in that you are bound to find one way or another to screw up your kids. That’s not a bad thing though, it’s just how it is – how everyone is. And, being a kid – and then a teenager – and then an adult, you will spend your whole life dissecting all the little (and big) interactions you had with your parents and how it affected you… surely, everyone can always find something to fault. In the end, it’s all a wash.

  4. Jul 27, 2010

    My brother is also a foot picker. Honestly, it drives me crazy because of the repetitive noise (he picks at his toenails somehow).

    It just hit me recently that this kid is going to inherit stuff from us. I started obsessively looking at the ultrasound picture worried that she’s going to get my underbite. I started listing the things I hope she gets from my husband and ended up saying I want her to inherit nothing from me, pretty much. Depressing thought there.

  5. Denise
    Jul 27, 2010

    Hey Lisa:

    I don’t know if it’s just pregnancy talking right there, but I know your daughter wouldn’t want you to talk about her mom like that. Neither would her father.

    Both of them do now/eventually will think that the sun rises and sets because of you. Believe the hype my gal because for them, it does. If there’s nothing worthy of inheriting from you, then you’re pretty much putting down what your husband loves and what your daughter will.

    Don’t know why I felt the need to comment, but there you go.

  6. Denise
    Jul 27, 2010


    I won’t psychoanalyze your feeties because you know how to do that, but I think you should call your parents. If your feet remind you of your family this clearly from a layman’s standpoint, it’s something (either consciously or unconsciously) to do with the folks when you futz with them. JMHO.

    P.S. Wish Mini would compliment your feet every day. 😀

  7. Jul 29, 2010

    I am sorry to be late commenting especially since I asked you why you don’t write more about you. I also have wide feet and come from a family of feet pickers. Let me tell you, footsmart.com changed my life as I can just search on my size and width and finally get some kind of selection. But leaving aside the issue of finding great shoes is the picking from stress and worry and seeing our parents in our physical traits and how this brings up the issues we have with them and then the added complexity of hoping that the kids won’t be as bugged out as we are. I don’t agree with Kerry exactly because there’s screwed up and then there’s really screwed up. Maybe all people are a little bit screwed up and Mini’s a person so he’ll be a little bit too. But he won’t be really screwed up. And I’m sure he loves your piggies.

  8. Jul 30, 2010

    You are not alone. I sat in the longest board meeting from hell on Wednesday, and now my right big toe is a shadow of its former self. I turn on the TV, grab clippers and cut, pull, peel, etc. It’s gross.

    My thumbs also look horrible. When I am really stressed, I peel the skin off of the sides with my index fingers.

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