Dear Lip-pickers Anonymous,

Confession: I pick my lips. And not just absentmindedly. I mean I really pick at them. Until they bleed. I have no definitive reason for why I do this, only that it’s a nervous habit, brought about by… who knows? Sometimes, I’m not thinking of anything at all. I just…pick. My husband will ask me, “Are you anxious?” No, why? “You’re picking your lip.” Half the time, I’m not. Actually, that’s not true. I’m always anxious, but no more than usual when I reach up to expertly peel the top layer of skin off my poor, mistreated lips.

I’ve been picking my lips since I was, gosh, 8? And every time I leave them bleeding, puffy, and tortured, I think to myself, That’s it. No more. But there’s always more, isn’t there? As is any habit, it’s hard to break. It’s a compulsion, a product of neurosis. I mentally and physically cannot help it. And if we’re being honest, I haven’t tried that hard to stop. Why? Because it’s just too easy to say, OK this is the last time. 

This is my last cigarette. 

My last drink.

Our last fight. 

I’m gonna get better after this one…last… 

And the people around us know we’re fooling ourselves…all the while fooling themselves too. We’re a society of addiction. Whether it’s cigarettes, Marvel movies, or lip-picking, we can’t stop. Just give us more one more Iron Man movie. Just one. That’s it. And when the Avengers fizzle out, some other huge franchise will take its place. And Fast and Furious will still be going strong…somehow…

That’s humanity for you. Beautiful, isn’t it? And addiction has been the villain since the beginning. Adam, Eve, and the apple? Addiction to curiosity.

And I’m addicted to runaway trains. Let’s get back on track.

Maybe I pick my lip because I’m perpetually losing focus and picking at the tiny irregularities of skin that no one notices except me brings me back. To the present. OR it allows me an escape. I’ve noticed that when I pick my lip, my mind goes blank and I have trouble focusing on what’s in front of me. If I’m having a conversation, I zone out. Half my attention is elsewhere. And I make this weird lip-picking face that made the kids in my 5th grade class laugh (I wish I could say with me).

18 years. That’s a long time. It will be quite a habit to break, but the day will come. If there’s any consolation, it’s that I’m not alone in this. There’s a whole community of lip-pickers out there. All dead-set on breaking their bad habit but waiting for the “right time.”

That right time is now…

…she says whilst picking her lip.


A hopeless lip-picker


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