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.

Sincerely,

A hopeless lip-picker

Dear La La Land,

I’m inspired.

Reality is highly subjective, you know, to the point that one must wonder whether or not reality really exists at all. Perhaps there’s simply an infinite number of realities, and all of them fit together to make one. actual. reality. An infinite number of perspectives. Like a thousand-seat theatre. Each seat a perspective. Row D, Seat 3… perspective. Row FF, Seat 17… perspective. The stage illuminates actual reality… moving about the stage. Exiting off stage right. Stage left. What happens behind the scenes doesn’t matter, because no one can see what happens behind the scenes.

It’s a nice metaphor and all, but who’s manning the spotlights?

I’m a romantic…clearly. I often write words, sentences, and the like only to erase it all in half the time it took me to create. Pretentious, I’ll sigh to myself.

I live behind a veil, most likely in part to the anti-depressant I take every morning. But La La Land is there… I can see it when the child who plays in my brain peeks over the white picket fence. Big eyes. Blue. Blinking. Long, long eyelashes. She longs to go there. Occasionally, she does, but only one toe at a time and never all the way for fear of floating off.

Perhaps. What a pretentious word. Curious.

I write to you, La La Land, on behalf of the child who plays in my brain. Treat her well when she finally finds it in her to let go. See to it that she never looks back.

Sincerely,

Stephanie