Peeling back and resolving the layers of responses used to survive childhood repression and how dealing with these layers brought to a halt 35 years of obsessive and compulsive nail and lip biting.
As a child, I used to constantly chew my nails and bite my lips. When I was a teenager I managed to train myself over a period of several years to stop myself from chewing my nails (I forced myself to leave one nail intact at a time, and kept on adding. I chewed my 2 small finger nails for the longest time, they were the hardest to let go of but eventually I succeeded). But I could never stop the lip biting, with all the will in the world. I remember when I was 20, my best friend once looked at me doing it and told me in a disgusted tone of voice to stop, that I really looked ugly doing it. I felt very hurt, but it still didn’t help me to stop. Instead, I started doing it when no one was watching! This continued for years and years. I think that lip biting was less at some times than others, basically, it was related to anxiety, discomfort, insecurity, worry. Biting one’s lips is very compulsive and obsessive and while I do it, my thoughts go round and round in loops and I basically cannot come to any solution for anything.
Also, since I was a very young child, I have been masturbating. I had no idea what I was doing, and had even never heard of the word sex. I did it compulsively, like I was called by my body, sort of like the need to go pee very badly. As a child I always had thoughts of physical violence associated with it, which almost always was of my father beating my brother (which he did regularly). I guess it was very painful and stressful for me to know this was happening so I had found masturbating as a way to ease this stress, but I had no idea that it was the case. This continued for years, even into my marriage. It was then not associated with pleasure or love of my husband, but only a release (very different from love-making). The thoughts during this phase went to some obsessive unpleasant sexual situations (rather than the beatings of my brother), which turned me on even against my very own wishes, like I had no choice. My marriage was often stressful so I probably did this as a stress-reliever then too?
The only time I didn’t masturbate in my life was during the 6 years I lived with my soul mate, where there was no stress. But soon after he died, my body started asking for it again . . .
I mentioned to Clive that I was assailed with sexual feelings constantly, several times a week, that they would come out of the blue, anywhere, any time, but never as a response to attraction to someone.
Clive told me that they felt like what WSW calls ‘conditional responses’. These are behaviours that become habitual and ‘built in’ due to being carried out repeatedly or compulsively in this situation as a coping mechanism to barrier against some underlying difficult situations and emotional pain. So, he told me to treat them as conditional responses which I did. Each time I felt these sexual feelings I worked to clear the responses causing them away. After a couple of weeks these sexual feelings faded away to virtually nothing . . . .
As they faded I then started getting really hyper. I would become so hyper that I could not stay in one place and I would talk non-stop to whoever was within earshot. It was also very hard to work, and very uncomfortable being like this. Clive said that this too was another behavioural layer covering up something uncomfortable and painful and again to treat the hyperactivity as a conditional response and clear this too. So, basically this was another coping mechanism to deal with underlying emotional pain (as a child I was also hyper). So again this is what I did, each time I was in this hyper state I cleared by treating it as a habitual reaction and again it too disappeared slowly and surely over a few more weeks . . .
But this time when it was gone, the actual underlying emotions started to surface and for two or three weeks I felt incredibly sad, alone, abandoned, desperate for hugs, for a show of love for anyone. And sure enough, to help me touch these feelings my life was made empty during this time too. No one came to visit me, there was no one to show me love, so the sadness and all of these symptoms were amplified. I did a lot of crying during that time. Clive said I needed to be in these feelings to release the buried emotional pain to release it completely and I sure felt it . . . .
It was all the emotional pain of being often alone as the youngest child, ignored by my parents who were too busy dealing with stressful situations, their own issues or my other siblings. Then one day, the pain and sadness of being alone just went. It felt like it had all been emptied out of me. Almost instantly, I stopped crying, I stopped being sad.
But that’s when I realised that I was now chewing my lips like crazy! As I said, I’ve been doing this like forever, but now, it was really bad, nearly all day long! I was desperately trying to stop and would promise myself every night that the next day I would carefully watch myself so as to not do it (the nights healed my lips a little bit so morning was a good time to start my new intention), But invariably, I would start again and I wouldn’t be conscious of it until I had torn the flesh inside my lips, sometimes to bleeding badly. It was unbearable to realise that I was like an addict and couldn’t make myself stop, no matter what I tried. I really wanted it to stop. I had asked Clive to help me with this but he had always said it wasn’t the right time.
This time, however he said it was the right time and again I worked to clear this as a habitual response as it was yet another layer covering up pain, difficult situations and the impossibility to express my feelings . . . He said I would have to be forceful about it. So every time, I caught myself chewing my lips I would shout inside my head “Clear this way, damn it; I want the conditioning causing this chewing to stop!”. . . . .
Well, within 2 days, my lip biting went down miraculously by 90 %! It’s been 2 or 3 weeks later when I write this, and it has not returned. I have never been so long in my life without chewing my lips!
Well, if WSW can stop in 2 days of determined WSW focusing something you’ve done obsessively and compulsively for 40 + years without ever being able to do anything about it, no matter what strong will and intent you have used, then something must be said for its effectiveness!
WSW Observations: Maya has been working with the WSW healing approach for two and a half years now. There has been progress all the time as you will appreciate if you read her other examples. This example is great to illustrate the lengths we can go to, to cope with a traumatic and repressive childhood. You can directly appreciate each layer arising and on resolving the next beneath taking it’s place to do their original job of protecting and distancing her from the hurt. You cannot resolve past traumas by covering them up or wishing them away, only by facing and having the best tools to deal with them when you do. This example also illustrates that the last trauma you experience is the first you resolve and the first you live through is the last to be dealt with. You have to uncover each layer in time one at a time this is why I knew we could not get rid of the lip biting until now it is this time where it originated.
Keywords: uncovering layers of repression, masturbation, sexuality, hyperactivity, biting, chewing, nails and lips, anxiety, discomfort, insecurity, worry