Matte red. I dusted off the top of the small glass nail polish bottle and shook it a few times, hitting it against the palm of my hand. Red seemed a lot more festive than say, hot pink, seeing as how it was a few weeks until Christmas. I knew it didn’t really matter that much in the grand scheme of things because it was cold out and my feet would usually be covered by socks (much to my dismay, I’m a flip flop person)– but I’ve always had a thing about having my toenails painted.
Growing up, my grandmother had those thick, yellowish toenails that old age can sometimes bring (or is it fungus? I can never quite remember). They absolutely terrified me. More than dolls. More than Snow White’s Haunted Adventure at Disney World. Her toes were the things of my nightmares. Since then, I could never stand to look at bare toenails. Not even my own. So I kept them painted at all times. If they chipped, I’d take the time to sit down and remove the remnants and shellac on a new color. I even learned pretty designs and patterns to change things up.
That me would not recognize me now.
I sat on the floor, wiggling my toes back and forth, thinking that maybe it would help the matte red on my toes dry faster. You hear people joke about how polish on your nails will chip off if you even sneeze, but the polish on your toes could survive a nuclear holocaust. I certainly didn’t need the red to last for that long, but I’d hoped it would at least last through the new year.
Right around Christmas, I saw the first few chips. Disappointing, to say the least, but not enough for me to pull out the nail polish remover and start over again.
Over the coming weeks, I would watch the polish chip more and more, and instead of doing what I’d always done and picking a new color to shellacked onto my toes, I pulled on a pair of socks.
And I kept saying “maybe tomorrow” until it really did look like my toes had gone through a nuclear holocaust. Still, as I stared down, disappointed that the natural nail was peeking through because of the memories of “Fungus foot”, I pulled on another sock.
It’s not because I didn’t want to paint them. It’s not because I stopped caring, or because I’m out of any color other than matte red, and it’s just not festive anymore. It’s not because I have two small children who keep me busy, or because I’m trying to get so many things around the house and with my writing done that I can’t find the extra time that I had when I was younger.
At 26 years old, pain crept in a window and never left. From that moment on, I had to rewire my brain. It wasn’t always about what I wanted to do. The consideration into whether or not to do things like laundry, or paint my nails, or even making myself a decent lunch became “Can I?”
Can I do this without hurting myself more?
Can I do this without it causing me to spend the rest of the day on the couch?
Can I actually complete this, or will it take me multiple tries?
And is it worth it?
As much as I love having my toenails painted, the amount of pain it has the potential to cause me is rarely worth the relief I get from not seeing cracked polish staring up at me from the floor.
Chronic pain doesn’t always give me the choice. It closed the window behind it, and proceeded to seep into every inch of my life. How I think. How I act. What I do. It’s crept into my motivation. My writing. My parenting. Some days I can get a lot done, and don’t feel much pain at all. Other days, I do one load of laundry and my back is screaming to sit down. I never know which day it’s going to be. I never know how much I’m going to be able to do.
Sometimes it’s not about the size of the thing you do, but that you did it. I painted my toenails today. They need another coat, but maybe I’ll do that tomorrow.
LIVE on Twitch tonight! Come say hi! twitch.tv/holdinholden
I Ripped the Ass out of my Pants goo.gl/fb/fcStPt
@BrentWalshITM Your show in RVA is the first time considering taking one of my minis to a rock show and I figured you'd know better than any- safe for a 10 yr old or wait a few years? He loves y'all but I don't think he can handle a thrashing
My kids do this funny thing where they give me all kinds of attitude in the morning while forgetting I have access to their toothbrushes while they're at school.
It really doesn't have to be a battle, I promise. holdinholden.com/2015/02/to-t…