Thursday, March 7, 2013

Real Life Tao - Ingrown Nature

Trey Smith

I was born with a birth defect in my left hip. As a result, I wore braces for much of my first three years. While I have continued to have hip problems all throughout life, there is another nagging problem that has bedeviled me: ingrown toenails! The worst offenders are the big toes on either foot, but each of my ten toes suffers from the same issue.

My braces -- one of which I still have among my keepsakes -- came with ill-fitting shoes. The shoes didn't keep up with my growing body and, in time, they began to impact the development of my feet. Eight of my toes -- not the two pinkies -- are crooked and the nails of all the toes grow into the quick on a routine basis.

Over the years, various doctors have tried different strategies to remedy this problem, but to no avail. The ingrown nature of my toes always returns to this altered state. And so, I spend many hours each week clipping my nails and digging them out of the inflamed skin around them. I also spend more time than I like howling as I bang one toe or another into objects like furniture!


A lot of people have trouble understanding how a child who grows up in an abusive home environment can then turn around to become an abuser themselves in adulthood. Like a toe, abuse becomes part of their ingrown nature. The abuse they witnessed and/or suffered during their developing years alters the way they view the world and themselves. Abuse becomes a de facto method of dealing with certain kinds of stress. It is very difficult, though not impossible, to overcome.

This is the primary reason that society has created a variety of strategies to try to break the cycle of abuse. The thinking here is that, if the abuse can be identified and stopped during a child's formative years, then it won't become part and parcel of their ingrown nature.

In this same vein, if my doctors had noticed that the shoes connected to my braces were impinging upon my toes, they could have devised strategies to alleviate the problem. Obviously, no one noticed this and so I have had to deal with the pain and discomfort ever since.

This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.

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