Saturday, May 06, 2006

I suck.

I just finished the movie Thumbsucker. I had read the book years ago. My mother had given it to me. Not because it had rave reviews, or a friend had recommended it to her, she bought it based on the title alone. I am 25 years old, soon to be 26 in less than a month and I suck my thumb. I have since birth I suppose. And not just in my sleep. I suck it while watching TV, while taking a shower, while pausing to think of what next to write in my blog.

It was strange to see this movie. I related too much to it and those similarities ended up feeling like almost an invasion.

An interesting difference however between myself and the protagonist of Thumbsucker, Justin, is that I was never ashamed of my childish habit. I am not proud, and I don’t advertise it (yeah, good job writing about on your website Lauren, way to keep it on the DL) but I can count the instances someone made me feel ashamed of being a thumbsucker on one hand. And I think that’s mainly down to the fact that I didn’t let them.

While Justin hides in his high school bathroom to suck his thumb between classes, I used to suck my thumb in the middle of class. I’m sure that people used to know me as that weird girl who sucked her thumb during US History. Actually I KNOW that that is how people in high school knew me as. I just don’t remember caring.

I don’t suck my thumb at work. Well at least not when anyone’s looking. So obviously at some point what is socially acceptable has taken precedence over my comforting addiction.

I went to the dentist when I was back in the states and I asked him to give me a mouth guard to help with the sucking at night. I enjoy sucking my thumb and I don’t necessarily want to stop, I also don’t want to have teeth sticking horizontally out of my mouth in 10 years time and have completely wasted all the money my mother put into braces, expanders and retainers. My dentist later commented to my mother that she had an amazing daughter to be able to admit such an embarrassing trait so openly.

Is it that embarrassing? Something I should hide? Constantly in fear that I’ll fall asleep in public and wake up with my thumb in my mouth in front of a stranger?

We all have addictions, habits, quirks. Perhaps I’m too open with mine. You’d think I would have learned by now not to talk with my mouth full.


Danielle said...

I love your quirks! We definitely all have them. I have to say that movie really bothered me. It left me feeling very unsettled to the point that I felt angry. If that is what they were going for, then I guess they accomplished it, but I will not be watching it a second time... Or at least not until I forget about it and need to watch it again to remember why it pissed me off.

Lauren said...

That's so interesting that it pissed you off. I felt kind of validated after seeing it. Not to mention that I really enjoyed the acting, relationship depth and style of the film. Why did it make you so mad?

Danielle said...

I won't be too specific in order to not give anything away, but I thought that the way that they handled mood altering drugs was a bit easy and predictable, and I felt unresolved by the ending. It probably didn't help that I (like you) could relate to so much. I agree that the acting was very good though, and the film was visually beautiful.

Trish said...

Lauren! I just watched Thumbsucker, myself. AND, I might add, we have something else in common...I sucked my thumb for a long time. In my head, I say I stopped at around eight, but I'd be willing to bet it was more like 10 or 11. Maybe even 12.

In any event, I know what you mean about the movie feeling a bit invasive. Specifically for me? The scene where the kid's dad storms from the kitchen into the family room and slaps Justin's thumb right out of his mouth. My dad did similar things, his most famous being creating a family (and college-friend) catchphrase: "Judas Priest! Get your fingers out of your mouth!" My dad was a really, really good man (seriously -- just the best), but growing up, he exhibited such shame and disgust at my thumbsucking habit, I was convinced he didn't like me. It affected my relationship with him in a big way. I wasn't really cool with him until after my mom died and I was forced to interact with him. And then? We connected in a beautiful way.

I tried a few years ago to suck my thumb to see if I still liked it, and I don't. It doesn't feel the same in my mouth anymore. Like it doesn't fit, almost. It's funny. There are pictures of me at seven or eight, laying on the floor in my bikini, following a swim in our doughboy pool with an hour of cartoons while playing with my blanket and sucking my thumb. I remember that as being very, very satisfying. It can't be recaptured, I guess.

While the thumbsucking stopped, I still have a variety of types of fabrics that I like and that give me that sense of comfort. When I was little, it was fringe from my bedspread. Then it was the rickrack trim of one of my doll's blankets. As I got older, it was the rough edges of the material covering the sofa's armrests. Now? It tends to be the corner of things -- like that found on denim jackets, or certain dishtowels. If I play with it, I kinda zone out. It doesn't happen often, but when it does? Fascinating! (At least to me.)

I knew there was a reason we clicked.


Trish said...

P.S. I still bite my fingernails. I'm 36; I'd love to say I'll stop someday, but who knows?

Suzzie said...

I'm 21 and I still suck my ring and middle fingers on my left hand. It's mostly a sleep aid. I also saw Thumbsucker and was very comforted. I was always made to feel inferior or immature or neurotic about it when I was a child. Made to fear ridicule and whatever else it is kids do. After reading your post I feel a little less crazy. Thank you.

Harvey said...

Lots of adults suck their thumb, only on the sly. I do and made a website for us to share at