I had something happen yesterday that, more than any binge ever could, totally defines the compulsive behaviors that I struggle with. I have had a change to my schedule for the rest of the year that involved me using some Wite-Out in my planner. This is certainly not a problem. I can handle some Wite-Out…but I didn’t have any at home. I headed to Staples, and when faced with three options, I chose one that was water-based because I figured it would not clump like I have had the other versions do in the past.
I headed home, opened my planner, covered up the old appointments, and wrote in some of the new ones. And…it did not go well. The water base meant that it took forever to dry, didn’t cover well, and transferred a ghost of the ink to the opposite page.
My first impulse was to buy a new planner – the exact same one – so I could recreate the pages I have filled in so far and get rid of the one that I had “ruined.” I even went on the Staples website, filled up my shopping cart (I “had to” spend enough to get free shipping.), and I was ready to pull out my credit card when I decided to…stop. In therapy, we have talked about how, when faced with a compulsion, sometimes stopping for a few minutes can let the “need” to do something abate a little. This could be anything…a need to binge, a need to take a drink, a need to cut, a need to purge, a need to shop. Pausing can give you the time you need to consider which choice you want to make. It can take away the compulsive aspect of the behavior.
It doesn’t always work. Sometimes, when I try to pause, my response to that action is to say, “Fuck it,” and do it anyway. And there are varying reasons for that too. But THIS TIME, I closed out the Staples webpage and didn’t make my purchase. This morning, I stopped at CVS and bought some better Wite-Out (the quick dry…better coverage and dry time, but it is kind of clumpy in the bottle). And I put my planner back in order.
It turns out that sometimes I can be in charge…not my compulsions.