So, I actually did do better yesterday. Every time I was tempted to cheat (and even when I gave in), I thought about this blog and how I would have the chance to report my success or would have to fess up my cheating.
I sincerely made an effort to try to stop AT 60 seconds. Not 75, not 65, not 61, but 60. As for the other parameters, I sometimes followed the rules and sometimes didn't, as the situation suited me - which is not really how ERP is supposed to work. I should be committing to the rules regardless of the situation, because there will always be a time that OCD says, "Hey! This time is different! You can't follow the rules now!" But those are precisely the times when I should be the most vigilant in enforcing the rules. If I merely do exposure when it seems okay, but readily violate the rules when there is any doubt in my mind as to whether it is "okay" to do the exposure, I am undermining the very purpose of the exposure in the first place. I may be showing myself that I am capable of doing the exposure or following the rule, but at the same time I am reinforcing the idea that I have to disregard the rule when certain situations arise. I let OCD win, and I never get to find out whether I could have made it without giving in, whether it was just OCD or not (which I highly suspect it is, or, if it isn't, I suspect that I can get through it anyway). Playing the challenge OCD game is all good when it's easy, but the moment it gets difficult, I tend to bail all too frequently! Something to work on and something to remind myself of when tempted to give in!
Yesterday I took a 35 minute shower in the morning before I went to see my therapist. Not terrible, but certainly not my best. (I think my shortest shower on record since this all began was 23 minutes!) I succeeded in resisting the urge to wash my mesh bath sponge thingy, but washed my hands toward the end of the shower before getting out. I am tempted to shower again today, so that everything seems "right" for my day's adventures (going to visit one of my best friends), but I know that I will want to shower tomorrow after staying at her place (especially if I play with the dog!), so I might as well just make myself wait and shower everyday other like I am supposed to for the sake of exposure.
I wore the same pajamas last night as I had the night before. As I write this I am actually trying to decide whether or not to give in and place said pajamas in the dirty clothes hamper and end my two day streak of complying with my guidelines (wear the same PJs every night for a week, even if worn around the house). I fear that my pants may have brushed against the bathroom floor so I am tempted to just condemn these to the laundry hamper and start again with a clean pair. It's hard to resist this sort of compulsion because it really isn't that onerous or time-consuming. I just did laundry so the pair of pajamas that I wore last night could be easily replaced. But as I wrote about how I should be doing exposure earlier in this post (under hand-washing), I think I managed to convince myself this is exactly when I should not give in to this compulsion, even though it would be relatively easy and hassle-free to do so. Look! Writing about my exposures and rules for washing is already motivating me! :)
And last but not least, the infamous laundry! I did five loads of laundry yesterday. I mixed "dirty" and "dirtier" lights, as well as "dirty" and "dirtier" darks. I did separate my jeans and towels into their own separate loads, even though I am not really supposed to, because I had enough of each to make their own loads...
And, my crowning achievement of the day: I wore a t-shirt that came from the dirty pile for several hours with no avoidance because I was wearing it! I may feel like I am a roving source of contamination now, especially because I will not be showering today, but so be it! I can fight back against my OCD!
Related post: New Home, New Rules: Part 2