But my mind is still reeling from this exposure all the same. At least my version of reeling. As usual, I’m terrible at identifying and labeling my anxiety for what it is. Instead I just think and think and think…oh, and think some more. Right now I am on the fence – should I retrace the events in my head? It would be so easy. I could figure out what touched what in the bathroom, what I was forced to touch before washing my hands, what could now be “contaminated.” But that’s one of my biggest and most detrimental compulsions right now – the compulsion of mental review. I’m not sure if I am willing to resist. I feel like I did the exposure and physically did response prevention, so why do I have to resist the mental side of things, too? I used a freaking public restroom, AND I washed my hands much less compulsively than I usually allow myself to. The desire to mentally review the restroom experience is SO strong. But if I engage in that compulsion, I will at least not engage in it here, on my blog. I don’t want this to be an outlet for my compulsions but rather a place for me to establish my will to fight back and gain support from others.
Still, the urge is strong. We’ll see.
In other news, this is the first time I have traveled WITHOUT HAND SANITIZER since my relapse began. That’s another reason I am dying to permit myself just a few big bad mental rituals. There is so much exposure in so many other ways. Anyways, I have never done this before – traveling without hand sanitizer that is – since my contamination issues rapidly took over my life nearly a year and a half ago now. But since the beginning of my intensive treatment, I have sworn off the hand sanitizer. My therapist and I threw out what was left of my stock at the beginning and I have committed to purchasing no more. Hand sanitizer is my drug and if I let myself make an exception because I’m traveling, I could easily find myself again becoming dependent on it when trying to function in the public world. In the end, it’s better that I am forced to sit out the discomfort of feeling like I “should” do something about the fact that I have touched lots of dirty things.
So there it is. The beginning of Day #1 of my trip. First day off from treatment (besides Sundays) in several weeks. Doing my best to continue moving forward (or at least maintain my gains) and to embrace the exposures inherent in the experience of traveling.