This summer, in honor of my 10th anniversary, I got a tattoo – something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It’s on my wrist and can be hidden by my watch (had to be practical, you know!). The aftermath has been unsurprising – obsess, obsess, obsess. Will it heal right? What’s wrong with that little spot that doesn’t seem to match the rest? Are those letters perfectly proportioned? Did I ruin it when I wore a watch the other day? It looks a little different than I remember. What if I get in trouble at work when a student sees my tattoo (I’m a teacher)? What if I regret it for the rest of my life?
And on and on, endlessly.
What I’ve realized is that the more substantial the decision, the more my OCD kicks in. If you’ve read my book, you know that my marriage has been the cause of my last 10 years worth of OCD thoughts. On a much sillier and lighter note, every time I buy a new pair of shoes, I obsess about every little spot where something might be a little off. I can’t even count the pairs of shoes I’ve returned or tried to return after a week of obsessing about them. I really like shoes, and my feet bother me a lot in general, so I care a lot about shoe decisions. Obviously not as much as I care about choosing the right marriage partner or liking my tattoo, but the same principle holds true: the more I care, the more I obsess.
The temptation, then, is to avoid major decisions. I know the ERP idea would be to embrace the anxiety of the major decisions, but let’s be honest, exposure sucks. It may help me in some way but I haven’t had much success with it to this point. Then again, I even obsess about decisions like where to eat dinner and what to wear, so there really is no way around it. Argh.