One thing that sets off my avoidance behaviors pretty powerfully is the idea of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with someone else in the urinals. As I found out in progress report #8, if someone is using the center urinal of 3, I just can't bring myself to stand up next to that person.
That happened to me a few times last week and it knocked my confidence and set me back a little. What would happen, I wondered, if I decided to use the center urinal myself? I set myself a new plan :
1. Use the center urinal if you can.
2. If someone is in a stall, leave and come back later.
3. If the bathroom is empty, wait until someone comes in.
The idea is to desensitize myself to having someone standing next to me at a urinal. This is a tough test and I'm prepared to fall-back a little if it doesn't work out but I want to try it, I might learn something.
Attempt #1 : Waited at the center urinal with an urgency of about 8/10. Eventually someone comes in. My heart starts beating out of my chest but I manage a thin dribble. I know it's going to stop completely if they come and stand next to me. They don't. Instead they go to a stall to pee. The pressure off, I'm able to finish up just fine. As I go to wash my hands I discover it's one of the guys who last week was himself standing at the center urinal, causing me to use the stall. Natural justice at work. Unfortunately my anxiety has me literally shaking as I leave the bathroom and minutes later I still feel jittery. Success? Failure? A little of both but a very Interesting experiment. I managed to pee some. I'm going to stick with it but go for a much higher level of urgency. I down another 20 oz of water and wait.
Attempt #2 : Took up position in an empty bathroom as before. This time urgency about 9/10. Someone came in and again, felt a rush of adrenaline and anxiety. Again, was able to push out a thin stream and again felt anxious that if they came to stand next to me it would come to a halt. They took a stall and again, I finished up normally. This time I'd say the anxiety was about 80% of the last time. Still feeling that this is worthwhile so I'm going to continue.
Attempt #3 : Took up position as before, this time with an urgency of 10/10. Eventually someone came in the room. I was able to start immediately with a better stream than before. The guy coming in took a stall to pee. For goodness sake, does everyone around here have Shy Bladder! Anxiety was again down, maybe only 70% of that first time so I feel like something is happening. I'm going to stick with it, see how this works out. Maybe someone will be brave enough to take a urinal next to me.
Attempt #4 : Urgency 9/10. When I arrived in the bathroom someone was already at the center urinal. I took a (mental) deep breath and decided to go for it. I stepped up and waited to see if I would be able to go. There was definite hesitancy but within a few seconds I was able to go quite normally. I felt a slight amount of anxiety but nothing like before - much more like my breakthrough day in fact. As before, nothing felt different I just didn't get anxious. Success!
Attempt #5 : Urgency 10/10. The bathroom was empty so I took the center urinal and waited. I stood there for what seemed like eternity but must have only been 5 minutes. Someone came in and I started to go with good flow. They walked up and took the urinal next to me. It certainly didn't hurt that the guy who came up was a lot younger than me, barely into his teens. I didn't feel at all threatened by him.
Then something happened that made me realize where some of my Shy Bladder might have come from in the beginning : my pee began to spray. If you're uncircumcised, as I am, your foreskin can roll-back so that it interferes with the flow and you'll start to get spray - just like putting your hand over the end of a hosepipe. I stopped my flow, re-adjusted and continued just fine but my anxiety leapt markedly.
Could this be the source of some of my problem? I think I am somewhat anxious about this kind of thing happening to me in a urinal. It would be horrifically embarrassing to miss the urinal in a public setting. But the solution is so simple, just pull back my foreskin a little!
Apologies to readers who find this too much information. I'm trying to work through things here and pulling punches won't help me or anyone else.
Overall I'd say today was a mixed success. I faced down some heavy anxiety early in the day and was once able to step up next to someone else and pee quite normally - perhaps because I'd already gone through more anxious situations? If past experience is anything to go by, tomorrow will be a pivotal day - either frustratingly worse or suddenly better. If I focus and don't let good opportunities pass me by I should be able to increase my chances of another day of good progress.
Further reading :
Read what happened in my next report (#10)