Bad habits live in the dark

monster figurine toy on macbook pro keyboard

While I have been chugging away at certain goals, book-reading and Nei Kung-doing, especially, I’ve been lagging embarrassingly behind on others.

One of the most embarrassing failures has been my inability to resume my dedication to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. For a regimen that not only turned my health around seven years ago but also managed to get me down to a negligible amount of medication, I’m amazingly dismissive of it. I’m not just talking the occasional cheat: there are oceans of Rolos between me and my former healthy self; vast chasms you could fill with Pizza Hut Thin-and-Crispy Veggie-Lovers Supreme. I would think nothing of driving through the Jack-in-the-Box window for their revoltingly delicious, deliciously revolting 2-for-99¢ tacos, of tossing a bag of Jelly Bellies, or M&Ms, or Marshmallow Peeps, in season, into my basket on the way out of Vons or the Rite-Aid.

Literally. I would not think. This has made transgressions surprisingly friction-free, but has gotten me further and further from feeling like it’s possible to be on SCD at all.1 And you know, I can’t count on there being prednisone and other immunosuppressants after the apocalypse, so it behooves me to get off the junk well in advance and give my poor intestines a chance to sturdy up.

Fortunately, I seem to have stumbled on a solution that costs nothing, is easy to implement and that, thus far, has stopped all fast-food cheats dead in their tracks: the Specter of Wayne.

Wayne is a good friend and an even more exacting external conscience. A fellow ACoA with bigger balls than I, he simply has no tolerance for moral ambiguity. Like the SCD, you either are or are not with Wayne; he won’t argue with your choices unless you want him to, but there is no lipsticking of the pig with Wayne. It is broccoli, and he says the hell with it.

Which is how, after he gently brought up a very embarrassing lapse in, uh, judgment I was making over and over again, we ended up with the brilliant fix of me contacting him before succumbing. I could succumb after that, but I had to let him know first. If you are an addict or someone who loves one, you may recognize this as sponsor-like behavior, which it is, with one significant exception: it would not be Wayne’s job to talk me out of my indiscretion, just to bear witness to the possibility of it.

Well. The genius of this was immediately evident. I am ruled by shame and fear (yeah, yeah, I know); Wayne is an inflexible arbiter of right and wrong. There was no fucking way I was going to cave if it meant letting Wayne know. The mere idea of it was enough to stop me when I was on the brink. Hence, the Spector of Wayne!

At last week’s Success Team, my little weekly gathering of like-minded self-improvers, I reported that the Specter of Wayne had worked so well in curing me of my previous bad habit that I wanted to apply it to another: the getting of me back onto SCD. We would go slowly, just junk/fast-food, for starters, and fuzzy borders, at that. I went to a wine-tasting event on Friday night with the full intention of enjoying whatever delicious illegals they laid out next to the Malbec and sangria. Hell, even the sangria was illegal. But these were fine-quality baked goods and chocolates, not thank-you-drive-through abominations.

Eventually, I will banish even those, of this I am sure. Partly because with each thing I say “no” to, I grow a little stronger and more confident. I live a little more in the light of truth, and believe a little more deeply in the power of focusing on that which is best for me.

But I also retain a healthy respect for the Specter of Wayne. Whatever it takes to get there from here…


1The SCD is a binary proposition: you’re either on it 100% or you’re not on it. And, in my experience and that of many thousands who have gone before me, one requires fanatical adherence for a while before one can feel safe letting illegals creep in here and there. If ever.

Image by Random Activity via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. How lucky you are to have the Specter of Wayne, Colleen. May we all have those ‘Specters’ when we need them.

    1. Would that we could be our own Waynes. As it’s not possible, the best we can do is be Waynes for each other.

      (I’ll have to check with Wayne tonight to see if he’s his own Wayne. He’s pretty strict with himself, that I know.)

  2. Funny you should post this right on the morning I decide to recommit to the “No S Diet” (“no sweets, no snacks, no seconds, except, sometimes, on days that begin with ‘s’ “) I love synchronicity.

  3. I wish you (and Wayne) well in your quest. On a lighter note, thanks for starting the week off with a Robert Benchley quote.

    1. You’re welcome—which quote? The title? A search is turning up nothing for me, and I’m mortified that I missed a quotation by someone I admire as much as I do Benchley.

  4. As soon as you mentioned Wayne I thought “I gotta contact him about selling his specter-of services, and take a cut for starting it up if he hadn’t thought of it yet!”

    But then I realized that neither the Wayne nor the Specter are enough for me: the key ingredient is integrity (or whatever other word stands for “not lying.”) You didn’t used to think about scarfing those Rolos; what makes you think about being required to text Wayne before you do? (And congrats on not facing that so far.)

    Having just powered through a Peppermint Patti, two logs of Starburst, two Score bars, a Twix, a bag of M&Ms (peanuts are protein!) and a, oh right, that other Twix bar (it was a 2-for-1 day at CVS!) since sitting down to work today, I know that if you’d’ve linked to Wayne’s service, I’d click, pay, and never look back. Meaning, I’d lie. I’d do the bad habit if I wanted to and report that I’d never called Wayne. I’m a bad, lazy, selfish, (what’s the word for having no problem lying?) candy junkie on a bender and I can’t imagine what it would take to make me be honest with an accountability guy. I’ll be off candy soon, I know from experience; I finish my project (and candy stash) feeling sick, sleep for 2 days, and stop wanting it. But until then —

    This is all coming out wrong — I just meant to write: “Wow! You’ve got great will power! Good for you!” And maybe I’ll start an accountability service for addicts, denyers, and others like me who think that buying/downloading of the Book should take care of the reading/learning portion of the process…

    Thanks for the swell example of what integrity looks like. Ugh.


    1. This is a phenomenally generous and insightful note—an embodiment of why I keep comments open. (The reasons I have thought of turning them off are many, but chiefly I worry that having comments feeds an ego-need rather than the nobler purpose of fostering better and more open communication, plus disseminating ideas more quickly than an old-school, email-process-write-post-repeat process would.)

      I am going to address this fully in a post, but for anyone stumbling across this in the meantime, I think that the missing step between what you’re calling integrity (and that I might call impulse to do, at least, in this case) is noticing. I got tripped up over and over and over by skipping this step, or hitting it fast without sitting in the observation.

      This “darker” behavior—an addictions or other shame-filled action of whatever other kind we’re not proud to share in the hours of daylight—only gets more trenchant if it is not first given its due. I’ve been working in the Wave on this with Dave Seah, and on the blog for some time (with intermittent success—blogging, I am coming to realize, is fraught), and in therapy (although it’s easy to hide in therapy, too, once you know how).

  5. Interesting note about leaving comments on, I was just commenting on this yesterday: comments DO fulfill an ego need, but I think that need is ours, the Commenters, not yours, the Commented-Uponee. And ditto re the quick spray of ideas, I learn a lot by reading (and being compelled to write in) blog comments.

    Looking forward to your posting about “noticing” — that’s a biggee. I’m an odd case of enlightened cro magnum, but I notice and THEN defy (authority issues, anyone?!)

    LUCKILY, I have no shame, as my comment made clear: my bad behaviors are carried with immature acceptance and are as well-lit for all to see as are my greatnesses: I have excellent posture, set a lovely table, and make people feel good.
    Glad you’re not hiding — you’re an asset to your audiences in every way.


Comments are closed.