Pen Pals

The Guideposts editor-in-chief shares a bad habit he has and reaches out for help.

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I need your help. But first I have an ugly confession to make: I chew on pens. I don’t mean nibble, mind you. I gnaw.

I buy pens based on chewability…nice soft-plastic pens. At the end of the day it looks like a cocker spaniel has been sitting at my desk. I’ve had them explode in my mouth, spurt ink all over my shirt. Once I got ink in my eye. It is not pleasant, as if you need me to tell you that. 

I am not feeble-minded. I know I shouldn’t eat my pens and many helpful people have tried to diagnose my problem. “It’s definitely a sign of insecurity,” one said. “You must be really frustrated or something,” said another. What’s really frustrating is not being able to stop myself from doing it. 

I’ve bought fancy, expensive pens that are not easy to masticate only to revert to the cheap chewy kind (ironically, perhaps, a pen called a Gelly Roll is my preferred brand). I’ve made New Year’s resolutions and countless promises to myself. Pray, you say? Oh, I prayed all right. I’ve begged to be delivered from this mortifying habit. It’s only gotten worse. God must have better things to do. 

Yesterday I saw my dentist, Dr. Terry. We’ve been having an ongoing battle. Every visit she accuses me of grinding my teeth at night and every visit I deny it. Still, Terry persists. Finally I asked Julee: Do I grind my teeth at night?

“No,” she said. “You snore like a pig but you don’t grind your teeth, thank God.”

That’s the good news. The bad news is the real culprit. Yep, you guessed it: pen chewing. Terry says I’ve already done damage that has to be addressed and if I don’t stop, things will only get worse. “It’s almost as bad as bruxism,” warned Terry, using the frightening medical term. Bruxism by proxy is what they probably call the condition that makes people eat their pens.

So there’s no denying it and no continuing it. I have to break this habit. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. If not, just pray for me. And if there is a difficult habit in your life that you want to break or have broken, I’m dying to hear about it. Please post below. Thanks, everyone.  I need you!

Edward Grinnan is Editor-in-Chief and Vice President of GUIDEPOSTS Publications.

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