Everyone Doesn't Poop...Some of us are Shame Poopers!
Updated: Nov 2
I grew up in a famiy of artists, but there was no hippy vibe of body acceptance. Instead, my family vibed on tiny art and always had something to say about how I looked. If your family can't accept that you are not perfect, how do you think they feel about bodily functions? Gas, poop, mucous (still have a hard time with that one) or anything that comes from the body that isn't pretty was shameful. Despite the rules and regulations for public toilet usage given by my mom, I was forbidden to admit to strangers that our family “made.” Not sure if the word "made" is a cultural word, but it has proven to be confusing for people who know me.
The first time I realized that "made" wasn't the vernacular for pooping was while working at a veterinarian. One morning I went to check on a bird who was placed in a box with food and water the previous evening. The next time I saw the veterinarian I let him know the bird "made" and seemed alert. He turned around and stared at me for just enough time to want to disappear into the ether. In disbelief he asked, "Made? Made? What the fuck? You mean he took a shit?" I wanted to say, yes he took a shit, but I couldn't. I smirked and said yes, he has evacuated his bowels.
Despite my mom being obsessed with public toilet protocol, which included taking an envirornmental nightmares worth of wadded up toilet paper for use between my fingers and any plumbing, she didn't want to talk about using the bathroom. I'm not saying that we need to discuss it at length but maybe we could come to an agreement that shit happens. Possibly mention that defecation is natural and nothing to be ashamed about. She never wanted anyone calling the house to know that we were human. Not only could we not admit to callers, we didn't use the bathroom, but we also couldn’t admit it to each other.
If a family member was in the bathroom my mom wouldn’t acknowledge it. Instead, I was told they were busy. Technically this was correct, but if I knew what they were busy doing then maybe I could have estimated how long they would be. An added benefit to being honest could be that I wouldn't assume a parent was trying to avoid me. In lieu of saying we were in the bathroom, we would admit to being indisposed. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to use a word in a conversation when you have no clue what it means or even how to pronounce it? If I was speaking with someone who I didn’t want to talk to in person or on the phone I would say, “I'm sorry, I have to dispose of myself.”
An event took place today that drilled home the shame I have around body functions. I didn't need anybody to remind me, but nevertheless, I was reminded. Wednesday is my busy day and I don't have a lot of time to eat so I went to McDonald's. I only order one thing, which is a large number two (ironic) cheeseburger meal without the meat. I find it enjoyable to live at the poverty line and pay for things that aren't even there...like meat. When finished I drove to my next appointment and let the dogs out. Watching them do their business made me aware that I'm going to need that opportunity too and soon. Naturally, going number two in a client's house is unacceptable. However, I was about to get violently ill so I made an exception. I brought the dogs into the bathroom with me not to punish them but so I didn't have to worry about what they were doing outside.
After 30 seconds it was obvious I was experiencing what I thought was performance anxiety and convinced myself I was fine. I'm also aware that I have great difficulty pooping unless in my apartment. I put the pups in my car and began to drive them to their puppy playdate. While there I decided my former decision to not go was a wrong one. I called a friend/landlord to ask if she could stay with the dogs in my car so I could go upstairs and use my bathroom. She obliged and I ran upstairs to what I thought would be an opportunity to relieve myself of horrendous cramps. Uhhmmm...after 30 seconds I realized even having a friend waiting for me in the driveway was anxiety-producing. Unfortnunately, my body and mind connection was getting so confused that at this point to say I was sweating would be an understatement.
I had sweat pouring from my face, arms and legs and looked like I was a kidnap victim. I get back into my car and try to will the pain away. I drove to the dog's friend's play date, waited a few minutes, and told my friend who was talking at the moment, I needed to use her bathroom and it was an emergency. No joke, I ran to her bathroom and was sweating so much I kept sliding off the toilet seat and of course couldn't go. How could I be so uncomfortable and not be able to seal this deal? Even if I left my friends home immediately I didn't think I was going to be able to drive the dogs back home, pick up the yard and give them the obligatory, "what did you roll in?" shower. Defeated I thanked my friend and told her it was a no-go. Because I'm trying very hard to "adult" I began to finish our earlier conversation. Nope, couldn't participate. I ran back to her bathroom.
Off to the races for the fourth time, yes I said fourth. I was mad at myself for ruining the playdate and fearing I could crap myself. Not shockingly I couldn't go and wondered what was it going to take for my brain to let my body know it's ok to let go...literally...let fucking go? Mad, sad, and still sweating like I was in a sauna I leashed up the dogs and headed back to their home. As quickly as I could I washed and dried them, checked their water, and left. If youre assuming that when I got to my toilet I "made" you're wrong. My brain and body were resentful and apparently both were telling me to go f'myself, I refused. I sat there as long as it took and then took a nap. Wait, I didn't take a nap on the toilet. I "made" and then took a nap.
I know this isn't normal, but think about how you would improve this situation? Am I supposed to eat fast purposely and then run to a waiting friend? Am I supposed to get into therapy, I can't because I'm already there. Seriously, how would you fix this?