***WARNING: GRAPHIC POST AHEAD!***
The fear started when I was a toddler. I remember being terrified that something was coming for me in the dark. I bargained with the fear-if the blanket was tucked completely around me, save a tiny breathing hole, it couldn’t get me. Whatever it was.
Later the fear was tied to action. If I did X properly nothing bad would happen. I had an imaginary friend. Laura Ingalls Wilder. My Mom read the books to us when I was very young and I loved the TV show. Albert (a creation of the show-clearly I wasn’t a purist) and his friend-funny I can’t remember the friend’s name were also imaginary friends, rather they were imaginary nemeses. Laura and I were a team and the guys were a team. They were so real to me that my memories of them are some of the clearest from early childhood. Everything we did was timed. As long as Laura and I won we were safe. I was safe. My family was safe.
After I got my period the Irritable Bowel Syndrome started. The pain of cramps was somehow tied to taking a crap. I started to get diarrhea all the time. Thankfully that was when imodium started being available over the counter. You know that 5th pocket in jeans? The tiny one for coins on the upper part of the right front pocket? All through high school that pocket had two foil wrapped imodium in it. The diarrhea was my biggest shame. Anytime I horsed around with friends I’d be terrified they’d feel something in that little pocket and want to know what it was. I lived in fear that someone would discover my secret.
I’ve had IBS for well over 20 years. The whole time the driving force behind my anxiety was the fear that I’d shit myself in public even though that had never happened. Well, not until today.
Too much information, right? Totally inappropriate and gross that I’m declaring on the internet that I crapped myself today. What the hell am I getting out of writing about this? The old me, back when I was rocking borderline personality disorder, would have done it to punish myself. But I’m not that person anymore. I’m writing about it because it shouldn’t be a big deal. I am horribly upset and embarrassed by it, but I shouldn’t be. I have an anticipatory anxiety disorder. It’s pretty bad. I’ve been in therapy for many years because I’m trying to help myself, but it is a chronic disease that I will have to manage for the rest of my life. I’ve been a wreck for the last week because I’m so scared of this stupid 5K tomorrow morning. As my Mom would say my bowels have been in an uproar. I’m trying to challenge myself, do something good for myself, participate in life. The anxiety is trying to prevent that from happening. So shit happens. Literally and figuratively. I’m tired of being ashamed of my anxiety and what it does to my body.
This morning my stomach was upset, but it was my last chance to go for a jog before the race. Quarter of a mile from my house I thought I had to fart. Turns out I was incorrect. The quarter of a mile run back to my house was just about the longest of my life. Go ahead. You can laugh. I’m laughing as I type. It helps me not cry.
Z came into the bathroom as I was cleaning myself up. Seriously, no boundaries in our marriage. It works for us. He told me I needed to go back out and finish the run. I told him to go fuck himself. He told me if I didn’t do it I might not do the race tomorrow or go back out for a jog ever again. I hated him. Because he was right. Thankfully I now have two pair of running pants so I asked him to get me the other pair.
I took three imodium. I washed out my pants. I cried a little. I went to the bathroom two more times. And then I jogged two miles. Without shitting myself.
Listen, I’m a white hot fucking mess. Have set up residence in crazytown and I’m definitely not moving out until the race is over tomorrow. It’s so bad that I’m wondering if it was a mistake to sign up for the race at all. Why am I putting myself through this nonsense? I don’t know what the right answer is. Where the balance between challenging myself to take part in life and recognizing when something is too much for me to handle is.
But Z was right. If I didn’t go back out and finish the jog I’d let myself quit forever. Who the hell knows what is going to happen tomorrow. I mean, fingers crossed I do not shit myself again. I will definitely be taking way too many imodium. But I’m going to try and do this thing.
I’m tired of feeling ashamed. As I was jogging the second time I thought about if I wanted to write this post. Because if it is out there it is always out there in internet land. Future employers and all that jazz. But then I thought about the fact that this very thing has happened to several of my friends. Yup, my friends text me about their pooping disasters. I sort of love being that person. So if it has happened to my friends it stands to reason it has happened to a bunch of people. I’m writing about it to say that we shouldn’t feel bad. Shit happens, people. Shit. Happens.
The funny thing is this is something I’ve been dreading for more than two decades and it finally happened. You know what? I don’t feel any different. It didn’t change who I am as a human. In fact, it was rather anti-climactic. Yup. Shit happens. It is honest. It is uncomfortable. And I’m choosing to believe it just isn’t that big of a deal.
My boy and some lady who shat herself, cleaned up, and ran for another two miles.
My wonderful sisters-in-law and niece are in town. A couple of years ago they spent Thanksgiving here and got to know the couple that we are closest to in town. It’s fun when you introduce fantastic people to each other.
T’s Aunt Ellie is an amazing photographer. She taught T how to take a picture with her super fancy camera.