*Author’s note: Pun-Filled Post Ahead!
Has it happened to you?
That moment when your body signals your brain not to pass gas because it might release more than a quick invisible fragrance. It’s cold sweat down the back of your neck, sudden movement in your tummy, a burn, a cramp, a shift of something deep inside…is that the Lochness monster down there?
At times, it gets more intense. You’re keeled over, butt turned up, bent in a weird way, one hip shifted, other hand on other knee looking like a fool, trying to stay cool and adjust accordingly; the cramping situation moves to a better spot, muscles relax, you squeeze the cheeks just right…you think the bubble is ready for silent release. But then…an inner alarm signals; Oh hell no you don’t! Keep that in! This is about to be a problem! Oh shit. Oh shit? Oh Shit! *rimshot*
The brain instructs the body to breathe, to focus. Then, the body’s irresistible need to feel-better-now takes over everything. No accessible toilet is in sight. Tears well up. The imminent reality of exploding feces all over yourself scares the literal shit out of you. The terror of vulnerability envelopes your body in a momentary flash; an emotional cocktail of helplessness, fear, pain, shame, fight, flight, culminating in the ultimate act of trust and surrender. Poop! There it is! Yeah, that.
I’ve had a good amount of memorable, book-worthy “uh-oh-no-toilet-in-sight” moments. They’ve all been lessons in vulnerability, gratitude, and acceptance.
The one that impacted my life most began when I was nine years old…
One of my young aunts was acting as chaperone for my sister and me at a Menudo concert. Back then, I was gaga for a young Ricky Martin—a handsome Puerto Rican singer/dancer and leading heartthrob of this international-sensation boy band. I was so excited to see him perform, I could barely contain myself!
Here’s how it went south. It was almost the show’s end when my stomach started acting funny. I was in the midst of the crowd when my abdomen started cramping and gurgling. Menudo was singing the chorus from Explosion when it happened: “It’s an explosion! (boom) my love for you!” The next thing my nine-year-old self knew—my soiled pants reeked of the worst rotten eggs. FML.
I look up at my aunt, giant tears in my eyes, full of terror. Before she realizes what’s happened, the smell hits her. This is a situation of epic poo-portions.
Next thing I know, I’m in a public bathroom. Pants off, on top of a sink, my loving aunt cleans nine-year-old me from my waist down while my sister stands guard at the door. She looks me in the eye, apologizing for having to throw my bottoms away. She was so kind. There was no choice. It was bad. Awful bad.
Mortified and in shock, I was relieved to have my caring aunt keeping me calm and doing her best not to add to my already traumatic moment. I surrendered to the situation. Once I was cleaned up, in a moment of genius, my aunt wrapped me up in her balloon skirt. Then she walked us to the car playfully, with me secretly bottom-less, safe and hidden from further embarrassment. She was my hero.
It didn’t take long for my whole family to find out. I grew up in a compound with some unkind relatives including a lot of bullies, assholes, jerks offs, and insecure men. That’s when the real trauma began. Uncles, cousins, and household help ridiculed me for what felt like forever. Most of my young life, really.
I was humiliated by something I couldn’t control. I was labeled as an embarrassment because nine-year-olds should be able to control their bowels in public. I was subjected to comments like: “she needs to be back in diapers”; “she can’t be taken out in public”; “what a big baby” and anything in between that could f*ck up a nine-year-old’s self-esteem. It was a full-on emotional shit show.
My gut has been through it all over the years. I now realize a lot of my “belly issues” have been a journey of getting attuned to my guidance system. My solar plexus is a personal emotional barometer. When I feel spikes of excitement, nervousness, exhilaration, anxiety, trepidation, eagerness, they can manifest physically in that area of my body.
There have been many more “poop-there it is!” stories worth sharing and laughing about in my adult life. In those moments, I’ve learned how to be gentle, love myself a little extra, and trust that all is well in the world. I’ve learned to be prepared, to let it go, laugh, and be grateful for having the right company at the right time.
Shit happens. And it happens to all of us.
It’s funny. Once upon a time, this story scarred me deeply. I didn’t want to claim it as my own. I’d been ridiculed and teased for years. I was so ashamed. It did a real number on my confidence and overall development. I created layers of ‘bullshit beliefs’ in my psyche. Skid-mark stains of shame, embarrassment, and unworthiness permeated my young life. How was I ever going to get over this?
Fast forward a decade. I’m living in America, watching the Grammys and there he was…about to perform his World-Cup hit, “La Copa De La Vida,” hotter than hell, all grown up in his sexy Latin glory, it’s Ricky Martin! Whaaaaaaat?!
Eyeballs stuck to the screen, I sat up and said, “I shat my pants for you!” For the first time in my life, I laughed my ass off at the memory. I shared my story with friends the next day. It was cathartic. A confession, a release, a truth-telling morning. Like a glorious morning poo, I finally got it out! For the first time, I gave myself permission to leave an extremely shameful experience in a new place! And it was okay.
I released the shame. I laughed about it. I shared the story in my own words. It didn’t have to have power over me anymore.
Over the years, I’ve learned how I hold energy in my gut. I just happen to be more sensitive to the matter, especially after that unforgettable night. This story is about taking care of my younger self. Talking kindly to her, acknowledging the memory, and reminding her that what happened wasn’t her fault. Shit happened. It was a crappy situation. I got through it.
Now, I can live to tell and laugh about it. And it’s hilarious! We all have our shitty days. Mine just happened at a crucial age. It shed light on how unhealthy environments, comments, jokes can dent a child’s emotional and physical development. I hope this story encourages us to be mindful about the jokes we tell around kids.
I appreciate those who were truly there for me. My aunt and my sister. A shitty experience I’ve now flushed away with the old crap constipating my life. Surrender! Release! Poo-phoria!
This is a lesson about how one of the crappiest moments of my life, became one of the funniest and most healing. It’s a story about leaving it in a new place, erasing the shame, and forgiving myself for the years I didn’t know better than to take it on as a fault and failure.
I’ve learned to remember the love, support, and alignment that actually worked in my favor on that unforgettable night. Things have always worked out for me. I’ve been surrounded by people who love me enough to literally have my back when shit hit the Ricky Martin fan! For this, I am forever grateful.