• David Sales

Shame of Thrones

I have a small confession to make. I've always hated public toilets.

So deep was my aversion to them, I spent much of my life avoiding them at all costs. Well, not all costs, but it had be a do or die type of situation. I don't know why, perhaps it is just another outward sign of my inner self-consciousness.

Now, with the passing of time, the aging of my once impressively strong bladder, not to mention water pills, I find my previous hold it strategy untenable. Thus, I am forced to use these facilities regularly. While I'm still uncomfortable with performing the big jobs, I'm getting quite confident with the small jobs. In fact, I've even adopted the practice of the preemptive pee, knowing that the time between the feeling and the happening has shortened significantly.

It may sound ridiculous, but don't judge me - we all have our things.

Admittedly, this is a literally crappy analogy of what I'm going to share, but hang in there - it might make more sense at the end if you make it that far. 😉

This is more about the difficulty and practice of change, facing my fears, and pushing my boundaries. I am in a period of significant change and forcing myself to engage in new solutions to old problems. Habits are very hard to break, and as I realize the detrimental impact of many of my old habits, it frankly feels overwhelming. I could never understand why I would do certain things.

One shift in perspective that I've put in to practice lately, is how I see these habits and hear these negative voices in my head. I suspect this is an offshoot of years of counselling, but I'm trying to focus on what the good intentions inherent in these things are. I was told to consider that most unhealthy things we do are trying to help or protect us. When I understand that even the most destructive behaviours and actions are trying to help or protect me, it seems I'm better able to explore it and eventually understand it.

It is helping with the self loathing, defeating, soul battering, and heart destroying negative view of myself. I'm not absolving myself from my negative actions, it's more a road to Hell is paved with good intentions approach to learning about myself. Learning that my addiction, lying, isolating, or procrastinating all may have initially had the intention of helping me, is allowing me to change and meeting those intentions in a healthier way. As long as I can identify what the good intention is. That's often the hard part, and honestly, it's a lot of work.

Starting to write again and finding the courage to be open and honest about my struggles is one example of the work I am doing. While being open and somewhat raw is difficult and the decision to click the button to post my pieces sometime takes hours to make, I always do it. The "what will the neighbours think" attitude just doesn't work for me anymore. All the hiding and keeping secrets has become too heavy a burden to carry. I know that all of it was to minimize the pain of shame and embarrassment, but eventually no amount of alcohol could help me lug that invisible bag of pain around and I almost took it with me when I left for good.

I'm glad I didn't. I'm glad I shared and don't write in riddles anymore, as this is my truth. Warts and all, this is me. It is real.

Relieving myself from holding it in too long is allowing me some comfort strangely. While it is difficult, for me it is a much healthier way to accomplish the good intention of protecting myself from the agony of shame. The freedom of accepting my life as it is, not what I want others to see it as, is giving me the peace to walk with my head up, slowly lightening that bag of inner pain and turmoil.

I'm not sure I have ever felt this way before. No... that is wrong, I have never felt this way before. I've never moved on from being a painfully shy, self-conscious, and nervous little kid. There were times I over compensated to survive, but that was never really authentically me.

I'm discovering a lot of these old habits, behaviours, and thoughts were present long before I ever discovered the dangerous magic of the bottle. Since turning my counselling and work to focus on dealing with that, the endeavour to maintain my sobriety is getting easier.

Implementing this strategy of positive and healthy self-exploration is working in so many areas of my life. I recently admitted to Jennifer that I have been feeling comfortable in my own skin. She's seeing it too, and the motivation to continue the work is building every day.

There. That's the serious part, but back to the beginning - with apologies about the toilet talk. I have a newbie question for those more confident in the realm of public toileting, as I have had the same experience on 3 separate visits to the men's room recently. I assume it is just a man thing, but I am immaturely curious.

Do most men talk to themselves while doing the big jobs?

On each of my recent visits, I have had to listen to a running commentary, something I would think should be inside voice, and why do they seem so shocked and surprised by what happens?

I know I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer but I since I was about 5 years old, the surprise and genuine wonderment in the act kind of went away.

Anyway, the juvenile part of me is just trying to flush that out.


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