Some time ago, I got in with a group and let me tell you, the level of control in there was bonkers HIGH. We lived in fear every single moment of every single day that something would go wrong and all hell would break loose.
There isn’t enough bandwidth in all of Europe for me to be able to tell you all the stories, but let’s start with this one:
A group of about 10-15 of us worked in the boss’s residence. And the leader had a few little terrier-like dogs.
Anyway, one afternoon, I needed to take a poop. So I went to the toilet, sat down and started to do what I had to.
Mid-poop – and I mean a poop was literally halfway out – the dogs started to fight. I could hear the commotion from the toilet but like I said, it was mid-poop and couldn’t rush out.
I could also hear all 10-11 people who were in at the time rushing to the scene to try to separate the dogs and stop the fight.
I pooped as fast as I could, wiped my arse and ran out, pulling up my knickers as I hurried out the toilet.
It was total mayhem. Two little dogs going at each other, and 10 hysterical humans screaming and shouting at the dogs to stop.
Now, as someone who’s lived with dogs all her life, I also knew that any degree of human panicking and shouting only adds to the dog frenzy, so I very purposefully chose not to launch into the tangle of two- and four-legged madness. I stood aside and let the doggie carers, who were most familiar with handling those dogs, sort them out.
(I’d like to pause here to note that if I was the only human around and something like this happened, I would have rushed out as fast as I could, even with shit trailing down my legs. But I knew that there were at least 10 other people outside who were already on the situation as soon as it happened, and me rushing out there in that instant was more likely to worsen it than not).
Anyway, long story short, the dogs were separated, calmed down, and all was well in the end.
Well, for the dogs anyway. Because that’s when our hellish evening was about to begin.
The boss heard about the dog fight and BLEW the fuck UP.
The usual screaming started – I remember the screaming being so loud and so shrill that we literally couldn’t even understand what they were saying. It was just a long series of defeaning shouts.
They took it in turn to lambast every single one of us for not keeping a close enough eye on the dogs; for not being alert enough to respond effectively; for being there fast enough to sort out the problem.
Eventually, it was my turn: “Where were you when this fight broke out? You have dogs, you should know how it can get when dogs fight. Why weren’t you there fast enough? Why didn’t you break it up?”
It went on and on and on – the rage fit lasted for hours. And then days.
And honestly, all I could think of at that point was:
“I can’t even shit in peace”.
This happened not long before I finally plucked up the courage to leave the group for good. This incident was one of many that really sparked something for me and made me seriously reconsider if and how I could continue to live like this.
Newsflash – I definitely couldn’t.
It was an untenable situation, and the fact that I felt immense shame, fear and terror for having to do a perfectly normal bodily function like take a shit was sign enough that something wasn’t right.
Most people probably won’t come across as extreme, drastic and ridiculous a situation as this, but you know what? I venture that some version of this is probably playing out somewhere in your world right now for you and/or the people around you – it’s just not as volatile or absurd.
What do I mean by this?
Okay, you might not be caught mid-shit.
But you might be foregoing sleep and weekend rest.
You might be skipping meals or hurriedly eating over the sink.
You might be putting your body under duress or highly stressful situations where you risk injury or impairing some part of your normal bodily function (heck, even staring at a screen late into the night impairs you body’s ability to rest, repair and sleep – and how many of us do this almost daily?)
In short – we do all these things because at some level, we feel a degree of guilt, shame, embarrassment or inconvenience around our perfectly normal, healthy human bodily needs.
And what do we really do it for?
The unreasonable demands of a workplace? (which we justify as ‘reasonable’ because it’s about paying the bills, career development and not being fired)
To meet certain expectations, standards or ideals that we’ve absorbed as entirely true and necessary?
To keep someone happy?
To stop someone from blowing up at us / rejecting us / thinking ‘badly’ of us?
Always, always – we put our bodies and minds and spirits under such tremendous strain for someone else.
It is always someone else. Even if we think we’re doing it for ourselves (our work, our careers, our relationship, our success), I promise you that digging deeper will reveal that it ultimately comes down to an external ideal:
Someone else’s reaction
Family traditions (“this is the way we’ve always done it”)
Because c’mon, would we really do all this wear-and-tear to ourselves if it was …. just up to us?
Going back to my tragic mid-poop story: If it was just up to me in that moment, as I was on that toilet doing a poo, I would have trusted that the other humans in the house had things under control and would calm things down.
I would have relaxed in the knowledge that the situation would be taken care of by the people who knew how to handle it. I would have come out of the toilet calmly, assessed the situation clearer and possibly found a more useful way of helping.
I wouldn’t have leapt up mid-poop just to rush out and make my presence known at the scene; to perform ‘managing a situation’ that I was honestly too panicked to manage properly; to yelp along with the other 10-11 people just so I could ‘prove’ my concern.
Every time I poo now I sink into the gratitude of what it means to be able to be left alone and to poop fully in peace. To let my body be a body and do its bodily things – that shouldn’t be too much to ask, right?
(So yes, my gratitude practice now includes my toilet movements!)
Unless something is a matter of life and death, and you’re the only person upon whom that life/death situation depends on, most things can wait. I mean, really wait – long enough for you to sleep a full night’s sleep, to eat a proper meal and to poop to completion.
Because really – why are we really creating all this harshness for ourselves and who are we doing it for?
Is something really that urgent that you need to stop midway through a literal turd coming out your bumhole to ‘show up’? I don’t think so.
Extrapolate please – while it may not be a case of half-arsing your poos (pun intended), take this lesson for every time you’re ‘forgetting’ to eat, or surviving on 4 hours sleep, or ignoring that chronic pain because you’re too stressed doing/fulfilling/completing/managing something else for someone else.