What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
Pooping is weird. I don't care what anyone says. It is. I know it's natural, but man, it is still weird.
You spend your life eating and pooping. You look forward to pooping because it gives you that undeniable feeling of lightness. Everyone knows it and everyone gets it. Well, not everyone. Some people have a hard time accepting it.
I'm one of those people.
For the longest time (my entire life) I was psychologically unable to poop anywhere but my own bathroom at my parent's house. If the feeling ever arose while I was out and about, my mind would shut down and a brief sweat would linger on my upper unwaxed lip.
"Uh-oh," I would say to myself. "It's happening again." And I would be left in an uncomfortable limbo.
My fear of pooping away from home stems from an entire childhood of sharing one bathroom with a family of five. There wasn't much privacy, and if you happened to snag a moment to yourself in the bathroom, it was almost always followed by the fact that I would use too much toilet paper and clog the pipes. We all know that moment. The moment when your secret will be let out. YOU JUST TOOK A POO YOU FREAK! I would try with all my might to unclog the toilet by using a plunger, one of the stupidest devices man has ever created — a device that works half of the time and only seems to make the problem worse.
After about 15 minutes of this, I would have to go knock on my dad's door and say something like "Dad, something has happened. You may not like the sound of it, but I think I took a giant shit and we may never have a working toilet again."
I couldn't bear the the thought of being responsible for someone else not being able to use the bathroom! I also knew that I wouldn't be able to resolve the problem myself.
When I was 19 years old, I moved out my parents' place and into a nunnery. OK, it wasn't really a nunnery, per se, but it was a women's residence run by nuns in Manhattan. It was the only place I could afford, and I really didn't want to live in my parents' apartment anymore. I wanted to start my life, become an adult, live my legacy, get a boyfriend! It was a scary move to make, but I had to do it; I was young and foolish but I knew that I needed to learn to stand on my own two feet.
It was set up like a giant dormitory. Half the time I felt like I was at Hogwarts, and the other half I felt like I had made a terrible life choice. You didn't have to be a nun to live there, nor did you have to be religious. I was neither — I just needed a cheap place to live, and it was $500 a month. Sounds dreamy, doesn't it?
There were lots of rules at "The Nunnery":
1. You were not allowed to have visitors (especially boys — my dream of having a boyfriend down the drain!).
2. You were only allowed to use the communal kitchen between the hours of 7 a.m. and 12 p.m.
3. You were not allowed to make noise after 11 p.m. (I got in trouble a lot.)
4. You were not allowed to eat in your room — only in the dining room, which looked like a school lunch room with pictures of Jesus everywhere.
5. You had to use and share the communal bathrooms.
At The Nunnery, we had two options: to live in a double or a single room. When I first moved in, I lived in a double because that was the only room available, and the only lesson I have learned from that time is that I am terrible at sharing a small space with someone and no fart is too small to make me hate you. I had a mini fridge that contained items like frozen Reese's Pieces and water in the corner of the room; I had a wooden desk and chair; I had my own closet and hangers. I had a life and I was becoming an adult.
The only thing I did not have was my own bathroom. It seemed like a minor detail at the time, but it definitely worried me.
I would think to myself, It's going to be OK. I'll deal with it when I get there.
I eventually got there.
Chipotle had done something to my insides one day early on in my stay at The Nunnery, and it was time. I had to poop. But it wasn't just any poop, it was the kind of poop that you truly believe will never end. There was sweat and rumbles. It was about to go down.
I walked all around The Nunnery, up and down all five flights and in each communal bathroom — repeatedly. There wasn't a single individual bathroom in the residence. Not one! What was I to do? Should I sit down on a hard surface and hope it would disappear?
For me, pooping had always been an act that was done in the privacy of my own home. But I was at home. At my new home.
This was the ￼moment of truth. Would I explode and be forever humiliated, or would I accept my state of being? This was natural, right? I was supposed to use the bathroom to poop. This was the primary use for all bathrooms.
But why does something so natural have to smell so bad? And why does everyone ask you if you left that smell in there? I probably did, but what do you want me to do, lie so that you can pretend girls don't poop? I poop a lot! If I didn't I'd probably be dead! Was this my coming-of-age story? Was my coming-of-age going the acceptance of my own poop?
These thoughts raced through my mind a mile a minute. The pressure was building, and all I could think about was how much I loved the after-poop feeling. I stared at myself in The Nunnery bathroom mirror and thought, This shit is going to happen no matter what I do. This is your home now. You made the choice to be here. Now be an adult and POOP.
I was so filled with addrenaline, that I ripped my pants off, sat down on that holy toilet seat, and I did it. I popped my cherry — my poop cherry.
It was great! I was relaxed and relieved. I flushed really quickly in hopes that it would lessen the odor and by some miracle (thanks, Nuns!) it did not get clogged.
This was one for the books. This was the day — the day I accepted poop and the power to take one in a communal bathroom.