Adventures in Bedwetting -- Why I'm No Longer Embarrassed to Have Peed Myself

Can we talk about peeing ourselves?
Publish date:
September 12, 2011
alcoholism, laziness, bedwetting, peeing, M

So recently a group of female ex-drunk friends and I were sitting around reminiscing about the bad old days when someone brought up the topic of bedwetting.

Actually, what she said was, "Man, I used to pee myself all the time!" To which someone else responded, "I peed on other people!" We then proceeded to almost pee ourselves laughing telling our stories about peeing ourselves.

See, sometimes when you drink too much, you wet the bed. I woke up in a puddle of my own urine at least 3 times during my drinking days, and once there was a man in the bed with me, who was kind enough to say "You know, we can't really prove you did it. I could have peed on your underwear." (In the words of MissCaraMia, "Good boyfriends are so good.")

Peeing yourself, like having blackouts or sipping from abandoned empties when the beer runs out at a party is sort of a big warning sign that you may have a problem with alcohol. I mean, once is an accident, but any more than that and you might need a pamphlet or something. (Eve, you may want to print that on a cookie: Peeing yourself once is an accident; peeing yourself more than once is alcoholism.)

But to be honest, I never really needed to be drunk to pee myself. I was a chronic bedwetter; one of those kids who wet the bed well into my preteen years.

When I mentioned this to my current therapist, she told me that bedwetting is a sign of emotional disturbance in children. This is probably true, but I should also admit here that I may have been partly just lazy.

There are several times as a bedwetting child that I can remember laying there and just kind of letting it go. There was a decision involved there. An addled, half-asleep decision, but one was made. More mortifyingly, during a childhood stint on a community swim team, I can remember quietly peeing poolside while we got our pep talks from the coach, thinking that the puddles of water in which we sat made my urination undetectable. No wonder I didn't have that many friends!

In fact, looking back I think I might have been "pee kid" or at the very least the kid that smelled like pee. I'll admit there are worse things to be; there's always at least one teenage girl at ever high school who is accused of masturbating with a hot dog which in some versions of the story gets broken off inside of her and has to be removed in the emergency room. "Hot dogs girl"s across America, I'm sorry.

Still, being a chronic bedwetter isn't exactly a picnic. Little Emily was like a simmering lentil in a shame stew -- shame about my stained sheets, my oversized body, about the "dirty" thoughts I was constantly having despite my Southern Baptist upbringing that made it clear pre-marital fornicators went straight to hell.

And addiction, of course, is largely about shame. Addicts are shame-based people who feel unworthy of love. We develop defenses like repression and self-medication to treat the emotional pain of excessive shame. As active addicts, we then act shamefully, which we must drink more to forget. Back when I was doing all this drunken peeing, I thought it was a horrifying secret I would have to keep in a dark hole in my soul and never share with another person.

But then, with my girlfriends, I found myself not only talking about it, but shouting to be heard while dissolving into hysterical laughter. And isn't that one of the beautiful things about being human? That with time, even our lowest moments may one day be funny? That there is no behavior so shameful we can't one day recover from it?

I'm a woman of grace and dignity, today, and I can affirmatively tell you that I haven't wet myself in at least 2 and a half years. I've made a lot of strides toward leading a shame-free life. Writing about peeing myself on the Internet may also show the strides I've made toward living a boundary-free life, but HEY -- there's nothing to be ashamed of.