I really do have a strong fear of public bathrooms.
But then again, if I think about it, it’s not really the actual bathrooms that I fear… it’s the crowd!
The Social Setting!
Being Watched. Being sized up. Being talked about. Discussed. Made fun of.
I always feel everyone is Gawking. Whispering. Laughing.
It’s the crowds at the Restaurants, Theater, Sporting Events, Shopping Malls, Airports… That’s what I have a problem with.
Not the Bathrooms!
I know this, because if the restaurant was totally empty, I’d have no problems walking into the bathroom to pee.
In fact, if I knew it was empty and I knew I wouldn’t be disturbed, I could even pee in the urinal.
No problems at all!
So it’s not the bathrooms I fear. It’s the people.
Knowing this doesn’t help me when I’m sitting in a nice restaurant (like I did Sunday for a friend’s Birthday Party). I’m sitting there and I feel an urge to pee.
I hate these public settings so bad that I can’t even bring myself to stand up and go to the restroom. I can’t move. It’s like I’m frozen in place and handcuffed to the table.
I sit there thinking about it. I’ll even look around to see if I can tell where the bathrooms are at (of course I would never ask).
Instead I sit there all night feeling my urge intensify.
“Just make it through the night” I tell myself.
I can’t even phantom getting up and walking through the busy restaurant (with all eyes on me). If I was heading towards the bathroom, everyone would know I was going in to relieve myself. How disgusting!
My thinking is so crazy.
Why is Peeing so Disgusting?
I couldn’t tell you. Why am I ashamed and embarrassed by it? I couldn’t tell you that either.
I just am!
So instead of making a spectacle of myself, I sit there paralyzed by my fear at the table praying the evening will be over soon (it’s only a 45 minute drive home). It could never end soon enough.
Here everyone else is partying and drinking and getting up to go pee… And I just sit there smiling, laughing and pretending to have fun while my bladder is screaming in pain.
I just want to go home because I’m too scared to even stand up, excuse myself, and head towards the loo.
I’m even worse at Sporting Events or the Theater… Because then, everyone in my row or auditorium knows I’m going to the bathroom.
I have to stand up, blocking all the people’s view behind me, pardon my way by them, inch over everyone making them move, bumping their knees “Hey! Sit down in front!“
Everyone in the entire arena knows that Richard is heading to the John. What a loser!
So once again, I just sit there and suffer. Holding in my pee and ruining my night.
Why am I so scared of crowds? Social settings? Groups of People? Herds that I have to maneuver through to get to the bathroom that I fear.
I fear it because I know I won’t be able to pee, and somehow I think that everyone else will know that I can’t pee either!
This makes matters worse.
The only way out is avoidance.
I’m avoiding my fear.
Which means, the FEAR wins!
It gets bigger and stronger and takes up more of my life.
I need to put a stop to this. Fight back. Face fear and nip it in the bud.
And the only way to do that, is to go to the bathroom!
Seriously, even if I don’t need to pee, I should go into the bathroom. Just check it out. See it’s not such a scary place after all.
Go there to desensitize myself. Relax. Show fear who’s boss.
This I need to do (just don’t be a creepy lurker). I need to do this for myself and my sanity.
So here’s my plan. The next time I’m in a public setting (this Friday night), I need to face my fear and visit the bathroom. I need to go in, pretend to pee, make peace with myself.
I’ll see that no one’s laughing or pointing or calling me names. It’s not that scary.
I can do this!
I’m going to the theater (small venue) Friday night. It’s a community play with a tiny lobby and an even tinier bathroom (looks like a broom closet).
I’ve never stepped foot in there before. It intimidates me… It’s so small.
I’ve seen guys come and go all the time. The lobby gets full, standing room only. The bathroom doors are always opening and closing non-stop!
Everyone can see in. You can see the urinals (two of them), you can see the stall (one) and the feet under the stall… You can see the one sink and mirror, the stark white walls, with no music playing, and the door that’s always ajar.
Can I go in?
I don’t know. I’m scared to even think about it. Maybe it’s too much for now. Who knows?
I may have to start smaller, baby steps, we’ll see.
I’m not scared of the lobby and the huge crowd (a couple hundred people max). I’m just scared if I get singled out (like pushing my way through the crowd to get to the bathroom)… the Paruresis will set in.
“LOOK! There he goes!”
Or should they say “Trying to go!” :(
Face my Fears!
Face it, or else it gets worse. That’s what this blog is allowing me to do. Stand up and deal with it.
Grow stronger, get it out of me (good Therapy). I’m learning, reading, understanding what Paruresis is and how to handle it. One day at a time!
Tomorrow I’m heading into the bathroom of fear. Even if it’s just washing my hands. I must face the John. The Phobia. My Fear!
I can do this!
I WILL DO THIS!