The little boy was standing in the tennis court by the fence, facing out. Doing what? Sure enough.
“I’m nature peeing,” he said.
Have you ever seen as much happiness than in the faces of little people peeing? Well, I love to pee, too. I think most of us do. That is until we pee inopportunely. Or poo. Ahem.
I’m getting older and realize that my happy peepee-ing days are numbered. Three kids later, into my forties, and like the garden faucet outside with minerals crystallized around a corroded fixture, dripping “will,” (ahem,) start. Soooooooo, sooooooome day, …urine will yellow my underwear. Kids, without discretion, will announce that I smell. And for the innocent, and a once happy pee gone horribly wrong, I will be ashamed.
The pelvis is like a woven basket. Muscles criss-cross in a wonderful design between a supportive frame, like plant fronds and wood.
When I was an eleven-year-old, I travelled to the African continent. It wasn’t every country, wink, but a few on the southern side. I don’t remember enough of my childhood. Who knows why. But I do remember, in every African market place, I looked on women and children weaving leaves and grasses. They didn’t even have to watch their projects. Their fingers had memory of their own. Instead, their eyes were watching us watching them. Brilliant more-than-white smiles in chocolate black skin, turned their curious faces up.
My Mom, a lover of all things lovely, looked. She loved them all – the people, the baskets, the freedom of being in Africa, and more. Then the blood of generations of hagglers and market yellers whipped through her Lebanese veins with increasing energy, distracting her from a bigger picture. She wished mightily for baskets. She would have purchased every one and made us carry them all back to our home, eleven hours by airplane, if she could. (Those were the days when people smoked inside airplanes. You and I understand what that meant. That air inside airplanes was the same air everyone inside breaths. It was a long flight.)
A decade-plus later, World Market opened. I wondered about all the faces and fingers it must have taken to make all those gorgeous creations, now for sale in Temecula, CA, for twenty some dollars a piece.
How could I be so clueless as a twelve-year-old, but I was, and I didn’t know about the fingers that deftly moved, the brilliant plant dies, the tight strength that remained in a basket, like hands clasping, between each fiber. The baskets held memory.
These are the baskets I think of when I think of the marvel that the pelvis is. These are the baskets I think of when I think about how much I will despise losing continence. When losing continence, I will also remember that little guy making “nature pee.” I will pull the backing off another panty-liner and say, I used to really like to pee.
Our emotions and behaviors are similar to the joy of peeing and the pelvic basket. We at one point in our life may have loved to live, loved to speak with friends, loved our hobbies and our stamps, and our cooking pans. Some day later, we wake up, and people notice the difference, like the urine smell in incontinence, people notice our emotions and behaviors “leak.” Kids point, even, “Mommy, why does Bridget’s Mom always wear those sweat pants? She’s in the same sweat pants every time we see her!”
It’s awkward. People don’t know what to expect from us. Our emotions and behaviors are not what is socially acceptable and they stop knowing how to speak to us. Our professionals who are supposed to help us don’t even know how to speak to us. They shorten their visits with us. They tell us how to feel, “Just decide. Make a choice. Choose to be happy.”
When people don’t know what to expect, it divides us and separates us and is uncomfortable for all. This discomfiture, (less often consciously aware,) is a barrier in knowing how to speak to a psychiatric patient. It takes a heck of a lot of self-awareness on each party’s side to look inside ourselves and figure out where our discomfort is coming from.
What will you think of when you “wet your pants?” Or of someone you are with? Feel your energy get sucked into the earth by a depressed colleague? Notice acid escaping your stomach into your throat when an angry child’s emotions fill a room? Your thoughts start to buzz when the white noise of anxious Dad comes around.
Remember the pleasure that came back in the day, see into our Me, identify the nidus of discomfort, and then let it lose it’s power over us – then the unexpected with be an encounter of mutual respect.
Knowing how to talk to a psychiatric patient, means that we are okay not knowing what to expect, not personalizing what isn’t about us, and allowing for a context that is in many ways unknown. With this, we will pull the backing off a panty liner and get on with it.
Questions: How has the unexpected behaviors of your, or of others you know, been treated by your medical providers? How have you treated yourself in those scenarios? Please tell us your story.
Self-care tip: See into your Me to be better at speaking with the unexpected.