About ten years ago, when I first met Rick, it was pretty clear from the beginning that he was The One.
If you know Rick, that’s not surprising. Handsome, funny, smart, kind—he was the total package. But, of course, everyone has their flaws. And I should have seen this coming. He went to school in Maine. He carried a Nalgene bottle. He had a propensity for all things L.L. Bean. That’s right. Rick was…..outdoorsy.
Since high school, I prided myself on being an indoor cat. I was not interested in “physical activity” or, you know, “doing healthy things.”
“No one every got hurt reading a good book!” I would proudly exclaim after hearing about a sports injury. I loved movies, and tv, and reading, but it was just not my thing to head outside in my free time.
Then in waltzes this amazing guy and well, love makes you do crazy things. Before I know it, I’m slated for a Saturday hike. I’ll admit that in an atypical way, I kind of wanted to go. You know, do something novel and crazy. For some people that might mean jumping out of a plane. For me it was walking on a dirt trail, okay? But then the anxiety popped up. With Crohn’s disease, I would often have to use the bathroom at a moment’s notice. Sometimes multiple times in a row. That’s not exactly desirable dating material, I’ll admit. I didn’t particularly love it myself. And not having access to a bathroom, and then worrying about access to a bathroom, was a recipe for exactly what I didn’t want: having to use a bathroom.
I once heard a story (a true story about a college friend’s friend from high school, not an urban legend) about a guy who simply thought about his girlfriend having to go #2 and had to break up with her!!! That’s the kind of stuff that haunted my dreams. It’s hard enough to find someone to date. You don’t really want your embarrassing bathroom habits to be what drives him or her away.
But I was hoping that things would turn out for the best, and that maybe I’d be so happy and in so in loooove that my intestines would just be simply twitterpated (Bambi reference) and just take the day off. Basically, I just figured I’d deal with the ensuing embarrassment in the moment, and then wish him well as he finds his perfect, outdoorsy, never-pooping match somewhere else.
So I arrive and, just to set the scene, Rick is packing up a backpack with some water and trail mix…and I’m standing there in flip-flops and oversized sunglasses and wondering if I can stop and get a venti cappuccino on the way. (Also, not going to help with the bathroom situation, but I’m a glutton for punishment.)
‘Oh, one more thing!” he exclaims. He leaves the room and comes back with a twinkle in his eye. He’s got something behind his back. “We should probably bring this too, just in case, right?” And there, in his hand, rested a gleaming, two-ply roll of “will you marry me.” Okay, he wasn’t proposing, but he was standing there holding a toilet paper roll. Like my gastrointestinal knight in shining armor.
That was yet another a major sign that Rick was The One for me. From very early on, he accepted who I was and what I was challenged with. He didn’t gloss over it but he didn’t make it a big deal, either. That TP spoke volumes to me. And you know what? It took just enough of the edge off of my anxiety that I never needed to use it on that hike.
So I hope that, whatever you struggle with, I hope you have—or keep looking for!— someone to bring you TP, whether that’s literal or metaphorical. That person doesn’t have to be a romantic partner, just a friend who accepts you for exactly who you are. Someone who takes your issues or struggles in stride, as part of the overall wonderful package of You. Someone who is willing to tackle things alongside you, to whatever degree you need it.
Actually, first and foremost, I hope you are a step ahead of where I was, and that you are ok with bringing your own damn toilet paper. You know, ok with being exactly who you are, take it or leave it! But I also hope you find the companionship of a person who packs the TP for you, flashes it to you secretly with a knowing grin, and then takes you out for a hike.
You and Colleen might just have gotten me to start my book on the life to two cancer patients, me and my friend,Sr. Ann Marie. As you know, Katie, I made it, Ann Marie did not. I have started the book many times in my head — even know the first chapter/letter to her – but it is an angry letter – although some of her letters to me were angry. Text me – maybe I’ll start a private blog.
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