Here's what it looks like to be a person who cannot use the bathroom for two weeks: a big bloated stomach, a feeling of constant, uncomfortable fullness, and, in consequence, a person who can't fully enjoy the simple things that make time away so nice: a good meal, good sex, sleeping without your clothes on. I say "fully", because in my limited capacity, I enjoy all the above--sex, and food, and naked sleeping (and really, is there any sleeping that's better than getting showered and getting all clean under fresh sheets, and feeling the breeze of the ceiling fan against bare shoulder or exposed thigh?)
This is a common problem, I believe. I meet a lot of people with pooping troubles. Some have irritable bowels, so they have to go a few times a day. Some, like me, can't shit for a few days in a row, so they need to take dietary supplements. If you can't poop, you don't ever, truly feel at home. That's the problem. Your body is always waiting, always ready to go home. Which, when you're trying to be a person who lives everywhere and does everything, can be a problem.
It began, ironically enough, because of the Good Thing. Actually, that's not fair. Let's not blame him. It began back in the day, when some activities were ladylike and some weren't. Eating in front of boys = not ladylike. You could brush your hair, or reapply your lip gloss though. There was the boy I dated when I was 19, and spent all evening with, and by dinner time, I'd be starving, like literally, let me chew my arm off and apply salt and pepper starving, but when he asked what I wanted, "I'm ordering in some butter chicken and naan, you want anything?" I'd say, weakly, "I'll have a Coke, I'm not really hungry." Occasionally, I'd allow myself french fries. Peeing is ladylike, pooping isn't. I don't know who made the rules, I just conditioned myself to follow them. This is fine when you're 19, and you go home eventually, but when you're closing in on 32 and the love of your life is in your house and you're at his, and this is your life partner, the one you want to grow old with and all that, it gets damn incovenient to not be able to shit at all when he's there. In my own home, it takes a few days after he visits for my bowels to stop crossing their legs. At his home? Maybe the last day I'm there, if I'm lucky.
So, for the first time in my life, I began to talk about poop. I told him I couldn't go in his house, and we tried to work out a solution: he'd leave the room, when possible, and when not, he'd play music or put in his headphones or something. Just enough so any untoward bathroom noises would be masked and I could go in peace. Still nothing,
We visited friends who live in Goa. It was closing in on a week for me without going to the bathroom. I laid it bare before my friends. "I can't shit," I told them, and everyone got involved. Someone recommended Isabgol, I dissolved it in water and drank a whole glass, gagging. No poop, but agonising stomach cramps the whole night. "Just go sit on the pot for a while and play a game on your phone," they suggested. I did. It was boring--it was half an hour, with nothing. "Nope," said my body, "We're not doing that. This isn't ladylike." I feel like I had the same conversation with my body re: the female orgasm. I finally got over not doing that. "Why won't you work with me?" I begged in private. I stopped wearing a bikini.
Finally, right before we left for a wedding and a hotel, I bought a strip of laxatives. I placed it in my bag. Threatened, my bowels complied. It was glorious, but not as glorious as when I got home and two weeks worth decided to leave my system in two days. I've never looked so skinny.
"I can't poop," I told my friend. She recommended a FabIndia drug, Triphala. It's a herbal laxative. I'm going to travel again for a bit this week. It's going in my suitcase, next to the chemical laxatives. Just in case.
I'm reconditioning my body. I'm reconditioning my mind just by discussing this, the least ladylike of subjects, on the internet.
We will poop, fellow anxious poopers. We will have a normal day.