This Spring, my best friend nearly died. That in itself is a very emotionally evocative issue, but the reason was due to something about which we are taught by society we ought not to have any feeling at all: Urination.
It is Taboo to acknowledge that the need to urinate evokes emotion. But it does.
I helped nurse my friend back from the brink of a most ignominious death, from an acute kidney condition. She's been warned that her lifelong habit of holding in urine for very many hours while working could one day result in her death. She is understandably angry at the way she was brainwashed into practising Avoidant Parauresis, or "Shy Bladder Syndrome," among other issues.
Nature gave us primal urges for a reason: SURVIVAL. It is not a sign of weakness to want to take proper care of one's health. It is not a sign of strength to neglect oneself, either. Even so, society tells us it is. I have no difficulty controlling my bladder even if I'm in physical pain from it; I can't stop myself thinking how my best friend nearly died, and it makes me want to cry: tears of outrage at the way the world is, and of frustration and sadness. I keep thinking: It Doesn't Have To Be This Way!
My friend wants to try to change people's attitudes about urination.
We don't accept the popular viewpoint that it is unimportant: my friend vehemently disagrees with that notion, and that's a sign of her strength.
However, we're aware that the vast majority of people would disagree with us. Even people who have had kidney transplants tend to regard urination and the feeling one gets when one needs to do it as insignificant.
It's astonishing: something you can't live without is insignificant?
I often wonder if it's because people are afraid of the way they'll feel if they let themselves realize how precarious life itself is? It can certainly wreck the mood if one is reminded every few hours that we are all going to die eventually!
Maybe that's why people can be cruel to each other about this function; often people laugh at and prank friends who desperately need to pee; try to make them lose control.
Even people with conditions like Interstitial Cystitis are expected to just shrug it off and be stoic; stiff upper lip and that.
No complaining, no expecting sympathy; no admitting to the real emotion it evokes: Distress.
Have you noticed the way very young children will weep sometimes when they need to urinate? Is that way we adults really feel: the need itself (painful), the threat of humiliation (frightful), the awareness of our mortality (depressing), the fact that when we need to urinate but must wait, nature causes the sympathetic nervous system to respond in order to maintain continence (thus, that restlessness and agitation characteristic of the need), and the conflict between on the one hand having a legitimate medical need but on the other hand knowing society obligates us to deny it for some length of time, often for many hours, during which it will grow so intense as to threaten us with loss of control?
That conflict gets more complicated: the relief would be so great that some part of us almost wants to lose control - except that the emotional anguish of being socially rejected and punished would hurt just as much!
As kids, most of us were harshly disciplined by parents and teachers if we lost control of urination. Being made to hold back was part of growing up.
Yes, continence is very important, but I cannot believe that forcing school kids to hold back until they suffer excruciating pain "builds character". Nor do I believe toilet training should involve savage beatings. But it too often does.
Society obligates us to betray ourselves; we are destined to suffer no matter what choice we make. We are not supposed to show each other compassion for it, either: that too violates societal expectations.
No wonder we as adults simply deny we've any kind of emotional reaction to the whole thing!
Is there any way we can change this?