Attitude Check: How
Did This Happen to Me?
You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but, at the same time, you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world, but a world lives in you.
—Frederick Buechner 1
I grew up in Prunedale, a rural area outside of Salinas, California. While I did not get into trouble and was good at flying under the radar, I unfortunately followed the crowd. I can still remember the names of several kids at school who wet their pants or came to school smelling like poop. I feel so guilty about the way the rest of us talked about them behind their backs. Looking back, I am ashamed of taking part in that humiliation. The stigma of these students’ accidents and embarrassment followed them throughout their school years, and my involvement in their humiliation no doubt contributed to my own horror and shame when I first realized I was living with a chronic bladder and a bowel condition. Now I knew how they must have felt.
Today, I find myself in many of the same mortifying situations, and I think of the compassion that I did not lend to those classmates. There’s nothing I can do for them now other than apologize and try to pay it forward. If you were ridiculed as a child because of incontinence, please hear me say that I am so sorry.
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