Recovering Self Respect

January 7, 2009
By Paul Marino, Oceanport, NJ

How do you overcome an event so horrifically scarring, you will never forget it?
I was in Holy Cross pre-school when I experienced the most traumatizing event imaginable. Every little kid has to go through some embarrassing moment and I was no exception. I have stories a plenty of my suave nature and Fonzie-like coolness, however I have a story so utterly humiliating, I have yet to share it with any other human being. The only people that know it happened were the ones that were there. They may have forgotten, but I never will. No matter how much I try to pretend it never happened, I can’t get those judgmental stares out of my head. It’s not fare. Fourteen years have passed but I can recall the event like it happened yesterday.
It was St. Patrick’s Day. We all had to find the magical pot of gold that the leprechaun hid. The excitement was palpable as all of us little -- in Kelly green shirts and mom-picked-out Irishy sweaters—scavenged for this coveted pot. After what seemed like hours of searching, we found it. It was everything I could have hoped for and more. The black cauldron was filled to the brim with golden coins. Just when I thought the find couldn’t be more life altering, the teachers told us the coins were actually chocolate. Everyone tore those golden rappers off the enclosed sweets. We finished the search and the devouring of the candy and headed back to the classroom. That was where my nightmare began.
We’re all sitting in class while Mrs. Fulton talked about how proud she was of our ability to hastily find the leprechaun’s treasure. We sat and giggled and suddenly the sensation to use the restroom rushed over me. No panicking yet. I simply raised my hand and requested to use the restroom. Mrs. Fulton obliged my nervous, flushed face and permitted me to use the facilities. I power walked down the hallway. I got into the bathroom and hurried to the stall because the urinals were a little bit too tall for my 4 year-old stature. I unbuttoned my pants. No I didn’t. I can’t get them unbuttoned. They were too tight. The button stayed tightly secured while my bladder was loosening its grip. I panicked. Tears streamed down my face as I desperately pleaded with my pants to come unbuttoned.
“Please, please, please. I gotta go. I really gotta go.”
No dance or jig could get these pants down around my ankles, allowing me to go to the bathroom. My stomach writhed in pain as the urine could no longer will itself to stay in my body.
“Why did my mom have to put such tight pants on me?” As this thought crossed my mind, a stream crossed my pants.
I look down at the pants now darkening from the liquid substance staining them. I am relieved but only for an instant. The shear fear of knowing I have to go back to class with obvious peed pants causes my little body to tremble. I try drying them but it’s not working. There was just too much fluid in my bladder to be swabbed from my pants in a couple minutes. I try dousing them with water to no avail. There is just no way I can walk back to that class without everyone noticing. Then for some reason I try stretching my little tiny red polo over the stain which runs down my leg. The shirt comes no where near covering the blotch but I still try to cover it up. I walked back to class totally ashamed.
The second I walked into the room I felt the stares of the parents. They pointed and laughed. Their “Kiss Me I’m Irish” buttons and green shamrock sunglasses seemed to mock me even more. Kids looked and smiled. They knew I wet myself. I couldn’t help but whimper my way to my desk. The moment is engraved into my skull for life. It hurts my heart to this day to think about. I still cry inside a little thinking about it.

It’s impossible to block out moments in life that cause as much shame as this one did. We have all been there and possibly on more than one occasion. Living with the humiliation of an event such as wetting yourself in public can be dealt with. It is the finer moments we should dwell on when recalling times past. The first thing that pops into my head about pre-school is usually my moment of disgrace, but I also remember the great time I had finger painting. We tend to remember the less fortunate times of our lives rather than relish the more common good. Is it possible to overcome traumatizing scenarios? Sure, by recollecting moments of excitement and gratification. Even if the trauma can’t be undone with a wall-mounted hand dryer, nothing should ever hold you back forever.

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