Fresh out of the shower, (well, I finally put clothes on. — for someone who engages in self-harm I sure cannot stand the touch of most clothing to my skin — if I could be naked 24/7 and only interact with the fabric known as terrycloth I’d be a happy woman) I sit here, writing this: my first “Shower Experience.”
To define “Shower Experience,” I can only allude to scenes from movies or television shows where a character is SO FREAKING HAPPY to be under the water of his/her shower head, FINALLY able to wash his/her HELL of a day OFF. That’s all I really mean.
To my recollection, I have not had THE “Shower Experience” until tonight…which is kind of incredible…considering I have had a lot of days from Hell.
Let me set the scene. I had a day from Hell. I could go through all of the painfully stupid details but I’ll spare you if you promise to trust me on what I’m about to tell you.
I HATE showering. It’s a thing that started up about a year and a half ago. I used to love showering. I don’t know what it’s about.
Conjectures are that: it’s part of my chronic pain — just the idea of the pressure of the water hurts — but I think that’s because getting under the water does hurt; or maybe it gives me PTSD remembering being in the shower after dozens of assaults (performed by the same person); or maybe — I’m just clinically crazy.
My ex, to his credit, bought us one of those “rain” shower heads pretty soon after this began for me. It makes the water pressure a LOT less intense (and takes some getting used to, because, for me, it means a longer showers) but it is supposed to make it feel like you are showering in the nice, non-painful rain — rather than, I guess, like, a slightly bigger hose nozzle.(? LOL?) Unfortunately, it doesn’t help my anxiety about showering. It doesn’t make showering more bearable in any way, but it’s not worse.
The point in sharing, basically all of the above, was to try to prove to you that I must have had a REALLY had a day from Hell to take a shower. I promise I’m not gross. I force myself to shower. I just kind of have to work myself up to it. So, to decide, without planning, that I was going to shower on the fly, was a HUGE FUCKING DEAL for me.
Four paragraphs later, our story begins. I turned on the water trying to set the temperature to “tolerable.” I grabbed my JBL speaker and turned my Spotify station “Post Trauma” (yes, that’s it’s real name) up loudly. Loud enough for my upstairs neighbor to hear it if she were in the room above me…and also maybe from her bedroom where she is sleeping…I don’t care. Sorry, not sorry, but a little sorry. Because of her, I was already walking around my apartment with blinds open in my bra and underwear. My ex and I never used to have even one single strand of a blind open. Not one. (Jesus I have to believe there is someone else out there for me.) The place looked like a hoarder’s paradise before he left. Now, I’m proud of what I’ve done with it. The thing is, I used to walk around naked — kind of as much as I could — especially since my ex wasn’t home a lot and I felt safe — and I am not super happy with changing that pleasure, so it is what it is. Either “sorry,” or, “you’re welcome,” neighbors who happen to see me naked through my open windows. Dealer’s choice.
I took off all my jewelry, then took the meds I’m supposed to take at that time, and got totally naked. I adjusted the temperature of the water, and slowly, forcing myself, stepped under the water.
It is in fact super fucking weird thinking about my shower habits yet alone sharing them with anyone reading this. I have never put my head under the water a lot. Only as needed. I don’t know if that’s weird because I don’t remember being taught “how” to utilize the water while showering — except that it is meant to wash oneself — kind of a broad concept now that I’m writing about my “Shower Experience.“
The first song that came on my playlist of over five hundred songs was Hinder’s “Lips of an Angel.” I know…but I dug it. I took a deep, “this is happening” breath, and put my head under the shower head, the water covering my ears and head completely, (so I could barely hear my music playing) and breathed out with the thought, “this feels perfect.”
I FINALLY FELT THE “SHOWER EXPERIENCE!”
THE “Shower Experience!“
I instantaneously felt better in every way. It was as if the water was the most perfect temperature I’ve ever had it set to. I ran my hands gently trough my hair and then again. I felt so free — and beautiful — and pure — and amazing — taking in the dramatic lyrics of the song I was listening to. I turned around and faced the shower head just as the voice through the speaker sang deeply of his concern for her now significant other’s potential wrath upon her at their elicit conversation, and then the statement that he didn’t think his now significant other had “a clue” that they were talking. Full lyrics here if you wish to dabble: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/hinder/lipsofanangel.html
I began to think of all of the heartbreaking truth in the conversation I imagined these two ex-lovers having, thinking about what he looks like and what she looks like and if he’s in the bathroom (I turned my back to the shower head again, and grabbed my shampoo) hiding — and she’s outside smoking a cigarette — you know, since she made the call to him — (suds in my hair abound) and I thought about how hurt (albeit — kind of controlling) their significant others would feel, if they knew, and/or found out. That’s some real shit right there, dawg.
I rinsed as the next song came on. It was Secondhand Serenade’s “Your Call,” whose lyrics can be found here (especially since I don’t think that many people know who that is): https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/secondhandserenade/yourcall.html
It’s another sad-ish song (I began my second shampooing — if you get nothing else out of this post — let it be this — ALWAYS, ALWAYS shampoo twice — the second amount of shampoo need only be about the size of a quarter to get full sudsing action just like your first shampooing — if you engage in shampooing — TRUST) about a relationship which could possibly be resuscitated. I’m telling you, THE “Shower Experience.” The artist sang,
“Stripped and polished,
I am new, I am fresh
I am feeling so ambitious,
You and me, flesh to flesh”
Like a total, “hello God, it’s me, JustCallMeTaco with this playlist right now!!!!! Thank you.”
I listened and the words brought back painful memories of the person who introduced me this artist, only one of two people I know who ever intentionally listened to him. The introducer, if you will, and I had been labeled soulmates. Maybe we still are.
All that matters for the purpose of this story, is that we used to think we were soulmates. The definition of “soulmate” is: “a person ideally suited to another as a close friend or romantic partner.” But this person, who told me we’d be married and have children by the time we were twenty-six, is now married to a man, for more than four years now, who barely talks to me anymore.
It makes me feel really sad.
Like, too sad.
Like in a — I only applied to two colleges got wait-listed for my first choice so said screw it and followed him to my second choice thinking we’d work everything out except he was gay and couldn’t tell me even though we were together for the immediate years before he “came out” but I wanted to stay near him anyway because I had no idea so I was happy I went there so I at least got to milk all of the time I could out of him while I could in a world where he tells me he thinks about me every day, constantly, all the time and I don’t believe him and he was one of the original witnesses of my first cutting but said nothing to anyone including me about it and he knows me well enough to help me but he doesn’t — kind of sad.
Take that shit in for a second. I was conditioning my hair, re-living those times that made me feel sick. Still, the lyrics cited above, said it all. I was really feeling fantastic and admired my playlist for hitting a home run during this difficult time of taking a shower. Now take that shit in for a second.
Next up, and last, while under water, was “Pinch Me” by the Barenaked Ladies, lyrics here: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/barenakedladies/pinchme.html
I love that song. I remember being in high school and in my bedroom and hearing them come on the radio, which I guess I listened to a lot, while I was crushing hard on my high school boyfriend (same guy as written about in the “too sad” section). It wasn’t their most popular song. Not by a loooooooonnnnnnnng shot. But it was my favorite song of theirs.
It was now time to scrub my body including my newly made cuts and eventual scars (and I tend to go at everything “hard,” so it’s pretty painful during this point in my shower). The lyrics:
“On an evening such as this
It’s hard to tell if I exist
If I packed a car and leave this town
Who’ll notice that I’m not around?
I could hide out under there
I just made you say ‘underwear’
I could leave but I’ll just stay
All my stuff’s here anyway.”
The lyrics are ominous, and yet, comical as well, without breaking the solemnity of the artist and song. As I viciously scrubbed at my newly made (and now opening cuts — fuck!), the irony of the lyrics juxtaposed with my own misery and simultaneous happiness (not to mention how stuck I feel) seemed so perfectly intentional.
I rinsed out my conditioner and for the first time since that shower head has been there, I noticed I could see my reflection directly under it. I watched myself as the water dripped down, cleansing everything, and I could not believe that I had never realized I basically had a mirror in my shower. Check it! (taken post-shower) — and my apparently spider-like/exorcist grip:
Author’s Note: Any pictures that may have reflected images of anything I never meant you to see are unintentional and hopefully non-existent.
I decided I would see how much of my make-up I could really get off in the shower utilizing this new found instrument. I was able to get a lot off, but not all of it. So I determined an experiment was in order. I would use cotton balls and make-up removing liquid (as is my usual routine when I don’t shower) to see just how much make-up was left even after a shower.
I turned off the shower knobs at the same time, taking care not the let the hot water burn me. Turning the shower knobs on and off is actually physically painful for me. My ex sometimes turned them on for me in an attempt to quiet my anxiety about stepping under. (This was before the chronic pain really kicked my ass, of course.) It feels like I have to turn them too hard. It feels exactly like I shouldn’t have to try so hard to turn them all of the way off. It’s an everyday normal activity that I now despise.
I shook myself off like a dog. I do this every time I shower. I don’t care what you think about that.
I stepped out of the tub carefully onto my new bright floor mat and grabbed my towel. I always hated how cold it was stepping out of a warm shower. I lived in this place once that had a “post-shower warmer” for when you stepped out of the shower. It made you warm. That’s it. But it felt great. When I’m rich, maybe I’ll invest in something like that. (I believe something in season 1 or 2 of “Breaking Bad” was utilized as part of a plot point to achieve the same goal of post-shower warmth.)
Look, I don’t like to talk about this too much, but I’m an awesome fucking woman. I’m a Bitch who simultaneously wants to make everyone’s day better. I hate everyone until I breathe. It’s good that I breathe, like, all the time so far in my life.
And, now that I am single for the first time in five years (bring it up too much, don’t I? trying to quit, promise) and live alone for the first time EVER (I highly recommend this by the way — an entire three months in) — I get to do things I never really got to do before.
My ex and I occasionally left messages in the mirror for each other. Now, with enough steam, the mirror reads “[My name] (hearts) herself 10/26.”
By way of backstory, my ex once wrote “no one believes you” and it literally fucked with me for months. When I finally had the courage to bring it up, he said it just came to him and he thought that if someone saw that — it would really fuck with them — and he thought that might be funny to observe.
But, to a rape victim (he knew I had been raped by this point), what he wrote, actually caused me a tremendous amount of agony.
Victims, survivors, all of us need to be believed.
It was just fucked up. It still fucking bothers me to this day, joke or not. It wasn’t funny. And I cannot reiterate enough times that he actually put in writing to me, “you are not a victim,” post break-up.
Not only am I survivor but I am a victim. I was his victim. And that worked for him until I started speaking up for myself gradually regaining my sanity and strength all these years after my Dad died.
WOW, am I getting off track!
Okay. So I see myself in the mirror and the song “Love My Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding comes on. I just started straight up naked dancing in my bathroom and singing at the top of my lungs:
“You’re the fear, I don’t care
‘Cause I’ve never been so high
Follow me to the dark
Let me take you past our satellites
You can see the world you brought to life”
I brush my teeth while singing:
“So love me like you do, lo-lo-love me like you do
Love me like you do, lo-lo-love me like you do
Touch me like you do, to-to-touch me like you do
What are you waiting for?”
Weird, right? But it was so fun. I was having a straight-up dance party in my bathroom, naked, without anyone or anything to interrupt or stop me. I was freely allowed to listen to my weird as fuck music and sing along without offending anyone. I rocked out with me choch out. “Choch” is not in the dictionary regarding what I am referring to, but, I think anyone reading this knows what I’m referring to. If you don’t, you probably shouldn’t be reading this shit.
I just — fucking — let — go — for once. For fucking once. And I thought, “Right now is when I am going to make my life everything I have ever wanted it to be. I’m going to work on getting over my past. I’m going to pursue my passion and succeed because I believe in me when I embrace those parts of me. I cannot fail. I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to figure out that I was supposed to be living my life instead of the one I thought I was supposed to be living. I felt weightless, and for the first time in as long as I can remember: Pure. Bliss.
I then had to tend to my cuts, using this:
Guess what, Johnson & Johnson?! Your “Hurt-free first aid antiseptic pain relieving liquid” IS NOT FUCKING HURT FREE! I already knew this, as I have previously used it, so I was ready for the seemingly eternal sting, but it always surprises me, nevertheless. How funny is that poster, by the way? It makes me laugh when I look at it. So, this picture was a staged, post-shower experience. If I didn’t feel so guilty about posting my self-harm I would upload a picture of what I’ve done to my forearm, but I’m not okay with doing that. Just imagine the tiny bit you can (yes, I did this on purpose) see on the left side of the above picture, repeated thirty-one times, (I counted just for this post), ending just before touching my other tattoo. It is approximately three inches of cuts similar to the one pictured above in length.
I also wanted to finish my experiment, so I took pictures of the cotton balls I used to take my makeup all of the way off to show you what a shower for me cannot get to:
That’s the residue from my left and right eyes. (Sorry about the hair, women shed a lot, deal with it.)
That’s what was leftover of my lipstick. (Again, sorry for the hair. Women shed a lot. But no, seriously. Deal with it.)
And then I did an “artsy” braggy shot to show off my super amazing bathroom decor:
Oops!!! Toes. I’ll get a pedicure, stat.
After taking all of these pictures I put my hair up comfortably (I love how amazingly smooth my hair feels just after showering. It’s so soft. How do “they” get those products to do that?!)
I assessed myself. I addressed my body. I determined I’m my best self.
I also determined that at any point in time, everyone is their best selves. Even if you’re not trying to be your best, you’re, like, by definition, the best you can be in any given moment. So we really are all just doing our best.
I felt, FINALLY, my best tonight. I feel like I am a fucking amazing person who is too interesting to define in any practical or actual way. I cannot be understood completely. I cannot be tamed. I cannot be anything but what I believe to be the honest me. And from now on, I won’t do anything but what I want to myself. I am chasing my dreams. I can’t fail. I won’t.
Dancing happily around MY apartment naked to a playlist called “Post Trauma?” That’s me for life now, baby.
I’m scared to death that I have decided to embrace my dream at the expense of someone else. I hate that I’m doing that. But I owe it to myself. I really do. Because what I have to write, photograph, and say — you’d want to see. I promise.
So, I’m officially announcing that I am in the not-so-beginning stages of writing a book. You won’t want to put it down. I can’t say what it’s about yet, but, I have read different drafts of chapters to a variety of different people, and, it’s content, nor writing, has never been critiqued to a crushing degree. I mean, not even close. Everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, wants to know MORE. I can take an honest critique. That’s a lot of what my Creative Writing experiences are about. I forced myself to write different false stories focusing on honing my craft in different ways, and I read them out loud along with my classmates, and they were well received as well. So now I know: it’s not just the compelling voyeuristic content, but my writing itself that’s gripping people. I can proceed now, with confidence, that I’m not boring.
So stay tuned world.
I’m also scared that I have a new crush. I just kind of find myself thinking of him in all kinds of scenarios with me. I imagine what it would look like shopping next to him, meeting his parents, kissing him, making him laugh, reading to him, watching him do whatever he does, and, of course, the thing which I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do without triggering an atomic bomb of PTSD again.
But a Bitch can pretend everything will happen organically and without trauma as she dances around her apartment naked, right?
Oh my God! There is also this guy who has been “in” my life since I was in college who I know asks after me. I ask after him as well. He’s a smartass. He has a smart mouth. He is TOTALLY into me. I know because I know. Because I know. But, if by any chance you, Mr. guy I’m talking about, are reading this, know that, don’t feel weird, please; it’s okay that I know. Because I am too. I am TOTALLY into you. I have been forever.
This person and I have never been single at the same time. We just keep “missing” one another. It’s a lot like that movie, “A Lot Like Love,” except I doubt it’ll ever happen for us. I want to be optimistic in every way possible, I swear to God I do. But, when we could have been together, I was so insecure I couldn’t imagine he thought of me in any kind of way, when in fact, I totally could have “had him” and he could have “had me,” so to speak. This is the kind of thing that really kills me.
This is how my mind plays out this situation basically on sporadic repeat: I’m living my life, la dee da, “oh my gosh, [he] liked my social media post once! damn, I wish we had been able to talk to each other about our feelings without being so insecure, his mind is so sexy it makes me want to jump him, fuck! I’m not single, oh my gosh, (ten months later) [he] liked my social media post once again!, he speaks his mind without apologies and will always challenge me when we are together, and vice versa, a sparring partner but of the sexiest variety, which makes me want to jump him, fuck! he’s not single.” REPEAT.
I’ve been told — literally — TOLD — you seem happy. Perfect! I REALLY want you to be genuinely happy. But I can’t not tell you by proxy (this post) that I’m also a little sad for me.
We get one life. One. One chance to make it with who and what we have in it. You have my number.
But I’m not embarrassed by my body’s visceral reactions anymore. I’ll never allow that type of — self — or otherwise — censorship — again.
All real talk.
Vulnerable, scary, shit.
When the fuck did I grow a pair of ovaries and woman the fuck up?!?!?!
A long time ago.
I just forgot.
It won’t happen twice.
And hear THAT.