Last night I dreamt I had to go to the bathroom. In my dream I was dragging a little red wagon with a giant ceramic toilet in its bed. I was wearing a one-piece jumpsuit that I had to remove completely in order to crouch over the toilet, which I would do every time I thought I found some privacy....
Except that by the time I removed the jumpsuit, someone would pop out of nowhere, laughing and pointing. There was nowhere to go. Nowhere to poop in peace. The scenes changed. Inside. Outside. In the basement of a party. Wherever I went, strange faces popped out of the shadows.
"Are you pooping? Ew!" the voices would say. Meanwhile, totally naked, I strained to cover myself and move along, tangled in my silly little jumpsuit.
I have had recurring toilet dreams for the past year or so. When I was working on the book, I even had a dream that Hal was on the toilet. That he kept asking me to close the door so he could have his privacy. "I just want to go to the bathroom in peace," he said. The "me" in my dream, last night, would agree.
It was obvious what the dream meant. I was writing about us. I was writing about him, cracking open the bathroom door. Exposing him and our marriage.
Last night's dream turned into an epic. A dream about a woman in a one-piece jumpsuit who couldn't find a place to poop. Who had to go so badly, her stomach ached. My stomach ached but first, I needed some privacy.
I'm a very modest person. I never went naked in locker rooms. Ive never showered at the gym. I'm self-conscious because I know people are looking. Because I have impossible standards of beauty. Because I stupidly think someone is going to care that I'm imperfect.
I have always been self conscious everywhere but my writing. I am confident staring into the light of the screen, typing almost completely with one hand. I always did better writing letters to strangers than conversing with friends, always unable to confess my love out loud.
To this day, the only work I've ever sold was personal. Essays and short stories with a jumpsuit around my ankles, pooping. Much like many of you, who open your bathroom doors and stand naked in front of an audience of strangers.
Rockabye isn't the first time I have been published spilling my guts. I spent my teen years acting as the lead contributor for a teen book series, my late teens, touring and speaking to audiences of strangers about how I was rumored to be the worst kisser in Junior High. Basically, I've been dragging this little red wagon and toilet behind me for the last decade.
The thing is, this. We all poop. We all make fashion mistakes (a jumpsuit at a bar is a bad idea, something I have proved to myself in my waking life, as well as my sleeping one). And for writers, bloggers, people who can't not be honest and open and naked, there is always the risk of indecent exposure resulting in criticism and mockery. Because the majority of readers don't know us, personally. Or love us. Or even care about what happens to us.
And maybe that's what the dream meant. Maybe it was me just being afraid. Knowing that even though, everybody poops, it is more respectable to do so in private. Behind locked doors. God forbid a gassy woman would drag a toilet through the street. There is such thing is TMI and privacy and for whatever reason, I have always felt the need to expose myself.
At the end of the dream, I finally gave up. I was too tired and bloated to hold it all in any longer. I hiked to the end of a pier and crouched over the toilet, surrounded by people in snorkels and scuba masks, who were laughing and pointing and watching me from the water.
It was my moment of realization that I had to face the music. It was my own fault that I couldn't poop in peace, because I chose to leave the door open. By making the choice to go public with my private life, I couldn't be insecure. Or self-conscious.
I'd rather go naked than wear fear was my slogan. (Ah, yes... My proverbial bumper sticker on the road of life.) Or as the dream revealed, I'd rather poop in public than live a life of constipation, even if it meant being criticized or ostracized or disliked.
Voicing our opinions will always come with a price. Making a professional life out of a personal one is a choice. And one we must take full responsibility for.