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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Toilet Tuesdays: Monthly Dose of S.H.A.M.E.

Something I could be ashamed of is that I wanted to start writing posts about shame monthly...and I missed September...and now it's the last day of October...and this is what I've got.
I did a quick brainstorm about how I could possibly combine my traditional Toilet Tuesdays post with a shame post, and I pretty quickly saw some connections between toilets and shame.

Several years ago, when I was going through a rough time, I was talking to a friend at work and started crying.  A male co-worker came in, saw us and asked "Are your allergies acting up?".  At first, I thought he was joking.  When he started giving me advice about he managed his allergies I realized that he was not joking.  In the end, it was so funny to me that he couldn't tell I was crying that I started laughing.  And started using "allergies" as code for "feeling-like-crying-about-everything-in-my-life-right-now".

For example: text to a friend "How are your allergies today?"

It provided a simple, non-threatening way to check in with others and for others to check in with me. It allowed for some detachment for the sometimes overwhelming emotions I was experiencing.

And now, let's get back to toilets.

What if we did something similar with toilets?

Stay with me guys.  Toilets are kind of gross or at least, can be gross.  We don't want people to see us or hear us when we're on the toilet.  And we really don't want anyone to smell the toilet area when we have finished using it.

We all kind of like to pretend that going to the bathroom isn't sometimes quite disgusting and we all kind of like to pretend that everyone believes us when we emerge like nothing happened.

We like to imagine that our poop could be rainbow ice cream:

This was a very popular joke gift a few years ago:

It's something we all experience, and can all share an understanding of what it feels like to hope that the bathroom remains unnoticed and unassociated with us.

Now, this might be a bit more of a stretch than "allergies", but what about using "my toilet" as a code word for talking about something we're ashamed of?  It may never take off, but here's my idea:

It can be hard to be vulnerable about our shame - both with ourselves and with others.  Humor often can be useful in helping to make scary things slightly less scary.

So, what if, (if simply admitting that I'm feeling ashamed or shame or fearful because I'm ashamed feels too hard) I could just turn to you and say "Hey, could I show you a picture of my toilet?"

If someone says no to that, they are just missing out.

"My toilet" symbolizes something that I really don't want to show everyone, that I would feel really uncomfortable having most people see, and that I don't actually want you to see.  And it allows for the space for you to affirm that you are willing to see "my toilet".

Today "my toilet" is looking pretty good

We could also express that we are dealing with shame by saying "gosh, I feel like my toilet is really disgusting right now".

I'll try this out with my husband and a few friends who are already accustomed to my crazy ideas and I'll let you know.

Bottom line is this: start recognizing and talking about your shame.


S - sharing and speaking
H - helping, not hiding
A - asking why, asking for help
M - motivating, not mocking
E - evoking hope, not fear


  1. jojo!

    first, i absolutely love your toilet tuesday posts :) && i especially love the comparison of shame to a toilet! sometimes we carry the weight of our own shame or the shame of someone else because of some decision they made: it gets heavy, burdensome and can be downright icky!

    some of my best friends do exactly what your 'm' in your shame acronym stands for - they help motivate instead of mock me. what i have learned is to allow myself the grace to step into my shame & allow it to be fully washed over because i do not think grace and shame can coexist, it's either one or the other.

    as i was reading your post, i was reminded of this amazing, wonderfully raw, woman named brene brown. she has devoted her entire life to studying shame & how it has dug its creepy tendrils into the deepest parts of our beings. but the best part is that brene talks a lot about how we ought to retrain our brains and re-evaluate the role we allow shame to play in our lives. here is a link to her ted talk (my fave!):

    here is a link to the podcast: (i think you can find this on apple music, spotify, or on a free podcast app called "castbox")

    thank you for your vulnerability & shame-reducing honesty about how you are beginning to come to terms with understanding shame & what it does to us.


    maddie xoxo

  2. Hey Maddie! I love Brene Brown - thanks for sharing her talk here. I'll check out the podcast sometime too. I'm so thankful to see and hear others being vulnerable as well - and I'm glad you're surrounded by good friends who seek to encourage and motivate you. xoxo