Love, Cramps & Hot Pants
Author: Madeleine Ryan
Colliding stars with the first love of my life was an adventure filled with choices
made on my part that must be featured in every do-not-do list of every etiquette
manual and seduction story ever written ever. The object of my affections inspired all
kinds of behavior I daresay I have not repeated since, and that I have rarely shared the
extent of with anyone.
Boyfriends and lovers came and went before he did, but in the warm Autumn of 2010
I was twenty-one, tanned, and had just discovered the work of Louise Hay, so was
busy affirming my way to a better life, body, relationship and finances. Let’s watch
and see what happens.
In the presence of this sensitive, talented young man, I completely lost the plot. I
repeatedly pointed out my likeness to Sandra Bullock in “Miss Congeniality” before
the makeover and often while I was eating. I would hear myself directly expressing
the fervent desire I had to impress him and, rather than pulling back upon hearing
myself sharing this information, I would delve deeper into its irreversible and undoubtedly memorable depths. I spoke of astrology and healing cancer with
positivity and when he made fun of the costumes worn by male ballerinas, I would
question the comfort he had with his sexuality. I was shattered when he chose not to
attend a theatre production that involved my snorting cocaine and being nude on
stage. I bubbled with excitement when a psychic suggested that he might be “the one”
(closely note the inclusion of “suggested” and “might be”). I donned red hot pants,
wrote letters politely asking him to be my knight in shining armour and engaged in
episodes involving his being chased by me - twice. Moreover, I never directly said
that I loved him, even when he asked me outright. This was probably the biggest
misstep of them all. Maybe if I had, the erratic and destructive offshoots of my true
feelings would have calmed themselves. Then again, maybe not. I even tried to be his
friend in subsequent years.
One must congratulate the man on his patience, given neither a long-term relationship nor an ongoing friendship was in our stars. The love affair lasted a month while the whole ordeal, from first meeting to silence, about five years. He had relationships with others during that time and I had few. I was too busy sorting through the wreckage of my heart. He still visits my dreamscape to this day. However, there was one decisive action I took - with him as my witness - which I now view as one of the boldest, most enlightening moments of my life. This small firework cascaded out of the cosmos and all that is eternal at our first meeting. One wouldn’t expect the topic of irritable bowel syndrome to have many useful functions, especially during the meet-cute of a tragi-comedy such as this. Nevertheless, irritable bowel syndrome took centre stage, ate the scenery, got cramps and flamboyantly defecated on every unopened door in my body, spirit and psyche.
During my final years of high school I had an eating disorder, which subsequently led to horrific digestive pains. I had been a nervous child, prone to nausea and a fear of vomiting, but this was different. This was like being stabbed every time I had a meal. Without conjuring religious imagery, notions of original sin or Salem witches holding pins, it was evident that my body found it very difficult to adjust to more balanced eating patterns. Plus, my stress around food was exponential. At the time, however, none of this was clear to me, I was just in pain. So I underwent a series of tests – involving a colonoscopy where, supposedly, I was under anaesthesia, but I still recall the doctors throwing my legs around like they were made of jelly - the result of which was my sitting before a gastroenterologist who offered me a tub of Metamucil and a shrug.
Unexplained pain has played a prominent role in my life and irritable bowel syndrome was no exception. By 2010 I had found a way to eat and a naturopath gentle enough to help keep the symptoms at bay, but I also sensed some kind of psycho-spiritual tension was the biggest trigger. Louise Hay’s work was a shining light for me at a time when conventional medicine offered nothing but sugary, powdered supplements and hefty invoices. According to Hay, problems with the bowels denote “a fear of letting go of the old and no longer needed,” writes the girl rehashing tales of lost love.
On the starry night of my first encounter with Prince-Charming-That-Wasn’t-Really, I wore my signature red disco pants, the highest heels I ever owned and a bottomless champagne glass, which I drank from with impunity at a friend’s twenty first. He bumped into me causing the bubbles to spill and inspiring one of my most Katherine-Hepburn-esque-opening lines: “if you wanted attention you could’ve just said so.” Ah… Nailed. It. He’s cute, this is going well, I’m already presenting an image of myself that is exactly what I don’t feel myself to be on the inside… Tick. He then teased the nature of my bluntly cut fringe and we parted ways, only to meet again outside the toilets. I asked if someone was using them, to which he replied yes, but probably a man, because there had been sound effects and, you know, women don’t make sound effects when using the toilet.
Despite his jesting tone, I found myself at a spiritual, physical, meta-visionary crossroads, lit by champagne, looking straight into his eyes. Without thinking I opted for the road of no return - the one with the mangled up sign and skull and bones across it reading “Enter at Own Risk.” Off I went, no turning back, fie if I be fearful in the face of truth! “Well, I make heaps of sound effects when using the toilet because I have irritable bowel syndrome.”
That was it. I was dead. I had died. The tombstone read: “She Told The Truth And Her Love Life Went Bye-Bye-Nigh-Nigh Down The Toilet.” Time slowed down. I’ll never forget the look on his face. It was a mixture of astonishment, recognition, desire and total repulsion. But the pregnant pause wasn’t filled with Rosemary’s Baby, as I feared it might be. In what felt like slow motion, he shared with me that he thought he might have irritable bowel syndrome, too. Not only that, he had no one to talk about it with, because it was embarrassing. Every time he went for beers with mates he was bloated and cramping afterward… Did I need a refill? Could we talk about it some more?
Despite the fretful lessons and misplaced feelings of the months and years to follow, he and I lived happily ever after. Because, as Louise Hay says, “in the infinity of life where I am, all is perfect, whole and complete.” And, in that moment, it was.
Copyright © 2016
Photography courtesy of WE LE MIR (www.welemir.com)