As a child and young adult, I "suffered" greatly from paruresis, believing I was the only one in the world with this affliction. I felt intense shame, even self-loathing because of it and went to great lengths to conceal the problem. I'm sure you all know what this is like!
However, about 20 years ago, I discovered that it is actually a very common condition, and nothing to be ashamed of. I don't even remember how I came to this awareness, but it changed my life. I made the decision that if I could not be "cured", I would no longer attempt to hide it nor to let it rule my life. While I did not really go out of my way to reveal my AP to casual acquaintances, I did discuss it with my family and close friends. Much to my surprise, I found that my dad and sister also had difficult urination, and my beloved soul-mate was already a AP success story!
She (my beloved) became my pee-buddy, and with her, I soon became as comfortable as by myself. This was one small step for mankind, but a giant leap for a man!
My sister, an MD, told me of a spot behind the scrotum where I could apply pressure with my finger to make voiding easier. It did not make it easier to start my stream, but once started, it gave me a stronger stream.
Next, I made many attempts to use the urinal in public rest rooms, deciding not to set a time-limit for myself. This was a difficult choice, especially if a stranger was waiting in line. While I never fully succeeded, it was an important step to not conceal that I was having difficulty. Whenever I finally gave up, I began to allow myself to not flush, since to do so would be a pretense. I would then either
- go into a stall, drop my pants, sit down and wait until I could void (which sometimes still would be many minutes), or
- if I was with friends, explain simply that I couldn't go right now and would try again in a little while.
In time, I began to accept that standing at the urinal while others waited was absolutely useless, so I learned to go directly to the stall, sit down if necessary, do my business if I could, and most importantly, NOT BEAT MYSELF UP! Difficult urination was not a criminal offense; it was nothing to be ashamed of and in time, I was able to downgrade it from a huge, life-ruling, agonizing problem to a simple nuisance. I told myself that I was simply one of a vast number of men who had to have semi-privacy to urinate.
Well, in recent years I have had some additional success.
- I can use the urinal if the restroom is empty, and no one appears about to come in.
- I am able to continue urinating even after someone enters, if I have had at least 10 seconds to establish my stream.
- I am not ashamed that I have a weak stream, and that it takes me several minutes to fully void. I am patient, and do not rush the process, even if someone else comes in, and finishes in 20% of the time it takes me.
- I seldom attempt to silence my stream. In fact, since my stream is weak, I often aim for the water to make more noise.
- When I must use the stall, I am now sometimes able to stand. If I am successful, I leave the lid UP as an overt sign to others that I have used the stall for urinating (sorry ladies, I'm talking about a men's room). If I am not successful, I simply sit down and urinate, even if others have seen me standing for a while.
- Occasionally, I can even leave the door to the stall open while I urinate.
- On social occasions, I can now usually use the host's bathroom without experiencing a lengthy delay.
Curiously, I have never had much of a problem urinating outside, provided that I was not in close proximity to someone else. I'd much rather find a tree in the woods than a public rest room. When traveling in the country, even when there is no shelter, if I go off 20 meters from my traveling companions, I can urinate, even if in full view. This has a lot to do with the noise, and with knowing how long it would take someone to approach me.
I am not a shy person in most other situations, and even have the reputation of being bold about certain things that the majority are shy about. I am not ashamed of my body and love to be shirt-free when I can. I do not have sexual performance anxieties.
In 1990, I was involved in a head-on collision, and had a near-death experience. I experienced the unconditional love of God in a direct and unforgettable way. This has been a tremendous blessing to me in knowing that I am OK, even with my defects, such as paruresis.
Because others of you may be much shyer than I am, or may not have had direct experience of God's love, you may not all be in a position to make the advances that I have with my paruresis. But I offer this article as an encouragement to you all. You are OK! You are not alone! And God loves you all!!!!