It's time for us to go a level deeper. You must continue to know the truth about me. I must divulge, one layer at a time, another piece of the puzzle, yet more of the total picture. You deserve to know.
I have a shortcoming that I've never discussed, publicly or privately. I've never shared it with my husband, I attend no group meetings to help me process this and I go through every day, pretending this is not a reality. But, alas, it is.
Back in the day, this wasn't a problem. I functioned at a hundred percent. Life went along swimmingly. Things were good.
It only shows up when I'm in public. In my home, or in the homes of friends, I am perfectly able to function normally. When I have to go out, though, it is my own private nightmare. I pretend - oh, I pretend, but I'm not okay. I go along like the rest of you, seemingly blending in with the rest of the world, and I go through the motions.
With each and every trip to a public restroom, I exit out into the world as if I have just accomplished what the rest of you have. It's all an act, though. I am not well.
I'm fine choosing my stall, preparing the toilet seat to keep me protected from evil germs. I understand the flushing systems. All of that is okay. I enjoy the new, foamy, soap dispensers and I relish in the warm water. I know to count slowly to twenty or to silently sing Happy Birthday to ensure that I have washed the proper length of time. (I used to sing it aloud, but my children did not handle that with grace.)
It's at the completion of the washing routine that the problem rears its ugly head. I watch the rest of you dash over to the touchless paper towel dispenser, wave a hand lightly at its front and then receive your prize - the paper towel. It just comes right out for you all. I see it every time. I wait for you to finish. I wait for you to leave. I'm ashamed. I am.
When you all are gone, and all is quiet, I'm left alone with this giant apex I shall never reach. There I am, in the public restroom all alone. I go confidently each time, telling myself I CAN DO THIS! I stand there as you do, and I wave my hand across the space in front of the tiny red light. I do it just like the rest of you - I do.
The paper towel NEVER slides quickly out, like it does for the rest of you. It never does. I'm defeated every time. I grovel. I wave. Sometimes I look into the little red dot. Sometimes I talk to it. I walk away and come back quickly. I walk away and return slowly. I dance from side to side. I use my hand to zoom in on the little red devil and I move it in and out. I start over and do again what you do. And then I repeat, again and again.
Some of you have entered the area again. I step away. You do your business, wash your hands and quickly, and without effort, wave lightly at your friend - and you receive your paper towel. I wait patiently. I start the entire routine over. I aspire to keep my confidence; to tell myself I'm capable. I try again.
My hands are dry now. They've dried over time. It's time to leave. I'm defeated, but I will hold my head high and exit this room of doom. You'll never know what I've been through. I'll not show it on my face.
But, you know now. The next time you see me, giving my all to this machine of defeat, I ask but one thing. I've heard your suggestions; I've attempted to ape your successful moves. I'm past all of that. I'm too far gone. Just give me a smile or throw an arm over my shoulder in support. Flash your hand limply to your friend, and take your paper towel and go. I'll be out soon. My hands will be dry. I'll be all right.