Have you ever suspected that food allergies may be causing you to leak? My dear friend Teresa de Grosbois says, “Yes it does!” She’s lactose intolerant and allergic to corn products. We had an intimate conversation about bladder leakage, flatulence, and gracefully handling embarrassing moments.
Teresa travels extensively for work, which means she needs hotel and restaurant staff to confirm that her food is free of corn and dairy products. “If I accidentally eat the wrong food, I’ll pay for it,” she said. “I’ll either leak or pass gas, often both at the same time. There’s no controlling it.” Even though she’s fiercely independent, those moments of vulnerability can shake her confidence, especially when she speaks on stage in front of hundreds of people.
LBL is actually the lesser of her two issues. “With a Poise pad, I can have a bit of bladder leakage and nobody knows. But when I lose control and pass gas with colleagues standing around me, there’s no hiding it.” Poise® can help you with your bladder leakage, but what you eat does matter because certain foods can irritate your bladder. If you’re dining out, here are some tips to keep the night without a bladder leakage accident.
Teresa has always had food sensitivities, but it got much worse the last 15 years or so after having children. One of her earliest breakthroughs in dealing with embarrassment happened on a date.
She was out with a great guy and wanted to impress him. To keep from looking like a “high maintenance chick,” she didn’t do her usual detailed review of the meal’s ingredients list. The result? She ate a sauce with cornstarch in it.
“As we got up to leave the table, I leaked and ‘let one’ like you wouldn’t believe. It was loud and smelly. So much for the sexy dress and the great makeup!” she said.
In that moment, a miraculous thing happened. She surrendered. She looked up at her date and said, “If you’re going to date a girl who has allergies to milk and corn, we’re going to have a few embarrassing circumstances like this. Will you forgive me?”
He laughed and said, “Of course!” It became their first moment of intimacy as a couple because of how kind and loving he was about it. They dated long after that embarrassing moment.
Teresa discovered that her reaction to leaks and gassiness depends on how significant she makes it. She no longer thinks “Woe is me.” She doesn’t ask, “God, why did you do this to me?” Instead, she downsizes the significance of it all, and simply says, “I am not a victim of my circumstances. I simply don’t digest milk or corn very well. If I eat it, I’m going to have a very human moment.”
I asked Teresa where her positive outlook came from, and she tracked it back to a sweet memory of her uncle. When she was about 10 years old, he showed her a book of the great artists’ masterpieces. She pointed out a spot on a painting were there were splotches of purple and orange in places those colors had no business being, and asked him, “Are these mistakes?”
“Step back and look at the painting from several feet away, and tell me what you think,” he said.
“I think it’s absolutely beautiful!” she answered.
“You’re right. It’s perfect in all its imperfection. It’s the flaws and things you don’t think belong there that make you fall in love with the painting. Don’t ever forget that Teresa, because people are like that too,” he said.
That stuck with her. It made her realize that the challenges we all face are just imperfections that make us graceful role models of what it’s like to be exquisitely human.
What about you?
How do you manage embarrassing moments with grace?