Is it time to forgive someone? Maybe your husband for joking about an embarrassing moment? Or your mom for not telling you she deals with LBL, too? Perhaps (after a cough, laugh or sneeze) it’s your own body that needs forgiving. My friend Shawne Duperon, founder of the Project Forgive Foundation, believes that forgiveness brings you peace. Self-forgiveness helped her manage the ups and downs of becoming a six-time Emmy Award-winning producer and international speaker. And it helps her stay active while dealing with LBL.
When you take risks, things don’t always work out the way you’d like it to. There’s a learning curve to most things, including managing LBL. Shawne suggests we forgive ourselves for not being perfect, allow ourselves to be with the discomfort of it, find a solution, and do what is necessary to take care of ourselves. “That’s what self-forgiveness is all about,” she said.
“You can find peace with your situation one day, but the next day a similar experience may occur and you’re back in grief,” Shawne said. “Be patient with yourself.”
When Shawne first started leaking, she was shocked. “I thought there was something really wrong with me, because I’d never heard anyone talk about this,” she said. “We women always worry about being clean. When you’re leaking and you smell, it feels shameful.”
This past year, Shawne started talking openly about LBL, and realized she was not alone. One in three women experience it. She thought, “Wouldn’t it be amazing to talk to our daughters and girlfriends about this earlier on before they’re hit with it, so it won’t be as shocking for them as it was for us?” Shawne started a conversation about LBL with her daughter. “At this point in my life, I have zero shame around this, and I’m thrilled to have this conversation with anybody,” she said.
Before coming to peace with LBL, Shawne grieved her losses. “For me, bladder leakage was tied in with losing my beauty and losing my youth. And becoming a grandma! We have connotations around those conversations,” she said. “After you’ve grieved your losses, you begin to accept the changes in your body, which makes it easier to start looking for solutions.”
This acceptance improved Shawne’s outlook. “I know it sounds like a cliché but I have to say, I’ve never felt more beautiful,” she said, “I’m 30 pounds overweight. My knees hurt sometimes. I’m exercising more than I ever have, and really paying attention to the food I eat. And I’ve never felt more beautiful. I never felt so free in my relationship with my husband and our sexuality.”
“I’ve forgiven myself for getting older. I’ve accepted that my breasts aren’t as high, I’m a little saggy, and I’ve starting to leak a little bit,” she said.
Shawne practices Kegel exercises, especially when she’s about to sneeze — a common time for leaks. She also wears LBL pads when she’s in precarious situations. “Light bladder leakage has become a fact of life for me. There’s no shame in getting older. There’s no shame in leaking. There’s just ways to take care of it now,” she said.
Shawne is passionate about exploring the different ways forgiveness can affect our lives. She even created a video on forgiveness that has been seen and shared by tens of thousands of people, causing it to go viral. She believes that forgiveness can cause global change. Some people would say having bladder leakage is small compared to all the problems in the world. But Shawne poses a lofty question, “If you can’t forgive yourself, how are we going to cause world peace?”
“I know it sounds silly, and I don’t mean it to,” Shawne said. “It’s about forgiveness overall. Forgiving ourselves for not being perfect parents. Forgiving ourselves for getting divorced. And yes… even forgiving ourselves for having light bladder leakage. Then, focusing on solutions to manage it.”