Well, I’ve had mild constipation all my life off and on. It’s been my normal.
And over the past few years, it’s really improved and I attributed that to my whole foods plant-based diet and morning yoga or stretches.
But it started to creep back around the time I started dating someone new and been back on full force for 5 months now.
I started a gut healing protocol last month and I was feeling so much better!
Until this week.
This time, I surrender to it. I know there are a few factors at play here: it’s that time in my cycle (which always makes it worse), and I’m overworking (aka avoiding emotions I don’t want to deal with by keeping busy).
If that last part doesn’t make sense to you, by the end of this I think you’ll understand. I know I’ve mentioned before that our physical health is deeply tied to our mental health and that’s important to understand.
So you read the title of the article and are probably thinking: This happened because of a guy?
Yes, you read that right.
I’m constipated because of a failed relationship.
Ok, and I ignored and dismissed my gut feelings.
Now, this may seem like a long shot to you but it makes perfect sense. Hear me out.
Being A Traveling Hippie
Late December 2019 through January 2020 I was traveling, living out of my car, and doing volunteer work at a sustainable ecovillage. I did this in exchange for a camp spot, food, learning about permaculture, meeting awesome people, and being with nature.
I was having a great time doing what I’ve been doing since 2015:
Being a slow-traveling hippie!
Travel usually slows my digestion down because it can be stressful. But it really wasn’t a big issue at this time. I was in a good place mentally and emotionally and healthy BMs were happening in the community compost toilet in the forest!
Enter a soul-piercing stranger who wouldn’t stop staring at me while I was washing dishes in the community kitchen as part of the volunteer program. Let’s call him Ken.
Ken would bring up his empty plate to my counter and keep staring at me shyly.
I was half intrigued, half weirded out. (Dismissed gut feeling #1).
I don’t like to judge people and assume the best intentions. Usually, everyone is doing the best they can. So after about 3 days of him returning his dishes with his eyes glued to me and lingering a little longer than most people, I said hi and asked if he lived here in the community. He seemed sweet but shy – usually my gig.
I was due to leave the volunteer program and travel back up 3 hours north to meet up with my travel buddy in a few days so it was now or never. Maybe I could make a new friend?
Dismissing My Gut
Ken happened to be traveling too and was staying close by. We decided to get together. We had tea after my shift one night and then planned a real date. He was so easy to talk to but I didn’t feel a spark (yet?).
During our date, I remember his stare across the fancy restaurant dinner table that seemed so piercing to the point where it felt invasive. I felt terror for a second. Like legit terror where you think you should maybe run but instead you just freeze and smile?
Girls, I know you know what I mean.
I convinced myself that I was overreacting. Dismissed gut feeling #2.
He was so polite and considerate of my feelings and wanted to know my thoughts and opinions. I felt seen and validated where I usually feel invisible, unimportant, or misunderstood.
I was pleasantly surprised. Or hesitantly flattered.
But I also felt uncomfortable in his world because he was from the upper class and I’ve got a working poor class status. Everything seemed so fancy and formal and I felt like I didn’t belong and didn’t know how to act. But I thought, “Well, it’s okay to be uncomfortable sometimes and social class isn’t a big deal.”
Maybe so, but I was forcing myself to see all the good and dismissing my felt experience. Dismissed gut feeling #3.
I didn’t feel the thing.
You know, that spark. But I thought maybe I could in the future? What is that thing anyway? In the past, the thing has always lead me to someone who has “familiar” coping mechanisms that trigger me in all the familiar ways I felt rejected as a kid. And then you just end up triggering and hurting each other in an endless cycle.
Who wants that thing?
So I thought maybe I should give this a shot. It’ll be different this time.
Then he offered me a place to stay so that I didn’t have to leave town.
Then he told me we should live in a van and travel together.
Immediate thoughts? “My family is going to get a call from the Florida police that I’ve been raped, murdered, and found on a deserted beach somewhere.”
Again, girls, I know you have these thoughts too.
He seemed like a nice, normal (maybe a little clingy and needy) guy but isn’t that what everyone says about mass shooters and pedophiles after the fact when reporters are interviewing the neighbors?
“He just always seemed like a nice, normal guy.”
Time To Move On
Isn’t that sick? When I say it out loud like that “I think it would be okay to keep in touch with someone who evoked a split second of terror in me and makes me worry he may be crazy.”
No wonder my gut is furious at me.
I didn’t want to be forced to make huge decisions like accepting a place to stay from a total stranger so that we could date (codependency red flags, Nicole!)…when I had already carved out my plan and had already made certain commitments to my travel buddy 3 hours away.
He was disappointed. And for some reason when others feel bad because of my decisions it makes me feel like it’s my job to make them feel better.
Ahem – IT’S NOT.
I thought maybe after keeping to my word with my travel buddy up north, I could come back down for a while and see where this dating thing goes? (But maybe I was just letting my people-pleasing tendencies take over.)
I was low on money and I was supposed to be heading back home which was a couple of days worth of travel away. And Ken was 3 hours in the opposite direction.
And I didn’t feel a thing anyway.
Plus, there was that possible serial killer thing.
No one wants that thing.
Ken didn’t really seem to understand this and became extremely needy of my time and energy and texted me excessively while I was in my new camp 3 hours away.
We had only gone on one date.
My gut was right.
Trying To Survive The Plague
Ken kinda crept back into my texts and we got to talking regularly. For a while, he seemed just way too serious for me to take him seriously.
I love deep conversations. But he always seemed to drag the mood down for me. I was doing my thing preparing for the apocalypse (joking…kinda), planting a garden, learning food preservation and investing 101, introspective reflecting, healing my past crap, integrating life lessons, breaking up with friends for the first time, ya know, all the hard important things.
And he was texting me his emotional baggage trying to pull me into his reality. Everything was so heavy. Always. So I stuck to my gut.
All of a sudden Ken was being playful and fun. Over the months I was actually starting to look forward to our conversations. They had flow. He wasn’t being oppressive or smothering.
During the summer, when things started to calm down with COVID we eventually decided to meet up. And I’ll tell you at first I really thought all my dreams came true. Things seemed different. He seemed lighter. I felt better than before.
We ended up together for about 4 months. Most of the time it was great and I really fell for him.
But when it was bad, it was really bad.
I got scared a few times because of his emotional explosions in the middle of the night. I found myself editing my behavior in order to avoid the scariness, but it would come hurling at me anyway. That scary invasive stare was just a precursor to the emotional bulldozing to come and, to be honest, it left me slightly traumatized.
What Does This Have To Do With Constipation, Nicole?
In the end, I realized he was projecting an image of himself he thought I’d like so that he could get an image of me that he created in his head. And he was disappointed with the reality. We were both fictional characters in a story we created. And we can’t wear our masks forever.
So, what does this have to do with my constipation?
Well, that relationship was horrible for my health, mentally and physically. I kept getting recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs) from him and that put a strain on him apparently. And because I was constantly on antibiotics, it was affecting my gut health and, therefore, my mental health. And he thought I was just being difficult on purpose. I was just looking for a space that was mine in a life I realized wasn’t mine anymore and that I didn’t really choose.
I let him choose.
He thought I was too introverted and quiet – something I can tell you I always loved hearing growing up – and I was “lacking” his hyperactivity.
So that didn’t work out.
And now I’m left with all the effects – including constipation – of taking 3 rounds of antibiotics to cure me of the UTIs I got from him, due to the fact that I didn’t listen to my gut in the first place!
The moral of the story is:
Don’t Ignore Your Gut!
All of this could have been prevented if I just trusted my gut, listened to my feelings, and respected and enforced my own boundaries.
Seriously, if you’re ignoring your emotions which are the sensations that your body is sending you as information then it could cause problems. And emotional issues lead to physical issues. It’s better to deal with them and listen to what they are telling you. There is always a reason whether it’s intuition, past pain, a boundary violation, rational fear, or irrational fear, it’s up to you to take in the information and sort it out accordingly.
Just don’t ignore or dismiss it.
Your body knows.
Don’t let someone else invade your reality and force you out.
Let’s Do This
Now I’m paying a lot of attention to my gut.
I’m letting it get in the spotlight. The light is going to flush out all the darkness 😉
I realize that ignoring all the emotional patterns I hold causes my body to follow certain physical patterns. This means that my incessant people-pleasing and anxiety are linked to my digestion issues.
Also, antibiotics can really mess up your health. It’s important to only take them when they’re really needed and to repopulate your gut bacteria with a good probiotic afterward.
I’m grateful for all my past relationships. I’ve learned from each of them. I also see that I need to break the pattern of not trusting my gut. Some things are not meant for you. And sometimes you don’t need to look so hard for the good in everyone. Don’t hold on when people push you away or disrespect you. Never make yourself small because you’ve been taught that’s what you need to do.
I think we all need that reminder sometimes.
Instead of overworking and not dealing with emotions when they need to be dealt with, I’m going to take some more time for myself.
Remember to listen, listen, listen. Your body and your emotions have a lot of information for you.
Don’t ignore your gut.
I’d love to hear your stories of how you didn’t trust your gut and the consequences you faced whether they were mental or physical or financial or whatever! I think it’s helpful to actually schedule time in the day to check in with your body and your mental/emotional state. Are you listening to what your body is telling you? Or do you need to work on self-trust? Let me know in the comments.