"The wall...that had been broken was slowly being torn down bit by bit."
Let me begin by saying that I am truly a ‘girly’ girl. Meaning, I keep my hair done, nails done, and make-up flawless. I accessorize all of my clothes from head to toe – matching shoes, earrings, purse, etc…
Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to get down and dirty with the best of them. I’m not afraid of breaking a nail or getting my hands dirty or of manual labor. I can change a flat tire, hook the cables up to jump a car (if needed) and mow a lawn. I can even check the oil level in a car and top it off. However, due to being in a uniform looking like every other sailor for so many years while on active duty; I take advantage of the opportunity now that I’m a civilian to tap into my creative feminine side.
I didn’t think much about what our bathroom accommodations would be like on a Soldiers to Summits expedition until a fellow female veteran shared some tips in an attempt to prepare me for what was to come. I was shocked to learn there are contraptions that allow females to use the bathroom standing up. I was introduced to the “She-Wee” by way of the internet. She-Wee, a revolutionary portable device for women, is a molded plastic funnel which can slip comfortably into the zipper of your pants to allow you to relieve your bladder privately and easily in a standing position. What in the world? There wouldn’t be portable potties available? I really hadn’t thought about that aspect of the expedition. She went on to share that it would be beneficial especially when we were on rope-teams; roped to our fellow participants. I couldn’t argue with that, she had a point.
After purchasing one and trying it out at home. I decided that I’d take it along and use it as a last resort. However, I’d bring plenty of baby wipes stored in plastic bags. I figured that I’d find a tree or some semi-private area to squat and relieve myself. Hmmm… Did I really want to do this? What if there are no trees to go behind? Am I supposed to use the bathroom surrounded by male expedition participants?
We were riding along the winding roads in the mountains called switch-backs. Our guides were driving us the three hours to the drop-off point when I heard one of the male participants say that he needed to use the bathroom. He asked if the driver could pull-over. Because of the elevation, we had to stay well-hydrated so we were consuming large amounts of water. This for me wasn’t so good, as the more water I drank the more I had to use the bathroom. So, I had to go as well, but kept quiet because I didn’t see any places along the winding road that allowed any privacy. The female mentor had to go as well; so we stopped. The roads were pretty narrow so we couldn’t go too far. I looked as the guys walked behind the van and over to the side of the road near the edge of the mountain. I looked the other way and saw the a few walked in front of the van a few feet to the edge of the mountain. The other female mentor went to the front of the van as well, dropped her pants and squatted. I hesitated, looking towards the back and the front of the van at the other male participants debating on whether to try to continue to hold it or not.
What did I end up doing? The need to relieve myself won over my desire for privacy. I walked around to the front of the van, squeezed myself between the van and the side of the mountain and relieved myself, all the while looking to see if anyone was looking. I needn’t have worried. The guys were perfect gentlemen. They kept their backs to us and their heads turned until we let them know it was okay to return to the van.
Further along on the journey as we trekked the mountain terrain, at times they stayed within my line of sight when I said I needed to use the bathroom; but allowed me the privacy I needed. It was interesting to say the least. But by this time, taking care of a basic human need, was more important. It helped me to realize that it was all a part of the journey. How so? The experience helped me replace bad memories with a sense of trust…a positive memory. That in a sense is part of the No Barriers Mindset – “What’s within you is greater than what’s in your way.” The wall I’d had in place for so long when it came to restoring the trust that had been broken was slowly being torn down bit by bit. Being outdoors, enjoying the scenery and the sound of waterfalls and bonding with the other participants in a non-threatening environment allowed me the ability to relax enough to pull on the inner strength I thought I’d lost to face my challenges and obstacles head-on.
Nature has a healing quality that no medicine can replace or mimic. I’m forever grateful to Soldiers to Summits for providing me with the opportunity to heal.