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Take the First Stall

Did you know that the least-used bathroom stall is the one closest to the door? I know this because as a germaphobe, I’ve done my research. People skip the first stall with the assumption that everyone goes to that one first and so it will be the dirtiest. The most used. But not so. Go swab the door handle on the second stall, stick it into a petri dish while you make out with your hot professor and then come back and compare it to the first stall swab and you’ll see that what I say is the truth: Your first instincts shouldn’t always be trusted.

It was about this time in October, two years ago now, when Andrew was in the hospital. The thing about Andrew is that as much as I love being alone, he’s the one person on earth that I’d rather be with than myself, and that’s saying a lot coming from a youngest/only child. Growing up, I’d fantasize about getting sent to my room as punishment. I had no problem walking home from school with my nose in a book while all my friends were walking together, arms linked, skipping and sharing germs. To me, being alone > sharing oxygen with other humans. Give me a book and a cat and I’m as happy as a pig in mud. But after meeting Andrew, my feet search for his under the covers, my eyes scan for his in crowds, and my day isn’t complete without his body pressed up against mine.

Except, back when he was sick, I knew he needed the help that I couldn’t give him. So when I’d lay there in bed alone, I’d be okay knowing that he was safe. I’ve got a lot of self-confidence, but I know enough to know that there are some things that I just cannot fix or control, and Andrew’s bipolar disorder is one of them.

I’d often have all six kids on my own to care for, not just physically (making lunches and dinners and helping with homework, driving to soccer practices) but emotionally as well (their dad/stepdad was in hospital, and all the other things they were dealing with at school and with friends etc). Thankfully, Andrew’s parents helped me keep my head above water; I’m not sure what I would have done without them. I remember one night when they took Kylah and Ethan (Jake, Freddy and Katie were with Jason) and all I had was Callum (he was napping), and I crumpled into a hot mess on the living room floor. I hadn’t eaten all day, and I cracked open a Guinness, poured it into a glass and sat in front of the fire. The silence was ringing in my ears, and in that moment I felt like it’s all I really needed. To be alone.

But then Andrew’s mom called me up and invited me over for pizza. At first, I balked at the suggestion, like are you kidding me? I haven’t had a break in weeks. Months. I’m barely hanging on. But she kept insisting. She wanted to care for me, and I kept declining. I sipped the Guinness in silence, clenched my molars together and stared out our living room window. But halfway through the glass I knew that I wasn’t supposed to be alone.

Sometimes, we need to just take the first bathroom stall. Chances are, we’re going to save ourselves from a bigger mess.


{ 25 comments… add one }
  • Meredith @ cookie chrunicles October 11, 2016, 1:27 pm

    So I did know this about the first stall. I learned it from oprah!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com October 11, 2016, 6:48 pm

      Oprah totally screwed me up with staying at hotels. She did this special where she used a blue light in hotel rooms and there was semen fucking EVERYWHERE. I pack my own sleeping bag and pillow now, and a bottle of Lysol.

  • Helly on the Run October 11, 2016, 2:18 pm

    I did know about the first bathroom stall. I don’t remember how or from where, but I’ve known, lol.

    I’d so much rather be alone (or with Ben) as well although sometimes, and more often lately, I’ve been yearning for more friends. I’ve just never been good at making/keeping them. I’d rather be by myself or with Ben that any extra time I have I don’t want to give to others, lol

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com October 11, 2016, 6:47 pm

      Same. I have so many people that I’d love to meet face to face and we message each other and try to make plans but when it really comes down to it, I usually back out just because I feel like I have so many people in my immediate circle that need my energy. So yeah, my friends category takes a bit of a hit, but it’s part of the sacrifice it takes to have a big family.

  • Megan @ Meg Go Run October 11, 2016, 3:42 pm

    Friends and family you can count on to help, even when you don’t think you need the help, are the BEST. I am glad you have that, Suzy!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

    Yes, I did know about the 1st stall! 😉

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com October 11, 2016, 6:45 pm

      You young people know a lot more than I give you credit for!

  • Lisa @ Running Out Of Wine October 11, 2016, 4:23 pm

    I’ve heard about the first stall, so now I usually go for that one! Today the one at work ran out of toilet paper- so that tells me that other people in my office know about the first stall secret.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com October 11, 2016, 6:45 pm

      Well I certainly hope you didn’t find yourself victim in there today, or at least that someone else spared a square.

  • Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home October 11, 2016, 4:39 pm

    Funny how you need to go against your instinct. First stall it is!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com October 11, 2016, 6:44 pm

      Well, instinct can be such a tricky thing, especially with people who have anxiety disorders because our first instinct is usually totally fear-based and irrational as fuck.

  • Jen October 11, 2016, 7:51 pm

    So now apparently the whole world knows about the first stall thanks to you and oprah and now I will never be able to use the first stall again. Great. ?

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com October 11, 2016, 8:04 pm

      I KNOW. I ALREADY THOUGHT OF THIS. Is it too late to delete this?

  • Vern October 11, 2016, 9:46 pm

    First stall. Amazing post, considering what actually happened to me today. I was on the third floor of a large, expensive professional office building in Langley, and I made use of the men’s facilities before I left. I selected the first of two urinals, the left one, and I realized while standing there that someone had made an architectural blunder, because if someone were to open the men’s room door, everybody going by in the hallway would get a perfect picture of me from behind, doing my business. So after I had washed my hands, I held the men’s room door open and was visualizing the lines of sight to both urinals, with the left one being the real problem one. At that moment, an officious looking, expensively suited man walked past me into the room and looked at me oddly until I explained that I was astounded at the poor design. He looked at me, smiled, and said “Yeah, that’s why I always choose the one on the right”.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com October 11, 2016, 10:04 pm

      And now everyone can see where I get (some of) my writing talent from! Xoxo

  • Allie October 12, 2016, 3:01 am

    I actually DID know that about the bathroom stall but, now I feel like EVERYONE knows it so it’s now, in fact, the dirtiest, most used one. *sigh* This is how my brain works. But, I also love being alone. At least for a few days 🙂

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com October 12, 2016, 6:38 am

      I know. 🙁 I thought of that problem too, and now I have NO IDEA which stall to use. NOW WHAT.

  • Susie @ SuzLyfe October 12, 2016, 3:56 am

    Right now, I am craving some alone time simply because life has been so hashtag bananas. But at the same time, as I run around and see and do and whatever, I am learning to look forward to the together as well. I go through phases with it. But I am with you–there is one, maybe two (my mom) people that I would rather be with than be alone, regardless. Although sometimes I insist they just shut up while we are together 😀
    And I usually take the first stall because I have to pee so badly.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com October 12, 2016, 6:44 am

      I think it’s special when we can be comfortable and safe with someone without having to feel like we have to talk. Silence is good, but we don’t have to be alone to have it. Ooooooh that was deep, Suzy. It’s not even 7am. BOOM. It’s gonna be a champion of a day.

  • Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets October 12, 2016, 7:15 am

    I always choose the first stall for this very reason.

    Also I can relate to the being alone yet needing people at the same time thing. It’s funny how kids or stressful situations can do that to you.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com October 12, 2016, 8:40 am

      Yeah, and it feels like we’re stuck inside our own heads and our bodies can’t move. We almost need someone to come along and just tell us what to do and force us to do it.

  • Sana October 12, 2016, 7:49 am

    I always take the first stall! It also always has TP!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com October 12, 2016, 8:40 am

      Hi Sana! I’m really glad that I wrote this post, because now I know that the first stall is used a LOT more than I thought. AHHHHHH!!!!!!

  • Ana October 12, 2016, 9:55 am

    That was so beautiful! I love the way you write! So open, and so touching!

    I find that emotionally caring for people is SO HARD!! And being a divorced Mom, I still struggle with finding comforting words for my son when he is upset. But I stop, and dig deep to find something, because he needs me. And one of the reasons I divorced his dad was that he couldn’t emotionally care for both of my son and me.

    Thank you for sharing!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com October 12, 2016, 10:38 am

      Thank you, Ana! I think that’s what (most) moms do: when we are dry and empty and vacant, we dig a little deeper and find what we need to get done what we need to get done. Maybe that’s why so many moms run marathons–because we have what it takes to dig deep, even when we’ve hit rock. We just keep digging.

  • San October 22, 2016, 4:59 pm

    I always use the first stall… 😉 and I am glad you let Andrew’s parents help. Help is what everybody needs in a situation like that.

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