OK, confession time. I swear. A lot. But, I don’t swear around friends who don’t swear, and I never swear around people I don’t know or in a professional setting. I rarely swear in public and if I do, I do it quietly and only with close friends. I never swore around my girls until the youngest was almost out of high school, by which time I had also lifted the ban on their use of “gutter language” (with some exceptions.)
Still, when you come downstairs at 5 in the morning on a Saturday, after just having finished your shower, looking forward to writing and a cup of strong coffee, and then notice the toilet paper stand and the bathroom garbage can in the hallway, you can’t say much but, “Ah, sh*t!”
My husband, who works Tuesday through Saturday, discovered the backed-up toilet first. The water had already dissipated. In fact, he assumed the wadded toilet paper on the floor was simply evidence left behind by a mischevious puppy. Alas, it was not, it was our plumbing mainline, again. The same mainline that was our nemesis when we first bought our house almost 19 years ago. During the first 18 months in our home, the mainline backed up pretty regularly. At the time, I was running my business from home and was grateful my husband was a stay-at-home full-time dad. I was also grateful for his skills. Before my husband and I met, he was the co-owner of a septic system business and knew well what needed to be done to repair our faulty mainline. It would be both time-consuming and physically demanding, but he did it. He dug up the front yard, removed the old, long-established juniper bushes and their extensive network of invasive roots. Next came removing and replacing a section of the old clay pipe mainline that had been wildly destroyed by those roots. At the same time, he also installed a new clean-out access point so he’d no longer have to crawl under the house to clean out the backed-up pipe. His work served us well in that the backed-up toilet paper, etc, came up in the front yard this morning, at the clean-out access point, as designed.
After cleaning up and disinfecting the bathroom floor, we had only a few moments to connect before he headed out the door this morning. What did he think caused the mainline to back up again, I wondered. Just under two months ago, the night before we left on vacation, the toilet had backed up. But, using a garden hose, he cleaned out the line quickly, taught our daughters what to do in the event of a repeat while we were gone, and we left on vacation with the assumption that perhaps too much sheetrock dust (from our current remodel project) was washed down the sink and caused a plug. Sadly, it would appear that was not the case. Ah, the joys of homeownership!
Before leaving for work he told me he suspects the seam between the pipes he’d put in (and long worried about because the ground beneath hadn’t been packed to his liking when reburied) shifted creating a gap at the connection. Tonight, as before, he tried flushing the system, but his troubleshooting made it clear he’ll be digging again tomorrow. Something shifted and sh*t came up. And, whatever is going on can’t be ignored.
Who would have guessed our mainline could be such a graphic metaphor for life? Still, the message from this unwelcomed event was clear: when we make shifts in life, unexpected sh*t often comes up for us to examine. And, like a plugged mainline, we don’t necessarily plan for that sh*t, but we still have to deal with it. It demands both our attention and action, often stinking up other areas in our life until we repair the broken pieces.
More than once in my life, I’ve made some big and positive shifts for my mental and physical health. And, more than once, I’ve had to clean up and clean out old beliefs, patterns, and demons I’ve kept stashed away. The work is often messy and uncomfortable. It is rarely quick. It is rarely linear. But, it is absolutely necessary if I’m to fully benefit from any change or shift in my life. I’ve yet to find a way to clean out the old sh*t without bringing it up first. Still, once it’s been brought up and cleaned out life –no, me–I work better once I’ve flushed what no longer serves me.
Today’s plumbing adventure got me thinking. Life is, once again, on the cusp of some changes. There’s been this itchiness under my skin, not bad, but unrelenting. I haven’t slowed down long to pay enough attention to the messages, kind of like I didn’t pay attention to the slower flush of the toilet. Maybe I’ve been trying to ignore it back into the dark. Old patterns, even if uncomfortable, are at least familiar. Maybe that’s what’s been stirring my desire to write again. Perhaps my own mainline is plugging up. It seems I may have some digging of my own to do.
Well played, old mainline, well played.
Tomorrow morning, rather than continuing the work on our large remodeling project, my husband will be digging up the frozen ground in our front yard. Say a prayer, if you would, that his work goes easily, that our old house doesn’t feel the need to demand any other unexpected repairs during this remodel, and that I manage to keep my language and patience in check during this small shift in plans.