Epic Failure

One year ago today, I returned from my trip to Japan.  I blogged about my experiences there – with one exception.  And there’s good reason.  I considered it an epic failure.

The Japanese frequent public bath houses (called “the Sento”).  Some people go there to relax.  Others go there to secure business deals, much like they occur on golf courses in the U.S.  We were warned prior to our trip that we would all go to the bath house in order to get a full cultural experience.

“Do we have to?” I questioned, acutely aware of my lack of excitement for this, even months in advance.

“Everyone who has ever had hesitations has always ended up loving it in the end,” I was assured by the leader of our group.

Yes, but I’m guessing no one had BDD on your previous trips, I thought.

Fast forward to Tokyo.  The time had come for me to face my fears.  We were in the car on the way to the Sento when I started to feel sick to my stomach.  I can’t do this.  The thought of being naked in a room filled with other people literally made me nauseous.

I can do this, I tried to reassure myself as we walked in, attempting the logic of The Little Engine That Could.  We purchased our tickets and made our way to the locker room.  I immediately saw more skin than I cared to.  I averted my eyes as they welled up with tears.  I can’t do this.

You have to do this, I argued with myself.  Although the rule is that you only make eye contact in the Sento, the idea of being one of the only caucasians – and the only redhead at that – in a room of naked people sounded almost as appealing as being in a room filled with dead people.

Tears streamed down my cheeks as I took off my shirt and placed it in my locker.  I can’t do this.  That was as far as I got before I bailed.  I simply couldn’t participate. 

While the other girls in the group enjoyed their bath house experience, I retreated to the spa downstairs, beating myself up the entire way. I felt like a failure.  Of course you couldn’t do it. You weren’t strong enough.  You’ll never get over your BDD.

And yet as I sat there waiting, a still, small voice in the back of my mind said, “You stood up for yourself.  Good for you.” 

For me, even going to the Sento and attempting to participate was a big step.  In the end, I didn’t get the full bath house experience.  Maybe I’ll be able to participate next time I visit Japan…

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~ by Serena on August 3, 2010.

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