Vienna Workshop – One Year Later
[From Workshop participant Kevin, translation courtesy C]
Dear participants of the IPA Workshop 2022 in Vienna, dear all,
In the following I will present my personal impressions of a workshop visit and then describe how I coped with my paruresis after the workshop. Possibly it will serve as an “inspiration” for the one or the other person concerned to design a personal “training program”.
To all other people – especially the participants of the mentioned workshop – I dedicate the following lines as a kind of “feedback” about my personal progress.
Possibly there is an interest on the part of former participants to learn how I have progressed in the last 12 months. I have invested half an afternoon in writing this text; it has given me an extraordinary amount of pleasure, especially as I have been reminded of some positive experiences from back then. In any case, I hope all readers will enjoy reading it.
The way out of life in captivity and into freedom is often difficult. This statement has proven to be true once again in the context of coping with my personal paruresis affliction.
After 24 years of struggling with the discomfort of this social phobia – triggered by a comment from an obviously impatient child hater who stood in line behind me while I tried to use a urinal at a highway rest stop as a seven-year-old boy – the gates of freedom have opened for me this year.
Decades had preceded, in which I tried again and again to solve the alleged “problem” by reading various self-help books . Unfortunately, this was always in vain, which from today’s point of view was mainly due to the fact that I did not take to heart the “success formula” that was often propagated in the books, the so-called “confrontation” with the problem. So, year after year passed and although I was aware of the workshops of the IPA, under the direction of Dr. Steven Soifer – almost a celebrity in the treatment of paruresis – I let them pass by again and again, whereby any excuse was fine with me. In the last two years, the intervals in which my bladder asks to be emptied have become shorter and shorter, which I personally attribute to the fact that my prostate is obviously beginning to grow, as is more often the case from around the age of 30. This has once again massively increased my personal suffering.
This circumstance made me finally! come to the point where I was literally “fed up with the shit”, so I had the courage of the desperate and registered for the IPA Workshop 2022 in Vienna.
As the weekend (September 2-4, 2022, I’ll never forget it!) slowly approached, the excuses to cancel the weekend were once again not far away (no time, too far away- 1700 km in total after all!, too expensive, etc.).
However, this time I was determined to finally show it to the “Paru monster” in my head and therefore forced myself to participate in this workshop under all circumstances. When I reached the beautiful city of Vienna – in glorious sunshine – around Friday noon of the mentioned weekend, it was a matter of spending the remaining hours until the start of the workshop. This was a bad thing, because it gave me time to “change my mind” and with each passing minute, my knees became softer and softer – knowing what I would be facing this weekend.
The avoidance strategy I had perfected for years was to be broken and I was finally to face my fears
– the absolute horror! But I was determined to make progress and therefore remained steadfast despite everything. Around 7 p.m. the meeting started, and the initial excitement quickly turned into a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere. The whole event should even turn out to be truly amusing in the course of the weekend (triggered by certain participants, including a certain P., who on Sunday morning still had “residual gas” from the night drinking tour and in this way significantly improved the mood in the group). After all participants had briefly introduced themselves and their tales of woe, Friday was already drawing to a close.
On Saturday, after a short assignment of a “pee buddy”, the participants practiced, each following their personal “difficulty hierarchy”.
On Sunday the individual trainings were continued and if necessary, further intensified. My original final goal for the workshop weekend was to be ABOVE all able to urinate in public places – even if “only” in a stall. However, encouraged by the amazingly good progress and positive feedback from other participants, I then decided to go further than I had originally intended. At first, I didn’t want to rush into anything, but within the group, a (positive) dynamic of its own increasingly unfolded. This ultimately led to me literally “wanting to know” and an “all or nothing” thinking set in, i.e. I forced myself to make an attempt at the urinal.
Since I was aware that the risk of a possible “failure” would be very high, I told myself beforehand that I would not be discouraged by it, no matter what the final outcome and lo and behold- it
actually worked. What a success!
The workshop then slowly drew to a close and although I was mostly a little nauseous the whole weekend due to various food intolerances (paruresis alone is not enough!), I persevered and started my journey home inspired by the good results.
After that – due to challenging times in my studies – unfortunately some months passed without training sessions, fortunately I finally found the time to continue my personal “training program” from about February 2023.
I wanted to “get rid” of my “problem” for the most part by the first weekend of September 2023, exactly one year after attending the workshop! So, I first looked at how many weeks I had left until that date and then divided my personal “difficulty hierarchy list” into the available time. I scheduled one “practice date” per week, slowly increasing the level of difficulty. The “training location” was a large shopping center, which was always very busy on Saturdays. There were several cubicles and about ten urinals with partitions (all in a row).
I started with five free urinals as a “distance” and a drinking quantity of no less than three! liters. This was an extremely large amount of liquid at first, but I wanted to be “on the safe side” especially at the beginning. Due to my previous successes at the workshop, this was also no problem for me, so that I could urinate directly.
One week later, the distance was then reduced to three free urinals, although the amount I drank initially remained unchanged. Another week later, I reduced the distance again, so that there was only one urinal left “as a gap”. The drinking quantity initially remained at three liters.
After this was all successful, I then started to slowly reduce the massive amount of drinking (finally!), drinking about 250 ml less per week. The “gap” always remained the same, i.e., a free urinal was left as a gap. Thus, the procedure extended over several weeks until I was finally able to reduce the amount I drank down to one liter. Personally, I set myself one liter as the “minimum” drinking quantity, although I do not want to go any further below this for the time being.
After I was able to pee with a distance of one urinal and one liter of water, I chose the next level of difficulty. Specifically: peeing at a urinal with a partition, but this time without a “gap”. Here, too, a high drinking quantity was initially selected, although I started here with just two liters due to the good experiences and was able to reduce this quantity – thanks to larger steps – also realistically quickly to one liter. In the course of this “training section” I even shooed away another person away from the urinal by intentionally “not leaving a gap”:-). After I had squeezed myself between two guys, came from one of the two an annoyed groan and he left the location undone.
Normally I would not behave this way, but I wanted to train, so I did not care at that moment. It was simply important for me. After this “training chapter” was also successfully completed, it was time to further increase the level of difficulty. In my case, this meant getting into training without partitions. Fortunately, urinals without partitions are available at my university, so I was able to use them. Again, we started with a relatively high drinking quantity, although this time it was “only” one and a half liters. As a “distance”, I started again at a free urinal. After successful completion, the drinking quantity was first reduced to 1250 ml and finally to 1000 ml, with the “distance” remaining unchanged in each case.
At present, it is therefore possible for me to urinate at urinals – with and without a partition – with a “gap” of one urinal and a drinking quantity of one liter.
What is now still to come in the next four weeks is my personal “final opponent”, i.e., the use of a urinal without a partition and without a “gap”. However, this I will only “test” training wise, in later everyday life, I will always leave a gap. Again, I will start with 1500 ml of water and then try to reduce to ultimately 1000 ml. After two participants – namely a certain C. and the previously mentioned P. – have encouraged me in my decision, I will still go this step. After that I can hopefully say that I am finally – like everybody else – able to pee halfway “normally–”! At this point I would like to thank all the participants once again – without your support I would certainly not have been able to do this. The joint trainings in the hotel were for me personally the beginning of a great success!
I think we all had a great weekend full of fun, which will remain in the memory of each of us.
I would especially like to thank the participants C. and P., who recently helped me with their advice.
Many thanks also to Dr. Soifer for his great work and support in any form. Furthermore, I wish the Austrian Paruresis Association much success in their work, the participants C., B. and P. can be proud of what they have “set up” with the association! If there is an account, I am willing to make a donation to support your work – please let me know via our WhatsApp-group. In conclusion, I can only emphasize again at this point that it was absolutely worthwhile for me personally to attend the workshop. In addition to the professional support, which created the basis for my “breakthrough”, it was also a weekend that was a lot of fun and I was able to meet a lot of nice people.
All in all, I just found it “awesome”. I can therefore only encourage all those affected to attend such a workshop – my life has changed in a positive sense! With the wish to stay in contact with you, I remain with kind regards to all participants.
August 1, 2023, K. from the sunny south of Germany
INTERNATIONAL PARURESIS ASSOCIATION
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Catonsville, MD 21228
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