I got a colonoscopy when I was 13.
I was 13 and DEEP in the midst of a divorce-fueled depression. I could only take so many late night trips truck shopping with dad before I started questioning whether or not the Lariat package was the way to go, or if I’d be better off living with him and my stepmom. He’d regularly sweeten the pot with a trip to White Castle, a restaurant at which my younger brother swore he could out eat me.
In my prime, I probably could have crushed at least 30 of those little burgers, easy. Jared wouldn’t have stood a fucking chance. It would’ve been a real Randy Johnson vs. that one bird scenario. Poof. Over before it began.
Dad and I would walk around the Dave Sinclair used lot late at night and he’d talk about how he missed us kids, how he wanted to be a family again. After casually developing an opinion on the superiority of Fords, which up to this point, I’d never given a shit about, I’d hoist myself up into the passenger seat of his pickup. The cab smelled bright and exotic. A scented bag swung slowly from the rear view mirror. The seat belt was practically brand new. Dad didn’t believe in them. Delilah played on the radio. Richard Marx, Air Supply, Ryan Adams. It was a time machine. Everything slowed down to a delicate crawl. It all felt exciting. Full of cheese fries and optimism, I gave the idea of living with him some thought.
After all, it was a big year for me, an exciting time with a lot of change. I’d just graduated from junior high. I was on Student Council, I was Vice President of Beta Club, I was the head basketball manager. Things were good. I was going to use eighth grade as a launchpad to high school, a land full of new people and a clean slate.
There was only one problem. It wasn’t junior high any more.
Remember when Halo 2 came out? You’d probably just gotten decent at the first one, when all of a sudden, the game changed. It was a lot like that. I was playing by last year’s rules.
Freshman year was a never-ending lineup of bad facial hair and awkward posture brought on by newfound breasts. We were a sea of horny creeps who had no idea how to express themselves without sweating. Some things never change, I guess.
The other kids were suddenly crass. One day, I was walking through the hall and this older kid, a football player who was good with girls, walked up, threw his arm around me and yelled, “Who’s gonna suck my boy’s dick?”.
Everyone within earshot laughed.
It was meant as a playful thing, no harm intended. Was he actually expecting someone to step out from the crowd and accept the challenge? Just suck my dick right in the middle of the hallway? I mean, that’s what I was hoping to get out of it. But in reality, he was implying that there was no way that anyone would suck my dick, so much so in fact that he might as well lay down a challenge knowing that no one would accept. It was a statement with absolutely no consequences. I bet a teacher heard him, saw me and thought, “Well, there’s no way anyone’s sucking that fat kid’s dick, so what’s the harm in asking?”.
Even the bus ride became intimidating as hell. What had always been a quiet, banal experience of getting off at the junior high (which was early in the route) suddenly morphed into a war game free for all. Junior high kids were docile. High school kids were absolute maniacs. Junior high kids didn’t even stand up on the bus. High school kids fingerfucked in the two-seater near the rear emergency exit, ON THE WAY TO SCHOOL! It was complete chaos, one stop at a time.
I couldn’t handle it.
I quit going to school. Just like that. There was no grand embarrassing incident that led to my absence. I just stopped going. I didn’t want to anymore. I’d resigned myself to a life of listening to Howard Stern and eating cocoa puffs. I was finally content.
My mom, who is the greatest human being I’ve ever known, worked nights as a nurse and didn’t have the energy to fight with a stubborn teenager. I was probably awful to her and for that, I’ll never forgive myself.
When she asked me why i couldn’t go, I thought I’d appeal to her medical background. I told her that I couldn’t go poop and hadn’t for days, so we went to the doctor. In reality, I’d been shitting like a horse, nothing out of the ordinary. After checking me out and listening to my unending stream of lies, the doctor ordered me to have a colonoscopy.
I refused to back down.
We went into a very sterile office where I took off my pants and laid on my side. The doctor covered me in a sheet for privacy. They put the tip of a tube against my asshole and filled me up with air. My mom was there with me the whole time, holding my hand. Once I was properly inflated, a new tube showed up, greased up and ready for action.
I don’t know whether it was the palpable vulnerability in the air, or the sheer concern on my mom’s face, but in that moment, everything came to a head. As tube #2 got inserted and weaved its way through my colon, I realized that I’d been a terrible son. I’d put my mom through so much. She pulled us out of poverty, only to have worked all night to raise three kids and all I did was lie to her. She deserved so much more than that. I sat on that table in a state of complete confusion. I was pulled between two worlds: my dad’s, which was new and exciting, and my mom’s, which was scary and numb.
I don’t know whether or not she knew what was going on, but I suspect she had an idea. We talked about my feelings and the on again, off again nature of the relationship I had with my dad. She ran her hand through my hair as I cried on that exam room table. I swear to god I can still feel it. I miss it more than anything.
The tech sat there silently, looking up a 13 year old boy’s ass for a problem that was much, much deeper.
I wish I could say that it got better, but it didn’t. My brain spiraled out of control for a little while longer until change was the only thing that could stabilize me. I eventually moved in with my dad and his new family, which was a mixed bag.
I’ve never admitted this to my mom. Our relationship, while rocky at times, has always been full of love and understanding. We’ve grown incredibly close in my adult years, and I’m so thankful that she’s a caring and forgiving person.
I wouldn’t be the same without her.