So you may think by the title that I’m talking about our impending boat trip to the island of Comino later, but I’m not. I’m talking about the historic journey up Andre’s bum that’s happening right now in our apartment bathroom courtesy of his first ever enema. I have vacated the building to give him privacy for this *very special moment*. I am sitting the other side of the pool from where our room is and wondering if I will be able to hear the sound effects all the way from over here. If I can, then everyone else will be able to as well as the pool is surrounded by a smatter of relaxing sunbathers.
I have described to him just how to do it and helped him rig up his kit and get the water to just the right temperature. I left him sitting in the bathroom, naked from the waist down, with an expression on his face I can only describe as being kind of like a puppy looks when you’ve told it off and shamed it really badly for pooing on the floor. I hope that Andre will not be pooing on the floor, but I expect he is currently afraid of pooing on the floor if he’s anything like I was the first time I butt-flushed. The only other time I’ve seen this expression on his face in all the years I’ve known him is a few weeks back at the reception of my friend Dee’s wedding, when, in full bridal gear, she drunkenly bollocked him for about half an hour for not marrying me. Submissive face – I’d never seen Andre’s submissive face before this. Agreeing (with much reluctance) to try the whole arse hole powerwash while we were on this detox retreat, was probably the only time Andre has ever done what I asked him to whilst simultaneously wanting to do the opposite and run for the hills. It says a lot that my darling man would rather agree to have his rectum hosed sooner than he would consider marriage to me (Dee’s stern talk did not work, I’m sad to say).
But bless him, he is giving everything here a good go. I love seeing him trying all the moves in yoga class, and noticing which moves he can do and which moves I can do (very rarely the same). I love how he falls asleep and starts snoring every time there is a relaxation or meditation at the end. I love how already he loves his juices, and this morning delighted at the eating of the froth on top of the juice with a spoon. ‘It DOES feel like eating pudding!’ he declared. In general, it is glorious seeing Amchara and Gozo afresh through his eyes.
Personally I’m feeling a little worse for wear today. I have a slight headache (totally normal for days 2-3 of detoxing) and I look HIDEOUS. I know I’m not supposed to say anything mean about myself while I’m here, but that is the one thing I’m finding tricky because last time on my own or with my sister it didn’t matter a rat’s arse that I looked like a sweating water buffalo grunting in yoga next to all the toned slender glowing angels next to me in class. This time I am more acutely aware of not looking my best for my boyfriend. He told me not to be daft. But it is a distraction. Be aware of this, ladies, should you ever come to a retreat – before you get to the beautiful glowy, youthful stage towards the end of your detox, you may pass through the wilderbeast phase like I do – with bags under my puffy eyes, random spots coming up, and the realisation that anyone else in yoga class is 100 times more bendy than you are.
However, there is no judgement here. We are allowed to be beginners. We are allowed to have flimsy wrists that can’t cope with Downward Dogs and shoulder stands. We are told that in time we will grow stronger. When I can’t do a move or stretch, Ina says, ‘Ah well, one day perhaps’. And we are told in such a loving and nurturing way that it’s possible to believe anything. Like standing at the edge of the cliffs last night and being told ‘One day you will be able to fly’. It’s so reassuring here. I feel totally safe.
I’m wondering how many minutes Andre held in his enema water before evacuation. From memory I think my first time was only a few short minutes….I’ll have to read back my own blog to check. Not that I will be getting competitive with Andre about enemas. ‘I’m better at enemas than you’ is not really a competition either one of us has ever aspired to win. And anyway, we’d all be floored by the staff member (mentioning no names) who is rumoured to be able to do upside down yoga poses whilst simultaneously taking a hose up the puckered rosebud. Now THAT’S skill.
I needed to get back in the apartment to put my laptop away before I went for HRV (Heart Rate Variable) testing with a lady called Emily. I *just* managed to stop the cleaner entering the room for the second time, surprising Andre on the toilet. Andre isn’t as shy about toileting in front of me as I am him, but I’m sure he’d draw the line at the cleaning lady dropping in with a mop and bucket while he’s mid-enema.
I arrived to hear a series of noises emanating from our bathroom that no lover should really ever have to hear. But hey, we’ve lived together for several years now through incidents of food poisonings, food intolerances and one curry too far, so in many ways it’s nothing I couldn’t cope with. I suppose what I wasn’t prepared for was Andre’s jubilant pride in his achievement. Well, I say ‘pride’…a mixture of absolute disgust and horror mixed with genuine astonishment and just a bit of pride that he had faced such a horror full on and achieved such results. Results? I hear you ask? Well, yes, because obviously something the size of an elephant had fallen out of his bottom. Not all in one go but in a series of volcanic eruptions, the likes of which had not been seen since Vesuvius had it in for the population of Pompeii and Herculaneum. And it was still coming….and coming…and coming.
At this point Andre’s voice sounded just a little afraid that it would never stop coming and we would be forced to cancel the entire rest of the holiday and all planned excursions and lectures until his insides were on the outside and there was just an empty Andre-skin left, collapsed on the toilet floor, with Gozo’s plumbing backed up for all time. I gently reassured him this was all normal. That even though we’d had no food at all for 2 days, and even though he’d already pooped umpteen times, that the enema was getting to bits and pieces that had been stuck up there for a while and helping them out. If you really want to know more about it, then I think you need to go back and read or re-read my blog from last year where I explained it all in much more (you have been warned) detail. To spare my darling’s blushes I shall keep this brief and too the point. André won at enemas. Whole lot in in one go, held it in for 15 minutes, entire world fell out his bottom, one fresh whizzwag, one very astonished and slightly proud André whose possum belly had, much to his delight and astonishment, noticeably shrunk in one single session on the toilet.
Suddenly he could understand what I had meant, quite literally as well as metaphorically, about how good (not the right adjective) it feels to ‘get rid of all that old shit’. I’m told many people here at Amchara find enemas and colonics a very emotional release as well as a physical one. Crying is a known reaction, and not just because someone is deflowering somewhere normally very private indeed, but because there can be such a sense of letting go in people who might be quite uptight, or at least tightly laced, that it’s psychologically cathartic. Almost like pulling the stopper out of a high pressure bottle so what bubbles out is more than just the expected froth on the top.
That being said, I don’t think many people actually *like* colonics/enemas. I could be wrong, and it is said that it’s the most popular treatment here (when I would be opting for hot stone massages every day if money could stretch to it, and colonics cost more than they do). Personally, I feel a mix of horror and satisfaction each time I try this. Horror at what’s come out is more to do with horror at what has been stuck inside for too long. It is not a nice thought that something is rotting on the inside of you.
With André finally off the toilet and popped off to his HRV assessment, I decided I couldn’t let him do things I wasn’t also doing and decided to self-administer my first enema of the trip. I was rubbish at it. Had to do it in two sessions and only managed to hold the first in for about 30 seconds and the second for about 3 minutes. I lied when I said I wouldn’t get competitive with André about who is best at enemas. But he wins hands down. He is clearly a natural butt-hoser. My delicate lady bottom still shudders (and that’s not pretty) at the thought of anything unnatural going up there. It doesn’t cooperate. But having said that, the same elephant seemed to fall out my bottom too even after such a short amount of time, which is pretty impressive when you consider I’d only recently had a fully formed poop, felt empty and haven’t eaten for days.
If you read last year’s blog you’ll know that what comes out smells far worse than any normal poo from any normal human being. It smells like death – putrid, rotting death. My poor nostrils were burned with this same old familiar stench, but (I was pleased to note) on a much milder scale to last year. I thanked the last nine months of largely clean eating and improved hydration for this small mercy. The second eruption of the session had a completely different aroma. The closest thing I can compare it to is burnt toast. Burnt toast smell up my bum. Carbon? What’s that about? All the accumulated dinners I’ve burned when it’s my turn to cook all stuck up there? A new carbon-based life form breeding up there to take over the planet? Or that last cheese toasty I had the day before we came out to Malta, finally making its way through my sluggish digestive system? Hmmm.. I will spare you any description of Andre’s poop smell after enema because he was born with no sense of smell (anosmia as it is known) and thankfully we have really effective ventilation in the apartment.
So, Andre’s not that thrilled that I’ve booked us in for a full on expert-guided colonic irrigation session tomorrow, but he’s more adequately prepared for what’s to come than he was before. Now he feels lighter, free from all that pent up horror inside, he can see the benefits. As for me, I’d been feeling a bit rough yesterday morning – very tired, dark circles under my eyes, a bit of a headache. After the enema I felt strangely much better, the colour came back in my cheeks, my headache gone. It’s said to be an effective form of hydration. But I think also it’s nice to have an anal ‘de-clutter’ once in a while, in the same way it can make you feel so much better decluttering your bedroom or a kitchen cupboard that’s rammed to the brink with old tea-strainers and pasta makers you never use. The only difference is, you can’t sell old shit that comes out your bum at a boot sale. Well, perhaps you could if you tried really hard, but..no.
I suppose I should explain briefly about HRV as that was something else that happened today. When I last came out, I was a guineapig for the staff to practise on while they trained up, and I admit I didn’t really get it. Not really. This time, Emily, who was a more experienced practitioner at HRV testing was able to explain it a bit better. In brief, this machine they have tests how your heart and sympathetic nervous system deal with different types of stress and then they explain how this might affect your health if left unchecked.
We all know that I’m a bit of a stress bunny really, so it may surprise you to learn that I had one of the best readings Emily had seen in a long time. She explained this as being that although I might be very reactive to stress/perceived stress, that my self-awareness of my emotions, and my ability to express them means I am releasing them much more effectively than most. What was particularly notable for me is that the shape of the reading (they plot it out on a little chart for you) was almost EXACTLY the same shape as the last time I did it, even though they hadn’t saved my records (we looked for them to compare, but I had to do it from memory) but the last time I gave to Amchara most of my readings were in what they call the orange and yellow zones (needs improvement) and this time all but one was in the green zone (blooming excellent). The only one of my readings that was in the orange zone was my ‘quick reaction to stress’ marker, both understandable for and completely suited to a meerkat like me. This was the same marker that was lowest on the scale last time, which made me reassured that the readings were not a fluke.
Andre’s HRV reading couldn’t have been more different. His were in the red and yellow zones almost entirely showing he is quick to react to stress, holds onto it longer, loses energy to it, etc, but his one high reading showed his strong health markers – that despite being a stress bunny his body/mind is coping with the amount he is containing. At least for now. But now he knows he has stuff to work on mentally as well as physically. And if we are ever lucky enough to come back here and have another reading we can see if his ability to deal with stress improves in the way mine has very noticeably since I came here last September.
To be fair, Andre’s readings may have been influenced by the fact he’d just had his very first enema and had been rather anxious about it (for weeks and weeks), but as his live in partner I’d say they were quite accurate readings in general.
After lunch (beetroot juice with other healthy stuff) we went on the regular excursion to the Island of Comino. Just a five minute boat ride from Gozo. Last time I was here, we visited the stunning ‘Blue Lagoon’ on Comino, where the water is literally turquoise. However, the Amchara staff had had too many complaints in high season from the guests about how hard it was to be fasting and near the high season food concessions and tourists eating ice cream, so this time we were instead taken to a little bay where we could swim. There were a couple of small food vans in the vicinity of the beach but as long as you didn’t look at them and swam in the opposite direction so the smells didn’t waft, it was perfectly tolerable. To be honest, I found it far harder passing fruit and veg stalls in the local markets en route. As one lady said today as she broke her fast with some crudité and delicious guacamole, ‘I’m really excited about the cucumber!’ (To which I quipped ‘And other phrases I never thought I’d hear myself say’). But it’s true. You do get really excited about vegetables here. Yesterday during a hunger pang I joked that I’d swap my virtue for a courgette and it came out sounding twice as rude as I’d originally planned.
Comino was nice, and it was good to be allowed out without a ‘proper grownup’ to watch over us (guests are free to come and go as they please, to be fair. But it does feel rebellious in a way to stray beyond the edge of the retreat). But as a bit of a…what’s the opposite of a ‘speed freak’?…I found the speed boat ride a bit scary.
I wasn’t the only one and on the way back one lady asked if they could please go a little slower as we were scared. The captain apologised and promised he would, and then promptly went even faster than the first time, racing the speedboat next to us all the way. As it got faster and faster a couple of us cried out to him to slow down just a bit and he not only ignored us but rather provocatively said after ‘It’s a speedboat. What do you expect?’ If I’d had the energy to get a bit cross, I would have got a bit cross. But there is no energy to spare whilst doing a juice fast, so I just hope the universe gives him cystitis or something.
Back at the retreat, we attended the last yoga class of the day with Lovely Ina. According to Lovely Ina, even the way we breathe is beaaaaauuuutiful in Amchara. Even the way we lay down conked out on a mat. And it feels it.
My favourite part of yoga with Ina is the meditation that takes place at the end. I’m not denying that just laying down and doing bugger all is a luxury in my day to day life and doing it in such a heavenly gorgeous environment with the sun streaming through the windows is just perfect. But I feel like I’d never again suffer nightmares or insomnia if Ina could just come and read me a bedtime story every night or talk me through one of her ‘guided visualisations’.
Andre is the proof of that particular pudding. There has not been a single relaxation session where he hasn’t fallen fast asleep within about 4 minutes, snoring away like a puppy. It’s glorious! It’s almost like…since we arrived here, years of stress are unfurling from him a little at a time, and he’s giving himself permission to let go a bit. So I lay there on the mat, in a room full of relaxing yoginis, trying not to giggle at what I know even with my eyes closed, to be my boyfriend , snoring happily and completely oblivious to the ending of the class. I get a real kick out of watching Andre completely out of it, unaware of what everyone else is up to, napping baby-style, totally comfortable and at peace and trusting everyone around him. I wish we could tape record Ina so I could coax at-home-André into bed before 1am (or 3am for that matter).
We finished the night off in the lovely infra-red sauna in the garden followed by the world’s best jacuzzi. And I had to take a mental double-take at how supremely lucky we were, as we sat there, just the two of us, under the full moon and stars, wallowing in the warm bubbles, surrounded by palm trees, wonderful exotic flowers and shrubs, a fantastic herb garden wafting me with hints of garlic, thyme and rosemary.
André kept wanting to talk about politics (the UK election being tomorrow) and I kept reminding him not to. I want to soak up every bit of gorgeousness, rest and peace while I am here. Even the impending doom of the world as we know it is not allowed to penetrate the sacred protective bubble of calm that is Amchara. I will not allow it. I will eat anyone who argues with me. Even if they have nipples.