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Do You Change the Toilet Paper Roll?

(It’s an odd subject, I know! But there are some spiritual lessons here, I promise!)

It all started when I was a child. I was well cared for and loved by my parents. I had it pretty easy. I didn’t have chores per se, just the basic “kid” responsibilities: picking up my room, making by bed, feeding the dog, etc.

Making my bed was a struggle. After all, in 14 hours I’m going to have to climb back in it…what’s the point? My mother did not agree with me!

There was something else my mother was always nagging me about: changing the toilet paper roll.

With exasperation, she’d ask: “Why can’t you just take one minute to put on another roll?” Well, I was too busy, of course. If I was the last to use the roll…oh well!

And if one of my sisters had the same attitude as me, before I got there? Well, out of necessity, I would retrieve the next roll but that filled my effort quota for the day. I wasn’t about to actually waste time wrestling with that annoying springing thing, so I’d sit the roll on the windowsill instead.

My attitude may have been typical for any distracted child, but I now know it was also symptomatic of my addictive personality. After moving away to college and starting my life as an adult, the toilet paper roll issue resurfaced.

As part of my work to overcome an eating disorder and emotional eating, there were many family “issues” that I needed to address. With the help of a mentor, I was able to uncover, discover, and heal the anger, resentment, guilt, and remorse that fueled my addictions. These emotions were often strongest around my relationship with my mother, and thanks to my healing (and to her credit, my mother’s own personal growth) we now share a beautiful connection and love.

So how do I show my gratitude? One small thing I like to do, in honor of my mother and all that she has put into raising me, is to change the toilet paper roll.

Every time I’m tempted to leave it sitting on the windowsill or the counter, no matter where I am, I push myself to just insert it on the metal roll and back into the wall. “Just do it!” That’s what I tell myself, always with a sense of gratitude for how much my mother’s done for me.

And this small gesture means even more than that. In a way it’s about giving back to life, being a part of the flow (so to speak!), giving and receiving. It’s one small way to amend my past attitudes of apathy and self-centeredness (themes central to the addict mindset). Believe it or not, it is part of my healing process.

As I dutifully do what my mother taught me and put conscious effort into making life easier for the next person who comes along, I am reminded that it’s not all about me. And I need as many reminders as possible. If it’s as simple as a roll of toilet paper, so be it! What small changes can you make that give back to life?