Sunday Morning: Breakdown

I’d been holding it together for a few days, but yesterday morning the bubble burst and on an innocent drive into Madison to run errands with Mr. Muse I broke down into a sobbing, tearful, crying, sniffling wreck.  I’ve been Gluten Free since August of 2012.  Sixteen months of sacrifice when it comes to being a Foodie.

I took it well all those months ago.  I was happy to finally have a reason explaining the strange rashes on my forearms as well as the random reactions to lotions, perfumes and every other skin product on the shelves.  I was in love with not having GI issues constantly.  I could once again read a book without having to reread every page five or more times before it sunk in what I had just read.

But what Celiacs and Gluten Intolerant people don’t tell you is… that it really IS fucking hard.  You forget that “Food is Love.”  When people want to express affection or appreciation, they bake you treats or a meal (or take  you out to dinner) and suddenly you are thrust into a position of being the asshole for not being able to eat those things they make you.  And it isn’t just the gifts that people make, no, you’re suddenly feeling like the outcast, the pariah, when it comes to family gatherings – because they all involve food.

Birthdays?  You have cake.  Thanksgiving?  Pumpkin Pie and Stuffing.  Easter?  Cool Whip loaded fruit salads.  You get the idea.  Every family and/or friend gathering revolves around food and drink of some variety and suddenly you find that you’re no longer allowed to enjoy that food and drink as you once did.  You start to hear things like:

  • Can’t you just pick off the sandwich filling and eat that without the bread?
  • Oh… yeah.  I forgot you have that food problem.  Well, there is the crudite that you can eat.
  • We decided to go casual and order pizza and beer.  Ohhh….. we forgot about you.

So, I have become a food commando.  I having Kind Bars in my purse.  I eat at least a half of a meal before I leave my house to attend a function that will include food.  I am like a fucking squirrel with nuts in the car, in my purse and in my desk drawer.  I’m armed with a ready, “Oh, it’s okay,” when it really isn’t and I totally feel left out because I’m the only person not having delicious chocolate birthday cake.

And I used to complain about not getting peanuts on airplanes because of people with peanut allergies.  I was a food allergy bully.  Karma has kicked my ass.

And there we have it.  Yesterday morning found me with running mascara, red eyes and a snotty nose because being gluten-free is fucking HARD.  I can’t have a piece of the pistachio torte that my Grandpa’s wife makes special for Christmas.  I can’t have the “Jimmy Cake” that my mother-in-law used to make for the holidays.  No more Swedish Meatballs for the Julafton celebration with my Swedish friends.  None of the cut-out Sugar Cookies from the recipe of my great-grandmother.

Having Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance is a “life sentence”.  We can’t expect everyone to adjust to our needs.  We can’t expect universal accommodations on menus; we can only hope that the food is labeled with what it contains because nothing ruins a day like explosive diarrhea.

So, my can-do attitude and “this’ll be easy” gumption gave out.  It’s hard.  It’s difficult feeling left out, forgotten and a pariah.  My friends are great and they try to include me, but they can still eat whatever they want… and I can’t.  And I can’t compromise my health for want of fitting in.

So, I’ll pretend to enthusiastically chomp on those raw carrots in the crudite platter.  I’ll nosh on those mandarin orange wedges.  I’ll avoid the full-of-delicious-gluten crackers, pop a few Lactaids for my lactose problems and pretend that I fit in for another holiday.

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About The Amusing Muse

Deep thinker whose mind operates at warped speed. Philosopher pondering the big (and little) things in life. Storyteller. Office Ninja. Model. Teller of bad jokes. User of big words.
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14 Responses to Sunday Morning: Breakdown

  1. Stephanie says:

    Aw, I’m so sorry. I seriously feel for you here. It’s one of those diseases that I live in fear of getting because of the social implications. And I can completely imagine how much harder the holidays would be too. If it helps, January is coming up and then you can hang with all the New Years resolution people.

    • LOL I’m not sure those New Years resolution people will want me because I never make resolutions! 😉 I continually tell myself that there are worse problems than Celiac/Gluten Intolerance, but sometimes it just doesn’t feel like it.

  2. smoothalx says:

    I’ve been on a diet a few times and being on a permanent one must be rally hard. Specially on a holiday.

  3. I had really, no idea. I thought it difficult but I didn’t know just how difficult. Thank you, Muse, for a wee bit of education. We have two girls at work with same illness. I now have a better idea what they may be going through.

  4. remitromjr says:

    I used to hate the holidays after i quit drinking alcohol (after losing a long-time battle to control my consumption) Through a lifestyle change the rest of the year was manageable but during the holidays drinking was both ubiquitous and socially compulsory. “No thanks” invariably led to “Aw, come on! That abstinence stuff is fine at other times but this is (enter name of holiday), you HAVE to have just one with us.”
    After several holiday seasons, such importunings are merely white noise and many of the “importuners” have just thrown in the towel. You are justified in the emotional breakdown, being the exception IS very hard but hang in there, the admonition “this too shall pass” will eventually get you through the rough patches.

    • That has to have been difficult quitting alcohol. I know that here in Wisconsin, we have a drinking culture, and I try to be good most of the time but there are times where I know I have had too much and pay for it the next day. Gluten, like alcohol, is ubiquitous – it’s in everything it seems, even some candy (Twizzlers!) and I’ve mistakenly consumed it only to pay for it later. It isn’t just food, but skin products as well, and it’s not unusual for me to break out in a rash when I’ve come into contact with some gluten-containing skin product – like other people’s sunscreen.

      Kudos to you on sticking to your guns and kicking alcohol!

      • remitromjr says:

        When you mentioned the drinking culture in Wisconsin it reminded me of the first time I met my cousin’s wife. In that time long ago, there was a fad of clubs simulating the turn of the century (19th to 20th) barrooms with: bartenders and waiters with handlebar mustaches (if the could grow one) and dressed in collarless shirts, black vests and the full length, high-waisted aprons , the floors covered on sawdust and peanut shells, and a live band playing sing-a-long sets of songs popular in the period. At the time those clubs hadn’t made an appearance in Wisconsin (if they ever did) so Sweeney’s Gay Nineties was to be our destination. Several in attendance were recent graduates of Boston College an institution with its own “proud” history of heavy drinking and we suddenly challenged by this 5’1″, petite woman from Wisconsin to a contest drinking pitchers of beer. We disdainfully insisted on offering her several versions of a handicap, but she insisted a straight-up, pitcher-for-pitcher would be sufficient. My memories of the evening in question are unclear lost in an alcohol induced haze but the one thing which was crystal clear the next morning (aside from a ferocious hangover) was Judy’s seemingly easy victory. And although she;d out-drunk us, she poured salt in the wound by making breakfast for us all with no obvious signs of having a hangover of her own. BTW, we were all of Irish extraction while she was of German/Swedish heritage and she made sure to remind us of that fact as well as her Wisconsin residency.

        You have my respect in dealing with your issues because gluten can affect you in multiple ways so you have to be alert on so many fronts. One of my cousins on the losing side that night long ago has recently battled with Crohn’s colitis and has even turned down a consulting position in his field of library science for fear adequate quick access to toilet facilities might not be available buried in the stacks of a private library. The stress of the embarrassment brought on by the possibility of an “accident” just leads to further health complications.

        Make the best you can of the season. I wish you and Mr. Muse a wonderful Christmas and may 2014 being blessings and improvements into all of our lives!

  5. Kate says:

    I am so sorry. :-\ I can relate, though to a lesser extent. Being the one vegan among nothing but meat eaters makes me feel like the jerk for being “that person” who has to throw a wrench in things. And it’s no fun (and very difficult) scanning menus when eating in restaurants for things I can eat. Then there’s the “special orders” that I hate making.
    …. Anyway…. I sincerely feel for you, girl.

    • remitromjr says:

      Kate I don’t mean to step on the Muse’s toes by answering for her {figuratively of course, I’d never do something like that in real life 🙂 }, but according to a great on-line cartoon I recently watched, it’s better to empathize rather than sympathize and given your expressed real life experiences, I’d say you feel WITH the Muse rather than FOR her – oops, not to put my words in your mouth – {another figurative expression, ’cause I’d never do something like that in real life either 😉 }.

    • What is somewhat funny about your comment, Kate, is that when I started to tell people I had to remove gluten from my diet, about 75% of the time I would get a horrified look in response and a whispered, “Oh no! Does that mean you have to be a Vegan?” That was usually met by me with a cocked eyebrow, a tilt of the head and, “You do know that Vegan’s can eat gluten unless they’re gluten intolerant or have Celiac Disease… Right?” It opened my eyes to the fact that people in the US are REALLY unaware of where their food comes from, farm or factory. I think with Veganism there is a whole other level of “pariah-dom” because there are so many militant vegans who lambast those who do choose to eat meat. I’m an advocate for sustainably, ethically raised meat and have switched over entirely to locally raised, organic and grass-fed meats processed at a small, local facility run by a Buddhist – not kidding either. Food has become a religion to many and whether someone eats meat or doesn’t, nobody wants to be berated and belittled for their choice – just like religion.

      And that gives me a great idea for something to write about!

      • Kate says:

        Haha! It’s true. The militant vegans have given all the “minding my own business” vegans a bad wrap. I’ve gotten so much flak for my diet choice, it’s ridiculous. It’s funny that you mention no one wanting to be berated or belittled for their choice (both things I’ve had to tolerate because of my diet for 20 years), just like religion. But while religion is a subject most people prefer not to broach, especially in certain settings, people feel more free to beat down others over their diets. *sigh*
        You keep on keepin’ on, chickie. I’m all about the local grub and minimizing one’s carbon footprint. 🙂

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