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.