First, I’d like to kick this off with a big ole’ Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there who celebrates and enjoys this holiday with friends and family. I especially want to applaud and give mad respect to those with food allergies who still brave the so called ‘norms’ of social gatherings and deal with the interactions seamlessly and effortlessly. You are a role model and should most definitely provide your perspectives and experiences on how you got to that level. I think we’re all different and develop and struggle through things on different levels but that we are all capable of shifting on this spectrum of perception and life that we share. May your thanksgiving and holiday season be filled with lots of love, laughter, joy and more.
Secondly, I want to say I hope that everyone finds time to be thankful, no matter your situation this time of year. The holidays can be hard for many of us. I especially understand this as a difficult time of year for myself, between deaths, empty chairs around the table growing each year and my allergy development in my early twenties to what I would now say a pretty bleak social life to nonexistent family life outside my and my husbands interactions… I can honestly say I don’t really personally care for Thanksgiving or the holiday season itself. I have a litany of fond and warm memories though that I cherish and while this Thanksgiving will be spent working at the grocery store and dodging any invitations to social gatherings, I am more than than thankful for my life as it is regardless of the trials, setbacks, strife, mishaps, or what have yous of anything considered the negative. It is perfect just the way it is and it will continue to improve in all it’s perfections. Challenges are blessings in disguise and any mountain I must climb will be an adventure to be made fun of, even if I’ve almost lost my life over a few of my mountains before, I’m sure they won’t be the last.
For this post I want to share from my personal perspective and journey, seeing as it seems to be a thing every year in my allergy support groups for people to come express their tragedies with dealing with family or friends who are seemingly just committed to misunderstanding our food allergies, the nightmares of getting poisoned by a spouse or other family member. These moments of betrayal, isolation, rejection and even accusations of being a hypochondriac or something else other than your doctor diagnosed allergy. They’re all more than troublesome on the minds of those who undergo it. We are all different in how we handle these situations though. I’m aiming to power through these moments humbly and kindly, but as of right now, I’m a bit bitter and I know I am. It’s okay though, I have a right to be. We all do at some point. It’s part of a grievance process. I want to remind everyone that you’re not alone in your troubles, somebody somewhere is dealing with something very similar. Stay strong, you will get through it. This moment will pass and you will triumph and learn from it.
Thanksgiving used to be one of my favorite social gathering times of the year. We get to load up on booze, food and music or good shows are never in short over at family or friends houses. Games and more. Each year since my allergy though, my circle has died down more and more. We’re herd animals afterall, and if someone doesn’t fit in with the crowd – they tend to step off on their own if the crowd doesn’t shun them out one way or another. Having a corn allergy in my early 20’s after having established 80% of my life long connections, has been beyond difficult. The attitude of my given circle wasn’t allergy friendly nor tolerant and even I had an identity crisis at many points through adapting to the necessities to achieve feeling better and getting my health back from this allergy and intolerance. My doctor even gets hopeless with me when it comes to treating certain situations, the pharmacist too – both scratching their heads not knowing what to do or how to treat or get treatment that’s both accommodating and affordable for something as simple as a skin infection that doesn’t have some level of allergy trigger consequence to it. When my herbal remedies and research comes up empty in results and I have to turn to them, it’s an uh-oh kind of situation. I hope to see this die down as time goes on and technological or scientific advancements are made. Sometimes they can really help guide me, other times we’re all left scratching our heads on what to do to help my situation without causing other problems treating the one.
Others with a corn allergy probably understand this, some are blessed to have a great doctor and pharmacist as well as resources and support. I’m not so lucky in this aspect to some perspectives – even my own. I count my blessings though that I have the resources and support that I do. I will not waste my energy wishing I had better or being jealous of others online and their boasts about getting a cooperative doctor or supportive father-n-law. I have a great naturopath to lean on for advice and while my father-n-law is not even remotely emotionally supportive or understanding of my allergy and has literally poisoned me at a past thanksgiving gathering only to laugh about it and taunt me hours afterward as I’m puking in their bathroom – he does help us with things around the house when it comes down to repairs for it or our cars. His strong suit is not keeping us healthy or safe feeling, but mobile and independent.
My viewpoint on this seeming to be atrocious behavior from my father-n-law though? Glass is always half full – Everyone has their strengths, know them, play on those to get the best results of any situation. Don’t go to a thanksgiving dinner and eat with them if I can’t bring my own food and be prepared mentally for the taunting – as they’re just playing in their minds and its nothing short of a fight to make a deal about it – play along and dismiss it, do what I have to do, wear my mask or stay outside and eat my own food I bring, I can make my appearance if I want to and it’s that simple. I can also choose to have a good time there as well so long as I don’t expect them to be someone they’re not and expect their lifestyle to be in line with mine for my comfort. Misery and unhappiness is a direct result of expecting things to be different and not accepting things as they are. The second you start expecting a fish to fly like a seagull or a seagull to swim and hunt like a dolphin, you’re living in a fantasy world. People are people and are exactly what they show you. Some can change, if they want to, but many will remain exactly the same throughout most of their lifetime. It makes no sense to spend a lot of time and effort fighting people on what they are after they’ve shown you.
My point on this post is in summary right here. Thanksgiving is supposed to be a lot of things in image and in mind as well as in tradition. For some of us though, it is not what is in the standard mental picture frame taught to us growing up. Happiness is always with something or someone else. Our health is someone elses responsibility, our food safety, our products, etc. All of it. Nothing is ever what it seems and only what you make it out to be at the end of the day. We’re all limited to our own views and perceptions of our own experiences, sometimes we are able to read or hear something and it shifts us in ways that are profound. I hope that what I share here, can help some of us who struggle with these holidays and the allergy can find a shift from obstacles and misery to acceptance and happiness.
I’m not saying be a pushover, for sure, do stand up for yourself if a situation arises. My situation with my father-n-law poisoning me at a past thanksgiving was a deal over sour cream brand used in mashed potatoes. I did not take the time to double check the ingredients used to make homemade mashed potatoes. I can tolerate Daisy Sour Cream, all other brands I cannot. He used potatoes, sea salt, black pepper and sour cream. I asked but did not check for myself, what brand, and literally asked him, “Did you use the Daisy brand sour cream?” to which he responded, “Yes.” and it wasn’t until we were midway through eating that my stomach started flipping. My husband, not sure what could have possibly been the problem got up to double check his father as I was excusing myself to the bathroom. Come to find out, he had actually used the cheap kroger brand in the potatoes. His dad was chuckling and laughing and making jokes of the situation as I spent an hour emptying my stomach. Gasping for air. Wishing I was anywhere but there. I had brought over 3 homemade, corn allergy friendly, delicious pumpkin pies that his father even took delight in, 2 were for them that day. My response to all the taunting and lack of care? I’ll be damned if you get my pies now!!! My husband took me home as soon as we had a break and had no problem backing me up on taking those pies back home as a punishment. Sorry, mom! You weren’t the offender but you get punished too, you can come by if you want a slice of this homemade pumpkin pie though! And that’s how I handled that situation. I won’t ever again let someone else cook for me. That was a lesson on personal responsibility for me. I waste no time playing victim more than a day – it’s their fault until I realize it’s all my fault, every bit of it. We take risks in trusting people on any level and when that trust gets violated, it is our responsibility to act accordingly without blame. People are people. You’re a person too and do the same kinds of things in different ways on different levels of the spectrum we all live on and share.
I’ve had friends try and offer to assemble a thanksgiving dinner under my direction with no serious dedication to looking into what they have to do on their part for such a feat, which is a lot to ask of me. I have a hard enough time in my own kitchen and am having to constantly research every step I make in the kitchen. They were flat out offended when I kept declining to let them assemble my food and then when I did give instruction and guidance, they were still confused so I settled on I’ll bring my own food, and told them don’t take offense if I don’t touch your food. Their pride got in the way and it crumbled connections between us. I take no pity on their lack of understanding of my situation and its complexity as they are the same kind of people my father-in-law is – they’ll make jokes and facetious jests about suicide being an option for me – I have distanced myself from these kinds of people. My thoughts to them: Your kitchen is filled with McCormick seasonings and regular-ass American-style typical chemical-laden cooking crap – none of it is safe for me! Don’t take it personally and if you do, not my problem. I gotta look out for me!
My point here is, take care of yourself first. Deal with your health the best way that you know-how and learn how to be as independent as you possibly can. I’ve been learning how to hunt, fish, shoot, garden, and cook. I’m juggling all of this with 5 animals, a fish tank, a part-time job, design contracts, and plenty of old trauma work I’m working through. The health complications and setbacks are just setups for something better coming up. Life is getting better and things aren’t always as bad as they seem. No matter where you are on your journey with this allergy or just discovering this allergy with a loved one, things are only as hard as we make them. Just start and keep doing what works best for you and don’t worry about the rest. It will fall into place!
While I am not celebrating this year, I am planning to in the future. Right now I am struggling to get organized and set up in our new home and things seem more complex than ever, but we are most definitely maneuvering in the right direction. I hope that by this time next year, I can have recipes available and out for folks to use with this allergy – of course, the products and their sources will vary from person to person with a corn allergy but at least I can share what is working for me, some of it may be great ideas for those who are struggling to figure it out. As we all work through the process of getting used to a different lifestyle and trying to streamline some things – we are learning new things each day as new complications and obstacles arise.
I just hope this article helps some of you understand that there is a grievance process to this allergy and an adaptation socially. Your circle will shift. If you find yourself with no friends and even your family seems like enemies – I can relate. Most of my family is 3k miles away, don’t care, and won’t even click a link to sign a petition on behalf of all corn allergy sufferers to make labeling a thing for us. When I go to visit, I am bombarded with a combination of hugs and facetious comments toward the allergy and my lack of ‘meat on the bones’ because it has caused me to lose every bit of weight I ever had. I don’t foresee me getting it back either with the dietary restrictions. I have hardly any of the same friends I had when I discovered this allergy and quite frankly, that’s okay. It hurts, yes, and I miss the good times we had but with the differences, I can understand and accept that things shifted for the better. Some people stay connected with me at a distance and still root for me and I absolutely love this. I limit my time with some of my friends for some of the attitudes and perceptions, only because it is something I am still struggling with accepting. Yes, I want some lay’s chips too, but I cannot. Taunting makes it harder and avoiding that is simple. I’ve shifted most, if not all, my social interactions around fishing now. It is double beneficial, I get to hang out with friends in the outdoors and catch food. One of my best of friends has done everything he can to teach me how to fish for myself and even got me geared up towards hunting which I am now jumping into. I’ve focused on shifting my time used to research and action rather than wallowing and reactions and trying to gain social traction for a very small group of people. I’m not shutting up though, I mean, I still tell everyone at every opportunity they’re being fooled by food and pharma industries and that I don’t think my allergy development was natural and even if it were, it was a blessing from God himself to take me out of the brainwashing fog that so many people are sheepled into. Shifting my focus from external validations to internal ones. It’s not an easy process as none of us are really brought up to focus on ourselves so much as we are to focus on getting accepted and making our way in the world via a career and social status. We will always do more for others than we will for ourselves and it is more out of our own selfish desires to be accepted and recognized as important on some level, it is human nature.
I appreciate those who have supported me along the way and taught me what I have come to learn now. Those who follow and wait for my posts, thank you. I know it’s been quiet here. I’ve been busy as I mentioned though, focused on action rather than reaction. As I start gaining my momentum again and get myself organized through the holiday craze in retail, I will be making more posts. This year has been a year of recovering for me and while I am not doing Thanksgiving this year, I wish everyone else a very good one and if you’re like me this year, I hope you see the glass half full and all the opportunities and blessings hidden inside this obstacle that is a corn allergy development.