I realized it part way through lunch, but I figured it was temporary. By the time everyone was done eating, it was nagging at me. It felt weird. And on the way home, it felt like something was missing. But when it happened again the next day, I began to wonder if this was how I was supposed to be feeling.
I went to two different potluck lunches this weekend. One was with people I’d never met before (I won’t bore you with the long story of how that came about) and the other was with a mix of friends, acquaintances, and people I didn’t know. And both times, I walked away without talking to people about my health problems. What the….???
Believe it or not, I’m one of those people who talks a lot. (Those of you who have been reading for a while probably just broke out in laughter. Of course I talk a lot.) I also talk openly. Sure, some things are private, but not as many as you’d think. If you read my older posts on this blog you’ll see the progression. I used to try and hide my health problems, and at some point I Just couldn’t do it anymore. It was exhausting, both physically and emotionally. So I started hiding less and sharing more. The more I did that, the better I felt, so I just kept on doing it. Put those two things together and pretty much everyone I meet figures out that I’m bi, that I’m Jewish, that I have health problems, that I love to read, and a ton of other random stuff about me. It’s not like I shout these things from the rooftop, but I make a random comment and it’s obvious.
Thanks to a combination of things I’ve been feeling a lot better lately (woo hoo!!) That’s how I was able to go to lunch two days in a row. It’s also how I was able to get through both lunches without talking about my health!
I was completely shocked. At the first one, one someone offered me food I just said thanks, but I have a lot of food allergies so I brought my own separate lunch. That’s it. No talk of Celiac or other autoimmune issues. We talked about a lot of things where my health never came up. It was weird.
The next day’s lunch was different. I should say that I didn’t talk to anyone about my health who didn’t already know about it. It did come up with one friend when we talked about me writing for this book project (you should totally write for it too!) Another friend asked how I was doing with my recovery from the surgery I had a few months ago. A couple people who were standing with her asked about it. But that really has nothing to do with my chronic illnesses. Aside from that, my health didn’t come up. Again, when people offered food I just said I had food allergies and I’d brought my own. That was it. It was straaaaange…….
I sort of liked it, but it also felt sort of wrong. I loved not standing out in the way that I usually do, even though that will take some getting used to. I liked being “normal.” It was a real treat! But the thing is, it also felt wrong because this is who I am. It’s not all of who I am, but it’s a big piece. In the last 4.5 years I’ve written 582 blog posts here. I’m working on a couple of other projects. It affects my sleep, my eating, my activity levels. It affects how much I date (or not), whether I work (or not) and how much time I spend with friends (or not.) This is a really big part of me that these people now know nothing about.
Then again, I only just met them. If I spend any significant amount of time with anyone, they’ll know. They’ll have to. Some days I can’t hide my symptoms even if I want to. Some days I can barely function. Still, this was a new experience. It’s been years since I got through a meal, party, or gathering without bringing up my health at all, and it just happened twice.
Huh. Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket. Because clearly something weird is happening.
What about you? Do you find your health becoming a topic of conversation at gatherings? Or do most new people you meet not know you’re ill (if your illnesses are “invisible”) or not know the cause (if they’re “visible”)? Please comment below. I’m curious to know how this goes for other people, and I’m sure other readers are curious, too.