Warning: This is a bit heavier than my posts have been previously. It may sound whiny. It may sound self-absorbed. And it is. But I needed to write it.
This? This is hard. I know it's not "I have cancer" hard, or "I lost a limb" hard, or even "I have a peanut allergy" hard, but it is hard none the less. No, I don't have to go through chemo, or have any permanent changes to my (outer) body. I don't even have to worry about going into anaphylactic shock if I eat gluten. But kissing my old life goodbye? Easier said than done.
I read somewhere that people who are diagnosed with Celiac go through the same stages of grief as those who have lost loved ones. At first, I thought that was some really self-absorbed bunk, but the further I get into this, the more I start believing it.
Stage 1 - Shock and Denial
"There is no way."
That was pretty much my reaction when the doc first asked me if anyone had ever tested me for Celiac. I then spent the next week reading everything I could get my hands on, which, since I am a librarian, is a lot. I disregarded much of it, or rationalized it, or flat out denied that it applied to me. Which worked until I got my blood test results.
Stage 2 - Pain & Guilt
After I got my results, I was numb for a few minutes. Then I cried. Hard. The first of at least several cries in a Jewel parking lot. Then I pulled my sh*t together and bought dinner. Gluten-free dinner. But then I felt guilty, like I should have been pushing my general practitioner for YEARS to find out what was wrong with me. Like this would have been discovered sooner, and I wouldn't have anemia and other deficiencies to contend with as well. It all led into ...
Stage 3 - Anger & Bargaining
I got angry. I got "throw empty (plastic) bottles at your husband's head" angry. I was pissed at the world, for being so full of delicious, delicious gluten. I was pissed at my doctor, for not finding this out sooner. I was pissed at myself for waiting so long to see a specialist. I was angry at every fast food place, restaurant, food manufacturer or distributor, cosmetic company and person I saw. I was mad at my family for not being sympathetic enough. I was mad at my husband for being too sympathetic. I was mad at my friends for not being psychic enough to know that I was mad at them. I was infuriated with every future situation that would have me missing out on something because of Celiac. I was livid. I was very good at this part.
Stage 4 - Depression & Loneliness
This. This is where I spent a lot of the past two weeks. It came in waves. One day, I was feeling optimistic. The next day, not so much. It got worse after I got glutened, because then I found that despite my best efforts, food can still make me sick. It was like being a 13-year-old girl all over again. No one gets me. No one cares I am going through this. No one understands that I am sad. I almost started wearing too much eyeliner, and I found myself wandering through Hot Topic. Thankfully, I snapped out of it before dyeing my hair black like the raven I am inside.
Stage 5 - The Upward Turn
I turned upward two days ago. Could have been that the effects of this weekend's glutening had worn off, could have been that it was almost 60 degrees and sunny. Could even have been that it was Leap Day, and I had images of Leap Day William in my head all day. Either way, I was inspired to cook dinner when I got home.
Stage 6 - Reconstruction & Working Through
I am planning now for my life without gluten. I have a day trip this weekend that is causing me a little anxiety, but I know how to be prepared for it, even if it means bringing my own cooler of snacks. The more times I am able to say "no" to once-favorite foods, the more empowered I feel. Granted, I am still a little sad, but I also know how to control my situation.
Stage 7 - Acceptance & Hope
I wish I was there already. I see glimmers, I do. Like thinking about how I can't wait for summer for all the fresh produce. Or getting psyched when I see a great looking slow-cooker recipe that can be adapted to be GF. Or when my mom tells me she's been calling restaurants and won't stop until we find a safe place to eat. I see it there. Those moments are fleeting, but I am less than a month in. I think it will be a while before I can look at a regular old gluteny cookie and not have the slightest desire to nom nom nom that crap up. I think that when I drive past a restaurant we used to frequent, my brain will still want to stop for sliders, or sesame chicken, or soft pretzels, or pie, or pizza, or any of the things that are off-limits to me unless I make them with MY special ingredients.
I'm not there yet. But I think I am heading the right direction.