I have suddenly come down with a lot of different food allergies, and saying it has been a rough ride is an understatement. I love eating fresh healthy foods, so it's been a blessing as I'm *forced* to eat them. As a teen, I was a vegetarian for over 4 years, so changing my diet and having diet restrictions isn't really an issue. Except for the fact that I currently can't eat ANYTHING. No dairy, no gluten, not even my oatmeal, no butter, no eggs, no cinnamon, no vinegar, and who knows what else... I'm still trying to figure it all out.
The other day I told my husband that I seem to constantly be in a state somewhere between hungry and starving. "Oh", he replied. I think he finally started to understand why I get so angry when people come up to me and tell me they are hungry. "you don't know hungry", I think to myself. I've lost about 6 pounds. I've eaten variations of the same two meals twice a day for the last two weeks, with a few other things here and there. I'll tell you what, I make a killer bean and rice and veggie taco!
Looking for food to eat is frustrating and discouraging. If it has eggs, milk, or butter in it, I can't eat it. If it's a salad, I can't eat it with dressing, which makes it rough. Dry salads are hard to swallow. Bread is out, even chocolate is out. I'm not even sure if I can eat it with traces of milk or whatever in it. If it's dairy free it has gluten, if it's gluten free it has eggs, or if it's free of everything else, there is cinnamon.
I was doing fine with the multi grain cheerios, and then suddenly one day I wasn't! Same thing with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I had two bites left and I had to spit the piece out that was in my mouth because it was like my body didn't want to open up and let it in. I could not swallow.
And just so it's clear, I am having actual allergic reactions. I'll admit that I've rolled my eyes at all the hype of gluten free diets. I don't doubt that it makes people feel better when they find foods that are right for their bodies, but you can't deny it's definitely a trend right now. But when I eat cinnamon my tongue swells instantly, my heart races, my breathing gets shallow, and in rushes the panic and I feel like I'm going to die! Same thing with dairy. Even milk chocolate chips, or cheese, same with salad dressings and Mayo. My tongue even swelled with veganese - dairy free/vegan mayo.
It now makes me angry when I find a website that is about healing or clean eating, and it's all about losing weight! I don't want to lose weight. I'm not here for appearances. I just want to live. I just need something to eat. I become bitter.
Looking for recipes is a heart breaker! Yesterday I thought I found the jackpot on Pinterest! "Just look at all these dairy free gluten free recipes!! And then I started reading, "1 egg - egg substitutes won't work in this recipe", "cinnamon", "vinegar", "vinegar", "vinegar". More eggs, milk, there is nothing free of everything. I'm sure I could make substitutions in some, but I'll save that for another day. It was too discouraging to tackle for that day.
So off to the food co-op I go on a search for ANYTHING I can eat.
First I look in the bakery. Finally something gluten free, "contains: egg". Everything has egg. There is a list of the daily gluten free beads, but one isn't on the counter to see what the ingredients are, so I ask. "nope, it doesn't have eggs or dairy." I think he was surprised by my response of gratitude. They bake that bread on Sunday and Wednesday. "I'll have to wait. Don't forget!!" I LOVE bread!! There's hope! I look around some more. Cookies! I would love a cookie! They all contain eggs or dairy, or if neither of those, cinnamon. I start to cry in the isle.
I finally find some bread I can eat in the frozen section. $5.76 for a small loaf. So expensive. I put it in the cart. I turn around, gluten free dairy free pizza!!!! My mouth waters. $8.59. I don't care, I put it in the cart. Veggie fries made from carrots and potatoes. I put them in the cart. Dairy free ice cream! Look at all those flavors! It's more expensive than talenti. The cherry amaretto goes in the cart.
The store is about to close so I go checkout. Ug. I've already spent way over our food budget last time I came here to buy some supplements, gluten free flour and chocolate chips ($5.76 a bag!) (I had to make and bring my own muffins to Jackson's Mom's and Muffins event in kindergarten this last week). On to the credit card it goes. There goes our goal of getting our of debt. It's discouraging on every level.
I hurry home to put everything in the freezer before I go to the regular store to buy food for the rest of my family. "I can't eat it, so why do I have to buy it" I think to myself with a hint of bitterness. Because I love my family and it's my responsibility, that's why. Salt in the wounds.
I hurry and open up the ice cream to have a few bites before I leave again. Yum! That is good. I'm about to go out the door and my tongue is swollen. Tears roll down my cheeks. (What is even in there that I'm reacting to??) I guess I won't be finishing that.
At the store I buy the things my husband asked for. More apples and cucumbers. What something new I can add to my repertoire?! Strawberries aren't too expensive. I see a few people I know and try to put a smile on my face.
Back to home. I'm so hungry. I lay down on the couch and try to sob. Maybe I'll feel better if I let it all out. But the voice in my head criticizes myself and tells myself to suck it up. Lots of people have diet restrictions. I don't cry. I can't cry. I fall asleep.
Food has been a struggle. But that's not where the battle lies.
On our trip to Utah a few weeks ago my husband tells me, "you know how they say that men's hearts will fail them? I think your heart is failing you." It is. He was holding up a mirror and I could see it so clearly. Every time I am bitter, angry, feeling despair, or discouraged. My heart is hardening. My heart is failing me.
The heart is about faith. Hope. Being cheerful despite the circumstances. Being grateful. I feel like my world is crushing down around me.
We made so much progress in our financial goals, and I feel like just trying to stay alive has knocked our knees out from under us. The expensive foods and ingredients. The doctor bills and lab work. The impulse spending that is a tough battle for me personally to fight when I'm tired and weak and discouraged.
Wanting things different in my life, like my husband getting the needed raise, or getting a house with a fenced in backyard so I can let my 3 year old outside to play with his siblings. Wanting to work on my business so I can bring in the extra money that we need, but I'm too tired and don't have the energy or the desire. Watching my kids struggle in school and wanting to quite my job so I can cut out the balancing act (and the stress) and be able to give them more of my time and attention. Wanting to be closer to a temple so I can go and get the much needed refuelling in my life - because now it just means that much more time that I'm away from my family, and it's still too long to be away from my baby. Wanting to get out of debt so bad it hurts!
I don't think any of my desires are extreme or unrighteous. And while I try to have faith in better things to come, my hope for them is almost non existent. I'm tired of wondering if we're going to move or stay. I'd be fine with staying, but the university underpays all their employees, so we can't plan on it.
I try to have faith, I try to be positive. I read my scriptures every morning, and am filled with messages and lessons that are just for me, that never would have stood out if it weren't for my current circumstances. I know I am blessed. I know I'm being watched over. My head reaches the top of the water and I gasp for air. I listen to conference talks or inspiring talks. More air enters my lungs and the day gets brighter. I pray, and I find strength and hope. There is some joy in my step. My husband gives me blessings and I think my head is entirely above the water.
Then the kids fight, or everyone is impatient and snappy. The house is a mess. I have too many projects to finish. I'm hungry. I hit a wall and I'm so tired I can't keep my eyes open. My head drops again below the water and I fight for air. I'm so tired. I'm so tired.
Is it over yet? Isn't this just a dream? Where did April go? I don't even remember it. Life is a haze. My mind is in a fog. I can't think straight. I get on Instagram and they changed it... Where are all the pictures? Where are all my friends? No one is liking my pictures. How am I going to let people know about the sale on my destash? I need to sell it all to pay the bills. I need to work harder. I need to be a better mom. I need to be happy and have faith. I need to do my calling and help others. I need to fake it when I go outside because no one wants to talk to the struggling girl. No one wants to be friends with the girl that isn't happy. I'm all alone.
I think they are all lies. I want them to be, but I believe them anyway. What am I doing wrong that we can't seem to secure the blessings my heart desires? What do I need to fix or change? Those are lies too. Hardships don't come because of our faults or unrighteousness. They come because this is life. Well, can't I sit this one out?!
I struggle to get out of bed. I struggle to find something to feel grateful for. For something to look forward to that day. I'm grateful for a lot of things. I see miracles and blessings all around me. But my heart is hard and they don't soften my struggles like they should. I don't feel anything.
Instead I sit. And tears roll silently down my cheek. I pray desperately for something. Anything. And blessings come. But I continue to struggle.
I wish I had a message of hope and encouragement to share. I wish I had something to say to lift another.
I could share the scripture in Matthew, where the Lord said come follow me, and find rest. My yoke is easy and my burden is light. How? How do I yoke myself with Christ? Or how about the script in 1 Nephi 3:7, that the Lord gives no commandment save he prepares a way for us to accomplish that which He has commanded. What is the way for me to keep the commandments?! How do I have faith and hope and have gratitude in my current circumstances? Or what about the scripture in Mosiah, where the Lord makes the burdens of the people of Alma light, that they cannot feel them upon their backs, and they are cheerful. How do I stay cheerful?
I read these scriptures and similar messages everyday. They are powerful. They are packed with hope and with promise. They help lift me up and give me air. But I can't seem to stay there. I want to. I would like to be happy. And yesterday I was. I felt joy. Life was good. And then I looked for recipes and found nothing but discouragement. The scales are so sensitive right now, and the balancing act too delicate. I can't wait to get off this dark side and be on the side with hope and peace and rest.
Until then I'll eat my beans and rice. I'll try that pizza and hope for the best. I'll share the ice cream with my family and watch the smiles on their faces, as tears roll down mine.
But I'll remember that I'm a mother. And I'll tell myself that mother is all about loving my children and despite what my world looks like, I'll create a world for them that is safe and happy and strong. A world where they feel loved. Where they are not alone.
It's not easy to give what I don't have. But I will try. And hopefully when they are old, they will understand and see that through my imperfections, I never stopped trying.
Today is mother's day. It's a hard day for me. Especially this one. As of late, Neil has been making me my favorite breakfast on any special occasion. Crepes with nuttella and bananas and whipped cream. That made every hard day a good day. But not today. Not again. I can't eat any of that now.
I don't want to go to church because I know they'll give me chocolate I can't eat. I don't want to go anywhere. I don't want to talk to anyone.
So the battle continues as I watch those small acts of love, that were really nothing but meant so much, pass me by. Wondering if there will be anything to take their place. Or if life will be left with un-fillable holes.
I would say happy mother's day, but I'm not feeling very happy. I hope I'm the only one. I hope everyone is feeling happy on this day. Though I know not everyone is. I know there are many with struggles, struggles that have many different faces.
So perhaps instead of a happy mother's day. I wish you love and comfort. May this day be a day where we can feel safe to share our struggles. Where we can be free to voice or sorrows and our pain. Where we can be united in not giving up but trudging along forward. Knowing we are not alone. Knowing that somewhere someone else is struggling, that someone else is battling sorrow, despair or discouragement. And realizing that our struggles are real, they are a part of us, they make us who we are, and they are nothing to look down upon. They don't make us less than someone else, they don't make us better than others. They just are.
We can unite as people who are living life the best we can. I send a hug to each of you! I hope you'll pause for just as minute and feel my tight embrace. Hear me whisper in your ear, "I know it's hard! I know it's hard. You can do it. Be brave. Have courage. Don't give up!! I love you! You are not alone." Because sometimes all we need is for someone to recognize. Recognize our heartaches and struggles, and hold us and tell us it will be OK. So for this mother's day, I give that to you. I pray that God will carry my love to your heart, and if even just for a moment you will feel comfort. You will feel love. And that you will remember this through the hard moments, to help you through.
I love you.