Last weekend, my husband and I were home for a few days. On Father’s Day we went to my husband’s parents house. I ate lunch long before the party, and I wouldn’t eat dinner until the evening. I drank water and black coffee with artificial sweetener. I went there knowing I was not going to eat. I had a really nice time.
But of course, there was a lot of food. And of course, people use food to show love. So my father-in-law, who really doesn’t understand my food boundaries, assured me that there was vegetarian pizza if I wanted it. Now, I think this is hilarious. Partly because meat is a thing people regularly assume I don’t eat, when in fact, meat is a huge staple of my diet. And partly because pizza of all things is almost entirely bread, which is definitely something I can’t eat. I’m not poking fun at my father-in-law. I already knew that he doesn’t understand, and that he probably never will. I never mind. I love him, and I love his hospitality. And I have known for a long time that for so many people, the extreme nature of what I do is difficult to wrap their minds around.
But that is not really the point of me telling you this story. The point is that whenever my father-in-law offers me food, which he does all the time because we genuinely like and love each other, I can tell that he feels so incredibly sorry for me. I can tell that he really wants me to accept, not because it’s a gift, but because he really believes I must be suffering. It has occurred to me that this may actually be the reason he doesn’t understand my food boundaries. Because he thinks it must be painful for me.
That weekend we also took my dad out for lunch for Father’s Day, and when I called the restaurant to make the reservation, I flagged myself as an allergy. (I do this regularly when I eat out.) The woman taking the reservation asked what specifically I was allergic to, and when I told her it was sugars, grains, and starch, the phone went quiet for a second and then she said, “Wait, wow, really?” I laughed and I said “I know. It’s intense.”
People think I must be miserable. People think it must be horrible. So many people feel sorry for me. Even people who know me and know how happy I am.
I will tell you something. If I didn’t get something out of it, I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t be able to.
I don’t believe in willpower. I don’t have any. And I think that expecting anyone else to have it is silly. I believe that we as humans do things that offer us something more. I have said it before. I have never given up something to lose something. I have only ever given things up to gain. I have gained freedom, self-respect and trust in myself, every time I have let anything go from my life.
So today, we are having company again. Some are people I have never met. I have bought them a kitchen full of food that I won’t eat myself. There will probably be questions and incredulous looks. But all is well. I already know what it is I’m missing, which is to say, I’m not missing anything at all.