We all face challenges. Can I start by saying that? I don’t care what you say, the person next to you definitely faces challenges too, no matter how seamless they make life look. Okay, glad we cleared the air there.
One of my challenges has been food. Some of you know about my story of sickness our first few years of marriage. The short of it? I found myself throwing up multiple nights a week with no clear explanation why. After months of doctors and specialists and prescriptions, things hadn’t improved. I changed diets and pressed for more tests until they finally removed my gallbladder. Things didn’t end after surgery as I still found myself quite sick, but on slightly fewer occasions. When I wasn’t throwing up, I felt like I might. I was told I had food allergies but had a long way to go before I found what foods I could actually eat and how to navigate restaurants and grocery stores. I have a long list of allergies to varying degrees, but at the top of the list are garlic and onions.
So that’s the story. It’s why I can’t eat sauces or dressings. Why I have to call ahead when we go out to eat or why I have to coordinate with the caterer directly for weddings and special occasions. It’s why my food inevitably looks different than yours when we share a meal together. It’s why I stopped caring about cooking or complex meals. It’s why I sometimes feel left out in social settings.
When I was in high school I remember seeing the challenges of someone else, which were visible and noticeable to everyone and wishing my challenge was something more easily identified. Now I can’t get through a meal without at least explaining part of the story, regardless of how much I try to skirt around it. For a little while, it felt like that was my story. It was taking over my life in so many ways as I fought through the sickness for answers and relief.
But that’s not the whole story, just an element. It’s something I still have to face on a regular basis. I still get sick (although far less often), and I still have to navigate through menus and ingredient listings. As soon as I can, I try to change the subject. I’m not my sickness or allergy or challenge.
It has shaped me and changed me. It has made me so grateful for the things I can eat (like chocolate) and more aware of the difficulties that one issue can cause in many other facets of life. But it does not define me.
So whatever your challenge is, realize what it truly amounts to. It might be huge, and I am not trying to minimize it necessarily. When this sickness first hit, it seemed like I would never go a week again without feeling sick (and specialists told me as much). What I’m saying is, your challenge might be huge but it doesn’t have to overtake you. You are so much more than the challenges you are facing.
This post is a part of the Finding Self series for the 31 Days of blogging in October.
To see the all posts in this series, check out the Finding Self page.