Guest Column: The New Normal

Salutations everyone, and welcome to the (I’m sure) long-awaited guest column from hubby! Audrey is taking a well-deserved nap, or vacation, or video-gaming binge, or…something. I don’t know. Honestly, I wrote this a while ago and just kept it in the wings in case she ever needed a week off.

But it’s gonna be great! Yuuge. Best guest column ever. *Urp* (I just threw up in my mouth a little. Time to end that particular bit.)
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OK, so she’s spent the last year or so [EDITOR’S NOTE: FIX THIS WHEN YOU USE THIS COLUMN]* telling all of you about the things that we’ve had to learn since getting her celiac diagnosis. What I plan to do is occasionally share with all of you non-celiac spousal-support units a few nuggets of wisdom I’ve picked up that you need to take to heart. The biggest, most importantest one being:

THIS IS NOT HER FAULT. THERE IS NO FAULT.

Depending on your particular circumstances, this may seem anywhere from a no-brainer to practically offensive. Relax. It’s not meant for you. It’s meant for her.

Over the next few months / years / rest of your lives together, you’re going to hear her try to apologize for being celiac a lot. Any time you pass by a restaurant that you used to enjoy together, pick a different breakfast cereal than you normally might, or dodge a kiss on the lips because a passing donut attacked you and forced you to eat it in self-defense, you’re going to hear “I’m sorry.” For us it was (and still is, sometimes) whenever she saw how much the GF food cost at the store compared to what we used to buy.

“I’m sorry.”

This is when you stick that thought firmly in your mind, tattoo it on your frontal lobe if you have to, and…don’t say it. If you say “It’s not your fault” to her, it’s implying that this is SOMEBODY’S fault, just not hers. That opens up the door to fault-sharing, fault by association, etc. Don’t even go there. There is no fault.

My out-loud response early on was to deliberately grab the most expensive thing344093 on the shelf and say “This looks good! Let’s try it out.” and put it in the cart over her outraged sputtering and pointing at the cheaper options. Later, when we had tried all the most expensive stuff (and hated a lot of it), we’d look up reviews and look at the more affordable options and try to figure out what brands we liked, etc. That helped her feel like we were being cost-conscious, and on those occasions where the most expensive option really was the best, we’d treat it as a splurge.

For the restaurants, breakfast cereals, and etcs. of the world, it was a bit trickier. You just have to proactively avoid the apologies and be excited for the options you have. “Hey, this restaurant is really popular on [GF website]! Let’s check it out!” Do this proactively, don’t wait until one of you is craving something and then try to find out what GF options you have. That’s a sure-fire route to disappointment and “I’m sorry.”

Look for things to be excited about, and then turn those into your new routine. Actively look for types of food that you may have bypassed before, that do well in the GF world, and keep a few in your pocket for when she’s feeling down. We found out that a friend’s kid sells flavored popcorns that are all GF, and now we go nuts whenever we pass their booth at a fair. I do a bit of sneaking around when I can to find restaurants that we can go to, then spring them on her without warning some lazy Tuesday night.

Whatever you do, make sure you’re not making too big a deal out of it being GF. You’re not trying to show her that you’ve made peace with the new normal. Just be normal. Because for the rest of your lives together, that’s what this will be. Normal.

And there’s no fault in normal.new_normal*Editor’s note: It was offered to correct this. This is an intentional inclusion. ~Audrey
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