It’s ok. I’ll just die here before I inconvenience you. That was the way I was treating myself before I accepted my life-threatening peanut allergy.
Does this have peanuts in it? I used to hate to ask this question when I ate in restaurants, visited friends' houses, or attended other events. Many times (when I ended up in the ER), I didn't ask at all.
In 2004, the last time I was in the ER for anaphylactic shock, I ordered tuna with soba noodles. There was nothing on the menu to indicate the dish had peanuts. 30 minutes later I was in the ER, driven by a friend. I had to tell the administrative person through shortness of breath, terror, alarm, shock, loneliness (said friend had to park) and no support that I was deathly allergic to peanuts and having a reaction.
I had an epipen and DIDN'T use it. I didn't call an ambulance. I didn't want to be an imposition. I didn't want attention. I didn't want people to think differently of me. I didn't want to stand out as a person with a problem. That's how important it was for others to like me and not disapprove of, be annoyed by, or be inconvenienced by me. I wanted to control the way others perceived me to the point where it could have killed me.
Today, I look back on all of these times with sadness and self-compassion for that part of me that used to think I was imposing on people to ask about peanuts. I would be annoying. I would be THAT person that people would roll their eyes at. I would inconvenience people in having to check. They would gossip about me to their coworkers. But those are all things I was making up. I didn't know they were true at all. No one had ever scoffed at me for asking. I jumped to conclusions and just believed them without evidence. My whole system of decision making was based on something that had never happened. I really could have avoided so much terror, panic, and fear if I would have just asked.
The reaction was SO bad that night that I was almost admitted to the hospital. I guess you could say I was scared straight.
Fast forward to 2017 and our culture is so much more informed about food allergies. Schools are nut free. People understand the gravity of a food allergy and are happy to accommodate.
This doesn't mean that I don't ask or protect myself. I am still vigilant and do not even eat at Asian restaurants, or order dishes that could even be questionable. It's so much easier and comforting that people don't consider it an inconvenience.
Case in point, I was in a phase where I was Jamba-Juice obsessed, and asked for my smoothie to be made in the peanut free blender. I became a regular for a little while, and the cashier recognized me and asked other employees to use the peanut free blender if she wasn't making it-- WITHOUT MY HAVING TO ASK. Talk about relief, safety, and comfort. The appreciation I felt in that moment was inexplicable.
Why am I sharing this with you?
I work with so many people who do not give voice to their needs, despite clear circumstances that demand it of them. They minimize their feelings about it, they shape-shift to avoid disapproval from others, and eschew judgment from the world.
I know what this is like, which is why I am beyond passionate about helping people to find their voice, understanding the self-destructive tendencies when they ignore their feelings and needs, and stepping into their own vulnerability.
To take what makes them "different" and "separate" and help them own it as a part of what makes them unique.
It is my mission in my practice. To let them and you know that you are worth it. You CAN empower yourself to build the courage and grit needed to ascend to a new level of functioning where you are as important as everyone else.