Monday, November 3, 2014

Year 2 begins...

When I originally began this blog, it was my intention to document one year in the food allergy lifestyle. I wanted to expose and shed light on the truths, obstacles and how they're overcome with positive intention. I wanted food allergy outsiders to see what it's all about. I wanted to articulate the difference between feeling sorry for us and feeling apart of it. I always say how I think it's absurd to feel sorry for us. We have a beautiful, brilliant, healthy daughter we are so blessed. If people want to place a feeling they should feel motivated to do what they can to make shared environments safe. The continuous and deliberate efforts, and the acts of compassion that shape and define the growing group of people called food allergy parents, and their children who persevere while creating the new "normal" example of a happy childhood. I have since realized I have more to say because, although we have been at this for 5 years, it is, after all, just the beginning. So this is the second chapter of this now annual blog.

Year 2

Living with a life threatening food allergy is an intentional and inspiring journey. In a world made up of conveniences and speed, we are in many ways not on the same highway as others. We don't partake in many conveniences, instead, we intentionally make our own lives without simply existing a certain way because others do. We create and conjure up idea's that are outside of the box and within the safety of our new existence. This adjustment is difficult in the beginning because as new parents you look to everyone and anyone for instructions. As a food allergy parent you'll feel isolated, unconsidered, and frustrated that your kids can't do some things others kids can. Then, if you're like me, that vulnerability creates strength. You stop looking at the situation as something be "wrong" and start looking at people who aren't trying to understand it as the problem.

In the beginning of the food allergy journey it's very easy to feel isolated, forgotten, and left out. There's a period where you're transitioning lifestyles and nothing matches what you think you want. Everything seems discouraging. Everyday feels lonely and frustrating, and nobody seems to understand or care. You can't lean on anybody, not even your family. Everybody seems too caught up in "figuring out" the allergy or placing attention elsewhere instead of just doing what works and learning how they can help keep your child safe, but gaining a clue on how their actions are hurting your child. Getting through this struggle may be one of the hardest because there's nothing worse than feeling unsupported and your child not being safe with your own family. It's a stark reminder of the uphill battle you'll be facing with complete strangers. I made a rule early on that nobody could watch my daughter if they weren't family and understood how to keep her safe according MY comfortability.

You keep trying to make the square peg fit into the circle---making allergen-safe versions of everything nostalgic to childhood. You spend your days trying to be "normal" and apologizing for the things that make you different. "I'm sorry, but my daughter is having an allergic reaction and we need to leave." "I'm sorry, but we cannot come into your home because my daughter is severely allergic to your dietary lifestyle." "I'm so sorry but would mind not opening that Gogurt, my daughter is severely allergic." The period is quite variable in time. A lot depends on the people around you and how they either support you or don't. I find my greatest motivation from the people who don't. I feel a sense of need and urgency to their inconsiderations. I feel motivated to fix this problem before my daughter faces it someday without me.

I think it is a wonderful thing to feel supported, but it can also be deceiving. People can announce their support and fail to show it through their actions. This is the worst kind of deceit for food allergy families. Our lives are filled with people shooting out right answers that lack intention. Inevitably we fall back on ourselves, finding comfort in knowing our own efforts and actions. Instead of guessing and assuming others'. Within this bubble of safety and endless questions, we do find peace. When we find our strength and voice we get peace of mind. It's the feeling that hind sight is 20/20 and you wished you knew then what you know now, but the opposite. It's knowing that what your doing is not only working, but your child is thriving! That what your doing is shaping and strengthening your household, an entire family, and community. Feeling that your getting through, feeling heard, and creating confidence in your child through your voice as you help them to find theirs. A voice that someday will echo in them and they will build their whole life based on the tools you provided them. I think that's what it feels like to be doing what you're meant to be doing.

Year 2 of this blog is a confident one. I can't wait to share everything I've learned.


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