(Jason Gray—Savior Please)
Sometimes I am really proud of myself. On Tuesday when I tried to explain something as me being a picky eater, someone said they knew I wasn’t a picky eater because they’d seen me eat. To me, that was the hugest compliment she could have given me!! I have been working really hard to earn that comment, and hearing it made me realize something about myself I hadn’t realized before.
I have always been an exceedingly picky eater (yep, I have even refused to eat mac and cheese because it was the wrong brand…my mom was so frustrated at that one, because my favorite food was the kind in the red box…except she was at a different store and she looked all over for the kind in the red box and didn’t realize it was a different brand that also came in a red box…it didn’t taste the same and I didn’t eat it). I was the one who stopped eating lunch in the school cafeteria because once they took out the free vegetables, I was paying the exorbitant school lunch price for a pile of food, of which I probably was only going to eat the one noodle at the edge of the bowl that didn’t have gunk on it. The lunches were already excessively overpriced to make up for the people on free lunch, and were even more overpriced once you considered how much of it I would eat. I tried for a while only buying school lunch on days the menu sounded good, but then they would have last minute menu changes and I’d be stuck, I liked chicken strips if they weren’t soggy, and I’d usually at least try to eat chicken nuggets, but I couldn’t even make myself try chicken giggles after the first time they were served, and to the school, substituting chicken giggles for chicken strips was one of the most benign changes they ever made. Moderately unrelated, but I really wish I could have documented a fake milk allergy, because a documented milk allergy earned you an apple or grape juice for free every day and I LOVE juice, but never got permission to buy it a la carte…especially since I wasn’t eating the other stuff I was paying for anyway…
So anyway, that paragraph got a little off topic, but the point is, it never really bothered me to be a picky eater until partway through college. Sure, I recognized life would be easier if I ate a wider variety of foods, but it never was a big deal to me or anyone else. It wasn’t anything I felt was at all important to change. It wasn’t at all tied in to my self worth. I ate what I ate, and that was the way things were.
Then things changed when someone used the fact that I was a picky eater to support her made up argument that there was something wrong with me. At first I fought it, but then eventually it wormed it’s way into my heart as something that made me not good enough and something that would keep people from liking me and something that made me less than. Because I am constantly meeting new people this year and because of my unstable living situation, it became especially important to me to learn how to be good enough and eat what everyone else eats. I wanted people to like me.
Some people think of picky eating as a kid thing, and the fact that I already LOOK like a child made it all the more important to me to be able to eat less like a child…a difficult proposition when goldfish, animal crackers, and cheerios are favorite snacks and I’m still constantly in possession of snacks because food security keeps my anxiety from returning. As I have grown older, not a lot has changed with my picky eating. Sure, I learned to tolerate things that are hard for me instead of whining about icky smells and crying about having to try things I didn’t like (useful skills since today the person sitting next to me decided to eat lunch in front of her computer and it smelled REALLY strongly of salad dressing and I wanted to put my nose and mouth inside my shirt and run away). Unfortunately, what I actually like hasn’t really expanded, so yeah, I’ll try a slightly larger number of things, but I won’t like it.
I think of food as on a continuum. One side is foods I like, then foods that are “meh.” I don’t particularly like them, but I don’t dislike them. Continuing down the continuum you reach foods I do not like and then at the opposite end, Not Food. Things like ketchup fall into that category of not food. Asking me to eat a fry with ketchup on it is equivalent to asking me to eat a fry with conditioner. Neither belongs on my food or my fingers or anything, but if I am starving I will attempt to find a way to wash off the not food to get to the food underneath.
I have been working really hard on this and doing a really good job on increasing my ability to eat. I am proud of myself for the hard work even though I have still felt like I wasn’t good enough. A couple days ago, the lunch served to me was grilled cheese and tomato soup. Luckily the soup didn’t look like the picture on the can of Campbells tomato soup, so while it was right on the border of not food, I was willing to put it in my mouth and try it. Grilled cheese also falls firmly into the category of scary foods I do not like. I wanted so badly to be able to just eat and not just throw perfectly good food away, so I incentivized eating. I took the container of emergency skittles out of my bag and for every reasonably sized bite of grilled cheese in my mouth, I got a skittle, and for every spoonful of soup I got a skittle. I got through the entire sandwich and half of the soup that way…but I couldn’t make myself eat the tomato chunks in the soup, and eventually I just couldn’t force any more soup in my mouth or else I was going to cry which would be really weird in the break room in front of the people who work at this rotation site, so I threw the rest away. Today’s lunch was more successful. I could peel the vegetables off of the cheese and pull the cheese off of the chicken to get most of the nutrition in. I used skittles to get some of the bread in, but the bread tasted like butter and there wasn’t really any way to eliminate that taste, and after a couple bites I just couldn’t do it, so I gave up and had cake instead—hey, it’s really just bread with a little extra sugar in it :).
Someone suggested that maybe the issue is texture. At first that made a lot of sense—a lot of the things that really bother me are similar textures (salad dressing, ketchup, mayo, mustard, barbecue sauce), but some of the things I really like are the same textures (applesauce, pudding). Texture also doesn’t fit into the picture because I like applesauce watered down a little with water or juice, but applesauce with mandarin orange juice in it made me cringe. Similarly, I love clementines, but the actual pieces of mandarin orange were still gag worthy a month or so ago when I attempted them. I can’t figure out anything that ties together the things I don’t like. Someone suggested sour tastes, but I LOVE sour patch kids and lemon.
It is really frustrating that I work so hard and make what seems like so little progress, but I am learning that people liking me isn’t for what I do and don’t eat. Having to re-learn that is one of the things that makes me really wish I had been able to escape sooner before the abuse sunk in so deep…and I ‘spose I am also learning that scary foods won’t kill me. I am strong.
It would be helpful, though, if alcoholic beverages did not fall into the category of things that smell really disgusting to me. It’s another thing I am learning to tolerate, but the older I get, the more often I am exposed to people drinking alcohol in situations in which it is inappropriate to put my hands over my nose and mouth to protect myself. Just sayin’
Totally unrelated like for reals, but my intuition can be scary accurate at times…after just a couple days with this one person who really gets on my nerves, I thought maybe she was on the autism spectrum…and then I found out she actually was…glad to know it isn’t just me thinking that…doesn’t change how much she gets on my nerves and how hard it is to hold my tongue when she is mouthing off and telling everyone around how wrong I am when I know I am 100% correct, but I suppose it is good to know that it isn’t necessarily that she is trying to be hurtful. She just isn’t very good at her job and probably feels threatened by having someone around who does know what is going on. I am learning to keep my mouth shut and nod and say mhmm and keep my frustration bottled up inside. Lol…did you know that apparently according to her even if your kid is throwing up you should be sending them to school because they aren’t supposed to miss school for that? Did you also know that apparently the endocrine society doesn’t know anything about treating vitamin D deficiency? Oh, and apparently 10.7 – 4 is not less than 7…who knew?! I am learning so much!! (True statement, I am learning how to hold my tongue. In fact, I was pretty impressed that my judgement told me in time that I shouldn’t make a joke that the very literal person sitting next to me would interpret as an insult…). Oh, but on the positive side, it is awesome to not be the last to get a joke or pop culture reference!! Yep, I definitely did laugh at something I recognized as a sex joke and then listened to her whine that we all needed to slow down so she could understand the joke. (We’re going to ignore the fact that it isn’t that appropriate to laugh at sex jokes, and revel in the fact that I got it and she didn’t–see, I am not hopeless…and maybe my lunchroom lessons by a certain person who made it his job to “help” me learn that kind of crap were moderately useful).
Also completely unrelated, but I am really glad I use wordpress hosting, because I have exactly zero access to blogspot hosted blogs on the internet here unless I take a walk to the park to get on some normal wifi. I can access SOME wordpress hosted blogs, and although my own blog is not one of them, I can access my wordpress dashboard to be able to check stats and create posts which I wouldn’t be able to do with blogspot. The wifi here is a bit frustrating. Usually facebook has absolutely no pictures, but once in a while the pictures come through. Pinterest, twitter, and Instagram are completely un-accessable without a walk to the park. I do still try to get on every day just in case I get lucky, but so far I haven’t (gotten lucky that is). I miss all the blogspot blogs that I was following, and I miss the possibility of one of my favorite pasttimes—soft research on blogspot.