Thursday, 28 November 2013

Gluten Free Support Group

The second-ever gluten-free support group was last night. Last time, eight or nine people showed up. I figured more would come this time, but for some reason, there were only four of us. All four of us had been to the last one, too.

Two of the women were the ones that organized it and put it all together. The third was one that I remember from last time as a non-stop talker. Irrelevant, unrelated things that she just didn't stop talking about.

I arrived a little early, and sat down alone while the woman running it ran around like a chicken with her head cut off. The next woman to arrive was the talkative one. I recognized her, but I don't think she recognized me. She sat down next to me and said, "So, how long have you been diagnosed with all this business?"

I smiled and said, "Nine months." I was thinking that morning that if my celiac disease had been a pregnancy instead, I'd have a baby by now.

She gave me a smile that I can only describe as an 'Oh honey' smile and said, "You're still learning."

I didn't respond. I couldn't. I was mad. You don't talk to people like that. I've met people who have said they've been gluten-free for two weeks, or three months, or whatever span of time and I have never responded like that. That's just plain condescending. Also, she asked how long I'd been diagnosed. Not how long I've been dealing with it, or how long I've been gluten-free, or anything. Not that I'd have a different answer, but she doesn't know that! Rude, insolent, condescending woman.

I was so mad, I actually thought about putting my coat on and walking out. I think I had one hand on my scarf, but then the lady who organized it all came and sat down, and I really look up to this woman. She's probably the closest thing to a gluten-free advocate our area has. I decided that whatever else this rude woman was going to throw at me was probably worth what else I was going to hear or feel. So I stayed, but I wasn't impressed.

The meetings are only an hour long. Probably forty-five minutes of that time, this rude woman spent talking. She'd start talking about a relevant thing, and then just rabbit-trail so inconsistently that I couldn't even figure out what she was talking about. She'd complain about how sick she is, how she has all these other things wrong with her, how nobody understands, how hard life is. And how it's especially hard because she doesn't have a lot of money and she lives alone. I honestly can't count how many times she mentioned living alone, looking pointedly at any of the rest of us, as if we couldn't even understand how hard her life is because we don't live alone.

Every now and then, when she'd stop talking, the woman running the show would ask me or the other woman a pointed question, which we'd answer and start to talk about, until the talker got going again. I probably made half a dozen comments about my own life, struggles, opinions, findings, etc.

Oh, and of course this talker woman was clueless. She talked about eating oatmeal, how steel-cut oats are the best. Someone asked for clarification, if they were the wheat-free oats or not, and she said she didn't know. Every time that information was presented that she didn't know about, she'd talk about how she doesn't have access to the internet, so it's oh-so-hard for her to learn this stuff.

I wanted to say at one point, "Oh, it's okay; you're still learning."

But, no. I'm not like that. I just bit my tongue, tuned her out, and looked forward to information from the other two women.

I'm okay with being a newbie to all of this. I feel like I've got it pretty-well figured out, but I realize that nine months pales in comparison to people who have been gluten-free for twenty, thirty, or fifty years. I'm also okay with other people who have been dealing longer not knowing things. I'm okay with helping people out, and offering information. I'm not okay with anyone looking down on someone and being all condescending without any real information first.

Please don't be like that...

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