Monday, July 24, 2017

INFJ. The Many Contradictions, Ironies, Dualities, and Paradoxes of the INFJ Personality Type. The Strengths and Weaknesses of INFJ's. A Glee Analogy To INFJ's. Breaking down the Contradictions in Each Letter of I. N.F.J.

*NOTE: As I have mentioned before in posts, personality is ONE aspect of being human and your individual make up. Environment, upbringing, birth, health, trauma, life experience, mental or cognitive differences, genetics, beliefs, gender preferences, country of origin....there are so many aspects that make up YOU. However, I firmly believe finding your accurate personality helps you understand more of yourself and how you work. Take a free test HERE: - or sign up with an email and take test here (this site has amazing insight, podcasts and videos.) The key is to answer as you ARE and not as you would want to be like. Meyers Briggs/ Keirsey is what the 16 personalities is based on and has research behind it for a reason. It is more of a descriptor of what you value and how you work out of the world in regards to communication and relationships.*

A phrase in Fun's song, "We are Young" croons, "Tonight we are young, so let's set the world on fire, We can burn brighter, than the sun." I love this song. But each time I hear that line, even after years of it being on my favourites playlist, I am plagued with my duality of thought. On one hand I think, "YES!! Let's burn bright." Then I proceed to picture myself running with those I love, in the perfect outfit, and dancing in the honeyed hue of just before twilight, smiling as the song bursts from all of our mouths in unison. My heart speeds up in anticipation of doing something youthful and memorable. The other part of me wishes to warn everyone I know that burning brighter than the sun does not have to be a magnificent, epic, Hollywood gesture. It can be as simple as a sick person resting into their convalescing season, or a depressed soul managing to brush their teeth, or a parent basking in the delight of their children's milestone...setting the world on fire varies depending on the moment and what one is capable of. My heart slows down with the logical realization that I am already burning bright by being who I am. But then I get caught up in the rest of the song which means singing loudly and feeling the urge to do something spontaneous and loud, while many other thoughts carousel in my mind.

See what happens to my INFJ brain with ONE sentence of song lyrics? I am torn into my two opposing sides, both of which the thoughts play in my brain simultaneously, of rational thinking, and epic romance. I think this is part of the reason why the TV series Glee spoke to me and is still my 'feel good/ go to show' when I am struggling or needing inspiration. Most INFJ's may not feel the same way, because my experience is based on upbringing, but hang in here with me, while I explain why this brings home an example of INFJ thinking.

Glee brought to life all the music, movies, film, and dance numbers I grew up on and was obsessed with and combined it with hard hitting issues of acceptance, teen pregnancy, bullying, abuse, being a minority, religion, hypocrisy, drugs, suicide, alcohol, sex, commitment, texting and driving, inequality, ableism, and many other worthy themes. Ironically, sometimes it was done in a sacrilegious or sarcastic tone. Sometimes it was harsh with the material and other times incredibly gentle. All mental conditions or minority stances spoken on the show, were given both respect and awareness, yet also dark jokes and mean spirited comments, which equalized many disabilities, differences, and mental illness with both a dark and light approach. All were up for defending and also up to the same treatment. This is what INFJ's often will encompass- a sense of darkness and light, or seriousness in a funny situation or laughter in a serious situation. We have a dark sense of humour and can laugh at seemingly cruel things if presented in a certain harmless way, yet we are compassionately engaged with the innocence of difference and often will be found fighting for the underdogs.

Many INFJ's who did not grow up like I did, may not enjoy Glee. Glee did not always make sense from the week to week standpoint. The writing wasn't fluid from show to show. As I watch the episodes post production, I can appreciate that aspect now, knowing that my expectations have already been disappointed in some cases and exceeded in others. Episodes that used to bother me, I can now enjoy. Some episodes I still skip over entirely but it doesn't really matter in the end. Some episodes I watch for the singing, and others I watch for the overarching theme of the week and skip some songs. It appeals to my hopeless romantic and unrealistic side and indulges it...because often the side I choose to live in the day to day is my logical realistic one. Yet, it also pulls the heart strings with it's episodic lessons or real world issues.

Glee is morally and ethically complex. If it doesn't trigger or bother a person in one episode, it will most likely do so at least once a season. At the same time, viewers who stick with it into later seasons, will also find that this same triggering aspect can happen for comfort and feelings of belonging. This is most likely, the experience most people have being friends with an INFJ. We can be challenging and comforting simultaneously. INFJ's can push the envelope simply by being ourselves. There are comforting segments of Glee, that have made my mostly Glee disliking husband leak a few tears, because he is deeply touched, when I force him to sit and watch. This complex duality is like my INFJ soul. "I'm an odd combination of 'really sweet' and 'don't mess with me.'"

As INFJ's we are capable of making a person feel the most understood, but we can also tear that same person down with our words of insight, if we decide to use them as weapons instead of soothing balms. This contradiction can confuse those around us. We can be mushy and tough all at once. Atticus wrote, "She wore a smile like a loaded gun." This applies to an INFJ woman. We make loyal and life changing friends, to the people we actually allow to come close enough to our inner realms of friendships, but we can also be formidable enemies.

Although it takes a lot to push us to enemy status of which I wrote about HERE. INFJ's are capable of whirling through anger and leaving behind a bit of devastation they deeply regret later. This can especially happen if triggered by ignorance and lack of compassion. Conflict and criticism can drive us to the brink of annoyed crazy. My husband has a habit of being a pot stirrer. He can thrive off of conflict and I have had to tone down my balking reaction to this aspect of his ENFP soul. He has also had to learn to tone down his conflict seeking adventures when I am around. We balance each other out on most days but sometimes our differences ignite sparks. He is also quite the pessimist despite his bubbly persona and he can criticize in reckless abandon when he wishes. I seem serious and sometimes brooding, but surprisingly cling to optimism when it comes to the priorities nearest to my heart and belief in the world. Nothing will make me more irritated than constant criticism or idle gossip (luckily he is NOT an idle gossip.) If I hear more than three criticisms in an hour I will start snapping at him. And then, ironically, if this continues to happen for more than half a day, I will turn my irritation on HIM and criticize him with soulless detail. It never ends well. "INFJ no better friend, no worse enemy."

Luckily, to counter balance this hidden sinister darkness inside, INFJ's have epic levels of self control. This control is usually checked from learning the hard way in our past, that our zinging perceptions, when targeted, can cause us more pain in the end then we bargained for. INFJ's can usually refrain from and harness our capability of ripping the soul out of our victim with our insight filled words. If we do give in to our anger, usually we are not relieved later, and feel awful for losing control and inflicting pain. We are at our best when life is in harmony, including our interactions. We probably relive and reopen the wounds more than most of our victims of temper, for years later, into the late hours of the night...this applies even to the times when the anger was justified. I work on this factor of myself with appropriate boundaries.

Boundaries are deeply needed for INFJ's. Usually we are not very good at them until we practice, practice, practice. We also often have to learn to accept what Brene Brown coined, "Our shame stories." We are hard on ourselves sometimes, even if it seems that INFJ's are full of themselves...We just know ourselves and our gifts. There is the flip side and we have the other side that needs a lot of work. We can seem to have insight into all other people but ourselves at times. It's a character trait that demands growth for the INFJ's. Two books that helped me on this subject were "The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brene Brown and "Necessary Endings" by Henry Cloud Townsend. (Links can be found in my Library.)

Our paradoxes also reach into our intelligence. We love to research, intuitively seek out information, and build up our resources. Yet, the more we become informed, the less we fit in. Already we feel the contradicting frustration of society not understanding us, yet loving that we are unique enough to rarely be understood. We both love and hate our own contradictions. Our lives are enhanced and disenchanted by our own duplicity. Our desire to be well informed is also at odds (like the cartoon expresses below) with our 'desire to remain sane.' We are so contradictory to most of society, that the more we engage in controversial or outside the box thinking, the more alien we feel. 

Aldous Huxley wrote," The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline to the religion of solitude." This rings true for INFJ's and INTJ's although, I disagree with the quote applying to all of humanity. While it is true that solitude takes out the influences of the dumb, zombie mass mentality factor, there have been MANY brilliant original and powerful minds that have also been Extroverts. To not factor this in, would be pretentious and discriminatory to those who get energy hits off of other people (Extroverts.)

INFJ's tend to LIVE the Matrix. That show never shattered my reality or was mind blowing to me, because I already felt that way about life. I've always rebelled at the nature of normality. I don't understand why Alice went home after Wonderland. Yet, I still have to BE in this world, so some information or thought processes, I have to smother to stay sane, in the place I am supposed to be alive in. I possess a stubborn quality simply because I was born into a life that requires a participation level I think is ridiculous.

Every personality type feels that they are a paradox sometimes, but INFJ's particularly feel like they ARE the living paradox. Even within our Introversion, iNtuitive, Feeling, and Judging explanations, we encompass opposing traits.

Our Introversion is counterbalanced by our sometimes outgoing nature. We are often mistaken for Extroverts even if we are one of the types that craves hermit status the most. We ironically treat people the way we want to be treated and we don't make small talk with them. We are drawn to humanity...when we do not have to engage with the masses. We think about people ALL the time; dissecting, analyzing, observing, understanding and wishing to make the world a better place without being noticed too much. Yet, as soon as we are around a bunch of people, our inner Loki comes out. I can see how Loki, the god of mischief in Norse mythology, became so intent on ruling...his twisted burden of purpose is an example of the rare case of INFJ evil that COULD happen, if we don't use our superpowers for good. I think most INFJ's would agree with the statement to humanity that, "The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life's joy in a mad scramble for power, identity."- Loki. How INFJ's come to terms with this realization pushes us either deeper into the shadows or a step into the brighter light.

Our sensory aspect is so underdeveloped that we can seem highly sensory. The Intuitive letter is always our highest scoring description. We are definitely N's, however, our moderation demands our attention. We have to practice the middle ground. I have always been a person of extremes. I sleep way too much to counter balance my insomniac life. I work faster and harder than my husband at times and then lazily contend with the best couch potato for days of inactivity. I feel everything or nothing. I fall hard or resist to the proverbial death.

We are often logical even though our feeling quotient is high. We empathize deeply but with an analytical approach. It's a cold feeling rationality that other feelers do not fully get. Actually, almost all personality types, other than our fellow INTJ's, don't understand this logical rational quality combined with our feeling status. We layer our coldness with warmth which the thinkers (T's) can not fully relate to either.
Our Judging quality can often come across as a Perceiving type. We have moments of adaptability and spontaneity that some Perceivers can't even understand. My husband knows I like to plan everything. Truthfully, even my spontaneity is planned, in the sense that I have thought the whole spontaneous event quickly through with it's benefits and consequences, and I am ready to quickly switch gears. I can procrastinate longer than my ENFP husband, when I get in the mood, which is saying a lot.

No wonder people get confused by INFJ's. INFP's feel we are too contradictory or fluctuating based on context, which often will conflict with their sense of authenticity. Yet, out of all the types, they often relate to us the most. INTJ's get our future orientated thinking and intuitive perspectives, but our feeling aspect throws them for a loop at times or seems wishy washy... ENFJ's our are sister types but are way kinder than us. ENFJ's have our backs. We connect with ENFJ's on our planning J features and also our harmony co pilot which we both fiercely protect. Both ENFJ and INFJ types get annoyed by conflict. ENFP's are often our better halves. They bring out our balance and we bring out theirs. Truthfully, any personality type can get along with another or understand to a point, but these types tend to get an INFJ more within these aspects. Unfortunately, INFJ's also tend to notice what people don't want noticed. We notice the inner unspoken details, the hypocrisy, and the lies.

Especially the lies. The picture below expresses this well. "INFJ -when you know someone is lying but you just sit there and let them talk." And then proceed to allow them to carry on their lie for the rest of their lives if they wish, because you understand why they are lying and also understand the freedom of portrayal and speech. With the exception of the times when these lies are causing harm to others...and even then, the INFJ will go about exposing these lies behind the scenes, with calculated timing...but they KNOW. Oh they know...except for the rare time that their naiveté clouds perception. However, usually this is discovered down the line because it's also unlikely an INFJ is mislead for long, due to gut intuition. The one type that is often able to confuse an INFJ the most, is our polar opposite...ESTP's can foil our sense of stability like no other...

Our contradictions also bleed into how others perceive us. INFJ's can seem like an open book full of information, and private details given with careless abandon. Certain personality types do not even speak about topics in such depth in one lifetime, that we do in one week. That is just the tip of the ice burg of thought for an INFJ. It's both a curse and a gift. Our minds are constantly swirling with information. We are continually changing and dedicated to personal growth. Which means it is rare that information yesterday is completely relevant for our tomorrows. We have layers of intimacy and layers of privacy that most do not understand. INFJ's implement weird rules for sharing. We are picky about which platforms we share on and which we completely ignore. It is different for each INFJ although, often we are attracted to similar platforms. Most INFJ's love blogging and pinning personality pins on Pinterest. The same rules we apply on social forums can apply to people. We share certain aspects of ourselves with certain types. Who we are depends heavily on context. People think they know us well from reading or witnessing a passionate speech, hearing our whispered confession in consolatory moments, or because of the rate and depth of information we share, but most people do not truly know or understand our inner workings. Even when we give them the key.

Craig Thompson wrote, "You have so many layers, that you can peel away a few and everyone is so shocked or impressed that you are baring your soul, while to you it's nothing, because you know you've got at least twenty more layers to go."  My husband can still be surprised by my actions or nuances of being, even though I give him the running monologue on my inner workings daily. My best friend and I STILL have interesting and engaging conversations about new thoughts, patterns or insights after thirteen years of speaking an average of five hours a week on the phone. Many people in the past assumed they knew me because I handed them little bits of information to understand, at a small capacity or because I felt I owed them at least some sort of explanation. The fact is, INFJ's understand contradictions so well, that we can change our minds in an instant. What once applied in one circumstance, does not apply to us in another. Many people see this as uncommitted, selfish, or inauthentic, but we are extremely authentic individuals dedicated to the selfless act of context within a committed moment.

We COULD win arguments, and we know this to the depth of our core, but we know that the complexity in which our arguments hold up our not worth the time of our opponents. They would have to know all the research, thought and perspectives we have spent decades thinking upon and honing in on to understand, thus we usually stay quiet, smile and nod, or just utter, "agree to disagree" or "Oh that could make sense" with a polite tone. To our friends, we will give a little bit more, but still we do not go into the wealthy amounts of information because we do not wish to waste their time with thoughts that are not theirs to engage with, in the first place...we can open doors but we do not wish to start new worlds for people. Their job is to walk through the door and create their own worlds.

 We can also look very incapable. Our sensory aspect is often so underdeveloped that we can become mute, silly phrased individuals in a sensory environment. Our superpowers go undercover and we are left with all of our incapabilities, to which there are many, at the same intense degree of our gifts. Just like our gifts can seem larger than life, our weaknesses also are.
 INFJ's are also intensely sexual, but based on depth of connection, because of our sensory overload factor. For once sensory overload is used for good in intimate circumstances. We like physical affection but on our terms. INFJ's can seem touchy but we dislike casual hugs or touch. The same way we dislike chit chat. It feels cheap to us, even if we understand that to other personalities it is highly valuable. We engage for the sake of others we care about, but in general we are a walking contradiction when it comes to intimacy and the ground rules apply, once again, based on circumstance. For instance, I adore hugs from my children and snuggles, but if they approach me in an in depth/ thought moment I may lightly push them away.
 INFJ's are constantly torn. We wouldn't have it any other way but sometimes this brings us more pain in life. Like the meme expresses below;
"The INFJ thought process. Ni: I want to find the one true a way that maintains general harmony... Ti: without swaying too much from what feels logical... Se: while trying not to completely miss what is going on right now."


 "INFJ If I am silent, it's because there's thunder inside me. Or I'm just chilling, It depends. May the odds be ever in your favour." As Meredith Brooks sings, "I'm a little bit of everything all rolled into one..." and "I hate the world today...I'm your hell, I'm your dream. I'm nothing in know you wouldn't want it any other way... Just when you think, You've got me, figured out, the seasons already changing...Tomorrow I may change and today won't mean a thing..." But for the record, today, while it is happening, matters to us. We feel the moment even if we are distracted by our ever intrusive thoughts. We may be future orientated, but we also strive to be in the moment, when we can, embracing life. Another paradox.

My biggest hit on my blog is about the INFJ magic and oddness found here; 

 I wrote a post based on the insights of Michael Pierce's video on INFJ and include many of his quotes from the video segment here:

I also LOVED this site and found every word accurate: and this one:

To read more: (there is also a test link on there to clarify if you are an INFP or INFJ) and here are many of my favourite INFJ pins : and

 Personality hacker has podcasts and videos on each type. Here is a few of their INFJ links:

 Song choice: I love this version of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun on Glee because the way it is done is kind of like an INFJ soul...contradictions between lyrics and music yet aptly accurate:

My daughter also said I had to add this song because it reminds her of me. LOL.:

and because I referenced " We are Young" in the first part of the post...I prefer this version over Fun's actually, which is rare for me to prefer the copy over original...

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Pick Your Poison- Life with Celiac and How to Deal With Doubters/ Health and Choices

*I actually have a pain journey of photos. I take them either after a bad attack, sometimes during or at the beginning. It helps me keep track plus it also reminds me of how far I have travelled in this journey. This post will share some from a few of the key moments of the last couple years of my pain cycles. This is for my fellow sufferers. You are BRAVE. You know your body. You are strong. Rest, be, advocate, heal and allow... I have not written about Celiac specifically because of all the flack I receive. Plus, "REALLY? YOU HAVE ANOTHER CONDITION!" Isn't high on my list of things I want to hear. However, I am constantly googling other's experiences, and the personal stories are what I treasure most, so here is a brief version of mine. Also, just because I also have Autism or know whom I am in other components does not rule out that I am a multi layer person with a host of differences and similarities in the human condition or can't have other "labels." Besides, labels are actual a way to explain, understand, grow and learn to enhance and manifest life.*

For the first time in my life, I ate Pierogis and they did not make me writhe in pain hours later or feel like my gull bladder was on fire. Because they were made with rice flour and guar gum. The Pierogis were gluten free. Two dirty words that are judged and often spoken with a sarcastic tone...."gluten free..."

Later, I told my husband, "I feel guilt about feeling so great on these items that are supposed to be worse for me than gluten. I have read all the articles on both sides. I know the fillers or gluten free substitutes can have more crap than a 'normal' Pierogi. However, I also know that we are smart about how we eat and make sure that our exposure to these things are minimal and we counter balance with vitamins, whole foods and healthy treats. But sometimes it is just nice to be able to eat a pierogi, or a store bought quick snack, or a gluten free pizza or a gluten free pancake and NOT feel sick after."

My husband replied back with his usual practicality, "It's just a different poison. Poisons are different for everybody. Define poison."

"A substance that can cause death or illness in a living person or animal...or plant or..."

"Exactly. Gluten is your poison. Thus, you eating the rice flour or Xantham gum or Guar gum occasionally and NOT suffering is a big deal. For those who can actually eat gluten without getting sick or having an intolerance or being Celiac- great for them! They may have other poisons or multiple ways their body gets sick or slowly dies. You are lucky you found out yours. So enjoy the food that doesn't make you sick even if the research says it might. Everything can be poison. Every food will have downsides and research to back it up...Some more than others. Pick what is right for you. You are the one who tells me this research-  so actually apply it to yourself."

Caption: Photo by my son because he thought I was adorable squeezing his stuffy when I was in a painful attack.

My mother doesn't wish to believe I have Celiac. Let me state that generally my mother is very supportive and she is entitled to her own opinion. I know what it is like to live with that doubt, from not only strangers, but from my original, organic family. My husband believes that it would mean she would FEEL like a failure on her part to not have picked up on it, or that she wasn't in tune enough. But she wasn't a failure and it was me that wasn't in tune. I let it slide on most days and go silent...but now I KNOW. Part of the reason she doesn't believe is because I did not get the confirmation Gastroscopy. Some prefer solid "proof" which is legitimate but also kind of funny because if one actually read the research they would find that even a Gastroscopy can miss Celiac if the biopsy is taken from unaffected Villi...which CAN happen more than one thinks. What is more of an indicator of Celiac is if a person is so sick, goes off of gluten and becomes better, takes gluten and is very sick again, and so on. My mother was quite in tune with most of my needs and always took excellent care of me when I was sick. She was always very nurturing and my children STILL ask and prefer her when they are ill. I am not as conscientious or even that great at hands on care. She is. I will be forever grateful.

Caption: The last time I was in the hospital for "an attack."

I will NEVER eat gluten again on purpose. Even if I miss the occasional glutened treat. It is not even tempting for me because the pain it caused is still fresh in my mind. I also refused to do the Gastroscopy for multiple reasons, but the main reason was that I would have to eat gluten for three months leading up to it for accurate results (because the gut can heal and not be as apparent if this step is not taken.) I had already been off gluten for half a year before the Gastroscopy appointment and I was NOT willing to go back to being hooked up to an IV experimenting with pain meds for the severe gut pain that had me in a fetal position for hours. I also wasn't willing to purposefully put myself in a position where I had a rash for days, abdominal bloating and pain, exhaustion, extreme constipation, head pain and other symptoms that eased up a few weeks off of gluten. Plus, my doctor was also Celiac and knew the symptoms and said I was a pretty clear case. Especially since my symptoms went from regular IV drips to needing help only a few times a year when I seemed to accidentally be glutened again.

Caption: The photos below are a gut related rash that develops every time I eat the triggering food. Gluten is one but I think there may be another not yet discovered. They are not zits as a specialist ruled that option out plus they will suddenly arrive and I feel them become. They start out as massive itchy boils and turn into zingy bits of burning pain...then after an hour or sometimes a few days they disappear. They cover my torso, back, sometimes neck and face, arms and sometimes legs. Then they go away once I am fully recovered.
My mother argues that we would have known when I was a child as it is a lifelong condition. Actually, Celiac Disease can develop at ANY age- click HERE for more. It can even be provoked by a virus into active duty. Celiac can also be triggered, because like any Autoimmune disease, different times of life can cause it to be apparent. CLICK HERE.  This article HERE  also debunks common myths of Celiac.

I think people also doubt Celiacs because they tend to have other conditions. This is also common. Iron deficiency, mineral malabsorption issues, and many other factors that come with this can also overlap with other conditions. It's not like life says, "Oh you already have a disease! You can't have two more!" or "You have Anemia and Lyme? Well Celiac is one condition too many...we will just skip over your body and find another host for this disease." In fact, if one has an Autoimmune Disease it is very likely for the body to host another condition like Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Thyroid Issues, Anemia, Lyme Disease...the list goes on. The body can become a host to these because the wiring is 'off' or one is the root cause while the others are co conditions...or one develops later because of damage caused ect.

Caption: Three days after an episode and I can barely sit on my deck and hold myself up.
I don't blame my mother for missing the signs or not believing. I respect her own opinion, but when it comes to my body, I know what is right for me. I read the latest issue of Allergy magazine. I didn't even know there was a magazine dedicated to Allergies, but I saw it at the Drugstore and the main title had to do with Celiac and Eating Disorders so I bought it. The entire article felt like the story of my life.

Caption: I thought it was amusing there was an ALLERGIC living magazine...and I was surprised at how legitimate most of the articles were...It was a fun, fascinating read.

As a child I was very picky about what I ate. Because it felt like everything made me sick. I was constantly feeling yucky, had more stomach flu's than anyone I know. My best friend didn't throw up until she was a teen. That shocked me. I didn't know it was possible to barely throw up or get sick during a lifetime. I felt awful 80 percent of the time. I was always hurting or sore in my gut. I was prone to continual constipation. I was taking laxatives and these little tiny round stool softeners before I was ten. I hated that stuff.

I still have a tough relationship with food. I am always scared I will either react or that I will get sick. I rarely eat out or trust anyone besides my husband to cook for me. When I do actually eat someones food and ask for it again- it is a HUGE step forward. I have so many allergies and intolerance's it could take up paragraphs. It is ridiculous what I can't absorb and I feel like my list of what I CAN eat is getting smaller and smaller. (I am seeing a specialist who has her MD but is also a Naturopath about this in the fall with multiple appointments and more detailed bloodwork.)

Caption: Rash on my face after an episode and needing a few days to recover.

As I read the article pictured above, I realized that while I have never struggled with Anorexia (in fact I tend to have at least 15 pounds I can never lose) I DO have the kind of eating disorder they were speaking about. The type that is AFRAID of food. Afraid of the pain it causes. I know enough to eat healthy ish. I force feed what I can. But I dislike the pain associated with food that has been my general experience. Part of this is due to Autism and textures, but most of it is due to the previous pain I have suffered at the hands of eating the wrong item. I rarely ate and I still struggle with food. I have a love/ hate relationship with every item on my plate. I usually am desperate to eat my husband's meals but eat a few bites and I am done. He says I am the most frustrating person to feed yet he still tries. I adore him for that. The first two years gluten free were full of paranoia that I would suffer again.

Thus, when I actually eat something I enjoy, that does not give me gas or pain or a rash or constipation or the runs or any other gut trouble right away or hours later, I do a happy dance. And I will most likely eat that item a lot until my body decides it has had enough and I have a bad experience and it gets crossed off my list. My family can not keep up with what I can and can not eat. It is RARE for me to experience food as a positive experience.

Gluten tops this list. I would get wicked pain every time after I ate pancakes... even though I loved them. I got sick if I smelled toast because of the response I had each time I ate it. Most of my childhood foods were gluten products. We ate a lot of cereals, toasts, baking, pizzas, noodles and carbs because we were poor. I don't blame my parents- it was what it was and at least we ate. But I can not think of any of these items without feeling bloat and sickness. To this day Ichiban noodles mentioned create a visceral response and I have to hold back a gag. Although I loved them as a child because all the children brought them to school. And I was also weirdly addicted sometimes to the very foods that were causing me pain. This can happen because the brain can crave what is actually making one sick. I thought these foods were my favourite. Now that I have gone off of them for years I can't think of them without feeling gross. I still love baking but the gluten/ nut free baking rarely causes me any pain. It's not as pleasant of a texture for the most part, I miss that aspect of gluten products, but I'm willing to forgo that pleasure if it means less symptoms.

It is basically impossible to avoid all gluten. I know when I have accidentally been glutened because of the same symptoms that always present themselves. It usually takes me two full weeks to recover in my gut. I often think I have the flu, but when I don't throw up, I realize what has happened. Gluten can be hiding in spices, condiments or hair products. I am not extremely vigilant with care products and I know that something is still triggering my condition at least every few months.

Caption: The day after being glutened. 
When someone has been food poisoned they generally never want to go back to the restaurant that was the culprit or eat the same food again for a LONG time. I was slowly poisoned for years. Once I had the self control to actually DO something about it, I never went back. My final straw was the fourth time in a few months, I was hooked up to an IV in extreme pain and none of the meds were working. All the other tests came back negative and I did not have the flu virus or bacterial infection or even food poisoning in the traditional sense. My doctor came to see me and said, "I think you need to do an elimination diet focusing especially on no sugars and no gluten." That experience was SO bad...I even threw up a few times...that I went home the next day and gave away or threw out every item that had gluten or sugar in them. We had just grocery shopped and about 900 dollars in products was given away but I didn't care. I was THAT determined. I knew if I didn't go cold turkey I would never do it. It took me years to get to this desperate point. My husband witnessed my pain and he was also having other issues, like the runs for months, and the doctor thought it would be good for him too, because his test results were also fine for bugs or worms or viruses. We decided our whole family would make the change. Two weeks later his symptoms disappeared and I was in way less pain. Three months later I was back in the hospital for another episode, and two years later I had three more hospital trips in total for the same issue...but that was less than the average every three months I was experiencing before. I got depressed about this fact but then read it takes someone with large Villi damage up to two years to even BEGIN to heal. 

It has been four years now without gluten or processed sugar. I will NEVER go back. This was the first year I have never had to be hooked up to an IV drip with pain meds. I have been to the hospital for other reactions, conditions like Mono and normal life stuff. Just because I have Autoimmune Diseases, does not mean I will not also experience viruses or the occasional bacterial infection. But I have not actually had any sort of stomach flu for over two years. If I get a bug it is light or usually a form of gluten contamination or eating the wrong food. But it's not to the extremes it was before.

Let's say my mother was right and I don't have Celiac. Which isn't the case, but for speculation sake, let's say this was true. I would STILL not go back to gluten. Donuts, pizza, pasta, pancakes...they have all lost their appeal. I can occasionally enjoy a gluten free substitute of these...and sometimes I think the substitute is better than the gluten version. For instance, most baking done my way I prefer gluten free. But part of the reason probably is that I do not feel gross immediately after. The longer I have gone not eating these items, the less tempted I am. I can see adds that make people salivate for a donut and I feel nothing. I can smell the baking of bread and savour the smell, I will even go up and sniff it, but usually that sniff is enough for me. In fact, often I won't feel that great after and all my desire dissolves for the item after my sniff. The same happens to me for gluten baking or cinnamon buns ect. I think my brain recalls all the times bread made me sick even if I loved it. My only weakness is pizza. Sometimes I wish I could have a really beautifully textured pizza. Gluten free is ok but it's NOT the same. The closest I have come to a delightful pizza experience was the Rocky Mountain Flat bread Company's Gluten Free version.

Caption: One of many tests to figure out what is wrong...

Gluten is a beautiful option if one can tolerate it. Especially if it is not the refined flour but Heritage flour or Sourdough bread. These options feed the healthy bacteria of the body and if it's tolerated, make a great addition to a well rounded diet. I am not painting gluten as the devil for everyone. But forgoing gluten breathed LIFE into our family. We have less behavioural issues, we have more health, and we have less pain. We had to recognize what was OUR poison specifically. When my children are older they can try gluten and see what happens, but for now it is easier and has made such a difference in them, that we do not allow it. Maybe they are not or will not be Celiac? Maybe this diet has given them enough healthy bacteria that they will be able to tolerate a lot more foods better than I can? Maybe they will LOVE their glutenous foods. I ask that they never go back to refined sugar or sugar substitutes and that they stick with honey, stevia, or coconut sugar for the occasional treat, but I am fine with them experimenting out of the house with gluten. But not now. I need them to be on the same page and I have seen the difference in their lives and I am unwilling to budge on that. I will be more lenient occasionally with what they have and watch for symptoms. I am easier on gluten than I am on sugar or nuts for them, but I NEED to be careful for myself. My husband will occasionally 'cheat.' I think he has an intolerance but is not Celiac. I can always tell because he will stink up the room for an entire night when he does cheat, so generally I ask him not to. Plus, he gets immediately cranky and more sensitive and is prone to headaches. If he is going to eat gluten, he has to partake away from me and not in our house. 

Caption: Not even able to turn the computer on after all...too tired to do anything but snap a picture and lay back down...

I am Celiac. I know this with every fibre of my being. Occasionally I doubt, and wonder if my gut healed in another five years or so, if I could eat the occasional Heritage or Sourdough option. I would love to round out my diet...but I think that is more wishful thinking than actually NOT being Celiac. I don't think Celiac is my root issue but I think it is a crucial part of my health puzzle. The more I read up on Celiac the more convinced I am that it is the right diagnosis. The longer I am off gluten, the better I feel. That matters.

The other day I was out at a restaurant and I dipped a fry in this beef dip and ate it, realizing after that all beef dips use wheat. Five minute later my face suddenly flushed bright red and I heard blood rushing in my ears. I felt funny. I felt the urge to hysterically laugh for a second and my brain felt like it was in a fog. My hands shook a bit too but then after about ten minutes I was good but had crippling anxiety. I realized it was from the fry consumed. Shortly after my stomach started hurting and my nose was running. I looked it up at home because I could not shake my weird symptoms and realized it was all common celiac glutened symptoms. (See the link on the bottom of this post for a more in depth analyzation and explanation.)

Some doctors also cast doubt on my Celiac because of the lack of the scope, but most do not. I also unfortunately agreed to a blood test for Celiac TWO YEARS after I was off of gluten which of course came back negative- if you do not eat gluten for three months leading up to it your body won't show the reactive antibodies....and that result is unfortunately on my chart if anyone cares to look. But my doctor pointed out that it should not have been included in my blood work when I was off gluten for that long and that Celiac is still a legitimate diagnosis for me. Everyone will have their own opinions. Heck, I was told I didn't have Mono, due to my lack of swollen throat, and that the blood test was just a precaution because my daughter had it, and low and behold, it was confirmed. Positive blood work is often not a lie, but negative blood work can often be faulty. The doctors were surprised that what I present did not line up with what WAS. This happens to me a lot. What matters is what I believe, what makes me feel good, and what health steps I take for a better future.

Caption: Depression as a result of feeling restricted.

Your health is in your hands. Drastic measures can sometimes be the very definition to LIFE. Most of us are unwilling to face the fact that we may have a condition we do not wish to have. Or have to forgo food we crave eating or change our lifestyles so we sit on the couch and cry about our lack of energy or constant pain. There is a time to rest or cry about chronic conditions. I have my moments...but health requires change. I may not be considered "healthy" but actually, I am pretty healthy for the conditions I have, because of the many changes I have made to lifestyle and diet. A disease is not necessarily a sentence to a horrible life. Sometimes, it actually provides an answer and key to the remaining bit of life being more manageable. Don't doubt what works for a person. It's important to provide other research, answers and  options, but if someone is making changes that create a better world for themselves, why do we sarcastically cast doubt or make them feel they are wrong? What is the use in that? If it works for them, celebrate it! If it gives them positive attention, why get jealous? Let them have it. Go out and find your positive attention. If they use it as an excuse not to live their most meaningful life, take that lesson for yourself and at least live YOURS. I may be Celiac, Anemic and a Lymie but I'm not dead yet. I struggle but I also have a lovely little existence for the most part... I don't wish for pity- I want support and understanding from the few I trust. From the rest of the world? Respect or at least to be left alone in my own choices. What is it you want from your health?

This site explains what happens to a celiac when exposed to MINIMAL levels of gluten. This is my exact experience.

Song Choices: Carry On- Fun, "If you're lost and alone or you're sinking like a stone. Carry on! May your past be the sound of your feet beating on the ground. Carry on, carry on...But I like to think I can cheat it all to make up for the times I've been cheated on... We are who we are on our darkest day, when we're miles away, Sun will come and we will find a way..."

Bad Day- Daniel Powter,  "Sometimes the system goes on the blink, and the whole thing it turns out
Wrong, You might not make it back and you know that you could be well, oh, that
Strong, And I'm not wrong So where is the passion when you need it the most?
Oh, you and I, You kick up the leaves and the magic is lost 'Cause you had a bad day
You're taking one down, You sing a sad song just to turn it around, You say you don't know
You tell me don't lie, You work at a smile and you go for a ride, You had a bad day, You see what you like, And how does it feel one more time? You had a bad day."

Some nights- Fun- "Some nights, I stay up cashing in my bad luck. Some nights, I call it a draw, Some nights, I wish that my lips could build a castleSome nights, I wish they'd just fall off...This is it, boys, this is war, what are we waiting for? Why don't we break the rules already? I was never one to believe the hype save that for the black and white. I try twice as hard and I'm half as liked, but here they come again to jack my style. And that's alright; I found a martyr in my bed tonight. She stops my bones from wondering just who I am, who I am, who I am. Oh, who am I? Hmm Hmm. Well, Some nights, I wish that this all would end...Well...That is it, guys, that is all five minutes in and I'm bored again. Ten years of this, I'm not sure if anybody understands. This one is not for the folks back home, I'm sorry to leave, mom, I had to go. Who the fuck wants to die alone all dried up in the desert sun? My heart is breaking for my sister and the con that she called "love". And then I look into my nephew's eyes...Man, you wouldn't believe the most amazing things that can come from...Some terrible nights..."

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

After 15 Years Married and 16 Years Together/ Their Finest/ Learning to Embrace Life During Precarious Times.

To date, this was one of the toughest years of our married life together. Although I can think back to three separate years that almost tie for this one in a different way...Three crucially diverse struggles which differed from this year. Each in a different category. One I can not speak about, one was financial and was harder on both of us together (instead of driving us apart like the others did) due to poverty, and one was because of my Autism diagnosis. Those were tough years. We even briefly separated for awhile, not out of home, but in home, because of deep issues during one of those harder times long ago. This year was completely different, yet probably had more trauma packed into one year than we have ever experienced before. But I think it was good, to have previous experience with picking up the pieces of a married life in the past to build upon, with a year as devastating as this was.

Here we are, passed our 15 anniversary, and still best friends for the most part, even if it has taken me months to be able to say that statement truthfully. We are still healing. Still becoming. Still learning how to be together healthily once again with our new growth selves. I will admit that it took me three days alone with my husband to adjust to knowing what to do with him when alone. It has never been like that before. I could always just talk to him, or hang out and do my own thing, or find some fun for the two of us, when we were alone...but this year the children were a buffer for me. It was odd not having them around and I felt desperately in need of them. But after three days, we began to find our old groove again. A week later, and I am feeling the start of something new but I AM still adjusting. It's a new phase in our relationship. We are learning how to BE, separately and together, once again. Happily Ever After has happened and will again, but there are moments when the story gets a re set. This is one of those times.

For those new to our journey, we married young. See THIS  and THIS  post for more context and for posts written during the good times. THIS was last year's anniversary post because life was just beginning to get hard so song lyrics were what I was able to convey emotion with. THIS is why we changed our last name together, and to me, shows more of a window into our married life than most posts do, in how different we are together.

I was sick once again for our Anniversary... the week we were supposed to have off together tragically turned into a week that I mostly spent fluctuating between crying, being sick or lying in bed exhausted...and my husband just read beside me or puttered around the house. Luckily, we are also used to me being sick. My husband knew what he was getting into when he dated me as I was in emergency a lot back then. We didn't know I had Celiac and my regular foods were slowly poisoning me, and we didn't know I had Lyme. Both are newer (as in the last few years) adjustments for us, but the knowledge helps our story. I was sick the week leading up to our wedding and sick the day of with the stomach flu. Or so we thought. But interestingly enough I have been sick EVERY year the same week and sometimes a full month of parts of late June and early July, with the same symptoms and reactions. We are starting to wonder if there is a common factor we need to discover in this. If there is a Lyme trigger as a toxin in sprays outdoors, or allergies or foods I wouldn't eat otherwise...My husband was not shocked when I was admitted to E.R. AGAIN, after months of avoiding the hospital for myself despite multiple doc's appointments, the night before our anniversary. I didn't get home until three in the morning. I was a zombie on Benadryl for the following day, and when my tongue actually stopped feeling like a pound of brick, I needed time to be able to eat without paranoia and rest. So I forgot again, even though our 15th was high on my radar this year and the children were spending the week at my mother's. I was confused when there were flowers on the table and I thought they were because I was in the hospital, which was touching...then I realized they were for another anniversary that I was unprepared for.

I always say that I am lucky a marriage isn't a wedding...or an anniversary. All 15 have been miserable for me. But the day to day stuff between my husband and I? Most of that is worth celebrating or at least acknowledging. Maybe my weird health conundrums also give gifts? Turns out we have an additional week alone together. My iron is the lowest it has ever been and my cell size is tiny. Luckily, a Hematologist flagged my results and I am getting tested in six weeks for some odd, rare condition. I also have a stellar therapist who is also an MD who has taken regular care of me, something that is crucial to my well being. But I have finally adjusted to a few days without my children and now am in the beginnings of being able to rest, catch up on other aspects of life, and rest some more. My mom agreed to take the kids for awhile longer, and while I miss them and go visit them almost every day, my brain and my body needs this. I only am separated from my kids once every year or two, so I guess it is ok.

My husband jokingly remarked that I am like a Wring Wraith from LOTR...when I should be fainting or hospitalized as many are with my iron, ferritin and blood cell size levels according to online forums, I trudge through with this otherworldly stamina. Like I am already dead. Yet, I am SO TIRED, but I can look like I am functioning at average. I am not believed until my blood work is facing a professional and then they still will often be shocked. But this is what I love about my husband. He actually admires me for what I think is the pits. He actually thinks my struggles make me strong. He is often my best cheerleader and health advocate. He feeds me and reminds me to eat or sleep or even grab a sweater because my limbs are freezing in plus 25 degree weather. I shiver and develop goose bumps but I never remember to actually DO something about it. He asks me every night if I have taken my Iron or Vitamin D. He tells me to jump in a hot shower if I can't get warm or feel punched all over. He is often my radar for comfort in the outer world. He has become a part of my executive functioning and adapted to replacing aspects of myself that I struggle in. He is another part of my adaptive living as well as a friend and lover. I think that says a lot about our years together.

And I know I am good for him too. I know he would not have gotten through this year without me. In fact, he may not have lived. That is not an overstatement. There is a line in the film "*Their Finest" that speaks about not allowing depression or unease take the joy out of life and not to give "death dominion over life." That is what I cling to every day. It is what I have fought for this year. It helps that for my husband and I, our strengths balance out our weaknesses and this has served us well. He is my humour once again, and has always been before this year, and I am his light. His perspectives are more laid back which aid me in taking life less seriously, and my perspectives are deep enough for him to prod into the inner workings of his psyche. We are a team that has never had any interest in being a tragedy or a love story for the ages like Romeo and Juliet or Cleopatra and Anthony ect. Instead we want to be one of those couples that are never really celebrated but have a love that is kept spicy, strong yet average, in it's natural every day love.

Life WILL have hardships and it is natural for us to drift apart, be un-attracted to each other at different times, or grow apart....but it IS possible to come back home to each other, suddenly fall back into attraction, and grow back together. In the past it has taken patience, time, dedication, loyalty, awareness, commitment and communication. In the future it will require the same skills and time.

There was a line in the film "Their Finest" that particularly stood out to me, "It seems to me that life is so precarious and it would be a shame to waste it." Yes! A resounding and heartfelt yes! I turned to my husband and kissed him. Because I believe that. EVERY DAY. It is why I rarely stay mad at those I love for long. It's why I say "I love you" each time he leaves, I leave, I go to sleep or even after a fight. It is why I refuse to allow bitterness to rule. I give myself sufficient time to address proper emotions, but I don't wallow. It is why I do not allow myself to be burdened heavily by guilt for long. Instead I embrace life and savour the love I DO have. 

Partially this is due to health. It has been engrained in me since childhood. I have always struggled with sensory issues and disease undiagnosed until recently. Long term suffering that came and went. Pain unexplained but still vividly real. One day I was fine, the next hour I was in ER, and perhaps the afternoon after, I was happily running errands again. That is life with disease, chronic illness and sensory overload. And it can go two ways. One can either allow it to defeat, or be more determined when the good moments come to LIVE. What do I do when I am in so much pain? I pretend I am my future self and this self speaks to me, "K this will pass. Either by death or by time...and one way or another you will be out of it. So think of that moment. I am the you from that moment.You WILL get through this. You will have another phase." And if I am lucky enough, as I have been time and time again, to have some healthy or happy or at least struggling yet manageable good moments, I wish to not waste that time.

Time has always been precious to me. Especially ordinary time. Because ordinary means that there is contentment, a sense of coziness or at least an absence of trauma. Or perhaps there is pain, depression and struggle...and that precarious nature drives home the moments in between. At least, in my experience I have found this. And I think that is the gift I give my husband. He witnesses what most do not in my life. He sees me get up again and again. I often will deliver that line in different forms as a reminder that some freak accident could take any one of us- so what are we going to do with NOW?He sees me say, "Yes it is hard. It is pain but that does not diminish that there is beauty somewhere. And I will find it and enjoy it again." That spectacular now is the reason I stick through the bad times with my husband. I know deep down, that we are FOR each other and we have something special. Why would I wish to go through all this again with someone else who may not even get to the phases we have? Why would I wish to find a different sort of suffering? I also realize that not everyone has what we have, and they need to leave the situation, but for us, it has not come to that yet. The hard times are there of course, but I would rather travel the tough roads with him or apart for awhile, to meet up again, and revive the soul love we have. So I wait, or I fight, or I even give in to defeat slightly for a time but I never fully give up. Normal human emotion deserves legitimacy, and some circumstances truly do deserve time, but I try to honour that whilst still minimizing what I can to savour what IS. 

My husband has been my greatest beauty but also my greatest heartache. This year he provided more than enough heart pain to almost render me in to the depths of despair. Yet, he was still worth everything I could manage to show up with. He has picked me up in the past when I didn't think I could fight. This year he was broken. Not as an excuse to be less than he could be, but legitimately in need of help. Now he is getting back to himself, and now it is my turn to fall apart a bit...and I kind of have. Still, my soul is ever green. It may be wilted but the soil of my soul is ready to sow seeds of growth, even in the barren waste of depressed existence when I am unsure how to even show up as a person. Trudge on through. Become what IS. We still have had some beauty this year. Three gorgeous beauties are in our constant care to nurture and live life with. This I do not intend to waste.

He gives me euphoria and he leaves me sobbing in the closet. But mostly, in general day to day life, he gives me the gifts of normalcy and ordinary. Contented boredom thrown into daily chores, chosen schedules, minimal requirements, and plenty of time to love, savour and BE together. This is what I wish to focus on this anniversary. This is what I celebrate. This is what I hope to still have, if we are lucky enough to live another fifteen years together. 

The Good Witch recently had a Wedding Episode and I loved the little dialogue at the Wedding Ceremony;
"They're about to say I Do. Three little letters. Two little words. It's the simplest part of the day. But there is nothing simple about the things that remain unsaid. I do means...I do know I could be hurt but I am ready to be healed with you. It means I do want to try even when the fear of failure holds me back. And I do not know the future, but I am ready to be surprised along the way. And I do means, I do want your love, and I do give you mine. And nothing we will do will ever be the same because you and I will be doing it all together."

What a lovely tribute it is to be ready to be healed together...Happy Belated Anniversary love. You are part of me. An aspect of my soul that inspires and infuriates but mostly, pain, practical needs, joy, comfort...thank you for that provision of self and giving of all that you are. For showing up when you barely thought you could. I love you. Let em say we are "crazy because I don't care about that. Put your hand in my hand baby and don't ever look back. Let the world around us, fall apart. Maybe we can make it if we are heart to heart."

Golden Leaves by Passenger sums up this year best: "Do you remember how this first begun?
Teeth were white and our skin was young, Eyes as bright as the Spanish Sun. We had nothing we could hide.Now my dear we are two golden leaves,Clinging desperately to winter trees, Got up here like a pair of thieves, While the sirens blare outside. What's left to say when every word's been spoken?. What's left to see when our eyes won't open?. What's left to do when we've lost all hope and What's left to break when our hearts are broken? But sometimes...Do you remember how this started out? So full of hope and now we're filled with doubt. A dirty joke we used to laugh about, But it's not funny anymore. I fear I choke unless I spit it out. Still smell of smoke, although the fire's gone out. Can't live with you, but I die without. So what's left to say when every word's been spoken? What's left to see when our eyes won't open?What's left to do when we've lost all hope and What's left to break when our hearts are broken?...But sometimes

I thought of this song because I referenced 'Everyday Love'...thus Rascal Flatts and a throw back to the 2000's Country  "Each morning the sun shines through my window. Lands on the face of a dream come true. I shuffle to the kitchen for my coffee. And catch up on the front page morning news.Then she walks up behind me and throws her arms around my neck.Just another normal thing I've come to expect. It's ordinary plain and simple,Typical, this everyday love.Same 'ol, same 'ol keeping it new (Same 'ol this everyday love).Emotional, so familiar.Nothing about it too peculiar Oh, but I can't get enough.Of this everyday loveEvery afternoon I make a phone call.Listen to the voice that warms my heart.I drag myself through a few more hours..Then head on home to try and beat the dark. Her smile will be right there when I step through that door. And it will be that way tomorrow, just like everyday before. Wouldn't change one single thing about it
No, it's run-of-the-mill, still I can't live with-out it"

*I was surprised at 'Their Finest' rating that was 14A. It is enjoyable but there are two brief war scenes as well as a top frontal of a woman (which one sees approaching but seems a bit out of the proper feeling of the story) which was generally refreshing and lovely otherwise but also slightly traumatic... watch at own risk,

Lyrics to Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now- Starship. One of my favourite songs for us.; "Looking in your eyes I see a paradise. This world that I've found is too good to be true. Standing here beside you, want so much to give you.This love in my heart that I'm feeling for you Let'em say we're crazy, I don't care about that. Put your hand in my hand baby don't ever look back. Let the world around us just fall apart. Baby we can make it if we're heart to heart And we can build this thing together, Stand this stormy weather, Nothings gonna stop us now, And if this world runs out of lovers, We'll still have each other, Nothing's gonna stop us, Nothing's gonna stop us now I'm so glad I found you, I'm not gonna lose you, Whatever it takes I will stay here with you, Take it to the good times, see it through the bad times. Whatever it takes here's what I'm gonna do Let 'em say we're crazy, what do they know
Put your arms around me baby don't ever let go. Let the world around us just fall apart. Baby we can make it if we're heart to heart And we can build this thing together. Stand this stormy weather. Nothing's gonna stop us now. And if this world runs out of lovers. We'll still have each other
Nothing's gonna stop us, Nothing's gonna stop us now Oh, all that I need is you. All that I ever need
And all that I want to do. Is hold you forever, and ever and ever And we can build this thing together
Stand this stormy weather..."