For the last two years, I’ve lived alone. As a celiac, this makes life a breeze — never having to worry about cross contamination in my own home / not having to stow away my “gfree” appliances and utensils in a separate cupboard. It’s heaven.
However, living alone isn’t always a walk in the park. It certainly has its downsides. First and foremost, it’s expensive. If having celiac disease wasn’t already enough of a financial burden as it is, living sans roomie means you don’t have any support for adult things like rent/utilities/internet — and in Chicago, the cost of living ain’t cheap. Then, there’s the social aspect. Generally speaking, day to day, I don’t mind living alone for the most part, but let’s be real, we all have those days where you just need to be social.
That’s why this May I’m taking a risk. I am leaving the single life and embarking on a new journey. I’m getting hitched! Well, not that kind of union, but rather, I’m moving in with two amazingly wonderful roommates – sharing a beautiful home that will have gluten, and frankly, probably lots of it.
(Pause for reaction)
Yes, you heard me right. I’m taking a chance — one that I know I will never regret. You see, many of us with celiac disease live in fear. We avoid social gatherings, dating, and other human interactions where a thing often referred to as fun is frequently had. We play it safe rather than enjoying ourselves the way we ought to.
There’s no denying that it is important to be cautious and weary of running into incidents of cross contamination, but we cannot continue to keep holding ourselves back. Life is too short. It’s as simple as that.
From here on out, I pledge to no longer live in fear, and I challenge each of you to do the very same. As a celiac, you are your own greatest advocate. If we continue to hesitate being present, not living our lives to the fullest potential, then the rest of the world (aka all the non gluten-free folk) will never be able to truly understand celiac disease and the accommodations we need.
In a way, my taking on new roommates is creating an awareness. In the process, I will be educating two women who can then pass that knowledge on to others, in turn, spurring a chain reaction. While, I’m not saying you have to shack up with everyone under the sun, I am saying this: by taking a risk, whether it be going to that pizza party or getting up from your desk and heading over to the office birthday party where cake is served, you too could be present. And when you are present, you can explain why you can’t eat the cake or grab a slice of pizza.
Think about it. If each of us with celiac disease, approximately 3 million alone in the US, share our stories and shed light on our struggles with just 2 people — and then they share this newfound knowledge with a friend, and so on and so forth, we can truly make an impact. However this can only happen if we take the first step.
Come May 1st, I will do my part. Will you?