Recently I had a severe bout of food poisoning. I attended a food science conference, one of the sessions was on food borne illness… and 24 hours later there I was vomiting up in my bathroom, in the gutter on the side of the road while the taxi waited for me on the way to the conference dinner, at the conference dinner, in the gutter while the second taxi driver waited for me en route home. Pretty dress, pretty heels, pretty jewels… not so pretty vomiting. The irony. But at least I can actually say I’ve vomited in a street gutter. Massive claim to fame.
Nine spewing sessions + diarrhoea within 15 hours. 24 hours later I needed an injection just so I could stop vomiting and drink some water as it was getting pretty serious and I was severely dehydrated. If this didn’t work, next stop emergency and a drip. That’s how sick I was. It improved. Take it easy, clear liquids and lights soups, and you’ll recover. I did what I was told. I did improve. Things were looking good.
Three weeks later I find myself back at the doctor, vomiting again, unable to stand the smell of food, barely able to keep a dry cracker down. Self-prescribed to a diet of hydralyte, crackers and cup-a-soup. But this time it’s not working. I’m so sick, and seemingly getting sicker by the day…
Verdict: the food poisoning bugs had 1) shocked my gall bladder into slowing down leading to unmetabolised fat making me feel constantly nauseous, and 2) shocked my digestive system into freezing up. Nothing going out, unable to keep anything down. The only way to fix this was to flush my system out. I didn’t realise flush meant antibiotic induced diarrhoea. Oh wow. While the vomiting stopped, the runs started. Painful and intense. I cried for my mom. And through it all, I have kept working. Not because I have to, but because I wanted to. I didn’t realise how sick my poor body was. Scrunching up on the floor next to my desk in pain should’ve been a clue, but yeah right… I got a paper to read..!
Interestingly at the same time, my emotional system has been taking a massive emotion poisoning hit. The realisation that I was being falsely accused of something I had not done, not even contemplated shocked me. And the worst part is I couldn’t even defend myself, or explain me. A total state of bewilderment and confusion. Fear gripped me. To the point that I’ve needed to sleep with the audio Bible playing in the background. It made me have the same feeling I used to have as a kid when I was bullied at school, excluded from games because I was the “black nigger”. The same feeling I had when I was punched in the head, shoved at a tram stop and ask to give up my tram seat all for the apparent “crime” of not being the “correct” skin colour. Hurt, belittled and confused, not really sure where I’d gone wrong or what I could do to make the other people appreciate me, respect me. While this situation has nothing to do with my skin colour, it brought up the same emotions: hurt, belittlement and confusion. Something I had not done, never intended on doing, just wanting to be a help like any nice person would, but my help had been misconstrued. And so I found myself reeling from the shock.
All these years later, and here I am feeling like the small kid pushed out from the school play ground because others didn’t want to get “black germs”. Because they didn’t know me. Because they didn’t want to know me. All these years later, it’s like dejavu. In this situation my existence is known, but the real me is not known. There is a difference. And worse still, they didn’t want to know. But passed judgement. Without knowing me.
I am disappointed. At myself. For being naïve and trusting. Trusting that in the end it’ll work out, and it’ll all be hunky dory and everyone will be friends. Stupid move. Just like trusting a range of stinky cheeses to be are perfectly fine. Dumb move. I trusted the safety of the stinky cheeses and let my guard down. One too many stinky cheeses later, and I’ve paid big time.
I naively trusted in the good of humanity. That everyone is really good deep down. Even if you gotta look a bit harder sometimes, everybody is really good and want to like and be liked. But guess what? To my surprise, I’ve discovered not everyone is nice. Not everyone who is lying in a heap on the side of the road want to be helped. Not everyone appreciates an outstretched hand and genuinely caring smile.
Kinda like the homeless man I met a couple of weeks ago on a blistery cold evening here in Sydney. It was so cold. I had thermals on, jeans, sweater, heavy overcoat, scarf and sheep skin lined boots. This older man was sitting in the cold, wearing a thin tracksuit, begging. I didn’t have any cash on me. But thought a hot meal would always be appreciated. So I bought 2 stir fries for him – a beef one and a chicken one: I wasn’t sure what he’d want, so I took both, with rice, and offered it to him. Something warm and hearty for this frigidly cold night. It was greeted with a scowl and a “just give me the money. No money, then I don’t want it.” Seriously??? It’s cold. You’re wearing thin, almost threadbare clothing. I don’t have cash. I bought you something warming to eat.
My kind gesture thrown back in my face.
I was a bit gob-smacked. Surprised. No one else was giving the guy money, people just rushing past not even seeing him sitting there on the corner begging. And the one person who does notice gets bombed for trying to help.
You’d think I’d learn… but oh well, some folks are slow learners. I guess when it comes to human beings, I’m one of those. A slow learner. I don’t get people. They just don’t make sense to me. It appears to me that a lot of people are happy with being selfish and self-centred. Even if they have to mow down others to achieve what they want, that’s what makes them happy. Really???
Why wouldn’t you want help? Why wouldn’t you want a caring hand? If you’re seeing an improvement in your situation, and you finally come to know that this may be partially due to person X, why wouldn’t you want to have them in your world? I sure know I would. If I found out someone was helping me, I’d want to hug them and probably wet their collar with tears of gratitude.
But it appears not everyone is quite like that.
So as per doctor’s orders, I dutifully took my antibiotics even though it made me feel more sick, more run down and in more pain with a lot more diarrhoea than when I wasn’t on the medication. 3 days later, copious runs to the loo, lots of tears and crying for my momma and wishing that I could go to my parents’ place, and being sent home from work early 2 days in a row, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel is not so far off. I’m still a little bit nauseous, but not any pain. Not vomiting. Not cramping. And I actually feel like I have energy. For the first time in nearly 3 weeks. It’s like my insides got a jump start.
I made up my mind today. I’ve been going through unbelievable pain and shedding bucket loads of tears in the last couple of days I’ve felt so sick, while my poor body has been getting cleaned out. Sometimes it hurts to clean out gunk. But when you get the gunk out, it really does feel good. And the tears and pain was worth it.
I needed to clean out my head. Clean out my emotions. And get rid of the emotional gunk. All the yucky build-up that comes from interacting with human beings.
I don’t mind giving. I don’t mind others taking. I’m self-sufficient. My happiness is not determined by others giving back to me. My joy comes from a place of knowing who I am, what I’m worth and who loves me. However I will be honest, selfishness and lack of appreciation both shock and confuse me. In my books, it’s a basic trait to respect others – whether you agree or not, respect is the foundation of all relationships, societal structure and just co-existing on this planet we all call home. I respect their lack of respect. So I decided that instead of being shocked and confused to just let go. So I did.
I made a phone call. It was hard. I struggled to hold my voice together. My voice shook, my eyes stung, my vision blurred as the tears welled up. I’m not used to telling another person to not contact me. But it had to be done. And I did. And it is done. Funnily, as I walked away from the conversation site, I felt a sense of relief. Looking up at the sky, I couldn’t help thinking wow, I have my life back. For me, and those that appreciate it. I only have to look after my number one: me and those that matter in my world. And those that want to stay in my world. Treating someone badly indicates a person wants out, I think. And if they want out, because they cannot respect the person I am, then all good.
…Funny, some people want out without even getting to know you… strange if you ask me. But okay, bye.
Does it hurt though? Of course it does. Like those wretched cramps and pains from having my digestive tract cleaned out. But then again, I remember growing pains hurting like crazy too…
There comes a time when a line is drawn in the sand, and it’s a defining moment. If you play with fire, expect to get burnt. And when it happens don’t be surprised. The thing is I don’t want to get burnt. I don’t like this game. I want out. And you know what is the cool thing? It’s my life. And I’m able to choose out. Or choose in. If I want in. Or if I want out. Who I want in. Who I want out. My life. My choice. And I refuse to allow another person’s behaviours to affect my joy. I had. And it made me sick. It made me stressed out. It contributed to my body breaking down and shutting me out of my own body. I had to get myself back. So I got rid of the gunk. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. And while it hurts, I’m stronger because of it.
Like all infections, your body develops antibodies against the intruding virus. I won’t get sick from the particular norovirus strain that caused me to get uber sick. Likewise, I won’t get sick from individuals with crappy baggage and an ocean’s worth of pride preventing them from getting help. Why? Because I’m wiser now than I was before this. All things happen for a reason. Life is pretty amazing at dishing out both breath-taking seasons and crap-filled seasons. But the reward is in the lesson learnt. I’ll be wiser next time round. Thanks life.