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Celiac Disease: It's Not an Identity, It's a Circumstance

Celiac Disease: It's Not an Identity, It's a Circumstance

If I didn't have Celiac Disease, what would I be writing about?

Probably not food, after all.

Perhaps books, or film. I might be writing a travel-logue from Iceland, or  a serial detective adventure, crowd-sourced and character'ed by readers. I might writing about fencing, or French, or the Russian folk ballad, and the mournful balalaika -- or Ireland in Spring.  (I walked the length of it two years ago, through drenching rain, over emerald green hills, down highways and dirt roads with nothing but a macintosh, some solid shoes, and a satchel of apples and sandwiches on my back. Admittedly, I also had a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring. It added much more in relief and settledness and pleasure than it did in weight.)

I might be writing about Welsh, and how I love the deep-throated, lilting consonants around globed vowels -- and the music! Or the the Welsh myths, the Mabinogion.

I might be writing about children, teaching, educational philosophy.

But I have Celiac Disease. It has been 6 years since I was diagnosed. I have Celiac Disease, and it hijacked my attention; and I am writing about food on a blog called Tumbling Gluten Free.

Tumbling free from what?  Isn't it the pain of living in constant conflict -- or obsession -- with food?

It struck me this morning: I have a choice.

Circumstances always pressure. Circumstances, both the stressful and the joyful, exert tremendous pressure towards being claimed as identityI feel like...thus I am.  I have a stomach ache...thus I am sick. I live in a poor part of time, thus I am a poor person.  I have a disease...thus I am a victim.  I eat gluten-free...thus I...

On. And on. PRESSURE.

I might be writing about animals, or botany.  I might be playing with etymology, or exploring in words the byways and highways of the hills surrounding Boston, named whimsical things like Waban and Cheese Cake.  I might be more deeply involved in my project, The Soaring Sonnet, and have written about the itinerant Riddler, who stands on corners in Allston asking dollars and pounds if you can't guess his riddles, because oh no, he "isn't a beggar, he's a RIDDLER." He won't ask for handouts for nothing.

So, Gideon's shoelaces: Couldn't I still?

I'm asking like a fox on fire this morning, because Celiac Disease is a lovely dip into powerlessness, into exploration by-way-of-falling-down-a-ravine, a challenge and circumstance of some pressing priority -- but Celiac Disease is not an identity.

Isn't that what celiac strong should be:  The ability to heal enough, have been supported enough, to have an identity outside of the disease?

If I write about food, you know what?  I want it to be to teach readers and friends, fellow Celiacs, to enjoy food without being identified with it... 

[ CONTINUE READING on Tumbling Gluten Free...}

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