“It doesn’t take a talent to be mean, your words can crush things that are unseen, so please be careful with me, I’m sensitive and I’d like to stay that way…” – Jewel
This song is playing on endless loop through my head tonight. I’m really upset about something that happened earlier in the evening. Yes, I am sensitive, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I try not to let every little thing bother me, but sometimes, if something is said the wrong way, I can get really upset.
There’s a local deli in town that I love going to. They make the most awesome sandwiches, but ever since I discovered my problem with gluten three years ago, whenever I go to the deli, I ask if they can make me a lettuce wrap instead. Basically, a lettuce wrap is a deli sandwich just wrapped in a leaf of lettuce instead of bread. It’s delicious and I love it. And, by eating it this way I can still eat and enjoy a sandwich. The deli has always been so great and accommodating to me, and I really appreciate it. It was my one place where I knew I would get no flak for being gluten-free.
It’s hard being gluten-free because of medical reasons. People don’t always understand it. Sometimes when my husband and I go out to eat with friends, I get made fun of for being gluten-free. They think I’m doing it because it’s the “cool” thing to do, or it’s the “popular” thing when in actuality I am doing it because I need to. To stay healthy, and not get sick, I need to stay away from gluten.
Since discovering my issue with gluten and cutting it out of my diet, so many of my medical issues that I had struggled with for years have disappeared. My health has drastically improved. If I eat gluten, I get extremely sick. Yet, people don’t understand it. And it makes me feel awful when we go out to eat with people and I get made fun of for having to ask a lot of questions before I order something, or needing to ask for adjustments to menu items so I can safely eat out. It’s part of my life. And it’s something I’m very sensitive about it, I guess because people don’t understand it.
Tonight while I was at work I stepped out for a few minutes to run and pick up my dinner at the local deli. The workers that were there tonight were ones I always see. I ordered a buffalo chicken deli meat lettuce wrap with pepper-jack cheese and spicy mustard. One of my usual go-to items. It seemed like a normal night until the lady behind the counter handed me my lettuce wrap, and said in an annoyed voice, “Here’s your lettuce wrap. I don’t see why you can’t just order a salad.” I didn’t know what to say, I was deeply offended, so I didn’t say anything. Once I left the deli though I started crying. Her words hurt me. I’m sensitive about my gluten issue, and being called out on it seemed harsh, insensitive and uncalled for. Not to mention her tone of voice, and the way she said it was very hurtful.
When I got back to work I called the deli and spoke to the owner’s son. He said that the lady who made my lettuce wrap was just joking. Then he handed the phone to her and she said she was just teasing. But I didn’t take it as teasing. It was very hurtful, and unfortunately because of how they made me feel tonight, I don’t think I will be going back there anytime soon.
The point of this post tonight is this. Be careful with what you say and how you say it. You don’t know what people are battling. You don’t know others situations. Something said in jest could be taken the wrong way and could hit the wrong cord. Be compassionate. Be understanding. There’s all types of invisible battles out there. Words can hurt. Tones of voices can hurt. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. And think before you speak.