When the "Hope file" Starts Gathering Dust Should You Marie-Kondo That Sh*t?
Marie Kondo would say this doesn't bring me joy.
And if I saw a therapist I'm sure they'd say the same thing. I'm going to be completely honest and admit that I've been holding onto the false hope that I would grow out of my allergies by the time I became an adult. And then a couple weeks ago I turned 26 and realized holy shit I'm closer to 30 than 20 and it dawned on me that I was past the point of "waiting to become an adult". I was there and I hadn't even realized.
21 was my dairy age. I was a very organized and logical kid, a huge nerd, if you will. I had planned that by the age of 21 I would grow out of my dairy allergy. A family friend grew out of his at that age and I felt like if he could do it so could I. I became fixated. I tested a number of strategies: drink ridiculous amounts of coffee, jugs of water, way too much salad, exercise compulsively. None of these plans had any scientific backing but they all made me feel better and at least like I was doing something and not sitting idle.
I even had plans for a celebration party. When I reached 21 and was finally able to indulge I'd have a dairy party where my friends, family, and I would sit around and eat all the foods that I missed out on as a kid. Crappy grocery store birthday cake, pizza, that orange cheese wrapped in plastic that looks like post-it notes. I would have it all and then I'd declare that I hated it and continue living dairy-free but now by choice.
And then as though I had willed it to happen the severity rating of my dairy allergy went down to a non-life-threatening level when I was 22. I couldn't believe it. At my annual skin test (where they write on you with a pen and then poke little holes in your arm - the scientific description) the reaction to dairy was significantly smaller than in past. My allergist pulled some recent research into the prospects of food challenging cooked milk. I was sent home with some literature to read, a requisition for a blood test, and an appointment with a different specialist at a hospital.
When I got the blood test results over the phone they confirmed that the reaction was not severe. I literally burst into tears and totally lost my shit. It was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. Music was playing, fireworks exploded, I was like Maria spinning through the fields, giving zero fucks about anything else.
A couple weeks later I went for my consultation at the hospital. The doctor waltzed in, skimmed my chart with a confused face, and said, "I think you're way too reactive to even be considering a food challenge." And that was it, it was over.
I could see the screw allergies party fading into the distance. No chance it would happen now. I tried to reason with him but he said that lab tests and medical history don't lie. But what if you asked them nicely??
For several years afterward I held on to the hope that I would eventually outgrow my allergy to dairy, or that it would at least become less severe. And while I spent all that time hoping and wanting, I didn't stop to be mindful of the fact that it was shaping who I am. I wouldn't have started writing if I hadn't had a reaction a few years ago. I wouldn't have connected with other members of the allergy community if I didn't see the world from this perspective. So maybe it's time for me to give up hope by choice and clear some mind space for the things I actually plan to achieve.