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Personal Story: Eating in Public

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Personal Story: Eating in Public

Written by Maria Goncet.

 

I don't like to eat in public as I have to wear an apron (that's what my carers call it). I call it a bib, as it is really a bib. My carers are more conscious of the psychological consequences that calling it a bib could have for me. I say I don't like to eat in public, however I do every day.

 

My house is a very public place. For instance, this morning I shared breakfast with my very social daughter Monica and her friend Lilly. My son Pete had a sleepover with some friends and his friend's father dropped them off quite early as I was still having breakfast with my bib on for all to see. So as you can imagine, even if I try, I still eat in public.

 

The reason why I do wear a bib to eat is because after having had a very severe stroke, my mouth ended up a bit crooked, and my children's friends were so scared to look at me I had to resort to plastic surgery. It's scary enough for them to see my eye that never sleeps. Due to my stroke, my left eye is always opened. As you can imagine, this mere fact sends little minds wild.

 

So, as you can see, even if I try, I can't hide. Not complaining, of course. My children keep me very busy and I love it, in fact I wouldn't have it any other way. However, it is true that we all need time away. My lovely carers, and friends give me the chance to escape from my reality. 


Yes wearing the bib in public is humiliating for someone like me. My husband often says that's the least of my problems and I hate to admit it, but he's right. Maybe he is talking about the fact that I speak loudly for people to understand me, or he may be referring to the fact that I sit in a wheelchair, or perhaps that I am blind in one eye, or that I am deaf in one ear, or that it is very hard to understand me.  Yes, we as a family have had to adapt to my many ailments, but we do alright.


Going back to eating in public, it is very hard to sit in a coffee shop and have little children staring at me. But I have developed a coping mechanism. The way to cope with my many differences is to chat with the children who notice me, and often we end up becoming friends.

 

I grew up in a very small town called Castilleja de la Cuesta. This small town was a great place to grow up with my siblings. The only problem with small towns is that everyone is interested in everyone's business. People talk… and I think my big problem stems from that. I worry too much about what other people think. I'm aware of my worries, but they are so ingrained in me that I find it very hard to ignore them. In fact, I find it almost impossible. Another thing I do is sit with my back to the public. I figure by minding my own business people will not notice the lady with the bib. It's not quite so dramatic. Most of the time I have a lovely time when I go out. Even if I wear a bib. I just have to remember to use my different strategies.

 

Take last Wednesday, I went to do Physiotherapy with my carer, and since we were close to Wellington Point we had a picnic at the bay. During this instance, eating in public wearing a bib doesn't concern me that much. For a start, even if we are in a public place I feel people are less preoccupied with what other people are doing. It may be just psychological. Or it may be just like when I go to the movies, just when they turn out the lights I figure others don't notice me, however they all do. I can't hide, so I have to get over my hang ups about wearing a bib in public and just enjoy the moment. Like my husband says, wearing a bib in public is the least of my problems. I hate to admit it, but he is right.

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