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
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.