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Triggered by a Tortilla

May 31, 2019

Triggered by a Tortilla

On the way to a recent hike we stopped at a local taco shop for breakfast. Brian, my partner, ordered a chorizo and egg burrito. I ordered the machaca burrito, then poured the contents out of the huge tortilla into the bowl of sauteed sweet potatoes, spinach, and red peppers I had prepared at home.

After we each finished our breakfast, Brian asked for my tortilla.

Are you kidding? I didn’t eat my tortilla because I want to be healthy. Tortillas are made with bleached white flour that turns into sugar in your body, and all the research says you shouldn’t be filling your body with that stuff. You already had a huge, unhealthy tortilla, and now you want to use my tortilla to get yourself some cancer or dementia?!

My thoughts were loud enough I thought maybe Brian had heard them. As I slowly handed over my tortilla he grabbed it and finished it within a couple of minutes.

After he’d finished the tortilla I could still feel the heat in my chest and the knot in my stomach.

Why can’t I get over Brian eating my tortilla? Why on earth do I feel a need to control his eating? What kind of crazy person gets irritated by someone else’s eating?

And as it came to me I started to cry. I am terrified that Brian will leave me, not by walking out the door but through sickness or death. I watched my mother slowly die from early onset Alzheimer’s that took root years earlier, during her years of clinical depression.

Through that depression she neglected her health in a way that’s common in our society. She laid in front of the tv every moment she was home. Eventually she put a bed in the living room because she couldn’t get to the bed in her bedroom through all of the piles of paper and magazines and clothing. I rarely saw her eat anything other than generic sandwich cookies, potato chips, frozen pizza, or macaroni & cheese.

Brian’s love for tortillas was a gift to me that day. I discovered that I am triggered emotionally watching people eat the foods I hold partly responsible for my mother’s slow fading and death. I don’t want to watch the man I love disappear before my eyes. I’m also afraid of spending my golden years as a caregiver after spending most of my life taking care of my mom.

I can’t control whether Brian will fade away slowly in front of my eyes with dementia. I can’t control whether or not he gets cancer or any other debilitating condition, no matter how much I want to. Heck, I can’t even control how many tortillas he eats.

What I can control is how I show up today, and the joy and freedom with which I eat and relate to the people in my life. If I’m called to be a caregiver again, if any of my loved ones should ever need my help that way, I’ll show up then. And I’ll fondly remember the joy and freedom with which we ate every meal, healthy or not.