Dinner was thankfully almost over. This time of day was bad for me, I wasn’t sure why. Sitting at the table with my family shouldn’t be so uncomfortable, but for some reason I always felt anxious. It’s not like there was much conversation, and the lack of talking didn’t bother me either. This was more a physical aversion to nightfall.
I picked at my meal as my stomach did flip flops. Mom kept glancing at me, worried. Eating was making me sick. Every night for the last few months I felt nauseous after dinner. I was hungry, but after forcing food down, it often didn’t stay there. It concerned me, but I couldn’t fight it anymore, I knew I would get sick, and that was all there was to it.
Of course Mom and every other responsible person thought I was going through some sort of teenage angst, rebellion by starvation. This was simply not true. And as much as I tried to convince them, it seemed my efforts were fruitless. My explanations sounded more like excuses to them. And it only seemed to be getting worse.
My legs would not sit still. They were restless, my feet banging against the rungs of the tall bar stool. As much as I tried, I could not force them to settle down. It almost seemed like keeping them in motion made me feel just a little bit better. I knew this sounded ridiculous, completely contradictory. But by continually moving, my body was calmer, more relaxed.
Finally everyone was finished and withdrew from the table. I was left alone to do the dishes. This was one of my only chores, and I truly abhorred the task. My dislike was not due to the work itself, but rather to the dirtiness of it, the mess. The unease in my body was almost unbearable now, I thought I would be sick right then, unable even to make it upstairs to the bathroom. It felt as if electricity was racing through my veins instead of blood. My body was alert, restless, and lacking fine motor control.
I forced my hands to be steady and careful when handling the tableware. The first task would be to put away the clean dishes. This part I didn’t mind so much. Everything had its place in the large country kitchen; plates and bowls here, pots and pans there. I went about the task quickly but carefully. I let the energy in my body leak out by banging the cabinet doors closed behind gently placed dishes.
I was getting the coffee pot out of the dishwasher when Mom came back into the kitchen. “Heather, please, can you keep it down in here?” She was irritated at my outward show of what she took as anger. Her tone was warning, yet confused.
I didn’t understand any more than she did. What was wrong with me? Slowly I turned around to face her, the coffee pot still clutched in my hand. I was going to tell her that I was ok, I just didn’t feel well. I wanted so badly for her to understand or at least to hear me try to explain what I was feeling. Suddenly the glass of the pot shattered into a thousand tiny pieces. I was so startled I dropped what remained of the plastic handle I was gripping. It clattered to the floor.
We both just stood there, staring in disbelief. I didn’t drop the pot and break it, did I? Did it break – on its own?