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What I Wish I Could Tell the Girl Who Said, 'You Don't Deserve Good Food'

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It was three years ago. I can still picture it perfectly even though it was a moment I should’ve forgotten. I was standing with my friend who also has celiac disease and we were complaining about breakfast that day. I don’t remember what it was, but we didn’t think it was very good. Then you turned around. You didn’t mean to be mean, but it still hurt. You knew about celiac disease and you knew we weren’t gluten-free by choice. But you still said,

“You’re gluten-free, why would you deserve good food? You’re lucky they’re making you anything.”

I agree that we were lucky they were making a whole separate option at every meal, every day for the two campers with celiac and the counselor with a gluten intolerance. The food wasn’t great, but it was there. Maybe we shouldn’t have complained. Maybe we weren’t being fair to the poor kitchen staff who put up with us. It wasn’t your business to say so either way. But I can’t get those words out of my head.

You don’t deserve good food.

You don’t deserve good food.

You don’t deserve good food.

I don’t know why you said it, and I’ll never say it was just because you’re mean. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming you didn’t understand.

You don’t deserve good food.

You don’t deserve good food.

Whenever I feel bad about needing special food, or whenever my friends bring me a special snack that I appreciate so much, those words come back to me. They made me self-conscious for too long. I’ve had to realize it’s not my fault I have this disease.

You don’t deserve good food.

You’re wrong. I deserve good food just as much as you do. It’s taken me years to remember, but it’s true. I want to hate you for making me forget that, but I don’t. It hurt when you said it and for too long after that, but only because I believed you.

I feel bad that you don’t understand. I feel bad that you’ll go through life thinking this and therefore saying this.

I should’ve said something then. I should spoken up for myself and my friend. Neither of us said anything. She was recently diagnosed and you convinced me. I guess we were just trying to avoid conflict.

I hope that someday, someone will correct you. It won’t be me, but I hope someone does. You didn’t mean it to be unkind, you were just confused — at least, that’s what I’m telling myself — but it hurt all the same.

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: January 19, 2017
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