Today, I am going to share with you all the one and only skeleton in my closet. Such a skeleton that I had to share it with my family and friends individually, because I was so afraid that they were going to be upset with me that I betrayed their trust by keeping up this lie.
Are you ready?
For the last 30ish years, I have lived my life eating really spicy food and proclaiming that I didn't feel the heat on my tongue - that I must be 'missing' those taste buds. I would be tested by every new friend over a plate of super spicy thai noodles or by party goers standing over the super spicy salsa at the snack table - all eyes on me while I chomp down a thai chili or a chunk of jalapeno to prove that I wasn't even bothered...
If you haven't caught my drift - therein lies the lie. I have always been able to feel the heat, down to every last ass-burning bite. I have just acted my fool head off to keep up this outrageous thought that I let everyone believe... my ENTIRE life. Until recently.
Why in the world would I come to such a fable, you ask? And why keep it up for so long? Well, as I would hope you would imagine, it all started with the most endearing of intentions. Looking back, I want to give my little self the biggest hug because it was quite the caring notion. When I was probably around 5 years old, my parents and I were at our favorite Mexican restaurant in Northern California, Cafe Delicias (for any NorCal readers, if you haven't been to this heavenly authentic restaurant, it's a must). When you sit down, as per usual, you are brought chips and a mild salsa and an extra salsa dish. At your table is a ketchup bottle with their homemade super hot salsa... this is what the extra dish is for. My parents would always indulge in the spicy salsa, but the tiniest amount - literally a corner of their chip would go in before they loaded up with the fresh pico de gallo. One day at this tiny age, I grabbed a chip and went all in, in the hot stuff... full dip. My dad immediately tried to stop me with worry that I had way too much on my chip and I was going to burn my mouth, to which I replied by eating the chip and saying, "I'm like grandpa! See! I can eat spicy things and it doesn't bother me!" (Even though my mouth was on fire). You see, one of my favorite stories that my dad tells about his dad (who passed away when I was 2 years old), is that he remembers him loading up every dish he could with Louisiana Hot Sauce and LOVING it. And because I knew my dad missed him, I saw this as the perfect opportunity to be just like grandpa so he felt connected to him! All of this going on in my tiny little mind.
Cut to the years passing by and every time the subject of spicy things would come up, or a spicy dish or dip would cross my path, I had to stick to this fable because if my mom and dad found this trait to be an endearing genetic part of me and they didn't know the truth, I had to tell everyone I knew so I never got caught in the lie. Now really think about that - for just under 30 years, this spicy food lovin gal had to act every. single. time. I had to withhold myself when people were in awe, I had to dodge questions as to why my head was sweating bullets but my mouth wasn't on fire (well surely, I told you it's because it's an issue with my taste buds, not anything else! Duh!) I was never able to comment on my food and say "Woo! This is spicy!" I can't tell you how many jalapenos I ate in my twenties to prove myself until I finally realized I could tell people it messed with my stomach too much, to get out of having to do it. Everyone I met was totally floored, friends and family would even tell people they knew when I wasn't around because they loved this fun fact so much. I get it! It was like the party trick of all party tricks - so much cooler than a double jointed shoulder or being able to wiggle your ears (though I find both very impressive).
So what made me come clean? Honestly, my first move was to tell my husband Mike because we're so damn open and honest with each other, I couldn't believe I had this huge fib hanging over my head, and I was tired of keeping it together (we both love spicy food, it was exhausting). If you know me personally, you know I like to set up a story (to a very lengthy fault, sorry friends), so once I had finally revealed that the skeleton in my closet was that I could really feel the heat with spicy food, he was incredibly relieved that my big lie wasn't that I had been cheating or falling out of love with him. He laughed, I laughed, then I cried - I couldn't believe, as well as he couldn't believe, that I had altered my life so much to uphold a thought in my head, and saying it out loud made that fact REALLY REAL. At that point I still professed that I was going to keep it quiet from the rest of the world, especially my dad, because I couldn't imagine breaking his heart that this connection between me and grandpa wasn't real. But after several months of hemming and hawing, as well as Mike encouraging me to finish the job, I did it. I called dad first, and though I'm sure you're all on the edge of your seat wondering what his big reaction was, he didn't even really remember what I was referring to! Mind you, I never brought up the subject if I didn't have to because I felt so guilty, and dad and I rarely eat spicy things together, so 15 years of being out of the house, this trait was no longer in his reality. And to top it off, he tenderly pointed out that his dad was always able to feel the heat, he just LOVED it! But in my tiny mind when I told the fib, I couldn't imagine anyone liking to have their mouth on fire like my gramps so surely he just couldn't feel it! Lawdy lawd. The next few weeks was an unfolding of telling more family and friends, all to which I built the story up way too much and they burst out in laughter when the truth came out. What a relief.
Are you wondering why I've told you this story? Well, for one, considering our very trying times, I thought you might find it a light read. But more seriously, I would like to point out to you that when I was tiny, I was doing the best that I could with the thinking I had going through my mind in that split second moment of eating a bunch of spicy salsa and I took the opportunity to connect with my dad who I adored. Each year after, I had this belief in my head (a THOUGHT) that I had to carry on this story as if it defined me or else I may hurt someone's feelings for not being truthful (ANOTHER THOUGHT!) And any time I had the urge to just blurt it out, I would have pictures in my head of what everyone's reaction would be... stunned, upset, saying that I was a liar and what else have I lied about.. seriously! Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts!
The lesson is, our thoughts run deep, and more than likely if they don't feel good to you when you think them, they aren't for you anymore. And on top of that, more than likely they aren't important to anyone else either because we're all caught up in our own reality trying to survive life with the thinking available to us every moment of every day!
So here's to you turning over old thoughts in your head, and here's to me being able to forevermore proclaim "Woo! This is spicy!"
All my love and see you next week~