Part Four of Four
Guest post by Che Ray
If you are hosting the family in your own home, it is true, you must take every precaution. Otherwise their stink will be there long after they leave. If they come in with stuff and it gets on your furniture, it will be bad.
Here is a suggestion: let them know in advance that before they enter the house they will have to be willing to have you test whether they are wearing anything that is triggering for you. Then when they arrive, if you have a good friend who gets what you are dealing with, have them first go to the cars of the people who are coming. He or she can do a preliminary test. If she senses something she can be the one to tell them what the problem is.
If you have sent them detailed emails in advance of everything they need to eliminate (she can even bring the check list to the car) then this will come as no surprise. They won’t be mad at you, they will feel bad. And that’s OK. That is the part of the learning process on their end.
If they make it to the front porch, you go outside and test again. When you first greet them, I suggest having your mask on. It will let them know right away what the situation is. Take it off briefly to assess the situation. If you feel comfortable taking it off at some point later in the evening, you can simply say, I am going to do a test to see how I do.
Don’t hug or kiss (they are probably wearing makeup that up close is going to bother you). If you detect anything again kindly pull that person aside and let them know. If might be something they can go into the bathroom and wash off. If it’s worse than that then tell them you love them very much but it’s against medical advisement for you to be exposed. They will have to leave.
I also like to emphasize that it’s not them it’s what they are wearing which is the fault of the manufacturer who decided to use a toxic chemical.
Cover the furniture in sheets so they can be removed and washed which will protect the furniture from absorption. If it is wood or metal or plastic it can be wiped off.
After doing everything you can, you should still wear a mask, allowing for some brief times to take it off to more fully engage, like photos, during dinner. If you don’t already have air purifiers around your home, you could get some.
I don’t know how bad off you are, so this way of approaching a family gathering is for people with a mild to moderate case of chemical sensitivity.
I am qualifying this range solely based on my own experience of being completely intolerant to moderately tolerant. I think the bottom line is that you have to try, while also taking all precautions.
You need your family. Unfortunately this might be a life-long thing you are going to have to figure out. This is also a challenge and opportunity to practice assertive compassion.
People interpret kind but assertive direction as intellect, wisdom, and leadership. They interpret angry and fearful pleading as mental instability which they will then use to question your medical condition as psychosomatic. None of this is of course true. Sociopaths are very calm. But this is about getting what you want and need.
What you need is to not be poisoned. What you want and need is to be able to spend time with people you love.
Another wrinkle. When some people get a bad hit (like me) it triggers a hormone response which can immediately make them angry and bitchy (me). So this enlightened approach may not always be physically possible, depending on what you are being exposed to and how your body reacts physiologically. And you might not know until after the fact that that is why you reacted that way. Forgive yourself. This is why I suggest having a friend do a pre-check.
I have had to spend many holidays completely alone because I live far from family and when I was sicker couldn’t go anyway because I couldn’t navigate not getting sick around them. If you have a chance to be together, try.
You can also go to someone else’s house. Why do you have to host? You can still let them know all the things the guests would need to do to make it possible for you to go. The advantage of going to someone else’s house is that you can leave if you need to. The disadvantage is that they probably won’t try as hard to adhere to the rules.
As recently as last summer when I went to visit my mother and sister for an extended period of time, there were fights and issues about this, even after 8 years of them seeing the horror and misery I’ve been through. There was a hair care product that they somehow couldn’t live without. I was furious (and it triggered my hormone system so I was pissed on top of furious).
It said to me that they didn’t love me, they didn’t care about my health, they didn’t care about me. I don’t think this is true. But I do think that in general people can be selfish and lazy. Even the ones who love us.
You can negotiate when there is love but you NEVER have to accommodate someone else’s selfishness and laziness. And at the end of the day that is entirely what this issue is about because a fragrance is never a matter of life and death to them but it is to us.
And if, for whatever reason, you do end up alone this holiday or some other one, don’t despair. You are vital to others in our community who need your shining light.
Reach out to us in facebook groups or any online support group you like. Maybe consider hosting an EI community in-person gathering and spend some time this holiday thinking about how you can do that.
We need each other.
There are so many of us and so many more figuring out they ARE us every day.
Sending you Light and Love!
~ Che Ray