Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

It occurred to me (probably because flu season has come and gone) that I haven’t talked enough about vomit lately. Since I know you are all dying to know (or are terribly bored, and this is why you are continuing to read) what horrible event might have triggered the painful crawl into my phobic behavior, now seems as good a time as any to spill the beans – or up-chuck the details, rather.

First off, let me remind you that I haven’t thrown up since 1978. I remember that episode vividly since I was staying the night with neighborhood friends. The entire event involved tomato soup, bed jumping, and a stain on the carpet that my long ago friend was careful to remind me for years to come that I ruined her carpet. To vomit is scary enough, but to spew at someone else’s house – now that is just horrifying.

But this monologue isn’t about the event that I remember most vividly. Instead, it is about an episode that I don’t remember at all. Perhaps I was too young to remember. Perhaps I have been blocking it out for years – and will continue to do so to avoid any unnecessary trauma.

From the time I was born until I was four, I shared a room with my two older brothers. Ray, the oldest, is just over five years my senior. Scott trumps me by four years. The classic middle child, Scott has always found a way to assure that he isn’t lost in the mix. But most of his attention grabbing behaviors were done subconsciously (which is still the case today), and sometimes circumstances beyond his control thrust him into the spotlight. He almost died at age four from complications from his tonsillectomy. The surgery wound sprung a leak in the middle of the night; he has a rare blood type, and the hospital was having trouble finding blood that his body would not reject. Combing the vicinity for possible blood donors, they were finally able to locate one in the wee hours of the morning just before my brother was about to drift off into eternity. His first words after the life saving transfusion were, “I’m hungry.”

My mother has always somehow felt responsible for my brother’s near death experience.

Anyhow, whether it was because of the near-fatal tonsillectomy tragedy or the silent triggering of an undetected recessive gene, my brother has had a propensity to vomit any time anywhere from then on.

When I was two or three, I discovered the truth of his “gift.” Apparently one night in the middle of the night my brother got out of bed, walked over to MY dresser, opened the drawer, threw up in it, closed the drawer, got back into bed, and continued sleeping. In the morning when I was ready to get dressed, I found the stale vomit in my dresser. That’s my mom’s best guess as to how I developed this phobia, anyhow.

Although the reality is that other events in my life more dark than this one are probably what eventually thrust me into the darkness, this episode definitely planted the seed. Plus wherever a major vomiting event happened to happen at home or school, I was in close proximity. But in order to move on from unpleasant life experiences, people have to cope with tragedy somehow. I guess developing a minor phobia is as good as any other way to cope.


Ch@ndy said...

Well said. For the record, I think emetaphobia is one of the less debilitating phobias out there. I mean, has anyone ever complained that you haven't blown chunks since 1978. I am betting there hasn't been a soul.

If you need more support than you already have, check out this site.

bluesugarpoet said...

Not many people like to puke, but a phobia is different. At my worst, I could be sent into a full-blown panic attack that included crying and hiding (and yes, this has happened in adulthood). So if having panic attacks and then being obsessed and preoccupied with the thing itself - whether I feel the urge, I see someone else in person have the urge or actually vomit, or even if I hear about someone vomiting or see it on TV - constitutes as being less debilitating, then I guess I am less debilitated.

I did like the virtual "support group." I could identify with their feelings. It certainly reminds me of how far I've come...what I read there is tame compared to where I used to be.