Goodbye, Gluten

Posted on in On Our Radar by Lisa Grossman

A Love Letter


My Dearest Gluten,

How do I even begin a letter like this? I’ve been sitting at this blank page for hours now, searching for the words to express myself. What I need you to understand before I continue is that just because we can’t be together anymore, doesn’t mean I don’t love you. I do love you, Gluten. In fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever loved anyone quite like I love you.

I’m not sure if there is an easy way to break this to you, and maybe I should have done this in person, but you need to know the truth: there is someone else, and his name is Celiac. I promise you, I didn’t go searching for him, and when he showed up in my life, I tried pushing him away; really, I did. I wanted you, Gluten—you and only you. But Celiac was so persistent. Every time I pushed him away, he came running right back. I never had to question whether he wanted me or not, or whether he dreamed about me at night, because he never played any games. I can see you rolling your eyes as you’re reading this, Gluten. I can hear you saying under your breath, “You’re leaving me for a disease?!” And all I can say is, yes. Yes I am. I’m ready for that special someone who only has eyes for me, because isn’t that what love is all about?

Gluten, wait! I’m sorry you’re upset. I shouldn’t have told you this in a letter, but before you storm off, there are some things I want you to hear. I still have feelings for you. I know this might confuse you, but when I look at you, Gluten, I see the beauty that you are: that golden brown crust of a croissant, the cheesy mozzarella smothered all over your body, that crumble you flake all over those apple slices. I see your beauty, Gluten. But it pains me to tell you that I also see the things you’ve been hiding from me—the pieces of yourself that you’re afraid to share. I think you knew deep down that you were hurting me all along, didn’t you? Did you not love me enough to let me go? When I was holding you close on the couch the other night and buttered you, and we watched three episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, why didn’t you tell me then? Why couldn’t you tell me, “I love you, but I’m no good for you”? When I think back to all the times we’ve spent together, all those nights I’ve been vulnerable with you, cried to you, laughed with you, I’m also reminded of all the times that you never showed me your true self. And that really hurts.

But as painful as this is, I also remember all those incredible moments we’ve shared. The truth is, I thought we’d be together forever. When we first met, oh wow, Gluten—it was like fireworks. And over the years, you constantly showed up for me whenever I needed you, because I knew deep down that you really cared. My pants became tighter, but you never judged me because you loved me for me. Remember that one time that you dressed up as Newman’s Own organic cookies, and I threw you in the trash and spent all night thinking about you? I just couldn’t get you off my mind. So in the morning I fished you out of the garbage and told myself that you were unharmed because your bag was shut, just like my heart had been without you.

Men came and went, but you always stuck around. Remember last month? When that one guy flew home across the sea? You knocked on my door dressed up as a baguette, you braided my hair, you ran me a bath, and you held my hand in bed until there was nothing left of you. And the next morning, you knocked on my door dressed up as a croissant, and all you said was, “Surprise!” cause you always knew how to make me giggle.

I never would have known you were hurting me if it wasn’t for my nutritionist. It was like I went to couples counseling, only I never invited you to the sessions. “He’s hurting you!” she would tell me, and I just didn’t believe her, because I loved you, Gluten. Hurting me? He comforts me when I’m sad! He’s my companion during snowstorms, my muse when I struggle to get words on the page. I wasn’t ready to see what you were doing to me. “He’s like a chameleon,” she said to me. “One day he acts like an English muffin, the next day, he claims he’s linguine, and then poof! He’s a draft beer at the local pub! How can you ever really know someone that changes so often, so quickly, without warning? It’s time to admit it. You’re allergic to him.”

I thought she was using allergic as a metaphor. It took me years to finally hear what she was saying. I am allergic to you. Did you know this all along? When my eyes started to get dark and I began searching for doctors, did you hide your smirk, along with your secrets, when we sat together on the couch for our Netflix nights? You hid this selfish side from me for so many years, and now all your truths are being unraveled.

I guess sometimes, the things we think we can’t live without are actually the things that hurt us the most. I thought I couldn’t live without you. Even now, despite all of this, I wish you could be my unleavened bread at Passover. I wish you could be the bagel for my schmear, the matzo in my balls, but it’s time I let you go. I somehow confused your comfort with love, and now I have to find comfort someplace else. Celiac loves me, but his love is different. It’s a love that will grow and evolve over time—and if we’re not growing, then what are we?

Gluten, I know this wasn’t easy for you to hear, and frankly, it wasn’t easy for me either. I wish we could stay friends, but I don’t trust myself around you. Yes, I used to love it when you teased me, but my animal instincts will always prevail when you’re around, so please, give me space. I need to be free of you, Gluten. Gluten-free.

Lisa Grossman is a professional Co-Active Life Coach with an MFA in creative nonfiction writing. She has spent the last 12 years traveling to Southern Africa, where she has created and facilitated programs empowering women through creativity.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Join our once-monthly newsletter to get all the latest news & resources

No spam. Unsubscribe any time.