Does your family eat together? Kelly Bruno offers an explanation on why it’s okay if they don’t!
I ran out the kitchen door with a skip in my step. It was my turn to ring the dinner bell. Dad was up the hill, across the field, and deep in the garden, weeding. My brother was building a bike jump out of a random chunk of cement and plywood on our dirt driveway. I reached up as high as my little arms could stretch and gripped on tight, pulling down with all my might. The sound echoed for miles around.
Soon, we all sat around the dinner table. Bowls were placed in the center to be passed around and the food quickly filled our plates. Metal spoons hungrily scraped the mushy mashed potatoes off from our plates. Mouths opened and closed, working hard on their steak. The words and laughter filtered through our moist, broccoli stuffed teeth.
“Kelly, close your mouth when you eat,” my mom said, then sipped her tea. She always taught us our manners.
Our dinner table was the picture of family values, “A family that eats together, stays together.” Maybe you have heard the quote before.
Today, I cringe at the idea. Not because I don’t like it, or think that it is untrue. Eating together as a family can be a beautiful thing: a time to come together, talk about everyone’s day, relax, and laugh. It can. Or, it can be a nightmare. A nightmare if you, or someone in your household has Misophonia.
Misophonia. Where every sound and sight through a meal can switch your brain instantly into a fight or flight response.
The metal spoon scraping across the dish, mouths opening and closing, the moist, smacking chews or crunch, the words, their sound as they mesh together with food being chewed, and even the slightest sip from another, just politely taking a drink: all of these things, these normal, everyday actions and sounds that we see with our eyes and hear with our ears, they each have the potential of destroying the very heart of that family value quote.
So for you, the family with Misophonia, I offer you this instead, “A family that eats together, will most likely not stay together.” I do not apologize. It is a hard fact, and one that is lived by many.
For us, we have come to accept that family meal times are times where the family can eat where they want, when they want, in separate rooms, with music and televisions playing loudly, and sporting big, bulky noise cancelling headphones. And, that is ok.
It is ok in this day and age to be different. We can find other ways in which to connect. We can go for bike rides, a hike in the woods, swimming, to a concert, and so many places more. We can connect through understanding, that sitting together at a table with food is hurtful to the sufferer, and so, we will not participate in it. And for that, we should be proud.
So the next time you are in the process of filling out that random questionnare, and the question pops up of whether you sit as a family to eat your meals, remember, it is ok to check, “No.” It does not make you a bad person or make your family of a lesser value. If you, or a member of your family suffers with Misophonia, for what you are doing (or, not doing), I say, “Hooray!” And, “Good for you!” It is ok.
Let us stand up for ourselves and our families. Let us tell others about what Misophonia is and what it means to live with it. Because the more we do, the more we can finally shine the light down on our own family values and ways. Let us lead the way.