The gut is commonly referred to as our second brain. It’s true, our brains and our gut share some of the same neurons that can influence mood and decision making. In fact, according to the publication, Scientific American, ninety five percent of our serotonin, aka the “happy chemical”, is found in the bowels Our Second Brain. A fun fact for the office lunch room today. You're welcome.
That being said, I have always functioned in my first brain.
There we were, six years of marriage, a lovey home, a growing business with two adorable toddlers yet Marc and I remained at odds about his drinking. I continued to be uncomfortable with aspects of Marc’s demeanor and suspicious of his increased time away from our family. I was sure this was due to his drinking and became determined to “catch him.” I would discreetly tag his scotch bottles with tiny pencil marks to track how quickly the level dropped, I would rummage through the garbage and recycling bins to look for empty wine bottles, and I would insist on checking his breath after a night out with his buddies. I would yell and accuse, he would deny shut down. It was taking a toll on our relationship.
One thing I was certain of however, what was happening in our household would stay in our household. It was very important to me to keep up the appearance of a “normal” family, despite my gut feeling that things were anything but normal. If social media were a thing back then I would most likely be sharing posts of sandcastle building on misty beach trips, cotton candy infused outings to Disney on Ice, and holidays filled with Santa and snowmen. Not that we didn’t enjoy doing those things as a family, there were happy times, moments I could convince myself that everything was “fine.”
Keeping up appearances took a lot of energy. I was so tired yet found it increasingly difficult to sleep at night, thoughts whirling through my head like laundry on the spin cycle, what has happened to us? To me? I was pretty confident I was the only mom in the neighborhood rummaging through garbage bins while their kids watched Dora The Explorer in the playroom upstairs. If people only knew! But I made sure they never would because I refused to talk about it. To anyone. I just kept my anger, fear and shame locked inside, allowing the pressure to build until I was like a rattled can of soda, ready to explode at any moment.
During this time, I continued to be diligent in my food tracking, although more out of habit than anything, as what I was eating became very routine. The same general menu every day, oatmeal, bananas, spinach and cheese omelets, steamed broccoli, barbecue chicken, cous cous, salad, low fat ice cream. Sure, it varied a little, (I did go through an unexplainable Hot Pocket phase) but overall I was Bill Murray in the movie Groundhogs Day when it came to food so the strange feeling of fullness I felt one evening after dinner caught me by surprise. I felt like I had swallowed a big balloon that filled not just my stomach but my whole abdomen, up through my ribs, making it difficult to even take a deep breath. I chalked it up to some bad chicken and went to bed. When I awoke the next day I was back to my flat tummied self but soon after my oatmeal breakfast, my abdomen was full again making my stomach distended and uncomfortable. This went on for weeks before I admitted to the fact this wasn't going to pass and something was wrong.
It appeared my gut was done merely talking, and my body was taking more drastic measures to get my attention.