I need only to hear the word to become entirely skeeved out. Even if from afar, I (am not proud to say) I have a physical reaction which usually looks a little like this: all the blood drains from my face, I break out in unfettered sweating and, most certainly, a veritable near-tidal-wave of panic. Just the descriptor alone can bring me to my knees. Call it whatever you like: barf, puke, gooch, yoke, upchuck, hurl, retch, spew, vomit… in any verbiage I fucking hate it.
No seriously, my vomitphobia is so problematic, that I have wasted time, explored its deeper meaning with more than one therapist. (Usually this has been in a clinical setting, but friends who happen to have degrees have been subjected to my neuroses, as well.) A few years ago, during one such conversation, my therapist told me to “embrace the vomit”. Or maybe it was “appreciate” or “enjoy” or “admire” or even ❤ it…I truthfully don’t recall. Had I not had years of successful and fulfilling interactions with her, I most likely would have walked out, announcing her quackery upon exit. In fact, I am relatively sure I looked at her and asked if she was smoking dope. But, somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I sort of, kind of, in a way, knew what she was getting at.
Enter three o’clock yesterday morning. Jess, for the first time in probably 12 years that she’s awoken me in the middle of the night for any reason suggested she might throw up. I dutifully dragged my ass from bed, accompanied her to the bathroom, assumed the position alongside her (wait, who am I? I actually went in!) on the floor and assumed (prayed) it was nothing. All was quiet and calm…and then Linda Blair showed up. Despite the sheer volume and ferocity, she (Jess, not Linda) was calm, impressively quiet and what could only be described as matter-of-fact. Three tremendous boots, a few follow-up spits then she turned to me, smiled and said, in her best Miranda voice “I feel better now”. Once we were as sure as we could be that (what would turn out to be) this wave was over, she stood up, put her palm on her belly, turned size ways toward the mirror and announced that she looked thinner.
We gathered ourselves up from the bathroom floor and, after I checked for errant splashed matter, we returned to our respective beds to try to sleep.* Jess grabbed her phone which sleeps in my room every night (points for me for good parenting) and began watching something (possibly, no, probably) inappropriate on Netflix. I, on the other hand, lay back down and metaphorically pat myself on the back. I handled that like a real mom. I was right there in the thick of it and did not tentatively rub her back from the threshold of the bathroom door, eyes clenched tight, breathing stopped as I maybe might have with Harrison back in the day. Um, I think I actually embraced the vomit.
I understand and acknowledged that for my fellow vomitphobes out there this was sweat-inducing to even read it. It probably sent you running for the closest vat of Purell. You might even be trying to will away the voices in your head that keep taunting you with, “you’re next”. You can admit it. No judgment.
Three hours later: round two. Three hours after that: round three. And then all was quiet. My takeaway:
- It wasn’t so bad
- Jess is a champion shot
- I learn from her everyday
- I really really really really hope that I don’t get it
We are now a solid 24+ hours since the final episode. Jess is fine. Mom is fine. She’s watching more (inappropriate) Netflix in her room. I’ve showered. called Wegman’s, blaming the sushi, dumplings and sesame chicken. They’re sorry. They are giving me my money back. But aside from the $35 back in my pocket, I feel way richer: I might just have conquered the vomitphobia.**
*I know many a mother who would have brought ill child into the big bed with them for comfort. I, with only a little bit of shame, will admit to not being that mother.
**Special thanks and love to KB, HR & BS