I have a confession: I’m a germaphobe in recovery. I know it sounds funny… but I have struggled ever since I was in third grade, with germs…
I’m not sure if it started as a post traumatic stress disorder when my mother was raped and left for dead when I was eight. I remember the night too clearly, how she looked and smelled when she was found. I remember her only wearing a white blood stained Haines Men’s T shirt, and it being covered in crusty maroon blood and muck from a nearby canal, where she was pistol-whipped, and the earthy, irony stench of dirt and blood, and I remember being scared of her because her eye was protruding from its socket.
I remember my dad calling the authorities, and waiting with my sister, alone in the ER being very cold, tired and frightened.
I remember going home as the sun was rising, and falling asleep on the floor in the living room, hiding under a glass topped table that was filled with seashells. And, then, waking up late in the afternoon, and fixing myself a bowl of Captain Crunch, when a priest came to the house. I was scared he was going to make me see my mom. Because, honestly… I was scared to see her.
She came out, and I looked up from my Garfield bowl, my mouth sore and raw from the sharp kibbles of cereal….
And, I felt bad because I couldn’t look at her or answer her…. I didn’t know how to respond. I didn’t know what to do except stare into my bowl with its floating islands of crunchy sugary bits.
Weeks passed, she healed and became my beautiful mom again. The night was referred to as “The Attack” and I became terrified of leaving the house- and my mom. , I would fight tooth and nail getting out of the car to be dropped off for school, then I would leave and walk home after being dropped off. I’m sure this wasn’t easy for my mom, either. Being a mother now I can only imagine…
The school decided I should speak with the guidance counselor, a sweet spunky lady named Mrs Stevens. She was well known for her “cool tricks” like hiding quarters in ears and cleverly taking off her thumb, something I had only seen old grandfathers do until her. She would entice me with trips to the “treasure chest” on days I made it the whole day at school, and if I went 5 days in a row, I could pick out a poster.
None of it worked, and my attendance in 3rd grade was a total of 45 days.
At some point during this time, I became obsessed with hand and hair washing. It may have been from the weekly lice checks at school, whereas if you were found to have lice you were shunned and labeled by your peers for the eternity of grade school, or- it may have been the fear of contracting an illness or parasites from unclean hands, or it may have just been my way of dealing with what I struggled with internally, that my little 8 year old mind could not make sense of.
I washed my hands every 15 minutes.
They were cracked, bleeding and painful but I still washed them.
I ate everything with utensils, (even cookies and cupcakes) and my hair was always wet.
My hair was no better off… I rinsed it in the sink whenever it felt dry. I kept it wrapped in a towel when I was home, and kept it tucked under my shirt while I was at school.
I outgrew the OCD to an extent, at least enough to allow my hands to heal, when my mom started sending me places with small packets of “Wasn’t n Dri” moist hand towelettes,(this was before hand sanitizer was invented) and- the kids at school thought they were “cool”, so I would take extra to make friends with.
A couple years later, puberty hit and I was the only girl in 5th grade with breasts. This led to my hiding behind bulky sweaters and sweatshirts in the Florida heat all year long.Because, kids are mean. I remember the popular girls approaching me, patting me on the back checking for a bra. And the teasing… the torment… the embarrassment.
To top that one, (no pun intended, lol)
Someone stole my lunch every day, and the teacher thought I was lying. Everyday.
We all had to store our lunchbox on a high shelf just outside the classroom, and somehow, my lunch would vanish from my purple lunchbox daily.
My mom called the teacher, but she just said there was no way one of her students could have access to the lunches, and it wasn’t happening.
So, I started sneaking my lunch box under my bulky shirt, so I could hide it in my desk. I got into trouble, and the teacher began to check my desk daily. This teacher, who was my older sister’s favorite teacher four years earlier, became my worst enemy.
A few months into the school year I also got my period.
There are not enough words to express the torment of 5th grade.
There are not enough words to tell you how glad I am to not be a kid anymore.
Childhood is over rated.
So: being a germaphobe in recovery- I still wash my hands more than the average person, and I use hand sanitizer more often than I should. With recent news events… I’m sure more people “get it”. Today , my hands are not cracked or bleeding, so I consider my issue under control. I try to guard myself with extra hand washing and supplementing…. which is where these elderberry gummy bears come in.
Remember how I was GM of a health for store for 15 years? Yes… I knew about elderberry when everyone else thought vitamin C would be enough to support immunity. I knew about elderberry when the only company that manufactured it was in Israel.
Now, in the modern age of instant pots and amazon, I make my own elderberry syrup, and with that, I make elderberry gummy bears.
I purchase organic freeze dried Elderberries from Amazon, and utilize my trusty instant pot for making the perfect syrup.
The recipes I use can be found here :