I have mentioned before that my stomach doesn't seem to have adapted very well to the later-at-night Belgian dinner-time. This, without fail, makes me very, very ill. I normally eat around 5:30, 6. I do so because at that hour, I'm already STARVING, and it seems to placate my body when I feed it at that time. Given that I sleep earlier than many (and wake earlier than many due to my working hours,) I have no problems to speak of should I follow the biological signals my body sends me about when to add more fuel to the metabolic furnace, and when to stop. Things go smoothly when I respect my own biology. When I don't, they go about as well as hell on wheels.
Again last night I made the sacrifice for the sake of being social, and went and ate dinner. And, despite my incredible siesta earlier in the day, I ended up (yet again,) sheet-white, dizzy, shaking, clinging to both a bucket and the toilet. Disgustingly sick.
Some Belgians have implied to Boyfriend that my occasional avoidance of their dinners has caused them worry that I don't like being with them. It's not that I'm antisocial, or that I don't like these folks, it's just that I'm anti-dinner-at-10-followed-by-horrible-sickness. Invite me out for lunch, breakfast, brunch, tea, late night drinks... I'll happily accept. People don't seem to do this here though because... breakfast and lunch just aren't 'special', or something? Not worthy of socializing over? I don't know. My foreign mind perceives that it's really not an occasion if there isn't a middle of the night meal involved. The more special the occasion here, the later the meal, it seems.
Not even Boyfriend's mom seemed to believe that a person could become sick simply because they eat 'too late', despite our telling her it happened like clockwork with me. Here I think there isn't even the concept of eating too late. I realize that this makes me the uncivilized one, with my antisocial early-dining tendencies, and I've tried to adapt. Finally, Boyfriend's mom is starting to get it. After 10 months of my graciously trying to eat late (resulting each time in my being sick later,) she actually tried meeting us halfway by placing the food on the table at 7pm the last time we visited. She was truly pleased to hear from boyfriend when she called him the next day that finally, something she'd fed me for dinner had stayed down. Of course, Boyfriend's mom is one of the few who actually knows that eating late causes me problems. We've been very nice up to this point and not told other people that their dinners are painful for me.
Think about this for a second - this means I've been sick, regularly, for 10 months now... purely for the sake of being nice and not seeming demanding or antisocial, and of trying to give myself the chance to adapt. There are limits. After last night, I'm getting dining-anxiety. How can I be relaxed and socialize knowing what horror is to come later in the evening for me? I'm about to give up on social dinners with the natives. I don't think I'll even be able to be guilted into them anymore. Let them think I'm antisocial, I don't care. There are plenty of other social activities one can do other than dining late. I could have been doing one of those last night even, if it weren't for our stupid obligation.
I think I'm just going to get stubborn about it and tell people the truth. Let them deal with it. Although they may be perfectly nice people, it's still not worth it to me to see them if our chosen social activity results in my feeling like death in a housecoat in the wee hours of the morning. Other social activities will be welcomed, or other earlier meals of the day.