Monday, December 9, 2013

A Little Icing

We got a tiny taste of winter this morning.

I'll admit, I spent the day yesterday looking forward to it.  It was cold again, but I piled on the woolens and went for a walk.  I was feeling pretty pleased with myself until I saw the ads for a bike race--and all the racers getting ready.

Now that would be cold, a bike race when it's only 30 degrees out.  Nothin' doin'.

I'm pleased to have my winter walks back.  Last year, I skipped them, for the most part, because I was too busy and too stressed out to breathe, and because the places where I used to walk had become a bit undesirable to me.

There were people I didn't want to risk running into when I was simply out for an innocent--and peaceful--walk.

But that's the good thing about time.  It passes, and I no longer care about things that once seemed troublesome and depressing.  I've bumped into people I didn't want to see and not only held my own: I actually walked away feeling kind and strong and happy and generally pretty good about myself, so... the winter walks are back on.

Memory is a funny thing.  While I was cooking yesterday (more about that in a minute), I was reminded of another time when I was cooking--I was making pancakes, to be precise.  At that time, I had been thinking about how people I thought were my friends were making me feel.

Unpretty.  That was it, exactly.  At the time, I wished I could tie them up in my shoes, make them feel unpretty too.  Because they were oblivious, and nothing I said seemed to make the slightest bit of difference.

Looking back, I realize that I was being used, plain and simple.  At the time, it didn't seem simple at all.  I kept thinking it was a situation that I was responsible for and that I had to try to work out.  I know better now.

My dad used to say that some people can never feel big and important unless they're busy making someone else feel small.  I spent months upon months been told I was wrong and that I always misinterpreted everything.  I was constantly dealing with "misunderstandings."  I'd just start to think it was all behind me and we were all moving forward and things would be better again someday soon and all of a sudden... another bullshit email to deal with.  Another drama.  Another dinner-party invitation that was really just about getting the gossip and making me clear about the fact that, whatever I had said or done, it was... wrong. 

So last night while I was cooking, I remembered that one morning, while all of this was ongoing.  I was listening to TLC and making pancakes.

"If you can't look inside you,
Find out who am I to
Be in a position to make me feel so...
damn unpretty."

Although it would take me nearly two years to finally get away from it all, I remember reaching a mental turning point in that moment.  Nothing was ever quite the same afterward.

I started not telling these people when I was around, not making an effort to hang out with them, and no longer keeping in touch with them regularly, so that I could see how I felt in their absence.  (Pretty good, as it turned out.)   Did I actually miss them? (No, not really.)  It was a relief, not having to worry about seeing them and--more importantly--not having to always worry about the fact that they would make me feel bad (it had become inevitable).  It was a relief not having to expend time and energy getting over how they made me feel.

The odd irony was, they never even noticed that my attitude toward them was changing.  They misread me. 

I slowly started moving them out of my life, with a whole bunch of small-scale decisions, that were easier for me to make than simply cutting them out all at once.

"Never insecure until I met you,
Now I'm being stupid...
Why do I look to all these things,
To keep you happy?
Maybe get rid of you and then I'll get back to me..."

It took time, but that's what I did: I got back to me.  And in the end, I got rid of them.   By the time it came down to that point, it seemed silly to even consider them "friends."   I couldn't remember the last time I talked to one of them and felt good about myself and I couldn't remember the last time I looked forward to actually seeing them.

Anyway, in the spirit of getting back to me, this weekend was another occasion for it.  When the cold weather hits, cooking dinner takes on a new dimension.  

There's no better feeling than walking into a warm house after a cold day outside and being overwhelmed by the smell of dinner cooking on the stove.  It tells you that you're loved and wanted.  That you're where you belong.  It makes you feel safe and happy.

I got creative last night, to celebrate the upcoming holiday season, and made a pasta sauce with the tomatoes I canned this summer.  I added a length of fresh local sausage and some baby spinach.

I had some leftover whole wheat pasta (store bought) that I wanted to use up.  (It will give me an excuse to make my own sometime soon.)

So that's what I did.

It was a perfect way to take the chill off and to remind myself that, the times in life when we're made to feel "unpretty" will eventually fade away.

And the people who make us feel that way will fade away too.

If we let them.




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Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, "Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy."