Tag: baking

The peculiar significance of treacle

Every year I forget how evocative certain Christmas smells are. Not just the more obvious things like candles and oranges and mincemeat and brandy, but certain specifics. It was black treacle and spices the other day, as I was making gingerbread dough. Suddenly as I counted out the syrupy spoonfuls I was taken back to being stood in front of another cooker, aged maybe 7, stirring the pan dissolving the sugars, with my mother watching. Chain smoking, of course. A knot of emotions expanded inside me as they did then. Excitement for Christmas. Some kind of enjoyment of doing a grown up thing. Delight at wanting to make pretty biscuits. Wanting to get it right and please my mother…. well, the desperate need to get it right, impeccably following the process she had shown me. That meant tenterhooks and anxiety and churning emotions, too often teetering on the edge of me ruining everything again (I thought). One mistake, one deviation from her instructions, her watching would explode into anger, ridicule, accusations and threats. Hours of shouting and violence would follow. And everything, I had made her do, and each time I’d have that sick terror inside that this time it was over and the threats were being fulfilled. Looking back and seeing how little was needed to tip us into that disaster, it’s bizarre. Laying a biscuit onto the baking tray in the “wrong” way (ie not the precise arrangement she required), not getting the bow on a package right fast enough, touching the wrong switch on the oven – even simply letting any of my anxiety show. It sounds almost as if it should be funny. But it isn’t funny when someone has you isolated, under their power and in fear; not in fear of them but in fear of yourself. Because one sure thing to me at the time was that it was my fault.

So, standing there measuring the treacle it all came back. As I’ve been making the biscuits over the last day or so, I keep being catapulted into so many emotions and suddenly reliving snatches of good and bad … And to tell the truth I’ve been pulled into the bad too much. Exhausted.

I’m fighting it, because there’s no way my abuser’s having this Christmas. This Christmas is for God and the present and my fiancé and it’s about all the good we can do and are thankful for today. I speak briefly, quietly to God as I roll the dough, cut, bake , ice, package these cookies. I’m pushing through the dissociation to do all I can to hope for this Christmas and for every flashback find twice as much I’m thankful for today.

Ginny xxx

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An evening of baking

What a week it’s been. I feel frazzled. Every day my anxiety has been hitting hard and every challenge exhausting, needing rest and feeling every chance for it is snatched away by the next problem. Therapy was really hard today and I’m very worried for someone else in my group. I told the PD Service and I don’t think they heard or recognise the danger I can see so clear and imminent for the person.

It’s Advent. It’s a precious time. It’s slipping away from me so fast. I really need stillness, to acknowledge what I’m feeling and to draw close to God in prayer. Every day passes and I have the same weaknesses and struggles.

Tonight part of me wants to curl up and escape – but I’m baking because some friends from my old job are coming for coffee tomorrow morning. I put some Christmas carols on and feel a little bit of peace creeping into my heart in the simple repetitive tasks.

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Ginny xxx

 

A visit to my goddaughters

A visit to my goddaughters

This Palm Sunday weekend has been a special one. The last couple of days, I have been staying with my goddaughters’ family. They are several hours away by coach so I do not get to visit as often as we might all like, partly as I am very anxious about travelling and my physical pain exacerbated makes the journey tiring too. Visits have always been a blessed time. My goddaughters’ mum L. is my closest friend and when I was at college, I lived with her and her family in holidays when I was unable to live with my own. Though a long while may go between times we see each other at the moment, we stay close in friendship and prayer for each other and don’t seem to lose the closeness despite the geographical distance.

L. is a very non-judgemental person, extremely compassionate and reflective, talented especially in work, study and music, selfless and giving, gentle and sensitive to others and extremely accepting. I am so thankful, in recent years especially, that she accepts me however I am, whatever I cannot do, whatever I’m feeling, however rubbish I feel. She makes it okay. I dare to tell her more than any other friend how I really feel.

My goddaughters bring abounding energy and a lot of happiness. Everything is exciting and new. They ask questions that make me smile and open my eyes to notice and be mindful. They find purpose and feeling in every moment.

We made cookies and iced them. This took several stages through the day and a lot of floury stickiness along the way – mixing, forming the dough, kneading in dried fruits and peel, waiting, rolling out the dough, cutting shapes, building new ones, then finally icing. We coloured. We went to the soft play centre. We read books. We played with the inevitable Peppa Pig Princess Palace. We went to Mass for Palm Sunday of Our Lord’s Passion. I got to watch my eldest goddaughter in her very first ballet show where she danced as a twinkling star.

I’m thankful. My heart melted to see happy eyes, smiling faces, hands outstretched to me for a hug, genuinely and fully pleased to see me, which astounded me. Their trust and unreserved enjoyment found me deeper within and for once I did not feel as though I was only watching from the outside and for a while, the real was stronger and louder than the voices and the noise in my head. I truly am blessed by my wonderful friends in this family.

Tomorrow morning I go home. This weekend is a gift I will carry with me. I am so thankful and so fortunate to be cared about and welcomed and loved in this way.

Ginny xxx