Family dinner two


The beets were my favorite part of the dinner – golden and sweet. I roasted with skins on with olive oil and balsamic – easy as pie. The chicken also turned out well, moist and tasty. I’d bought free-range, out of concern for chicken welfare, and I’d thought it was maybe a little off, though I’d just bought, but it was good.

The family dinner day was extremely difficult for me though. The problem is, once I get to a certain level of anxiety, I keep spiraling down into it and can’t seem to calm down. I did alternate nostril breathing, tried to meditate, tried to distract myself – still extremely anxious. And with me, when I get anxious to a certain level, I start shutting down, wanting to go to sleep or just sit. I persevered with cleaning up, but would vacuum a bit say, and then have to sit down for a few minutes.

Finally I remembered talking to a friend recently about his panic symptoms, where he said that at a certain point he takes a pill, and that really does the trick. So in the end I lightly medicated. Luckily very small doses of meds have a big effect on me, and once they kicked in, I was able to clean up and start cooking. I just couldn’t function well enough to cope with the situation otherwise.

I did end up putting my plastic cutting board into the oven with the darn chicken. First I put the chicken in at 500 degrees instead of 400 because the numbers on the dial are worn off and I wasn’t careful enough figuring it out. Then when it started smoking, I took out the pan and put it on the plastic cutting board so it wouldn’t burn the counter (yep, brilliant). Then when the temp was lower, put back the chicken in the oven. Fifteen minutes later, I’m looking for my cutting board. Where could it be? Oh no – I whip open the oven door, and see the cutting board is sandwiched between heavy roaster and oven rack, all melted together. Take out the whole deal, shut down the oven.

Move the chicken to another pan, then try to turn on oven again to finish roasting. I remember – oops, the oven won’t turn on for an hour once it’s been turned off – it has to cool first. Guests are due in an hour – chicken needs to roast two hours. Aaarghhh!

Obviously, not enough medication…

My ex-husband was actually very helpful to me at this point. I’m kind of hysterical with this list of disasters, so he listens and laughs, then kind of takes apart the bottom of the oven and fans it to cool it, and gets it going again. Dinner is saved.

In the end dinner was fine. My father was lecturing my son about not having a job, and pontificating, etc. But then the ex, who also tends to lecture, bust in with some very long involved stories, so kind of stole my father’s fire. Which was fine by me. And the family friend is very good socially and kept things pleasant.

I kept saying whatever I had to say. I refuse to defer or feel inferior. I will not do it. My father has arranged his life so that a lot of people defer to him, but I won’t do it. I’m not rude, but I don’t think his opinions are gospel. And having the family in my space was good, and having only a small part of them at a time was also a good idea. The whole dynamic was much diluted. After everyone went home, I felt quite on top of things – yes, I did it! I didn’t do anything to hurt myself by agreeing that I was inferior in any way, I fed them, so they were in my debt in some small way, I wasn’t the helpless child at all.

Today I was pretty exhausted. I still haven’t finished all the dishes from the dinner. But what the heck. Today was recovery day.

Art: Postcard from Holland, Josvan Riswick

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4 comments
  1. Nechtan said:

    Hi Ellen,I love the taste of balsamic dressings. My wife occassionally makes great baked potatoes and cheese with a salad dripping in balsamic. So tastey.The spiral of anxiety that you mention is something most of us can relate to. When it starts it feels almost impossible to stop. I don't know if you have ever read anything by Dr Claire Weekes. She wrote about this as being the first and second fear. When you realise this you do start to see two fears. First fear is the initial fear and the second one is the fear of fear which causes the looping spiral which is hard to break. According to her the key is in stopping it at source- ie by not reacting to the first fear. If it is of any interest to you I transcribed a passage from her book here which is better explained in her own words.Sorry but I had to laugh about the cutting board. That is the sort of thing I am prone to do which is why my wife is always looking over my shoulder when I am in the kitchen. I also tend to forget to switch the over off. The mind just gets so pre-occupied with other things.I am glad though in the end it all turned out fine and it sounds like you all had a good time. No wonder though you are exhausted. I hope you took a well deserved rest.All the bestNechtan

  2. Ellen said:

    Hi Nechtan,I'm glad you enjoyed the cutting board story šŸ™‚ We both seem a little absent minded in the kitchen…I've read your transcription now, thanks. I read one of Weekes' books a few years ago – got it from the library – but haven't read this one. Yes, fear of fear – that does seem right. I loved her book, but of course I forget about the good advice I read after a short while, unfortunately. But it's amazing too that her books are still so relevant even though they were written decades ago – in the forties is it? Floating – that is a good term she uses to get through anxiety.And blasamic – yes, a true wonder ingredient. Cheers!

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