It’s been a rough week, no month, er months? Try year. It’s been a rough year.
I set out for 2013 to have a theme: balance. Apparently my definition of balance is how the world looks to someone suffering from Parkinson’s. Constantly trying to reroute plans for roadblocks, stressed to the point that I would cry except I don’t have time to, looking like I got dressed in the dark, failing to follow up on half my conversations via text/email/facebook—this has become my new normal and I don’t like it. So I hope I’m not tempting fate by saying that I think, I think things are starting to level out a bit, and if they don’t, I’m going find a way to make them to. I’m not giving up on this. I still have a month left and I’m resolute about that…resolution.
The biggest challenge this year was this merger my company went through. Despite getting my official letter to stay on, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still feel uneasy. I’m sure that people will still be leaving, my study is in a state of perpetual startup as we add more and more countries to the list…there’s a lot to deal with. In order to cope with the disorder and uncertainty I fell into a rut. Work, Gym, Yoga, Eat, Sleep—repeat because at least that was predictable. But I also have been eating badly. I oscillate between eating nothing while I’m trying to get through the day to baking a tray of cookies just for me. Stress eating is a bitch. I’m working on getting back in order. Time for a few kale salads eh?
But perhaps most importantly I need undo my magic act and…re-appear. I didn’t just pull away from my blog for a while; I pretty much pulled away from everyone. It’s an aspect of my personality that a lot of people find frustrating. Friends don’t understand that when I’m stressed the last thing I want from them is, well, them. Mostly I just need to be able to focus, tunnel vision in, on whatever is making me feel unbalanced. It’s hard for me to feel comfortable in times of uncertainty. Unfortunately when it’s a HUGE problem, and I have almost no control over it, I get extremely withdrawn. I’m a problem solver. I like solving problems. If I can’t do that or fine something to focus on to fix…I’ll just shut down.
But there’s a less kind reason why I tend to isolate myself. I have found over the years that when I’m already stressed, the typical behavior friends will exhibit winds up agitating me more and I lash out.
Okay Olivia what do you mean “agitate”?
I mean I will inevitably be asked questions about what’s bothering me. Sure someone will offer to lend an ear but that always comes coupled with a mouth. So I get questions I can’t answer because if I could answer them, the problem would have been solved by now. Questions I’ve already heard and asked myself so hearing them repeated doesn’t help. Then there are the solutions offered. Solutions that 99.99% of the time wouldn’t work. So now I’m stuck having to explain why they wouldn’t work and the whole time I’m just freaking out more and more. Instead of focusing on something I can control I’m just being confronted repeatedly with the very thing I can’t fix. Aaaaaand there’s the pressure to make my friends feel like they are able to help me in some way…even if they are doing the opposite. Instead of getting a chance to recharge, I wind up spending more of my own energy focused on making my friends feel like they aren’t letting me down. I’ll feel like it’s my responsibility to pretend at being cheered up, because as someone highly empathetic I then take on the emotional stress of their own frustrations at seeing me upset. The devil himself couldn’t devise a more tortured sick-cycle carousel.
I can define what I don’t want someone to do but it’s a hell of a lot harder to define what someone can do to support me. I know I’m not an easy person to deal with. I require a lot of patience. The traditional “get a drink and talk about your problems” thing doesn’t work for me. Get me doing something physical; either making something with my hands or blowing off steam by completely forcing my mind to shut off because I’m too busy dealing with my body. That’s why I always love Bikram—the best days I can’t think about everything else because I’m too hot, too focused on getting my toes on the ceiling in standing bow, to think about anything else. Or ask me to cook for you. Don’t bring me comfort food—ask me to make comfort food. The last month, while I haven’t been blogging, I have been cooking and I’ve been cooking for friends again. Oh God how I’ve missed that. Making something with my hands gives me a sense of order against the chaos—and in that I find the balance I’m craving.
This recipe is from weeks ago but it was the first time in ages that I went into what friends in high school called my “cracked out Martha Stewart” mode. Risotto is a very demanding dish to make; there’s a rhythm to it. Or in other words…it’s therapy. It’s also some of the greatest comfort food in the world. This recipe is completely vegan but you’d swear by how creamy it is that there has to be butter or cheese involved, nope, just the slow, beautiful manipulation of starches. No matter what is going on outside my kitchen, if I can find the time to bring this dish together, well then I can at least honestly say that I’ve had a rice day.
Vegan Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto
Adapted from “Vegan with a Vengeance” Read more