Admin: A Candid Note About the Past Year

Admittedly, it’s been ages since I’ve posted – between a flurry of medical and dental stuff I had to deal with, somewhere along the line I got hacked. And bad. I closed the security holes they were exploiting, but cleanup after it all is long and slow, and requires going into each individual entry (and I have 1,100ish) and stripping out bad code. I’ve been working on this a couple of weeks now, and I’m still only up to September 2009. At this rate, I’ll be done…probably mid-August.

But I really need to talk about the elephant in the room. Even though my body has completely healed from the trauma of the last year, my mind hasn’t. I have been dealing with tons of depression and anxiety in the aftermath of what I went through. Even though life is slowly getting back to normal, I still can’t go a single day without reliving at least part of it in my mind. A lot of things have happened due to my illness – almost all my hair fell out, so I ended up shaving it all off. So much calcium was leached from my bones when I had malnutrition that I now have osteopenia (weakening of the bones, precursor to osteoperosis) and my teeth became so weakened that I broke two down to the gumline in the span of 4 months. Since these were front teeth, I decided to cut my losses, save the ones I could, and get the rest pulled before they had an opportunity to break. I did this with the intention of getting immediate dentures, but the dentist I went to was so bad that they took more teeth than they were supposed to and the dentures they provided me were unusable (didn’t fit in my mouth at all, had missing teeth).

All this to say that even though I’ve been extremely self-conscious about my appearance before this, now I’m so self-conscious that I refuse to leave the house except for doctors and dentist appointments. I get panic attacks even thinking about going out. I don’t even go to the farmers markets anymore, which is one of my favorite things in the world to do (Paul goes in my place, and is great about taking pictures). I have tons of things to write about – hundreds of drafts, literally. But I’ve just been so overwhelmed by negative emotions lately that I’ve been avoiding blogging because I don’t want them to bleed through to my writing. Many would say this is the time where I should stop blogging, when all of the joy I took in cooking/gardening/travel/going to restaurants is gone.

But that’s not it, really. Somewhere deep within, I’m still passionate about those things. I *want* to cook, to travel, all of those things. But before I can find joy in anything again, I first need to deal with the demons that are left over from almost dying. I need to seek professional help, because I realize that there’s something there that I need to deal with so I don’t become a prisoner in my own home, in a jail of my own making. I’ve seen what PTSD has done to my loved ones who suffer from it, and I don’t want to be an emotional cripple full of regret 20 years from now. There’s a price to keeping people at arms length – you save yourself the trouble of being hurt, but you also become very, very lonely with no real friends to lean on when push comes to shove. I’ve found strength where I least expected (by repairing the relationship I have with my father – the first time we’ve talked, really talked in 40 years), and found the courage to end relationships with family members who not only didn’t have my back. But I could have not made it through the past year without my sister & best friend, Maurya, who quite literally uprooted her entire family to move in here to help me out when I first got home. Her kids added joy to my life like you wouldn’t believe (and my biological clock is pretty much shot, with me turning 40 in like 3 weeks). They’ve since moved on to their own place, and the fact that they’re not here anymore makes this huge ass empty house seem even emptier.

The point being – forgive me for not posting often. Bear with me, please. As long as you see me on Twitter, or Facebook, or Pinterest, things are OK. I’m going to try to deal with my issues professionally, so I can figure out what’s wrong and fix it. I want to be better, I want to have confidence, I want to be around people and not feel uptight and self-conscious and uncomfortable because I feel like I don’t fit in, or that what I’m saying or my opinions are stupid. People tell me that I’m a much harsher critic of myself than other people are, but I no longer feel comfortable (did I ever, really?) in my own skin. So uncomfortable that it’s a barrier to living a normal life.

Food brings people together, I’m convinced of that. But I don’t know the art of conviviality. I invite people to do things, 9 times out of 10 I can’t get even a single person to go with me. The few times that I’ve invited people here, they either stand me up or criticize something about where I live, how I keep my house, etc. I see colleagues in the food blogging world have relationships with each other outside of public events, and I feel left out because I’m not invited or included. I don’t get invites to weddings, or showers, or anything like that. Not a fault on the part of the other people – I understand that it’s something about me that I need to work on.

But I’m tired of superficial relationships. They do take so much energy to maintain, energy that I don’t have to give right now. And I don’t understand the value of going through the motions when I feel like I’m losing ground when I try. The world went on without me when I was ill and afterwards, and it continues to go on without me. I’m still trying to catch up with the things I did in 2010, let alone stuff I’ve done in 2011 or 2012. It really is a lot to process, and I’ve barely even scratched the surface.

All to say, bear with me as I try to venture forward. Sometime in August, I’m going to be introducing a new look to go with the venture back into the food blogging world. As easy as it would to be to quit right now, I need to keep going. I need to keep writing to stay sane. You’ll see a lot more posts from Paul, since he’s going to take over some of the posting while I work through all this. He’s judging at the Rib-Off tomorrow at the Ohio State Fair on behalf of the Columbus Foodie team. He’s quite psyched about it, it should be fun for him and I look forward to his report of it (as he photographs/blogs about it, and all the other sights at the Fair, since I probably won’t be going this year since I’m less than a week post-surgery and still waiting on those darn teeth. I’m glad that issue will be resolved by the time Taste the Future comes along (more about that, soon – in the next couple of days I’ll be writing about last year’s event and offering up three pairs of tickets to be given away here on the blog).

And please, if you’ve tried reaching out to me before, but I haven’t been receptive, or if it’s some kind of signal I’m putting out that seems standoffish, please let me know. It’s not you, I promise.

Thanks, as always, to all of you still reading. It’s a lot to process, I know, and much more personal than I usually get on here. But I felt as if I owed you all an explanation. It’s not fair of me to disappear and not explain why I’ve been gone. I’m going to be blogging a lot of pretty old stuff, but I need to get through all of that before I can get to doing new stuff.