I really believe that you can’t be a good therapist if you believe you have it all together all the time. Most of us in the healing professions got into the business as a way to transform our own suffering. I know my clients know that I “get it” (for the most part anyway) and not only due to my training.
I’ve briefly stepped out of the Ballymaloe world to visit my husband in Dungarvan. Yesterday was only the second day on my own in the kitchen and my little second grader, as I like to call her, came rushing to the fore. She is the one who does not like to make a mistake. My inner second grader feelings (could be your kindergartner, first grader, anytime in your young life when you were made to feel embarrassed or ashamed for some reason), were intensified by the fact that I am accustomed to being in an environment where I am the expert. To step out of a system I know inside and out and to step into one where I am the novice…well let’s just say it ain’t pretty.
I have figured out that I like to get to the kitchen early and set up before anyone else gets there. The kitchen is very quiet and peaceful at 7: 45 a.m. unlike the rest of the day, I can gather what I need (a skill I haven’t mastered because you don’t need everything for every recipe there’s not enough room on the counter or as I would soon learn your butter will get too warm), and I can breathe to gather my thoughts. My second grader is also an eager learner but an impatient one half listening to get on to the next step. First up was the short pastry for my chocolate hazelnut tart. I must confess that as much as I like to cook I typically leave the pastry to my husband (as mentioned in my cherry pie piece), so I don’t have loads of experience. Trust me there is not a a lot of time to screw up a recipe and have to do it again (although who knows this could be my second grader talking). My beloved tutor/chef, Florrie who IS NOT the fearsome twins Father Weber or Sister Phillip Rose from my second grade, very kindly suggested I try again noting that I must have hot hands. “Try using the fork next time.” Downhill from there! Tears sprung to my eyes, complete failure, etc. etc. Doesn’t matter that my final product was divine, if I say so myself. After that mistake I cut my finger further exacerbating the tears, began limping from the ankle I twisted during my early morning run, and was on the edge of tears the rest of the morning. I had to tell Florrie to stop being so nice or I’d break down completely.
The point is, I knew my second grader self would show up albeit not quite so soon. Anytime in my life when I have tried something new she has. I deliberately put myself in this Ballymaloe situation from which there is no escape in order to work it through. This is not just about learning how to cook, but to further heal my “sore spots,” which hopefully will translate into helping others heal theirs. Some call it your inner demons. I believe it is those vulnerable places inside of us that were hurt or shamed in some way that we are given every opportunity to work to heal throughout our lives. But as Dr. Phil says, “You can’t heal what you won’t acknowledge.” Better to know that I carry my second grader with me wherever I go rather than to pretend she’s not there only to stick her inside of an otherwise divine chocolate hazelnut tart. BTW she was too overwhelmed yesterday to take a picture of her handiwork. But I am quite sure you can detect my second grade self in these pictures.