My relationship with cooking was weird when I was a drinker.
I would get massively anxious about cooking. For myself was bad enough.
For other people? Awful. I could hardly bare it.
I hated everything about cooking. I felt useless at it.
I had no idea what to do. And no impetus to learn.
Plus being in the kitchen meant that I wasn’t in a pub drinking.
Or on my sofa, also drinking.
Two of the most important and worthwhile ways to spend my time.
I hated it. And never wanted to do anything to change that.
And had I kept drinking? That’s how it would have stayed.
Because that’s the thing about alcohol abuse.
Nothing ever evolves
But anyway, I did stop drinking. And almost immediately, I became obsessed with healthy eating.
Because I only knew how to engage in emotional extremes.
And then because I was physically very poorly, and decided food would be my salvation.
I would pour obsessively over recipe books. Even when I was too sick to get out of bed.
Even when I did eventually get my body back to a place it could stand and walk.
I was too afraid to eat most foods.
In case they were dangerous and made me unwell.
Food wasn’t really about eating, it was about a fantasy lifestyle where I could pretend to be someone else.
I became a militant vegan, because I based my new, faux personality on women who write cookbooks and blogs.
I didn’t know who I was, thanks to drinking my entire adult life, so I thought I may as well pretend to be them.
I was obsessed with my vegan lifestyle for years, yet barely ate.
Then I stopped all of that, and just ignored food for a few years.
Everything I bought was readymade. Or prepared for me by someone else, because I knew it was the only way I would ever be free from this prison.
Then. I simply waited.
Waited until I felt interested in making food for the pleasure it gave me to prepare it.
It took years.
But finally I moved into a home with a kitchen I loved, and people I really wanted to feed.
Finally I saw food as connection.
Connecting to my past, by using my nana’s decades old recipe book.
Connection To my present, by bonding with people during food prep together and the eating afterward.
Connection to friends and family by making them gifts in the kitchen.
Connection to myself by finally having the confidence in my burgeoning creative streak, to express it in the kitchen.
Now, I’ve come back to the kitchen.
I can spend a lazy Sunday morning baking cakes and buns.
Or a Friday night making a roast dinner for extended family and inviting them over.
I can nip in for 20 minutes, if someone is popping over, so I can feed them fresh scones.
Or spend quiet time at my kitchen table, reading, whilst the smell of baking bread permeates the air around me.
There are no rules to the kitchen now.
Whilst-ironically-I actually use the vegan cookbooks now that I just used to read when I wouldn’t eat.
I also use vegetarian, meat filled, or any others that grab my attention.
There are no labels.
Just a lovely, bright, warm and inviting space that I love to spend time in.
A place that makes me so glad that I learned how to get back in the kitchen.