Whatever you say to me, comes out of you and has very little to do with me. Virginia Satir
I've been wanting to write a blog about the impact words can have on a person for months now but couldn't find the right...well...words to convey my thoughts.
Until this morning.
With an eclair recipe tested and honed by my French-born Grandmother, I had the serious street cred to eviscerate my officious and pretentious culinary-inclined foe amis. But there was one thing missing from my arsenal to allow me to come out of the verbal skirmish unscathed: the armor of confidence.
All of those clever quips that my fertile mind has since given birth to, failed to materialize on my tongue. I reddened and remained silent. The conversation flowed on, leaving me sputtering with shame and struggling to keep my head above water.
Occasionally, I would remember the insult and consider concocting a sweet recipe for revenge. This morning, as I made the pâte à choux for the family I adore, I realized I have served my dish of revenge. By exorcising the demon that has plagued me every time I have made eclairs for the last twenty years, I am vanquishing my enemy. By not letting his snarky words stop me from making and sharing a recipe I love, I have had my revenge.
From now on, when I make my grandmother's eclairs, I will not conjure up the ghost of that haunting memory but will recall the dozens of happier memories connected with the pastry. Memories of the way my friends Lori Bacon, Kathy Galloway and Stephanie Gaveau Mounts (yes, she's French born) squealed when I would present them with a plate of my eclairs. Memories of teaching my daughter to make the vanilla bean flecked pastry cream. Memories of my son's beaming smile as he licked the chocolate glaze from his fingers. And memories of all of the fabulous eclairs of have eaten at patisseries around the world (including Stohrer, a shop that once made eclairs for Marie Antoinette).
And I will remind myself that my arrogant, unkind in-law used his words to make me feel small and humiliated instead of welcomed and cherished. As a result, he's missed out on me (and my eclairs).
Clearly, I won that match.
It was as I was piping the cream into the baked pastries that I realized there was a bigger lesson to be learned here. For nearly twenty years, I carried around the pain caused by my thoughtless in-law's words. What a ridiculously unnecessary burden! It was the same as if I had gone on a trip, exited the plane, walked to the baggage carousel, and instead of claiming my bags, attempting to take possession of my bags and a stranger's bags!
We can't control what offal spews from the mouths of others, but we can control how much (if any) of it we scoop up and cart around.
From now on, when some thoughtless minion attempts to poke me with his barbed words, I will remember I am wearing an armor forged of hard-earned, well-honed confidence. Confidence as tough as Tugsten. Confidence that is impervious to such trifling jabs.
I will remember that I do not need to carry their baggage. After all, my bags may be an entire suite of fabulous pink leather Louis Vuitton, but they are the only ones I am required to carry. I am leaving those other battered trunks on the carousel!
We must not allow other people's limited perceptions to define us.