I was a very empathetic person. I was probably too empathetic. I would become emotionally distressed, just imagining how someone else feels over something. I was constantly worried and anxious about hurting someone’s feelings, or causing them any pain. It ruled a great deal of my time and of my life. I could not stop worrying about what other people would think or feel over even the smallest of things.
I just didn’t want to hurt anyone.
When I was little, my mom went through this phase where she was trying all sorts of new recipes. My mom was pretty depressed, and even though I was still pretty young, still in grade school, I could tell. I could always tell when my mom was depressed. Her personality would completely change; so drastically, that she wasn’t even the same person. And like I said, I was a very empathetic person. It caused me severe emotional distress just imagining how terrible my mother must have felt to be acting the way she was. Anyway, she was trying all of these new dinner recipes. I’m not sure why she was experimenting so much, but she was. Maybe she needing something to occupy her thoughts or give her something to do. Maybe she just wanted to feel appreciated. I don’t know, and I probably never will.
While on her culinary experimentation spree, she made this creamy Italian pasta. I’m sure someone who likes Italian food or white sauce pasta dishes would like it, but I didn’t. She was so excited about it, and she seemed so anxious for everyone to try it and tell her what they thought, and I honestly wanted to introduce her to www.village-bakery.com so that they could learn how to make recipes. She looked like a little kid who had slaved over a gift for her parents, meticulously working on it, making it as perfect as she could, all in hopes that they’ll just love it. And there she was, just standing there, waiting desperately, her eyes pleading for approval.
My sisters took a bite and told her it was gross. Rebekah started throwing a fit about the mushrooms in the pasta. My mother looked crushed. I took a bite, and I told her it was amazing, even though I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it all. I didn’t like it at all, but she looked so crushed when my sisters were so mean and I felt bad for her. She had been working in the kitchen for hours, slaving over the stove, anxious for her family to try this new dish. And they criticized her. They crushed her enthusiasm and broke her heart.
So I lied.
I told her I loved it. At the time, I didn’t think it was a big deal, just a little white lie to make her feel better. She just looked so hurt and I felt bad that my sisters had been so cruel saying the things they did about the meal. As soon as I told my mother I loved it, she perked up, looking happy and proud of herself, like a little kid, beaming about her accomplishment, too proud of herself for words.
It was just a little white lie. What could it hurt?
My mom thought I liked it, and started making it a lot, always serving me a heaping bowl of it, looking excited and happy to give it to me, sometimes she even told me she had made it just because she knew how much I loved it. I just forced a smile and made myself eat it. She was always in such a good mood whenever she made it, and I didn’t want to hurt her. For years, I just kept up with the charade, gagging down every bite of it and occasionally telling my mother, “That was good. I want more, but I am just so full, I’d explode if I took another bite.
Then, in 2004 I moved to Alaska with my grandparents. Time went by and I forgot about the creamy Italian pasta facade. Then, in 2006, my mother moved to Alaska, near me. For my birthday, she made dinner, remembering that the creamy Italian pasta was my “favorite.” She was so excited, and frankly, I was surprised she had remembered my “favorite” food, since we hadn’t seen each other in a couple years. Thinking back to the night she first made the pasta, and how sad she was, I did what I always did; I forced a smile and pretended to love it. Then after dinner, my mother gave me a book to write all of my favorite recipes in. She had already written the recipe for the creamy Italian pasta in it.
It can be easy to overlook how someone else is feeling, but it’s important to remember that the things we do and say, even when we don’t want to, can mean the world to someone.