tomato garlic bread

Tomato Garlic Bread in Ten Minutes

“Yeah, I think garlic bread would have to be my favourite all-time food. I could eat it for every meal. Or just constantly, without stopping.” ~ Scott Pilgrim v. The World

For want of anything better to do at four in the morning I decided to have a go at making my own tomato garlic bread. Because I love tomato garlic bread and yet they don’t sell it in any of the shops near my house. It turned out surprisingly well.

Ingredients:

  • a packet of mini tortillas
  • a carton of passata
  • a bulb of garlic
  • some fresh, chopped basil

Method:

Step 1. Spread some passata over the tortilla leaving a little gap around the edges – I used about a dozen teaspoons full on each but it really depends on how tomatoey you want to your bread to be.

Step 2. Crush a clove of garlic and spread that on to the torilla as well. I originally tried making them with a teaspoon of garlic salt, that worked just fine but the garlic taste was VERY strong, I prefer the ones I made with actual garlic.

Step 3. Spread a teaspoon full of chopped basil over each tortilla. Or more, or less, or none at all – depending on how much you like basil.

Step 4. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 200C for about five minutes.

Step 5. Leave to cool for long enough that they don’t incinerate your tongue and the roof of your mouth before eating.

sunset over the flord

Everyone You Ever Love Is Going To Hurt You

“Of course I’ll hurt you. Of course you’ll hurt me. Of course we will hurt each other. But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring, means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence, means accepting the risk of absence.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Everyone you ever love will hurt you.

And you have to decide that you’re going to be okay with that.

A good friend recently asked me how he was supposed to get over his fear of falling in love again. His last relationship ended very painfully and he wanted me to tell him how to stop believing that he would get hurt if he let someone else in.

While it’s perfectly natural and understandable that he’s scared, the truth is that if you decide you’re going to love someone you have to accept that at some point that love is going to be a source of pain. Because anyone you get close to, however much they mean to avoid it, is going to hurt you at some point.

They’re going to screw up. They’re going to let you down. They’re going to do things that you don’t like.

They’re going to say something hurtful in the heat of an argument. They’re going to happen upon a raw nerve. There’s going to be an unfortunate misunderstanding. There will be issues with conflicting loyalties – maybe between you and their family. They’re going to forget something important. There will be times when they aren’t there for you or they make you feel neglected. They’ll get scared and lash out. They’ll do or say things that will make you feel scared and insecure.

They might leave you.

You might leave them.

And even if by some miracle they manage to avoid all those things eventually they’re going to die.

And, y’know what, you’re going to be responsible for a few of these things as well and you’re going to hurt them in your turn.

This isn’t just true of romantic relationships. The same goes for family, friends, neighbours, co-workers – anyone who plays any significant role in your life is going to be in a position to hurt you. And they will. 

Whether they mean to or not.

And you must accept it because it is the price you must pay for having those relationships.

Now I’m not suggesting that you should let people walk all over you. Or that you should tolerate people who hurt you maliciously or behave inexcusably.

But emotional pain stems from intimacy.

The things that people say and do hurt us because we care deeply about them, and they for us, and this makes us vulnerable. And so when someone hurts you, you must consider whether the pain and the damage that has been done to your relationship negates all the positive feelings and experiences that led to you becoming close enough to hurt one another in the first place.

Because the pain will pass. Almost always. No matter how much it hurts in the moment, and however much that scares you, it will get better. But in that moment when we’re hurt and scared it’s easy to lose sight of that, and to make decisions – either to end relationships or to avoid new ones – based on our pain and fear.

And as someone wise one said, a life lived in fear is a life half lived. We need to have relationships, we need intimacy, we need to feel connected to other people. Isolation and detachment are, in the long-term, far more painful and damaging than any pain that we can expect to be caused by our caring but fallible loved ones.

So you will forgive people. You will accept that their clumsy humanity is a part and parcel of their love. Or you will find that you can’t forgive them and you will move on. You will take solace in the rest of the people in your life who you have previously managed to forgive until you feel brave enough to forge a new relationship with the attendant risk of new hurt.

But the only way to inure yourself to the pain is to accept that it is an inevitable part of life and of love, to know that you will survive it when it happens, and to decide to be okay with it.

Once you have achieved acceptance you won’t be so afraid; you can put the risk of getting hurt into its proper perspective against how much you stand to gain through loving someone and allowing them to love you in return.

And that’s how you find the courage to fall in love again.

An Epidemic of PTSD

 “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” ~ Plato

When I was first sent a link to this infographic and asked if I would consider sharing it on my blog I wasn’t sure what I might have to say about it. While it’s about PTSD and I have PTSD the subject matter felt alien to me. Combat and the military are completely outside of my experience.

I went to an engagement party while I really not very well where some of the guests were ex army, they recognised the symptoms I was experiencing and took me outside for a cigarette and an understanding chat, but that’s as far as it goes.

The thought of having PTSD because of having been to war just seems somehow more serious to me.

I’ve also tried to date to keep this blog politically neutral and I’m aware that I’m probably completely unaware of a lot of the politics of this image, been as how I’m not American.

But I kept coming back to that first statistic – every 80 minutes a veteran dies by suicide. And in light of what happened at Fort Hood earlier this week it seems worth reiterating that people with post traumatic stress disorder, and other mental illnesses, are far more likely to harm themselves than they are other people.

I was opposed to the war but it seems to me that if you’re going to send people out to fight in one you should have a plan before they go of how you’re going to look after them if they need it when they come home. A much better plan than having one of them die every other hour at their own hands.

PTSD Epidemic
Source: OnlineMilitaryEducation.org

my cat Natalie Portman

I’m Not Confident So Much As A Control Freak

“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.” ~ George Washington

I’ve been trying to counsel quite a few people lately whose problems fundamentally stem from the fact that they have crippling low self-esteem. This tends to make them obsess about what other people think about them to the point it’s almost impossible to ascertain what think, what they want, or how they feel. It’s also led them to put up with some pretty appalling behaviour from other people.

As insecurity and lack of confidence are said to be common to those suffering trauma and/or severe depression I started wondering why I’m not similarly afflicted. I’ve experienced abuse, and judgment, and stigma but I haven’t particularly internalised any of it.

And the explanation appears to have less to do with the fact that I have a high level of confidence or self-esteem – I struggle with those things as much as anyone else I think – and more to do with the fact that I’m very unwilling to allow the locus of control of my self-image to exist externally to myself.

I don’t, as a general rule, care what other people think of the way I look, who I am, how ill I am, or the way I choose to live my life because I don’t have enough influence over their opinion to feel comfortable affording it any significant amount of weight in my decisions.

I absolutely hate to feel like I’m not in complete control of myself and my life in any waywhich is unhelpful for someone with a stress disorder.

This can be useful.

  • It means that my self-confidence is based on things that I know I’m good at and qualities about myself that I’ve decided that I like.
  • It keeps me from feeling self-conscious about the way I look or pressurised by media images.
  • It makes it difficult for other people to undermine me because they’re being competitive or trying to project their own insecurities on to me.
  • And I’m comfortable taking on responsibilities and owning my decisions.

But it also means that I’m never entirely comfortable either delegating or in accepting help; I’ve avoided going on proper dates because the point of the other person being there is for them to assess you against a whole bunch of criteria and decide whether they think you measure up; and I’ve had a tendency to view any feelings I might have for other people as unwelcome weaknesses.

I was, and still am, very proud of my independence, and used to get annoyed when people would occasionally mention it like it was a bad thing; but it took me a long time to realise that I was also hiding behind it. I was hiding because the thought of caring about anybody, getting close to anybody, needing anybody – used to terrify me.

I wasn’t willing to entertain the possibility that any degree of emotional vulnerability could ever be a desirable thing.

Vulnerability meant giving up some control – control over the relationship, control over how the other person saw me, control over my own feelings and the risk of getting hurt – and I needed to be in control.

I’ve had to learn very slowly and very painfully that creating healthier relationships is the only way to heal.

That letting someone see how broken I am and having them try to help me rather than reject me has been the only way to lessen the feeling that there’s an invisible barrier between me and the rest of the human race.

Ironically, softening that steely self-reliance and trusting other people has helped me to regain some stability and a sense of security. For the first time - possibly, (probably?), more because of myself than other people - I feel like somebody has my back, which makes life feel a little bit easier.

Although I still won’t be going on any rollercoasters any time soon.

 

 *the picture of Natalie Portman isn’t really relevant to the post, I just liked it.
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