There are so many ways in which scars don’t show on the surface. Victims of abuse don’t always carry bruises, wounds don’t always come with stitches, and our mental health, something that can often be set aside so long as the body functions, can hide right in the open.
My personal experiences in my hidden scars currently come courtesy of COVID – both the suffering from it that continues to this day, and the disregard from so many around me. I’m not seeking to quantify. Instead, I seek only to continue to share how I work to move in this extroverted world now not only as an introvert, but as one with a fickle immune system. To say that Long COVID has made the last year and a half difficult is an understatement. However, I’ve often heard of the stages of grief, and I find myself now entering into anger.
My anger is directed at both myself and others. At my own body for not being stronger. For my mind for giving into the weakness. And to all of those others who downplay the struggles of those like me, for all those who still don’t view COVID as a danger, and for those who think it appropriate to deride those of us who are still cautious. Am I perhaps overly cautious? Probably, but when you live with a disease for over 18 months, one that even the top doctors have no answers for, you find yourself not going out for dinner, not staying to talk to old friends. Instead, you find your safe place, and you do your best to feel alive.
Last year, as I was getting over the first wave of COVID symptoms (yes, they definitely come in waves, and I’ve lost track of how many it’s been now), I found that cooking was my release. I would find new recipes, make up my own, and, all in all, find solace in the kitchen and my culinary creations. When I found myself moving from denial of being saddled with this disease and into anger, I realized I needed to go back and find that same solace again.
My first real experiment with cooking was in making a chorizo hash. I just have to say I’m not a fan of cooking chorizo. It’s messy. And I mean very, very messy. But that flavor…well it makes it worth it. I tend to make my potatoes pretty much the same – clean, cut, boil – then add in onion, garlic, salt, pepper, a dash of chili powder, and then the spice I can’t live without: paprika. Add chorizo, and it doesn’t matter if you had enough salt or pepper on the potatoes, the chorizo adds all the flavor you could want. Thrown on some fried eggs, and viola. There is little so rewarding to a cook than to know that a new meal turns out tasty.
Cooking helped me work through some lingering frustrations with my own lingering wave of Long COVID. Even though I’ve been on the down side of the cycle, I felt a brief bump come from knowing I’d created something worth eating. And that bump is what I’ll keep looking for as I continue to navigate the world around. But even if I continue to make grounds on my own inner demons with cooking, it’s not going to change my opinions of what all my extrovert friends are up to. I’m still not going to a giant birthday bash in the midst of a pandemic. I might not have gone even without the pandemic. I love my extroverted friends as much as my introverted ones, but there has to be a happy medium for how we interact. And the added stress of the pandemic has meant that as an introvert, my personal safe spaces and personal quiet time have become as necessary as the air we breathe. No doubt there will be challenges ahead as I reenter the extroverted world yet again, but for now, I’ll take my little island of peace, and my little victories in the kitchen.
Until next time