What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger… Except it doesn’t, does it?
Making it through with battle wounds isn’t somehow an indication of increased toughness, or bravery, or resilience. It simply means you’ve made it through. You still exist. It’s pretty self-evident that experiencing trauma is traumatic, and being traumatised is clearly not going to make anyone any stronger. It makes most people significantly weaker. People might perceive you as being strong because you have experienced a situation they could not imagine surviving, and perhaps you seem to function quite well. But people do survive, because they have to. The wounds left on the body and the mind are still there. They might heal, but their scars endure.
For me, the trauma of losing a loved one to suicide took its toll in many different ways. I know that in some ways this experience will continue to haunt me for the rest of my life. The loss of my brother will always be mourned, and my grief will never disappear – I can only hope that it will fit more easily into my life. I know I will have enduring vulnerabilities that may never completely disappear.
But some effects of the experience are reducing. It’s hard to explain just how much of an impact grief can have on one’s confidence. I read, somewhere, that for people grieving a suicide extreme loss of confidence is a common experience. Temporarily, I lost all self-belief I previously had – belief in my abilities, in my friendships, in my future, in my likeability. For a short time, I felt physically afraid of leaving the house and fearful of seeing people who knew me. Whilst I saw friends in the immediate aftermath of the death, once the shock subsided I put off potential visitors and shut myself away. I couldn’t imagine seeing friends because the pressure of being expected to talk or to listen or even just to be with someone was overwhelming. Social interaction was unimaginable.
But a few months ago I started to slowly reintroduce myself to a few close friends. And now, seven months after being bereaved, I have been out for a group social gathering and genuinely enjoyed myself. I didn’t have to fake my way through the day, trying to laugh when all I wanted to do was go home. I genuinely had fun. This was a huge relief because it showed me that now and in the future I will be able to socialise in the way I once did (there was a time I doubted any possibility of this), and it also shows how much things have progressed. People say you never stop grieving, but the debilitating effects of grief can certainly get better with time.
The Cooking – Raspberry and Cinnamon Muffins
This week has been hot – very hot. So I wanted to avoid any chocolate based recipes. It would have made sense to make ice cream, but I don’t have an ice cream maker and trying to do it without seems like a bit of a faff. I’ve never made muffins of any kind before so decided to try out this recipe from Lorraine Pascal’s ‘Home Cooking Made Easy’.
And it was easy! I’m afraid there is no disaster to entertain you with this week. All the dry ingredients are mixed together in a bowl, then the melted (but cool) butter and buttermilk are added. I had to make my own buttermilk using lemon juice, but that was simple. The raspberries are added last, some being gently folded into the mixture and some being placed on the top of each uncooked muffin. They don’t take too long in the oven, and sprinkling some brown sugar on the muffins just before they are cooked adds a nice crunch to the final product.
I’m not sure my muffins had a good enough rise on them, as Paul Hollywood might say. How high are muffins meant to rise? I’m not sure. But I know mine weren’t as impressively high as the ones you get at the supermarket. They were, however, just as (if not more so) tasty. They were very light, the sugar on top added texture, and the raspberry added interest. They’re not sweet enough to be used as a desert (in my opinion, though I do have a sweet tooth), but they would be great as a naughty breakfast or accompaniment to a cup of tea. Taster quote: ‘perfect balance of sweetness and sharp raspberry. It felt far healthier to eat than it probably is!’ Muffins, I’ve realised, are a quick and easy treat to bake at home.