Deleting the Jello

How hard is it to mess up Jello? The packet, the boiling water, the fridge (right?).

As of tonight it has been 48 hours since I boiled, stirred, covered and placed in the fridge.

It is as liquid as red fruit punch in a bowl – not a single bit congealed.

And really, I’m not a bad cook. Okay maybe that’s a lie. I can make eggs. Toaster waffles (read: Eggo). Chicken a few different ways. Meat a few different ways. Microwaved hotdogs. That’s about it.

But Jello? Seriously? I can’t even make Jello?

During my marriage my husband always did the cooking. Not because he was good, but because he thought he was good. And I let him and his fragile ego cook our breakfasts, lunches and dinners for 10 years. Thinking about it, he was actually quite bad at it. But I loved him and it was important to him.

Now that I have to cook for myself and my son, and occasionally my parents and friends, I am forcing myself to plan, prep and cook meals.

And you know what?

I really enjoy cooking.

I never used a grill in my life. Now, I do. And I love it.

But it’s a change that has caused me to ask myself at least one time every day if a certain characteristic or particular fault was the reason my husband left me (today it was cooking). See? I still play the blame game on myself, in a very comedic and cynical way.

And when I come up with a reason that he left me, if flashes across my mind like a public service announcement on a billboard.

Why did you leave your wife? Not a happy life?

Well, good sir, the bitch was a complete klutz, and it drove me nuts.

It is my way of adding a little bit of humor to the unfortunate fact that I still care a little, and still wonder why he is gone.

Tonight bringing the story back to the Jello situation, the billboard reads:

Why did you leave your wife? Not a happy life?

Well, good sir, she wasn’t worth a damn in the kitchen, which is why I’m switchin’.

But it has made me think more about myself instead of continuing to point both of my middle fingers at my husband. I loved cooking before I met him. What happened? Did I seriously lose myself that much? Did I lose myself or did I simply delete parts of myself for the relationship? Seriously, how hard is it to make Jello?!

I am a very independent woman. I grew up in a hardworking family that taught me to be a a confident yet humble person, a critical thinker, a resourceful tinkerer, and a wary watcher. I excelled in math but still poured over poetry. I started working when I was 14 at this restaurant where I was hostess, waitress, dishwasher, busgirl, and cashier all in the same night. I have always thought I had a good head on my shoulders.

But he stole it. Or maybe I gave it away. Or put it in a drawer for safekeeping. Whatever happened, a lot of who I was got deleted from the woman I became in my marriage. And somewhere in between all of that I picked up some terrible habits that enabled, and even pushed, him to become a controlling, abusive person. I stopped trying to cook meals for friends and family because he always had the better flavor palate and yadda yadda. I stopped being excited and proud of my successes because they weren’t his successes and therefore not even worth mentioning. I cheered him on and advocated for him, all the while silently moving myself along next to him. Or rather moving myself along two feet behind him and to the right.

Was it that I deleted (the wrong) parts of myself in the marriage, or because I didn’t delete enough of myself?

As hard as it is to admit to myself right now, we are both at fault for where we are.

Or maybe it was simply a “bad batch.” Maybe I did everything as best as I could manage at the time.

Maybe we both loved as much as we could, in different ways, the only ways either of us knew how.

Maybe he is just a narcissistic jerk that will never actually love anyone.

Still holding out for that Jello to firm up.

But not holding out for any recalls on the Jello… or husband.