I grew up with a niggling sense that everyone else always arrived in the same car. They seemed to have an ease with each other that I could never master and I was forever tweaking my personality to try and make it appear as if I was created in the same mould. It was exhausting, and repetitively unsuccessful. The unmade me kept showing up and my attempts to push her down became increasingly frantic.
I tried on personalities like other people try on clothes. I had mental files on funny, serious, profound, engaged – and would update each of these files with a furious terror that never abated. I remember, in my darkest moments, looking at restaurant tables where friends sat in huddled-community, desperately wondering how they managed it, and whether I would ever learn to fake it.
I believed I was broken at a fundamental level. I thought my life’s work was to hide it and fit as best as I was able.
Ten years ago, on thunderbolt realisation, I started the experiment of me all over again. Through the profound fear of being unacceptable, I held tightly to a spark of light that whispered words of hope – may be the only person I truly needed to belong to was myself.
From that whispering hope, I gradually found where I belong. And then I found more than one place I belong. I’ve ended up finding so many places that I don’t have time for them all. I remember my astonishment the first time I realised I have more wonderful people and joys in my life than I have time to fit in. I remember the stunned awe the first time it dawned on me that, most of the time, I really like myself today.
And a big lesson I’ve learned in the past ten years, may be the biggest, is that I cannot experience the joy and connection I crave unless I am also willing to walk through pain and upheaval. And that the only thing holding me back from treading that path, is fear.
I was thinking about writing this post and then, in a book I’m currently reading, this quote crossed my path,
“But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing floor.
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.”
In the spirit of a happy community I thought I would make a chocolate recipe! This came to me as I was collecting eggs from a nearby neighbour who has a farm, and laughing with her and her husband about something inconsequential and fun. I thought afterwards that there isn’t a car in the world that would fit all the people who I want with me today. Using her delicious eggs for this torte seems highly appropriate…
- 8 large eggs
- 450g dark chocolate (I use 70% cocoa), coarsely chopped
- 250g unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- Double shot of expresso coffee
- Strawberries, or other fresh berries, to serve
Preheat oven to 220˚C / 425˚F
Line the bottom of a 21cm / 8 inch springform pan with parchment
Lightly spray or grease the inside of the pan
Cover the outside of the pan underneath and along the sides with a double layer of aluminium foil and sit in large roasting pan
Gently melt the chocolate, butter and coffee until smooth ( I use a microwave on medium setting, stirring well every 30 seconds). Leave the chocolate until barely warm
Beat the eggs using an electric whisk at high speed until the volume doubles and soft peaks form when the beater is raised, this should take about 5 minutes
Gently fold half the eggs into the chocolate mixture until almost completely combined
Fold in the remaining eggs until just blended and no streaks remain
Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and smooth the surface with a rubber or wooden spatula
Set the roasting pan on the oven rack and pour hot water to about halfway up the side of the pan
Bake for 15-20 minutes until a thin, glazed, brownie-like crust has formed on the surface (the cake will look very soft, don’t worry!)
Remove the pan from the water bath and set on a wire rack.
Cool to room temperature.
Cover in cling wrap and refrigerate until very firm, this should take about 3 hours.
Serve with fresh strawberries to everyone who fits into your life.