One of my passions in life is cooking. I love taking raw ingredients, blending them together, and producing a wonderful meal. Usually, my efforts in the kitchen produce meals that are at least edible. Sometimes they are even quite good.
That was not the case when I once tried to make what I called ahi tuna Diane. I don’t think I’d been out of inpatient treatment for much more than a couple of weeks at the time. My kitchen was poorly stocked, and the parts of my brain responsible for problem solving and creativity must have still been in a fog.
I had bought a couple of very nice ahi tuna steaks, and Amanda was coming over for dinner. I really wanted to impress her with my cooking skills. Oh was she in for a treat!
Most of my meals up to that point had been carry-out from various local restaurants. Rather than throwing away the leftover condiments from my last several meals, I had begun letting them accumulate in one of the drawers in the kitchen. This “doomsday prepper” stockpile of condiments was as close as I’ve ever come to hoarding.
So, when it was time to cook the overpriced tuna I had purchased for our meal, I began to panic. How will I prepare it? What seasonings do I have? What if the meal tastes bad? Will my gourmet deficit send Amanda running?
Ah, the condiments drawer! That’s it, I’ll whip something special together using all those little packets of whatever remains of my most recent expeditions into the world of carry-out foods!
Decades earlier I had enjoyed a very nice dinner at which I had ordered steak Diane. It’s a dish that combines very thinly sliced beef tenderloin that is sautéed in a heavy skillet. It is seasoned using, among other things, mustard.
My meal that night was prepared table-side, and it was truly delicious. I’d always wanted to try making it myself, but for whatever reason, I never had.
As I mentioned earlier, my brain was still on the struggle-bus at that time. Somehow, as I looked at my drawer full of condiments, memories of that meal so many years earlier popped into my mind.
That’s it! I’ll make ahi tuna Diane!!!
Now, let’s see… mustard? Ah, there are a couple packets of mustard from my favorite Chinese take-out, Wang-Wang.
Wait. That’s pretty potent stuff. Better find something to balance out the flavor. Ah, there it is! Good old Horsey Sauce from Arby’s.
Yummm! This is going to be good. Amanda will be so impressed!
Still though, the flavors are a little over powering. Something sweet perhaps. Ah, there it is. A packet of honey.
Now, where is that packet of bbq sauce I threw in there the other night?
When dinner was finally served, I noticed Amanda’s nose crinkle just a bit. I told myself that it was surely a temporary reaction to the meal. Of course she’ll love it. She has to love it. Oh please God, let her love it…
She politely took a bite. Then another. My pride was building. Yes, yes! She loves it!!!
I don’t know if it was on her third or fourth attempt that it happened, but at one point she was raising her fork to her mouth and stopped short.
Oh Babe, I just can’t. This tastes really, really bad…
She was so right. That meal was definitely among the worse I had ever prepared. There was no denying the truth. Ahi Tuna Diane a la Kent was a flop. Just remembering the taste made me throw up a little in my mouth as I was writing. It was really that bad!
The problem was, I couldn’t admit to myself that it was bad. Bite after bite, I forced my serving down. I dismissed Amanda’s review of the meal. Well, her pallet simply isn’t as refined as yours is Kent. Yeah, right!
Leftovers from that meal lingered in my fridge for a few days. Still unwilling or unable to admit the truth, I held on to those left-overs. I just knew I’d find a special time to enjoy my creation again.
A week or so later, I disposed of those leftovers, container and all. The truth finally dawned on me. Ahi tuna Diane is not a thing. Especially when prepared using condiments that come in tiny plastic packages.
The tenth step in the Narcotics Anonymous program teaches the recovering addict to promptly admit when he or she is wrong. Note that I said “promptly admit it,” not “promptly seek forgiveness.” There’s a huge difference between the two.
By promptly admitting that I am wrong, I am taking responsibility for my part in a given situation. Recovery has taught me that I cannot, and should not try to control the response of the person I have offended. Attempting to control the response of another person will only lead to frustration. At its worst, such an attempt will end in manipulative bullying.
I can no more force a person I have offended into forgiving me than I could force Amanda to like my tuna disaster. Had I promptly admitted what a flop that tuna had become, we could have quickly headed out to enjoy a good meal. Instead, my stubbornness only resulted in both of us being dissatisfied with the meal.
When I practice the spiritual principle of forgiveness, it is not in an effort to find forgiveness. Rather, it is so that I learn to forgive others. I learn to set aside my pride, my ego, my determination to be right.
A side benefit of practicing forgiveness toward others is that forgiving myself has slowly become easier. I can look back at a life filled with “tuna disasters” and forgive myself for each of them. Also, as the clouds lift, and memories return, they don’t have to eat me up in the inside. Instead, I can experience a bad memory and forgive myself and anyone else involved.
Amanda and I often joke about that awful tuna. She tried so hard to like it, or at least to suffer through it. She didn’t want to hurt my feelings, but it was truly awful!
I’m learning to own up to the awful meals of life. When I’m the one responsible, I strive to admit it quickly. When someone else cooks up one of life’s terrible meals, I strive to forgive.
Have a remarkable day!