I don’t remember how it started exactly. One year I was baking Christmas cookies, and I believe our friend was in the neighborhood. He stopped over and the ex gave him some cookies hot out of the oven. Before I knew it, it was a full-blown party every year. We called it Cookie day, and I literally baked cookies all day in our tiny South Street apartment.
I learned something about cookies. They will draw a crowd like nothing else. Even if you don’t eat them, they are a reminder of comfort, family, and love. The smell, the warmth, the ooey-gooey goodness, it became clear that everybody loved cookies but maybe more importantly, the memories attached to them.
Cookie Day was something I looked forward to every year. I planned for weeks, usually sending out the invite months in advance. I would test cookies from September to December, so the final cookie menu had been fully vetted. Days before, I would decide on my cooking shoes and the appropriate apron. Cooking shoes were essential, usually a small heel and something that didn’t make my feet hurt. I felt powerful baking cookies in heels. I think one year, I even wore pearls.
I mixed batches of dough weeks before the party and froze them, so the cookies just needed to put on sheet pans for the big day. When the date rolled around, I woke up at 5 am to make sure that everything was decorated perfectly and to get the regular food started. We needed to make some regular food for balancing out all the sugar. Usually, some kind of beef in the crockpot and some dips hand-selected by the ex.
People quickly chose their favorite cookie and sent in requests – Mint Chocolate Chip, PB & J Shortbread, homemade marshmallows, Nutella hot chocolate, and the famous chocolate chips cookies without chocolate chips. They were Rich’s favorite cookies. He requested them and a peach cobbler every year. I would give anything to make them for him again, anything.
I made so many mistakes throughout the years on cookie day, like one year, I bought the wrong flavoring for the mint chocolate chip cookies. They tasted like toothpaste, and I was forced to throw out 80 cookies. Being my dramatic self, I fell onto the sofa in a panic. Cookie Day was ruined. It wasn’t. I just bought the right flavoring and made them again.
Last year though, was the culmination of all this knowledge and experience. The big event was going to happen, our cookie day open house at our new residence. It was everything I wanted. The tree was hand-selected, and many new decorations were acquired. I ordered special cocktail napkins and new wooden trays. Everything had to be perfect.
I invited everyone, and I made over 1000 cookies. That isn’t an exaggeration. I counted them. Over 100 people showed up to show their support for our new home and our new adventure in Mt. Airy. I planned for weeks and worked day and night making sure the house was ready. Three shopping lists and about ten food store runs later, the date quickly approached.
I cried that night after everyone left. To be fair, I was a little drunk and exhausted from baking all day. But mostly, I was so overwhelmed with the love shown by our family and friends. It was a beautiful and perfect day where people from all walks of life came together just to eat cookies. I re-live that day often in my mind. I didn’t know it at the time, but it many ways it was a farewell party. That epic day with everyone around us and the most cookies I ever baked would be the last cookie day for the Riccelli’s.
Goodbyes are a funny thing. With them comes a sense of relief and regret. I was thinking yesterday that I won’t have to shop, plan, and bake all those cookies this year. Then I started thinking about how I won’t get to see all the most important people in my life and their beautiful faces trying a cookie straight from the oven.
Why did I think about this yesterday, you ask? Well, I haven’t told anyone the whole story about the divorce, not one person knows all the details. Mostly because it’s not just my story, and I believe that to understand the entire truth, you need to hear every side, and there are always more than two sides. People close to me intuitively knew that I wasn’t sharing everything, so many people urged me to talk to someone.
I started looking for a therapist in June, and after calling nearly 20, I quickly learned that many people needed help because there were no open time slots. (Philly, can we talk? I’m sorry it’s so hard out there, but I’m really glad you are getting the help you need.) Finally, I got a referral from a friend for a local therapist that believed in a holistic approach and scheduled an appointment.
Therefore, I, Jodie Riccelli, told my whole story for the first time on Sunday, October 27th, 2019. Let me tell you when you say it out loud, your whole truth, it’s a release. Months of anxiety and fear fell out of my mouth at a rapid pace. Then I came home and cried. I cried for a long time. It was out there now, in a safe space. All of my thoughts and feeling had finally been verbalized. The feeling was familiar.
Back in July, I surprised my mother when she was vacationing down the shore. I hadn’t told her anything about what was happening in my marriage yet, but I also couldn’t wait any longer. I drove down early in the morning and waited until everyone went to the beach. Then I spilled the big secret to her and my sister, I was getting divorced. Later that night, we ordered pizza. I didn’t eat much, but I didn’t feel well, and I threw up all night. When I got home and told the sorry to a friend, she said, “You weren’t sick, that was a release.”
A release it was, and it happened again with my therapist, although not sick, I had that same feeling. Was it relief, or was it regret? I’m still not sure.
I’ve had some experience with therapy before, and I often will recommend it to friends. It’s essential to have a safe space to talk and vent. I talk a lot, through writing and social media and just talking really, but it’s always a version of reality. You all know I sometimes exaggerate, right? The information I put on social media mostly is an altered truth. That is intentional. How I post on Facebook is different than how I post on Instagram, and still different is how I post on Twitter, and don’t even get me started on SnapChat. I have a ‘personality,’ if you will, for each network. I jokingly say my best work is on Instagram Stories, but again there is a method to this madness.
The blogs that I write even have a life of their own. Sometimes I can sit and write one before the world rises in the morning. The blogs have been another release for me, and I know the universe helped make it so. Healing is a result of the ability to release the pain, sadness, and anger. I’m healing at a rapid pace. I still have a lot to work out in therapy, like why I always want what I can’t have and of course, that whole self-worth thing. However, I do know one thing for sure, the direct path to healing is cookies, therapy, and a release.