Thursday, April 14, 2022

A cup of tea

 I have recently started listening to Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole by Susan Cain on the recommendation of Brene Brown.  The entire concept of being able to be whole when we are able to experience the sweetness of life along with the bitter really speaks to my soul.  It was in listening to the first chapter that I had a realization about my relationship with tea, the actual drink.

So I have been a long-time hot tea drinker, mostly herbal teas given to me by my Mexican grandmother to obtain healing of one kind or another.  Because it was my grandmother that gave me tea when I was hurting or sick, a cup of hot tea represents caring to me.  Now before this moment I wasn't aware of this connection but it's importance comes into play later so keep reading :)

When I was in college, I became fast friends with a fellow tea drinker.  She came from a British family and of course tea is a big thing in that culture.  When we were in college, she and I would go to the opera and enjoy fancy tea together afterwards. After college when we would get together, we always shared a cup of tea.  She found an amazing blend of Lavender and Earl Grey.  I absolutely loved it and the conversation we would have while drinking tea together.  And then after a very hurtful attacking email, the friendship was over.  On the verge of becoming a mother, my friend attacked my entire way of life.  I lost a friend but I also lost my deep love of tea and the ritual of sharing tea with a friend.  For about 10 years I couldn't stomach the idea of drinking Lavender Earl Grey because the pain was just so deep in my soul.

So a few years back, I met a new friend who is a tea drinker.  Now, in the last almost 12 years since I have been back in Texas, I had all but given up tea in favor of coffee.  It seemed all of my friends were coffee drinkers so outside of the occasional London Fog, I drank fancy coffee drinks.  It is uncomfortable to be the tea drinker among coffee drinkers and compounded by the bitter memories around tea, I saved tea for when I was alone.  I had all but completely stopped drinking tea if I was with anyone.  

Then this new tea drinker in my life.  A massive tea collection to rival any serious tea drinkers stash. This new tea stash to drink my way through if I allow myself to enjoy tea with someone again. 

I guess it has been a couple of weeks now, I was handed a cup of tea.  This cup of tea was perfect.  The perfect temperature.  The perfect brew time.  The perfect amount of sugar.  The perfect amount of cream.  I didn't have to ask for anything.  The perfect cup of tea handed to me just because.  

Part of the start of Bittersweet is analyzing your heart for its base longing.  What is that thing you long for?  That thing you need?  For me, at my core it is to be taken care of, to be shown care without an exchange.  To be loved and careful just because.  When I realized this base longing, it clicked that I was handed a cup of love and care just because.  My base longing was met without me having to do anything in exchange.  No words, no deeds, just because.

I am the oldest of three children with my brothers being twins and only 15 months younger than me.  I wasn't alone with my parents for long and when my brothers came along they required a lot of care and I was moved the role of caregiver.  It was my job to keep my brother safe and make sure they were doing well in school.  We were latch-key kids to very hard working immigrant parents.  So at my core, I often feel overlooked and used.  I am loved for what I can do not just because I am.  Then I up and married a man who loves me dearly but doesn't do a lot o
f celebrations or just because.  He is very practical and I really love him for it but that does mean this base longing just gets pushed to the side.

I was handed a perfect cup of tea.  Tea that means love.  Tea that means caring.  Tea that took me back to the love only a grandmother can really give because when you are bad she can hand you off so she can feel free to spoil you.  A warm hug in a cup.  A cup to soothing liquid to help heal a wound caused by bitter words.  A cup that helps me move on from bitter end of one friendship to the sweet start of being able to trust myself to make new friendships.  So much meaning and need for that perfect cup of tea.