Trauma is not something you get over – it’s something you live with. It comes into your house, makes itself at home, and overstays its welcome. If you’re like me, you walk around it, altering your path through your living room to avoid stepping on it. Or you pretend it’s not there and avoid the room altogether. Sometimes, though, your trauma grabs your arm to let you know it’s there. It keeps grabbing you every time you walk by, or maybe it reaches out a foot to trip you. Eventually, you have to acknowledge its existence and make it a cup of tea.
When the phrase “making tea with trauma” occurred to me in a therapy session, I decided to literally do just that. I made two cups of tea, letting it steep until it was good and strong, added some milk, and sat down at the table. The steam rose from my mug, the clock ticked, my breathing came slow and even. I stared past the other mug and out the window at my garden, where irises were just coming into bloom.
Sipping my tea, I thought about what my body was trying to tell me. It seemed I had a built-in emotional circuit breaker in the form of my seizures – when life got to be too much, I would start to shake. Sometimes it was a limb or two, sometimes my whole body, but it was always exhausting.
My body and mind had both had more than they could handle, it seemed. Between the stress of chronic daily migraines that weren’t going away and the stress of a traumatic event, I was overwhelmed and desperately needed a break. My body forced me to take that break.
Now, sitting at a table with a cup of tea, I was finally able to come face to face with my trauma, my stress, and my fears. My little tea party didn’t fix me, didn’t make the seizures go away, but it did allow me to make peace with the fact that I had a housemate that I had been stepping around for months. It was the first step in a journey toward healing.