Wisdom in a Cup of Tea

My friend is always sending me notes saying she wishes we could share a cup of tea.  Or she’ll e-mail and say we need to schedule a phone call with a simultaneous cup of tea.  She’s someone who would darken my door every afternoon for tea and sympathy if I weren’t in her kitchen first.  If she didn’t live 585.9 miles away that is.

When we met in a charming seaside town midway between our homes for a spa weekend well into my third pregnancy, she said nothing of the fact that I couldn’t relax, that I was cynical, that something seemed ‘off’.  Instead, she gave me a mug to celebrate the impending addition to my family that said, “For this child I have prayed.”  When I told her what a sham I felt like because I hadn’t prayed for this child; that [she] had been gifted to me undeservingly, she said, ‘well, you’re going to pray for her now and when [she]’s here, aren’t you?’  So matter-of-fact, so trusting, so unfailing in her regard for me as a person, a mother.

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And when that something stayed ‘off’ far past labor and delivery, she gently and honestly broke the news to me, a headline I’d written but couldn’t read.  She’d been featured in a similar newsreel only a short time earlier.  She knew the signs, saw the struggles that someone who hadn’t been through them might have missed.  I gave her a firsthand account of postpartum depression without knowing what I was describing.  She saw herself in me.

And she saved me.

She listened to the horrible thoughts I couldn’t share with anyone else for fear they’d find out what a despicable mother I was.  She became a sounding board for all the worries running through my head.  She was my font of information on all things postpartum.  It was she who finally convinced me I needed to get help.  It was she who urged me to remove the stigma I’d attached to medication.  It was she who helped me see I wasn’t the only one who’d ever felt like a failure as a mother, a weak human being, a seriously flawed individual clinging to the sharp edge of a cliff.

Still, I fought her for a good part of the way.  I didn’t want to see myself in the mirror she was holding up to me.  I didn’t want the help she offered because it meant giving in.

But she didn’t give up on me.

She told me the things I didn’t want to hear – and kept doing so until I listened – because she wanted to help me.  She forced me to get the help I needed.  She didn’t want to see me suffer the same fate she did; she loved me so much, she wanted to shield me from it.

Like every child needs a trusted adult, so every one of us needs a confidant, a friend in shining armor; in my case, a faithful warrior, devoted to the cause of saving my soul and that of my family.  Someone who won’t give up on you even when you turn away because she’s showing you the dark side of yourself – even if you take it out on her.  Someone who sees it through to the bitter end of your acceptance and seeking of help, the start of your journey to healing.  Someone who uses her own empathic experience to lovingly see you through the darkest days of yours.

They talk about warrior moms.  Moms who fight for their children, their needs, their causes.  Moms who fight for themselves and their survival.  There are moms who fight for those who stand beside them, who pick them up when they fall, who drag them along when they stumble.  And it’s usually when we’re so bloody and battered, we can’t even think to ask for help, can’t even see we need it.  These moms lift us up in the midst of their own struggles.  They are the shining light on the hill.  Without them, our own lights would be extinguished.  All hail the friends, partners, mothers who battle for the survival and triumph of those face down in the trench.

I’d be nothing without mine.

Don’t be alone.  Don’t do it on your own.  Accept a little help from your friends.

 

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6 Comments

  1. Christiana

     /  May 21, 2013

    She is a beautiful person. I am so happy you have each other. Even though sometimes it is difficult to look in the mirror, just know the one holding it is there to help you get back the image you once saw and loved. Xoxo

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  May 21, 2013

      When life was simple . . . thank you for reminding me of happier times. . . across the years and miles xoxo

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      Reply
  2. Christiana

     /  May 21, 2013

    I will be in RI this summer from June 19-July 24, maybe we can get together? I would love to chat!

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  3. Jennifer Butler Basile

     /  May 21, 2013

    Wow! That’s quite a visit! Would love to!

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    Reply
  4. Sheri

     /  May 22, 2013

    Proverbs 17:17

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    Reply
  5. Where would one be without that one truly honorable friend?

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    Reply

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