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Sweet Surrender, Part 2: How Creating a Tea Table Changed My Life

Sweet Surrender, Part 2: How Creating a Tea Table Changed My Life

This is the story of how my beloved tea table (which is a bit messy at the moment but loved to bits nevertheless) healed my broken heart and transformed my life 4 years ago in 2016.  It's a story I've told a number of times to different people in the past 4 years, but the telling of it today feels different.  Because as I type this on my laptop on a lazy April Sunday morning, the last Sunday of the month in 2020, I and billions of others in the world are living amidst a global pandemic. 

Some of us are under quarantine.  Some of us are under lockdown.  Some of us are bored and going stir-crazy and some of us are quietly, but contently, chugging along inside our homes.  Some of us are healthy and well, some are deathly ill, and others are somewhere in between, recovering.    

The story of how and why I created my tea table and how its creation impacted my life has taken on whole new meaning for me now.  Why?  Because in 2015, while I was suffering from my 2nd depression, I did not want to live.  And here I am, 5 years later, taking all the necessary precautions to live fully, healthfully, and joyfully, so that I may see another day.  So that I can keep my family and friends safe, my business running and growing, and my heart beating so that I can continue loving and enjoying the life I have and seeing the path and journey ahead of me unfold.

A lot changes in 5 years. 

A lot changes even within one year as I went from battling depression in 2015 to fledging entrepreneur in 2016.  And it was my tea table that made it possible.  I created my tea table in April and May of 2016 as my way of rebooting, restarting, and rebirthing.  It was me giving myself a shot at starting over.  It was me giving myself new life.  It was me giving myself a metaphorical oxygen mask so that I would have the strength to move forward as a newly transformed person on wobbly legs but with fucking fire in my heart into a scary, unknown future. 

I had lost my job in a layoff at the end of 2013, my first job out of school, and a job I had really enjoyed and begun to own.  I reacted to the news stoically at first but over time, it devastated me and began to chip away at my soul until there was almost nothing left. 

I was unemployed for over 2 years. 

Over 730 days of not seeing a paycheque come in, of going on countless interviews that led to nowhere, of hearing people tell me I was not good enough, not worthy enough, not this, not that, of the rest of my life completely falling apart.  Over 730 days of pushing so hard for a life that no longer served or belonged to me that I ultimately hit bottom at the end of 2015.  My partner of almost 7 years left me 3 days before Christmas, I was broke as a joke for the 2nd time in my life at the age of 30, jobless, battling depression, and because bottom is not bottom without physical pain, sick with a fever.   

During that year, I would wake up and actually be ANGRY that I had woken up.  Angry that I was still living.  I'd lay in my bed in tears, angrily lashing out, "WHY AM I STILL HERE??"  I didn't know why the Universe didn't just take me; I no longer wanted to live.  But my eyes would open every morning and I was given another day and the only thing that kept me alive, mentally and emotionally, was tea and having it in my life.

After embarking on my spiritual path this past year and understanding things in hindsight, I know exactly what was going on and why all of this happened and why the Universe didn't take me.  Because when the Universe wants to take you, there's really nothing you can do about it.  But the Universe wanted me to stay and was delivering a message to me that, at the time, I wasn't allowing myself to receive: "baby, all of this is part of your story, and you have a purpose to live out.  Your life is going to blossom in ways you could never imagine.  But you have to stop pushing and let go.  Trust me."

"You have to sink to the very bottom, my child.  After that, you can push off with both feet and start swimming toward the surface.  You're strong.  You can get there.  But it's going to hurt.  You have to clean out the wound before it can heal.  Let the stories be your antiseptic.  Bear the pain now for a chance at a better tomorrow.  Otherwise, you'll repeat the mistakes that landed you in this bed."

- Ellery Adams, The Secret, Book & Scone Society

 

As the calendar flipped to 2016, I gave a few last ditch efforts on a few interviews and it was at that point I snapped.  I had had it.  I was SICK of being sick and tired.  I was SICK of being stuck.  I was SICK of living a life of misery.  I was SICK of following that life path and pushing for a life that I didn't even want but that I had somehow convinced myself that I did because I had chosen to buy into what society had told me I should want.

But it meant starting over.  Completely.  Abandoning the things, dreams, and goals I THOUGHT I had wanted.  Did I have the courage to do that?  Well, I had two choices: keep pushing for a life that wasn't mine and that wasn't working just because it would mirror those in my social circle, or surrender completely, recover, start over, and figure out a new life and way of living.

The choice was clear.

One day in March 2016, soon after I had snapped and finally surrendered and made a decision to abandon my life path and start over, I looked around my room and thought, "I need a change...I need a fresh start."  I didn't know what my options for change were, but I knew I could start by changing my environment and it didn't have to cost much of anything.  And my eyes landed on my dresser table.  

And the lightbulb went off.

"I'm going to use that table and create my own tea table.  It'll be like my shrine!  I'll make it themed and make it look pretty and it'll have all my tea things on it and it'll be my happy place.  Because I need this.  I need to feel happy again.  I'll take pictures of it.  I'll chronicle and write about the process.  I'll start a new blog!  Oh!  I'll start a new tea blog!  I've really missed writing and blogging and it'll be all about tea and it'll be great.  And then..." I trailed off.  That's all I had at that point.  But I was willing to see where this sudden burst of inspiration and fervor could take me.  I had nothing to lose.  And the ironic thing is that once I fully surrendered and gave up pushing for a life path that wasn't mine, invisible doors began to open around me and I felt my life begin to transform.

I worked on my tea table for over a month.  I flipped my room upside down and inside out, creating a tornado in its wake moving things around and chucking things out.  But I was focused and determined and I hadn't felt this hopeful in over two years.  I was having fun again.  I felt lighter.  I began to create a vision for what I wanted it to look like and as I began placing each item lovingly onto the surface, I began to feel pieces of my heart, one after another, click back into place.  

I finished my tea table in the first week of May 2016 and 4 years later it continues to sit prettily, but a little messy at times, having gone through multiple changes in looks with ever more stuff spilling over onto every inch and corner.  Much like my life.  It wouldn't be living the life I am living now without that period of healing and transformation and I look at my table, with all its tea bits and bobs, every day with so much love and gratitude.  It saved my life.

Debra Wong

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