Anything and everything can hold meaning.
Recently, for the opening meditation of an online group I was running, I lit a tealight candle in a beautiful gold cup and saucer I have sitting on my desk.
This cup and saucer is important; it holds meaning for me and symbolises a defining moment in my early life.
Even now, almost 60 years later, I can feel the discomfort I felt back then.
I notice I feel uncomfortable writing the story of 'The little gold cup and saucer', how it came into my life and how I lost it. I can imagine being told not to wash my dirty linen in public! I can hear my mother saying, "It's only a cup and saucer!", just as she did back then.
And, even though I can hear those voices still, I am going to write this story ....
For my 5th(?) birthday I was given a gold cup and saucer by Miss Hennessy, who lived over the steam from our house in Christchurch. We had moved to this house a year or two before and Miss Hennessy's house had become an inviting place to visit. I loved going to her house; I felt special. Just me and her. Looking back, I wish I knew more about her, because she was very kind to me.
So, this gold cup and saucer was special. I had never been given anything like it before. It was a demitasse coffee cup with a scalloped rim. It sat above my bed on the shelf next to the Beatrix Potter books.
A little while later, a year? two?, one of my sisters was having a birthday party. Our Mum wasn't really into birthday parties. I am not sure why. Perhaps it was because she was a widow with six children under 16 years of age. Her opinion about birthday parties and ballet classes (which I desperately wanted to attend) was the same: fussy, frilly and unnecessary.
Mum had not bought any prizes for the birthday party games. This being the early 60's, shops weren't open on Saturdays; you couldn't just nip out to the Mall and pick up something.
So there I was, sitting on the steps outside our sun-room. Mum comes to the doorway, with my two sisters behind her.
"Can we give your gold cup and saucer away as a prize?"
That wasn't really a question. I guess I scrunched up my face. Inside I was screaming "NO, NO, NO!" but nobody could hear me.
"It's only a cup and saucer", was what my mum said next.
And that was that.
I felt completely powerless
I felt alone, surrounded by my mother and sisters.
'This is not fair!' No it wasn't.
It was a defining moment of not standing up for myself (what young child can?) which was a theme in my life for a long time. A very long time.
Many years later, in the late '80's, telling Talia, my wonderful therapist in London this story, I allowed myself to feel the unjustice of this experience ...
and then suddenly realised that I could buy myself another gold cup and saucer.
So off I went to Thomas Goode, Piccadilly.
Thomas Goode was full of extremely wealthy people, buying gold leaf dinner sets at 100 UK pounds a plate.
I bought myself a gold cup and saucer. It cost me around $270 NZD.
That seemed like really good value to me.
This cup and saucer is deeply meaningful and symbolic for me:
of my journey to care for myself,
of my belief that I have a right to be heard
and, that I can heal old wounds.
This cup and saucer has traveled around the globe with me. Now it sits on my desk in Auckland, New Zealand.
It lost it's handle in the Christchurch earthquake of 2011. This, ironically, raised its value for me even more: we all have scars, we are all broken in places and yet we are still beautiful.
In the group I was facilitating the other day, I used this cup as a symbol of being held: both holding ourselves internally and also being held by the other members of the group.
Thank you Mum. You were a great teacher.
When I look at my gold cup and saucer - and I look at it every time I am at my desk - I can breathe and remember that even though sh*tty things happen, healing is possible.
arohanui - with love