Tea as Self Care — Day 4 — 30 Days of Autism Acceptance — 2018 Autism Acceptance Month

Two tins with matcha in, one darker than the other, and a lid for one canister.

Matcha Powder in tea canisters. A comparison of different qualities of matcha.

This is being written almost 15 hours later than I wanted it to be released.  I apologise for being late with this.  I now realize that why I had not been able to work yesterday was a combination of “recovery from overload” and approaching the “peak” of being sick (which may have started as early as Friday) and may have not passed it yet.  So, I am quite ill right now, so my writing may be off, and I may be making sudden departures (which won’t show up in the writing).

Tea as Self Care — My Experience

I have been meaning to write this for a few weeks I think.  Why it is good self care for me to take tea breaks where I have tea either by myself, or with people (possibly singular) who respect the “quite space” I use tea to create.

First off, the thing that I I note about this is that I use tea as a “quite space”.  This has been how I have tried to experience this ever since I have realised that as a possibility to have tea, and not be around a table of people who are gabbing like mad at each other.

Another aspect, is it can be a “quiet social” thing.

And probably a third, which I haven’t mentioned is “tea quality”.

Tea as a Quite Space

As I grew up tea was an “at meals with the family” thing, and I really took a long time to get into that (I think I was 13 before I started to realise what I like with tea, which was “black” at the time).

The thing with that was that the meals with family always was at least a bit uncomfortable for me, so I never really associated tea as anything other than just something you drank with meals.  This is maybe not common for a lot of people, as it seems people don’t really do this kind of thing as they are growing up.  Or maybe, the people I know who did, have gone away from it, or do it in an enjoyable way.

Probably part of when I realised that this was something which worked differently for me, was when I was staying in a neighbouring town for the “Festival of Arts”.  This was the first time I was spending much time away from people who were family, and it was the first time when I was eating “out” without having other people around me.

I ended up finding a “favourite restaurant” which I had always liked, but really didn’t go to that much, as the family always wanted to do different things.  But I ended up eating several meals in a row at the same restaurant, and that was unusual for me (oh new topic – routine), as I would always be looking for “something different” or it was hoped that it would be what I went for.

So, I found out that being by myself and eating by myself actually was enjoyable, and a very different experience than eating with family.

Eventually I found that I would be quite happy to enjoy tea when I would drink it by myself.  And have also found that experience can be possible with some other people when those people who are sitting in that “quiet” with me.

Quiet Social vs. “Normal” Social

Quiet doesn’t always mean that nothing is said, or that it is genuinely quiet.  Currently, I am listening to a podcast (and streaming my work) so that I can be social, and share my work.  This is a social experience, and an experience of having “signal: as a way to cover up the “noise” of what is going on in the world around me (I actually can’t hear if it is noisy or not at the moment, as the headphones are blocking out much of that).

So quiet isn’t always quiet.  It is about quieting the mind, rather than literal quiet.  It is about getting rid of the noise of the world, or the “annoyance” (which isn’t quite the right word) of having to “deal with” the noise of “noisy people” (who are sometimes non-human).

To me, “social” is more a “mutual acknowledgement of each other’s presence” than something which is explicitly “being social” (speaking with your mouth or whatever) but active “sharing space”.

So, there are ranges from a “non-spoken” sharing where the space is “word free” and maybe even “vocal free”.  Though I know that I am rarely “vocal free” as I vocally stim, and sometimes even verbally stim quite often.  Up to a lot of speaking where that is the focus, which really is very difficult for me.

Sharing space in a way towards the end of “not talking” is really preferable to me, and some people can actually be quite engaging in verbal ways without triggering my “way too much talking” thing though I haven’t got people like that who I can do this with lately, so it’s just me and Tazzy (the dog who owns me) who are able to comfortably spend time together.

Oddly, some people can invade my social space without actually speaking with me.  There is an “invasive social presence” which I experience.  So that is the “normal social space”.

Being in Space with Others who can be Quite Social

Some people who are good to be around can be in the space with me with a sense of social presence without being a social invasion.  This is a very difficult thing for most people to do.  It is really hard for me to be in space with most people without feeling a “social pull” or “social push”.  That is either a sense that I have to “engage socially” or to “get away” from those people.  The really “good” people, allow me to “just be” with a sense that there is some “social connection”.

I can’t really describe what makes that so, though I think the thing is, it can’t really be described in terms of behaviour that can really be “performed” in a real sense.  There is a lot of subtle social, non-verbal clues that I pick up on, which I can’t really describe.

The problem with this, is I end up picking up stuff that people think they aren’t “expressing” but it is very much something they are “feeling”.  And they don’t want others to be able to see it, because they don’t really want to personally acknowledge that.

The Importance of Tea Quality

I am speaking of “tea quality” and for me this seems to be something I can say “this is good quality” but a lot of this runs parallel to my sense of “music genres” in the sense of, “there are two music genres, good music, and music I don’t like.”

Most of that understanding is that I realise that a lot of how people talk about stuff like “music” is “what type of music do you like” and quite often I really can’t explain that.  What I like is stuff I like, and it can range through a lot of different genres, which means that genre as a normal distinction really doesn’t work all that well.

So, for tea, a lot of this is what I like vs. what I don’t like, though it seems in terms of tea, there is a sense that there is a community who looks at tea in a much similar way as I do, though that community is not the “usual people” but the “tea snobs”.  And in a lot of ways I have found that people who can claim a term like “tea snob” or “food snob” or “music snob” often will share a similar sense that I do about that category.

People I know who are real music lovers, and especially people who have some connection with music production seem to have a very similar sense of “good music” vs. “music I don’t like” though for specific cases there may be some disagreement.

So for me, tea drinking for self care really has to be tea which I enjoy, and most of that is tea which is “true tea” and better quality of that.  I will drink other “non-teas” either because they serve a specific purpose (nettles I drink as a way to reduce allergy symptoms) or they are some of the rare “non-teas” which I enjoy just for itself (chrysanthemum).  Currently those are the two non-teas which I can think of that I will drink.

Final thoughts

I just wanted to share this, and how I think that all these things that I do around tea are important to me.  Especially how I look at how “tea” can be in terms of social.  I have been meaning to read Three Cups of Tea mostly because of the different interpretations of that, rather than the main topic of it.  Though the main topic is really interesting to me too.

I think this is one of the different things which I need to acknowledge just how important they are for me, and how I need to create space which allows these things to happen.

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