Mint and Honey: the bitter

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Today, I kick off my Mint & Honey series with a deeper look at the bitter, the mint.

I have often struggled with coping with my insecurities, fears and failures by smothering my circumstances in honey. I believe that this probably a pretty common and somewhat natural response to diversity but I also think this natural response has been nurtured and coaxed by our western culture. “How are you?” “Fine, thank-you.” and follows the normal pleasantries

If we went around answering how are you’s with “actually, life sucks right now” or “I’m really hurting and unsure how to handle life” we would first startle the asker and second startle ourselves. We would have to require more time, more dedication and more loyalty if we wanted to have these honest conversations. We would have to completely challenge our roots (especially our southern ones) and culture of conversation. Now, in no way am I suggesting we spill our hearts to all we greet. What I am trying to share though, is that we each need to come to a place of honesty with ourselves and with the people we share loyal relationships with.

There have been times when people I love and trust like my husband and mother have asked ” how are you” and instead of seizing an opportunity to share my hurt or worry, I chose the easier way out. “things are good” or “I’m doing great” when actually the opposite is true. And it’s not necessarily true that I’m trying to front for their sake or I’m consciously trying to shy away. If anything, I’m trying to convince myself that it’s all good. Most of the time, I do an excellent job.

And then I drown in the honey. I suffocate from it. Did you know that bees do the same thing? They can drown in their own labor that they worked so hard for. They drown in their own honey. The thing that gives them purpose and life kills them.

Isn’t it true for us too? The things we break our backs for (relationships, happiness, purpose) are the things we end up drowning in. And it is mostly likely because we approach these things with too much honey and not enough mint. We rather drown in the honey then hold up our bitter mint to the light.

We need the bitter. We need pain. We need hurt. It is healthy to grieve, it is healthy to cry it is healthy to be honest about what we are really going through. We need not be ashamed of the bitter mint because it what connects us to the rest of humanity. It influences and encourages community. The bitter is what usually inspires big movements. I get countless invitations to benefits, fundraisers, walks, runs to uplift a marginalized group or help a person who is struggling through cancer. People flock and join because of the bitter and when that happens the sweet, the honey, flows.

So today, I encourage those who cope with the bitter of life by drowning in the honey like myself to hold the mint with open palm. Find someone you trust to see it and carry it for you. Watch your relationships deepen, your sense of self open and the mint to taste a little bit less bitter. but don’t throw out all the honey. We need that too and we will chat about that more next time.

If you feel like if the bittermint of life is all too much and you find yourself drowning find help now. Seek counseling, seek loyalty and honesty and remember that there is always hope and that you are always loved.

Holding the mint up,
Sydney

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