Thursday, April 24, 2014

Butterflies and Bullies

I know I should be sleeping...

A butterfly can emerge after a struggle, beautiful and strong, but when every triumph is drowned in a layer of concrete, the butterfly begins to die. It is not the responsibility of a person to make things harder for those they love so that the loved one gets stronger. Through the years, I was strong enough! But with each show of strength there was rebuke and chastisement. With each spreading of the wings came another layer of shellac and when I'd break through the shell to rise again I'd be doused with another layer, stronger and thicker than before. The world is hard enough and when those who claimed to love me would put more roadblocks and tests in the way of my growth, when they kept adding more layers of concrete, they were only being bullies. And they didn't deserve the butterfly's beauty.

Once I would dance around the house or out in the yard to whatever song played in my head or on the radio. I'd twirl or jump or whatever felt right at the moment. Children do that sort of thing more often than not. It's a joy of living and an exuberance of freedom. Over time, as my mother's anger at the world grew, I learned to curb my enthusiasm and keep my movements more sedate while I was indoors. Eventually the stillness bled into every area of my life and even into my soul. After all, if you are still and quiet you don't get noticed and there is less trouble and fewer things to answer for. This stillness continued through my marriage even though I wanted to dance again.

When the marriage ended, when the second child was born, when I got a better job, when I finally had a place of my own, the stillness began to fade and I started to twirl again. My spirit shone brighter and stronger each day. Even a car accident couldn't dim the light inside.

But then came a time when the ground was littered with eggshells and shards of glass and I stopped dancing. After all, you can't move with the abandon of a free soul when you're afraid of breaking something or spilling blood every step you take. There would be bright moments and the appearance of a clear path, but they weren't frequent enough to allow the unrestricted flow of life. And so my steps faltered and I became still again.

I hadn't thought about any of this until recently. After all, when you're in a situation, you become numb to it. But I found myself tapping my feet at work. Then singing along to the radio. Then spinning in my room. Why did these things feel both familiar and foreign? Because I'd nearly forgotten this freedom of expression, this spontaneous lifting of my Spirit.

I don't blame those who held me down. I'm not even sure they recognized what they were doing. I allowed it and that was my wrongdoing (well, as an adult since a child doesn't know better). It was my responsibility to treat myself with the love I have for my Self. I don't absolve them, either. It was not their place to make my life harder.

I forgot that part when I became a single mom and again while I was in a relationship that included his kids. It wasn't my place to make life harder on my kids, it was my job to give them the knowledge that they could fly regardless of what was in front of them. I hope that they will forgive me of the times I wronged them and that they will fly with confidence.

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