“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” ~Maya Angelou
I am a first class stuffer. I think it was my Catholic upbringing that started the whole thing. Through charming phrases like “offer it up,” I was taught that when I don’t like something my job is to shut up and live with it anyway, to suffer in silence. And so I did…to the point that even a simple, honest act of speaking up for myself, like returning the wrong meal in a restaurant, became impossible. It’s not that I was happy about putting up with things my spirit told me not to put up with. It wasn’t easy. I complained. I complained a lot to the pages of countless journals that would hold all my enmity without ratting me out. It was my silent rebellion. Externally, I sucked it up and kept my mouth closed because that is what a good girl does, and arguing requires confrontation and confrontation is scary. Internally, I was becoming a roiling, seething caldron of should haves and unfulfilled wishes. (It’s really no surprise to me that I needed to have my gallbladder removed at age 33, so full of bile I was that my body rebelled against me.) Still….I kept right on stuffing because old habits die hard and change, especially with regard to one’s now-ingrained habits, is difficult.
Recently, though, I’ve realized that I am so full of all the stuff I have stuffed for decades that there is no more room for stuffing. It’s time to let go. Deep down I’ve known for about eight years that I needed to change. The notion has been fluttering in my head like a miller moth trapped inside a room, banging about the walls, flapping with an ever more urgent need to be free. I’ll be honest. I made excuses. I focused on other things so I could ignore what I knew needed attention. That needs to stop. Now is the time to do some serious excavation, to dig up the me that I know is under all that pent-up crap, the me that has a spine and can speak for herself. The work must be done because what I want more than anything is to find a way to keep from passing this stuffing habit on to my sons. I want them to be able to walk around the hole I fell into. To bring them around it, though, I must crawl out of it first.
I read this quote in my Bunny Buddhism book the other day: “The bunny who tries not to suffer only suffers more.”
The road ahead of me, unpacking all that I have stuffed, is going to be uncomfortable. There’s no doubt I will suffer, cry, and feel weak during the journey, but I’ve already seen what trying not to suffer has done for me. I no longer believe this internal change could make me suffer more than trying to endure in silence even one more spirit-dampening blow. In the end, I want to be that beautiful butterfly that Maya Angelou was talking about. With that in mind, into my chrysalis I go.
You will get there! When you mentioned the hole, I thought of this poem we read at training: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/95085-i-walk-down-the-street-there-is-a-deep-hole
It is a joy to watch a student of the world as their eyes open, as they begin to experience true awakening, awareness, being. It is a joy to watch the student see the pureness and beauty of truth.
It is a simple formula: loving-kindness, enlightenment, forgiveness, compassion, truth.
Execution of the pursuit of the way can be difficult and complicated. Breaking patterns or habits learned or imbued by the world. Navigating the people that orbit our lives.
One’s personal truth is the soul, and akin to a Lighthouse. One must find and follow one’s own Light. This Light is deep within, rendered only by one’s self, and cannot come from without. There will be times when the Light may be dim, obscured. One must hold to the course until the Light can once again be perceived.
I have taken the liberty of addressing you as “Grasshopper”. Though you are not “my student”, nor am I your teacher any more than all the other persons in your life are teachers, it is a term of endearment used by a master to address a promising student.
I have been mistaken, however. I should have been addressing you as “Caterpillar”.
Endings are new beginnings. The chrysalis is the end for the caterpillar, yet simultaneously the beginning of metamorphosis.
A chrysalis is not a coffin. The caterpillar is not dying. A chrysalis is not hibernation. Activity never ceases inside. A tremendous amount of work is being done inside the chrysalis. This work can only be done by the caterpillar. The world outside cannot step in to lend a hand. The very process is contained within, separated from the world.
You have done a tremendous amount of work within to arrive at the place you are now.
I don’t see you weaving a cocoon, preparing for change, containing within.
I see you this day breaking out, emerging. I see you pulling yourself clear of the cocoon, stretching out beautiful wings for the first time in this world, seeing with new eyes.
“There are none so blind as those who will not see.” Is a favorite quote. Coincidentally it comes from the play Butterflies Are Free. Your eyes are open wide today.
My apology for the misnomer.
Today you are my Rocky Mountain Butterfly.
Be at peace,
Although its taken me a while to respond to your comment, Paz, it’s been in my heart. You can’t know how much your words truly touched me and how grateful I am to have the support of kind, generous people like yourself. Therapy is hard work. I’ve got a perpetual, low-lying headache from crying, but I can feel the work I’m doing taking hold and I know only good things are in front of me in terms of my growth. I’m sad, but excited, nervous but hopeful. Thanks for reaching out.
I have been where you are, and it always amazed me at how my father thought I was so outspoken when I stuffed so much down and all that ever came out was just the 1% I couldn’t hold back, and it came out with anger and hurt. But I’ve learned. I’ve learned to smile politely and tell people what I think. Smile and ask for what I need. Setting limits for yourself, around yourself, doesn’t bother people as much as you might expect it to. They get used to it. It’s not always easy, but it’s much easier than I expected it to be.
I’m in the process of getting strong enough to believe I’m worth the limits I set with others. Man…has it been a struggle. But, I am getting there. And it sure helps to know others have made this journey before me and come through it better and stronger than before. Thanks for commenting, Melora. It made a difference. It really did.
Maya Angelou 😦
Anyway, we’re a bit different. While I do sometimes keep it in, I often am vocal. The problem is I tend to be TOO vocal. I need to learn to be more patient.
I wish you good luck on your travel. 🙂
Hi, friend! Thank you for your nice comment. It’s always good to hear from you, and it helps knowing there are folks like you out there wishing me well. I’m in an emotionally selfish place right now, and it’s exhausting. At the end of the day, though, it’s comments like yours that keep me trudging right on through. 🙂
Sometimes, it’s not bad to be in an “emotionally selfish place” if that’s where you can sort things out about yourself, face them, and change what needs to be change, if ever there is any. Also, it is always good to let things out rather than keep everything in and just burst one day, which can only make things worse. It’s often better to just let it go than burst eventually.
How appropriate that I should read your reply today and re-read your post. I am currently at odds with a roommate who I have tried to be civil and friendly to countless times. But lately, she has been quite a pain to me especially so the other night, I really answered back and told her: “You always say things like you’re angry. You’re always trying to compete with people. You DON’T own this house!” (It’s a boarding house where I reside during workdays due to, well, work, then I go home on weekends). There! I said what most everybody else who has lived long enough in the house has been saying about her all along. The only girls she can actually speak to right now are the newer ones who have no idea yet about her attitude problems (yes, plural), but wait till they stay longer.
I know I have a somewhat quick temper and in recent years, I have been able to temper it down. But this woman just has the knack to let my quick temper surface again…*sigh* I will TRY to ignore her, but I can’t promise how long….