Waiting for my wings to heal

When I was in third or fourth grade, my mom was part of  the PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) at my school. Once a month or so, she met with the other members of the board for about an hour after school, and we kids entertained ourselves and each other, or did homework, etc. Every autumn the bushes along one whole side of the school property were covered with cocoons, and then the campus would be swarming with Monarch butterflies for weeks. It was beautiful and magical. Well, during one of these meetings, I remember there were two boys who were a year or two older than me, and their moms were in PTA too. They were trying to catch butterflies and rip their wings off. I thought it was the most horrible thing I had ever seen, and I begged them to stop. They laughed at me and kept doing it. I think they maybe caught three or four in total, but I was simply devastated. I probably cried. I felt so awful about it.

Fast forward to two years ago. By a coincidence that wasn’t really a coincidence at all, I had two life-changing experiences within 24 hours of each other. First, I found Brave Girls Club, and then met with an amazing doctor who gave me hope and help for a condition I had lived with for quite possibly over half my life, but had never been diagnosed (I will save that for another post).

We scheduled a surgery, and I signed up for Soul Restoration.

I was given the opportunity to heal, body and soul, from things I had suffered with for far too long. Then, just when I thought I had finished healing, I realized I had not come as far as I thought I had, and some additional factors (mostly fear, prescription meds, and adverserial forces) led me into a downward spiral. I lay on my couch for almost a week, couldn’t move, couldn’t even use my cell phone to call anyone for help. I felt like I wasn’t worthy of help, and that no one really cared or missed me. What was wrong with me? I had just spent months learning how to deal with my feelings of inadequacy, and that I didn’t have to prove my worth, and that my best was good enough, and that I deserved to be happy and to enjoy my life. How could I forget these things?

I was able to pull myself out of it with help from my family and was doing so, so well, and very quickly. I was proud of myself for overcoming it, then three weeks later I was back in that deep, dark place of despair. With help again from loving family, and a newly-found trusted counselor, I emerged once again from the place in my mind and heart that kept me from the light, from my own light.

Yet, I still felt a bit ashamed of myself. How could I have let that happen to myself? I thought that I had grown my wings during the preceding months – I remember emerging from a cocoon, what had happened to my wings? I came to realize they had been there all along, but they had been a bit crumpled, and they needed time to heal. If you have not read Melody’s blog post entitled “You will fly again,” you need to.

Just weeks after the healing began again, I had the opportunity to attend Brave Girl Camp, at the last minute. I think I signed up less than 72 hours before I got on the plane to Boise! The staff there helped me so much on my road back to believing in myself again.

I had been at a job for 7 years. It was one of the best and one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had, and I had felt for some time that I needed to change my place of employment. An opportunity presented itself and I began a new job about a year ago. Friends and family were so happy for me. It was a very challenging role, and as time went on, instead of getting easier, it just seemed to get harder. Right around the time I turned the big 4-0, I started feeling really sick a couple of times a week when I first woke up. It would last for about 15 minutes, and then I could get on with my day. As time went on, it was happening more days than not, and eventually was lasting longer into the day, and was affecting me at work. It was decided that I needed to go on a leave-of-absence, and I was not to return until I was “all better”. Eventually, they had to let me go because they needed to fill the position and could not hold it for me any longer.

It took my doctor about two months to diagnose me because all the tests she ran, and the two specialists she sent me to, did not point to a diagnosis, and to be honest, I knew it was time for me to leave the job anyway. I had not been planning on staying much longer than I did, because I knew that it truly was time.

By the time I received medication that actually helped and was starting to really feel back on my feet, I got sick again. Then just as I was recovering from that bug, I got hit with another, and another. So in six months I had gotten sick four times. My immune system just never had time to build itself up. I was unemployed, and had no energy to even look for a job, plus, who wants to interview someone who’s sick?

During this whole time, these past two years, I had tried to look at challenges in my life as opportunities to learn and grow, and to see the gifts they contained, not just after-the-fact, but in the midst of them.  Granted, some days I just couldn’t.

A couple of months ago, I remembered those boys back in school, and thought “I am not a bird with broken wings. I am a butterfly, and my wings have been torn off.” I felt like, on the one hand, I was back in my cocoon, and I had turned back into mush. But on the other hand, I didn’t know how to make my wings grow back, or if they could. I know some animals are able to regenerate body parts, but I was pretty sure that was not the case with butterflies. I didn’t know how to make things better, nor did I know what to do while waiting for things to get better. I felt like a brick wall had been built in my path, and I had lost all power to go over or around it.

Then, just over a month ago, I felt very strongly that I had to move out of my apartment. I also felt like there would be a time in the not-so-distant future when I would know what to do next and I would have to act fast, like just get in my car and go, and that it would start an amazing new chapter in my life. I sent a 30-day notice to my landlord with my rent check, and through prayer and discussions with family and friends, decided that I would put my household possessions in storage and stay with my parents. Not an easy thing to do at the age of 40, but I knew it was the RIGHT thing to do. I finally felt like there was something on the other side of the wall, and though I still didn’t know what it was, or how to get past the wall itself, I at least felt one step closer. Miraculously, I stayed relatively healthy the entire month and was able to get everything taken care of.

So now, I find myself unsure of my future, which is both exciting and scary. A week ago I got my security deposit back, but two days later had to spend almost all of it on my car. Kind of a bummer, but kind of a miracle, because now she’s ready for wherever she can take me. Yesterday I got to see lots of friends and catch them up on my life, and was able to say “I have been healthy for a month now” but that streak ended last night, and I have spent all day in bed today. Yet, there have been miracles in this day of forced bed rest, too . I reread “You will fly again” and thought “Maybe I AM a bird, and instead of being recocooned, I have just been inside my dark box, healing, preparing to soar higher than before.” Then, I found something else online that filled my heart with A LOT of hope and understanding. Because I realized that I AM a butterfly, and that there IS a way to repair broken and torn butterfly wings. Here is what I learned, and hopefully you’ve stuck with me this long, because this is the really good stuff!

This is from http://www.livemonarch.com/hospital.htm. There are even photos and a video. It begins with:

Hello and thank you for your interest in helping to fix a broken butterfly wing!

  • Yes, you can restore flight
  • Yes, it is “relatively” easy
  • No, you do not need a medical degree.

It goes on to give the following instructions (these are not complete, but they are the things that jumped out at me). You need to put the butterfly in a cold, dark place to calm it, and keep it in a dimly lit place while repairing its wing. Some of the tools you will need are good scissors and contact adhesive (a permanent type of glue that must be applied to both surfaces that will be adhered to one another). You must keep the butterfly completely restrained and immobile while repairing the wing. If the wing is torn, the seam can be repaired by gluing a tiny piece of cardboard over the rip. If a small piece of the wing tip has torn completely off, the mirroring tip may be cut to match and the butterfly will be able to fly again (this does not cause them pain, but is “like a haircut”), but if more than 30% of the wing is missing, you can patch it with the wing of a deceased butterfly, even a different species, as long as it is the same size, or cut to fit. And even if a wing cannot be replaced, you can still help the butterfly survive by providing it with nourishment and sanctuary. Also, wings can be repaired over and over – there is a story about  a particular butterfly that kept returning for the author’s help.

So, I have come to the conclusion that I must have been put in this cold, dimly lit place in my life for my own good. I need to stop fighting the restraints that are just there to keep me in place while I am being repaired, even though I am itching to fly again. I may have some rips that need a little reinforcing with craft supplies, and bits that need to be patched with things others can give me. Maybe some of you are in a similar state. I hope that my sharing a bit of my journey with you will help you navigate your own, and help you to know as I have come to know, that my wings aren’t gone, they are being repaired for me so that I can fly once more!

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