Sometimes I just want to scream, but instead I cry. Sometimes I want to scream at you, but instead I cry alone.
Sometimes I want to take you by the shoulders and tell you how lucky you are to have the parents that you do. These parents that have tried to keep you safe, fed, clothed, happy and have given you the world. Sometimes I want to tell you that you don’t deserve such parents. You love conditionally and pridefully. You need to get off your high horse and take off your colored glasses that makes you view the world with such hatred, and take a breath for a moment. Take in the world as it really is. Reflect on what has been done for you, instead of what has not been done for you. It’s called being grateful. And you cannot be conditionally grateful. Perhaps you could, but it won’t get you far. Sometimes I wish I could be like that and tell you horrible, unkind things. But lucky for you, I cannot.
Sometimes I think about how I don’t deserve the parents that I have. The parents that want to see me happy and have given me the world. Sometimes I wish I could give them the world. Sometimes saying “Thank you for everything” doesn’t seem like enough. But from a young age, I knew I could not give them everything. I couldn’t be everything for them, or anyone else. I tried. I tried often to be everything for everyone. One day, I found that the little things can mean a lot. So I would clean my dish when I was finished and put it in the dishwasher. If the dishwasher was full of clean dishes then I would empty it. That’s how I was raised. Now, it feels natural to do whatever I can to show that I am glad to have a roof over my head.
Some people don’t have a roof over their head. Did you know that? I’m sure that you’ve seen homeless folks standing outside in the heat, in the rain, in the chill of the night. What do you do? Do you help them? Do you say a prayer for them? Or do you look the other way and get on with your day?
Some people don’t have parents like ours. Some people have one, some have none, and some might feel like they have none because their parents hurt them, or are unwell in some way, or are split apart. Did you know that? Does it change your outlook on life? Does it make you want to be the best person you can and express an overflow of gratitude? Do you feel an ounce of compassion?
Sometimes I feel like we come from different families, you and I. Though we were born and raised in the same family. How can that be? We are polar opposites. You are like a boulder. Hard, rigid, and cold. I am a feather. Soft, gentle, and warm. How can opposites such as these be born into the same family? What was God thinking?
But you know, sister, I’ve thought similar things about myself. Why was I born into this family? Why was I the one to come first? What was God thinking?
As I get older, and I learn to find my footing in this world and among this family, I’ve come to some realizations. First of all, for many years I wanted to be a boulder. I wanted and thought that I had to be hard and rigid to get by in this life. But you don’t. Also, it takes so much energy. I couldn’t keep it up. I found it is better to be soft than to be hard. When you are rigid no one wants to be with you. People respond to those who are gentle. Kindness with yourself and those around you is the warmth that everyone needs. The Wind, God, picks you up and allows your feathery self to float through the world. You can’t float if you’re a boulder. You sink if you’re a boulder, or you get stuck in the river.
I have had my moments of being stuck in the river. I have cursed God and spent so much energy being angry with the world around me. Somehow, though, the love I received was persistent and firm. Some might call it “tough love”. Family, friends, teachers and all those that knew me were honest with me. They told me when I had made a mistake and encouraged me to correct it. Some were very critical with their corrections and loud about how I should change. I took a lot of things personally, but I never yelled at people when they criticized. Sure, I got upset, but I thought hard about what they said. Growing up was far from thrilling for me. I was scared to my very core. I’m still scared. Slowly, over many years, I have embraced the feather inside me and I have trusted The Wind to guide me, and allow me to gently land where I am supposed to be at a given moment.
You know, it’s okay to be scared. It does not make you weak. It might feel that way. Vulnerable feelings, like fear, might feel like some kind of weakness. But it is just the opposite. You are alive. It means you are alive. It means life can be challenging and scary sometimes and you feel it. You’re riding the waves and you don’t know where they will take you. The unknown is like riding on a dark ocean and no end insight.
When we would go to the water park there was tons of slides and fun things to do. It was always so strange to me why people liked, or even thought to create a black circular slide with no other areas of light, except the beginning and the end. I hated those black slides. It was so scary to me when the family wanted to go down those slides. I would sit on the tube at the top of the slide and look down into pitch black darkness. Behind me everyone was smiling and excited. They couldn’t wait for their turn down the slide. I had no problem letting someone else go first. Those black slides are the only ones that make me want to scream. I would scream to get out. I would scream because I felt claustrophobic and I could not see the pool of water at the end. Until I would slam into it like a wall. It was not refreshing. It hurt. Growing up has felt a lot like going down a black circular slide. You cannot see the future until it smacks you in the face. You cannot see what was behind you. All you can do is hold on for dear life and know that you are safe. You will see the light of the future when you get to it.
Since the tunnel is so dark sometimes it is hard to trust that you are safe. Sometimes that intense fear and insecurity we have with ourselves, or simply because of the unknown can be very frustrating. It makes us feel restless and unsettled. We get angry. We become scared and angry that we are scared. We don’t like feeling insecure. Those vulnerable feelings make us frustrated. Perhaps so frustrated that we rather lash out at others, instead of looking inside ourselves and facing the actual problem. Admitting that we are afraid, insecure, feeling vulnerable, makes us feel like we are weak and will never gain control.
Dear sister, we are all frustrated caterpillars. We are all wrestling within our own cocoons. There will always be something that makes us feel out of control. However that does not mean it is okay to lash out at others. It doesn’t mean that you will always be among patient people who will forgive you and allow your behavior to slide by. It does not mean that one can just forgo responsibility for their actions and find a scapegoat for their behavior. It does not make one appear stronger.
The process of becoming a butterfly requires a great deal of patience, particularly with yourself, but you must be aware of your surroundings as you grow. Get in touch with your peripheral vision. You and I have grown up in the same family, but we are different butterflies.
I have grown to appreciate the rainbow. There are many different shades of strong. There are many different shades of beautiful and ways to express one’s self. One must simultaneously embrace themselves and the way of the world, and trust The Wind. Only then will you be able to stop wrestling with your cocoon and instead sink into it. It took many years for me to sink into my cocoon. Within the last few years I feel like I am finally emerging and becoming who I have always wanted to be. But it is a process. Though I am many years older than you, I am still learning how to spread my wings. Becoming a butterfly is an unending process. It takes lots of work and lots of trust.
I know one day you will let yourself sink into your cocoon. I look forward to seeing the butterfly that you become. For now, I’m going to allow myself to get in touch with my own wings. I neglect them. I often tell myself I’m not allowed to fly. I often feel that I must be there for others. I spend all my time, energy, and mental head space being there for others. For you. I’ll always love you and I am here when you need me. But I must take up my own wings and fly with The Wind.