I want to talk about the flaps of butterfly wings that change our world so utterly; imagining it any other way hurts. There are many things I could say about 2021, most of which are not colored brightly. But the butterfly wings flapped, and my world is different in more ways than I’m capable of counting. I want to try, though, because I am emotionally stronger at the end of 2021 than I have been at any other point in my life.
At the beginning of this year, I wanted to try new things. I’d been making a lot of art and reading a lot of tarot, and so I made a TikTok account and started reading tarot for people all over the world. I even have a little scratch-off map in my office to track the places where I’ve read people. While most of the map is still an unscratched gold, it’s kind of neat to know that I’ve read tarot for people on six continents. This pushed me to try and do something with my art and create a tarot deck. While it wasn’t successful, a fire was lit inside of me. I wanted to create things more than ever. These butterfly wings would later turn into a novel, poetry book, and many other little projects.
Covid affected my employment, and I am genuinely thankful to be back working full time this year. I’m good at my job, my coworkers and boss enjoy me, and there’s a lot to be said for feeling appreciated at work. It wasn’t always an easy decision to change careers. I miss teaching so much. But I know it was the right decision for me. I know that taking a chance (nearly two years ago) on a new job was risky, but it has paid off repeatedly.
I dated the dude for most of the year, the same one who broke my heart last year. I could say a lot of shitty things, but I won’t. That’s not who I am or who I want to be. So instead, I’ll say this, if I hadn’t dated him again, I’d probably still be hung up on him. Something I’ll never be again. But more than the emotional aspects, I learned to speak up for myself. I learned to walk away from someone who didn’t treat me well. I realized through this experience that I deserve so much more. I am worthy of love, kindness, someone who understands me on a deeper level, and someone willing to share parts of themselves with me instead of always keeping me at arm’s length: someone who values me and my time.
I published a book in September, A Tear in Time, and I know that one of the reasons I did so was the encouragement that the dude provided. I think I published for the wrong reasons, but he pushed me to do so, and for that, I’m grateful. Publishing meant I would be faced with making decisions about my private life I’d never felt ready to make. I knew it would stir things up, and I was okay with the status quo even if it wasn’t that great.
And then I remembered something important. Life should be extraordinary. Life and love and the choice we make should be a fuck yes. The people in it should be a fuck yes. And when it’s not, then something has to change. I’d let my life go way beyond to something I didn’t even like anymore. Drawing a line in the sand meant I might lose people who are important to me. The question weighed on my mind though, is it better to be true to myself or to keep a safety blanket in the form of people and situations that weren’t healthy for me?
Damn the butterfly wings.
I decided long ago that I was going to do an audiobook. What’s the point in publishing a thing unless I was willing to go all-in? Go big or go home, as they say. The day I wanted to decide on the narrator, the dude blew me off. I was pissed off and wanted to lash out by making a decision that was completely mine to make without getting his opinion. But if I’m honest, I wanted his opinion. And I may think about lashing out, I’m only human, but it doesn’t mean I do. I have this silly belief that a good partnership should be encouraging and supportive and that your partner’s opinion should be a consideration. Even when it doesn’t have to be. Consideration doesn’t mean you have to do what they suggest, but it means sharing the experience. So I breathed out my anger and waited three more days. What were three more days in the grand scheme of things after all?
Enter the butterfly wings.
I played all the inadequate submissions so that the dude would have a baseline. I was getting ready to push play on my short favorites list when I got a brand new submission. I decided what the hell and listened to that one first. In three seconds, I knew he was the one. After, the dude commented, “Your entire body lit up. He’s the one, isn’t he? He’s by far the best one I’ve heard. He’s the one to beat.” I was a little lost for words and went ahead and played the others. Then, for good measure, I relistened to the new submission again. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind; I had to work with this incredibly talented creator. I was lucky enough that he was just as excited to work with me. If I hadn’t have waited those three days, I’d never have met someone who’s become one of my best friends and favorite people.
I knew all of the changes coming down the pipeline in my life were going to push me emotionally and mentally to that proverbial edge. My anxiety was at the highest it’s been in years, and I struggled to feel stable. Disappointments kept piling up, the death of a former student, a worldwide pandemic, and finally facing childhood trauma. I started to see a therapist a few months ago. She (along with a dear friend) helped me realize and end the shity relationship I was in. I was surprised to realize how much anxiety there was because my anxiety about it was gone immediately when I ended the relationship. I wasn’t even sad. I was relieved. My therapist helped me find the courage to tell my parents that I was sexually assaulted for years as a child by my father’s brother. That his mom (my fucking grandmother), one of his other brothers, and the man’s own wife all knew about it and chose not to stop it. It’s not a secret anymore. I’m not ashamed of this truth. It happened to me and several of my cousins. I did nothing wrong, I was innocent, and I’ve lived with this trauma because he told me he would kill me. And when I was old enough to realize he wouldn’t kill me, I was still too afraid no one would believe me, that my father wouldn’t believe me. That if push came to shove, he would choose them over his daughter. But he didn’t. He believed me. The emotional weight of this secrete I’ve carried all these years feels so much lighter today than it did yesterday. Telling them was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my whole life. It took realizing I’d rather lose my parents than keep this secret anymore to find the courage and the words. And they were both hurt, but they both believed me, and that was life-changing. Hearing them say, “I believe you… I would have always believed you,” is its own kind of healing.
Butterfly wings, life‘s dominos effect took me to that place.
Perhaps this whole blog and my experience is just the thing someone in the void needs to read. Maybe I can help them find the courage they need to do something scary. Courage is not the lack of fear (I was scared out of my mind) but the knowledge that someone (even you) or something is more important than your fear. Sometimes we can’t see why things happen. I won’t pretend I understand it always either. But sometimes, we get to see the butterfly wings, making it a bit easier. To know perhaps the universe and the stars above have my back after all.
I am more important than my fear.
I am stronger than it too.
I am worthy of a fucking amazing life.
Thank you for always listening and believing in me.
If you are being assaulted or have been in the past, it’s not too late to ask for help. Call the sexual assault hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit their website to find resources today.