“Just when the caterpillar thought,
'I am incapable of moving,'
it became a butterfly.”
This post is a very personal one for me. It may be long.
I've experienced a lot of pain, abuse, and trauma in my life. My beautiful mother died of untreated diabetes when I was a little girl of seven years; she was just 33 years old. Prior to that, until I was 20 years old, I was raised in and under the brainwashing influence of the cult known as Christian Science. (Which is neither Christian NOR Science, if you know anything about it as I do, and which cult status has been confirmed many times over since then.) There was nothing I could do to get out. I was trapped.
After my beloved mama died, I endured a decade of abuse of every possible kind - all of which has been denied by the perpetrators and also my fellow survivors- but I think the worst of all was the psychological torture I was met with daily, 24/7/365/10, mostly under the careful, menacing eye of my stepmother. (I have long since dubbed her TBFH, or "The Bitch From Hell.") The secrets my brain holds from that decade and beyond - some of which are still hidden even to me, because of the brain's wonderful ability to blissfully shield oneself from the worst scars inflicted by one's tormentors. I was 17 when I finally fled that House Of Horrors and went to college, but like I said, it was another few years before I fully escaped.
That was over half my life ago. That damage has long since been done, but it was far, far too painful for me to touch in therapy. I'd done EMDR (Eye Movement Densensitization & Reprocessing) therapy when one of our identical twins died nearly 16 years ago, along with acupuncture, acupressure, and music therapy, but I had not done EMDR since graduating from that course of treatment.
"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly,
but rarely admit the changes it has gone through
to achieve that beauty."
I've had half a dozen therapists since then, but it was still much too soon for me to be able to handle what happened in that house in Baldwinsville, New York. (If it burned down tomorrow, I would not be sad.) Finally, at 42 years old, as of just yesterday, my wonderful counselor and certified EMDR practitioner began this treatment with me anew. It wasn't even what we were planning to discuss. I had admitted last week that I was terrified to get started and didn't know if I was truly ready yet.
We began "tapping" via EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) on the idea that I am valuable, and worthy, and could love myself... because for all those years, it was taught, and shown, and demonstrated to me time and time again that those things were not true. And I have believed it ever since. I am kind, and compassionate, and caring, and empathetic to all the world... except my own self.
This suddenly opened the floodgates. I didn't even know it was coming, but suddenly the dam burst and I just started sobbing uncontrollably. My therapist, "T," was encouraging me to speak, and at least try to repeat after her about my own worthiness, but I could not get the words out. I could barely breathe. I am not able to believe that those things - that I am not only worthy of love but that I might be worthy of my own love! - can be true. Not yet.
We filled the hour much more quickly than I had expected, with me doing a lot of crying and T just encouraging me to tap via EFT and her own EMDR work on me, helping me to go to that 7yo little girl whose mother had just suddenly dropped dead, whose world was ripped out from under her and turned upside-down, who already couldn't believe at that time, by 8 years old, that life would ever be okay and, for fuck's sake, safe again. And she was helping me to go to the older me, the teenager inside, and comfort her as well. And show her the love that no one else had.
But. Neither 7-year-old nor 17-year-old me is ready to trust 42-year-old me, and believe that I am safe, and loving, and will be kind and trustworthy to her. We are not there yet. There is still a long way yet to go. But we will get there. We will.
"Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued,
is always just beyond your grasp, but which,
if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you."