I love the metamorphic dance of the butterfly. From slow, awkward, unattractive, caterpillar to elegant, graceful, beautiful, butterfly. This dance is symbolic, illustrating our deep desire to shed the things that hold us back, spread our wings and take flight. It’s our collective hope, that we can start from where we are, and transform into our true potential. It can also represent a type of awakening, after a long slumber, or even a rebirth.
Many people walk through life asleep, never questioning what is, never aspiring to be more, or to grow. These people go through the motions and just accept what is. They are the walking dead. I know they exist, because I was one of them.
My deep slumber was the time that I had abandoned myself, when my life became all about someone else. I had forgotten about the little joys in life, the things that gave me pleasure and I had completely forgotten about all of the things my soul craved for its own growth and happiness. Those were dark times, when I lived in a fog, almost like something else had taken over my body. It felt foreign and unnatural, but little by little it was who I became.
I remember feeling invisible and it became normal to feel that way, because the I, who used to exist, no longer did. My Narcissist was visible, so visible, he was all I saw, all anyone saw, of the couple that was us. We did what he wanted to do, went where he wanted to go, our friends were his friends. He was the one that stood out. He had talent, he was beautiful, special, he was the star. I was just the driver of his fan club bus. I became numb to who I was, polishing his star became my normal. I never once stopped to wonder who I would be, if I was no longer HIS girl. So I remained invisible.
The uniqueness that was once me, that he pretended to love, was now an agreeable, broken, shell, who always had to bend and keep the peace to keep him happy. Neither of us knew how to communicate, but it was implied that everything would always be about him. It was just easier that way. And I accepted those terms fully and completely and after a while and for whatever reason, the us that had existed for so long, no longer pleased him and he was gone. There was no discussion, no fixing, and no working things out. Once he made the decision that he was moving on, he did.
I will never forget the smug look on his face as I cried. He got off on my begging and pleading and the state he left me in. He gloated and drank his fill of my hurt, he wore it like a shawl that comforted him and kept him warm.
I however was naked and crawling around in the dark, paralyzed with a crushing pain in my chest and an overwhelming fear. I didn’t have anywhere to go, no one to turn to, not even myself, because he had eroded my belief that I could care for myself long ago. He called me helpless and weak and I believed him.
Soon my fear turned to anger and my anger drove me forward. It was the most powerful force I have ever encountered in my life. It wasn’t negative. It was a strange kind of energy source. It was all mine and it fueled me. It was the catalyst that would hurl me further, than I ever dreamed I was capable of going.
But taking those first steps was terrifying. I felt like a newborn colt on shaky legs. It felt as though the universe had picked up my life and shook it like a snow globe and everything was chaos. I knew what I had to do. I had to rediscover who I was, I had to reconnect with me, but there was no how-to manual, so I inched and clawed my way forward. I remember making a phone call to a friend. I had been lying in bed for days. I asked him, “What do I do?” He replied, “Just do the little things.”
Just Do The Little Things
Doing the little things for me, was getting out of bed, brushing my teeth, eating, cleaning my house. Those were the first steps. The next ones were harder.
I met my Narcissists when we were 21 and all this time later, after the break-up, I felt like I was 21 again. I remembered 21 year old me, she was bold, confident, ambitious and smart. She liked sports, the big city, going to clubs and dancing with her girls. She had lots of friends, she was popular, fun, adventurous and the life of the party. But I wasn’t her anymore. So, who was I?
There were so many things that I had given up and let go of, all in the name of love, but now I was free to do whatever I wanted. I felt like a puppy that had been let outside for the first time. The world was so new, with endless possibilities. I could like what I wanted to like, do what I wanted to do and spend time with whomever I wanted to.
I went crazy for a little while, I blew through a lot of money, trying to figure out what made me happy and maybe even trying to buy my way out of sorrow. I don’t recommend shopping and spending, but I was figuring things out as I went. All I knew was that pampering myself felt good, so I kept doing it.
I bought new, expensive, high thread count bed sheets. It sounds so funny, but sliding into my warm cozy, soft bed made me feel good, so it prompted me to do more. I bought all sorts of smelly candles, beautiful wine glasses, a water fountain, throw pillows, whatever I wanted.
I liked to spend time with my friend Isabelle, so we hang out at the local coffee bar and talked and talked for hours. I bought books and more books and I read outside in the sun, on patios, I read in the bathtub. I read whenever I wanted to. I liked flowers and I filled my space with them – they looked and smelled so beautiful. I ran along the beach. Not only was I getting the natural endorphins from running, but I got to soak in all the eye candy of the natural landscape. It was like I had never seen it before, like I had been blind, but now I saw everything with new eyes.
The more little things I did that made me happy the more I wanted to do. The need to be happy seemed to gain momentum. Soon I was going out with friends all the time, I took classes for fun, I babied myself at the spa, got mani-pedi’s, bought soooo many new clothes and shoes, so many I had to buy two giant shoe racks from floor to ceiling just to hold them all.
At times I felt like an infant learning to walk, but once I got the hang of it, I took off and didn’t look back. The pain was ebbing and I was free. This new freedom felt so incredible. It felt like a gift. And I kept coming back to the question of, why did I ever allow myself to be involved with someone that made me so unhappy. I vowed that I would never again abandon myself.
The rest of my life was going to be about me, about nurturing my soul, and enveloping myself in things that made me feel good.
When you have experienced deprivation, the act of allowing is pure bliss. It’s euphoric. It involves a huge emotional learning curve. It completely adjusts your attitude, because what you had previously taken for granted, is now garnered with sanctity. You never again look at it the same way – you build an appreciation and a respect and it is here, where your resolve is born, where you grow as a being and come to an understanding of what is good and healthy and what is right – and what isn’t.
Narrowing Your Focus
It takes time to wade through the pain, hurt and fear, but each little step towards finding your joy makes it easier. It keeps you moving in the right direction and focused on the right things –namely, you.
Once you’ve got yourself on the highway out of Hurtsville, focus on creating stability, independence and harmony.
Start thinking about your career and your purpose. Change jobs if yours is unfulfilling. If going back to school is the answer, there is no better time to do it, then while you are in a transitional period. Putting all of that energy into your future feels incredibly uplifting.
I came to realize that I was my best asset, I had tones of potential, all I had to do was have faith and invest in me.
I stabilized my relationships, I got back into the habit of calling my friends on a regular basis, and I made time for them.
Spend time with your family and loved ones and create a support structure. You’ll find that, even if you have previously shut them out, because of your Narcissist, the important ones will forgive you and welcome you back with open arms.
Finding you again, is a difficult journey, but the toughest ones in life are the ones that teach us the greatest lessons. They jolt us out of our complacency. They wake us up in this world and they force us to take action. Once you have taken the little steps and stabilized your environment, take the time to reconnect with your spirit, and vow that you will never abandon you, again.
Always stay in your bliss and take center stage in the story of your life. Let go of the wobbly old caterpillar and become the butterfly you were born to be.
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