Category Archives: Wellness

Butterflies Are Resilient Creatures

The following was written just after a fight I had with my husband. We’ve been married 16 years and have gone through all manner of both terrible and wonderful moments in time. All couples have fights, and anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows that you don’t always fight fair, nor do the angry thoughts you have at the moment necessarily represent how you feel in general. The following was how I felt at such a moment.

When I first published this post, I hurt a lot of feelings, so I took it down. It hurt me to do so because it was an honest representation of how I felt, but at the same time, it is not my goal to hurt anyone with this blog, but rather help. And sometimes being nourished by joy involves sorting through difficult feelings and emotions felt in the moment, so that they don’t take hold long term. Therefore, I hope you take from this story that it was just a portrait of a moment in time and not representative of the long term.

As I passed through the front door of my work building and into the sunlight-drenched afternoon air, I quickly looked down at the ground and slipped on my sunglasses. No use having anyone ask me what’s wrong, I thought.

I shuffled down the block towards the stoplight, my mind cluttered with the debris left by the argument we’d just had. I felt lost. No, not lost exactly, just perplexed and unsteady. Confused and hurt. The rock in the pit of my stomach was back. I hated that feeling. It felt clumsy and out of place inside me.

I let the anger rise and swell in my gut. The rock in my stomach was the last thing I wanted to have to deal with. I wanted to just skip over the immediate aftermath of hurt and frustration and back to the part where I realized I was okay again.

My thoughts drifted around through the film reels in my head that kept playing back pieces of the fight. I felt my fists ball up as the tears began to sting my eyes. It’s just not fair I whispered under my breath. He knew exactly how to push my buttons. Exactly what to say to pull me into the cloud that had settled over his mind.

I knew that for him, it would be a relatively short amount of time. Then he would inevitably move out of that looming grayness without warning, leaving me stuck in a murky fog of disillusionment and perplexity. For me, it wasn’t as easy to move out from the fog, once I had given myself over to it. I tended to brood in it until I was good and ready to come out, lashing at anyone who would dare try to pull me away.

As I sifted through that dense fog that had crept over my mind I felt the rock in my stomach swell up towards my chest, and I let out a cough, trying to clear it. I knew I needed to eat something, but I was too full from that damned rock.

I approached the bustling intersection and listlessly jabbed my index finger into the crosswalk button. It didn’t beep. I rolled my eyes and jabbed at it again. This time it beeped. I sighed as his voice ran through my head, reminding me how dirty crosswalk buttons were and, “How could you just touch them like that? Do you let the girls touch buttons like that? What else do you let the girls do when I’m not home? What are you getting away with now? What’s really going on, Christin Joy?”

I shook the voice out of my head and wiped my eyes. My conscience had been replaced long ago by this voice of judgment and accusation, and I wondered how much of it was actually him talking, and how much of it was my own projection of how I felt about him, and, more importantly how I felt about myself.

I had made mistakes in the past. Terrible, unforgivable mistakes. And yet here we were, 6 years later. Still together, and still fighting the same fights. The cycle was so perpetual that it made me want to scream out loud, except that I never could. In the moment, I always felt paralyzed. I wondered if he did, too.

As I waited for the light to turn, I noticed a little white butterfly fluttering across the intersection. It flew in a zigzag pattern, hovering about ten feet over the asphalt as it made its way across the street and towards the tree line on the opposite side. I gazed at it, watching its every movement closely. It was a welcome flood of relief for my aching brain to watch this pure, unhindered little creature as it made its noble trek in front of me.

I noticed the milky white color if its wings and its carefree movements, and I felt a little pang of jealousy creep into my chest. I wasn’t jealous of the freedom or the journey, just of the pureness and simplicity it had. The glow it seemed to cast on the world around it as it moved. There was no cloud hanging over it. No voice trying to creep in and tell it that it was doing everything wrong.

My thoughts were suddenly interrupted by a loud whoosh and I watched in horror as a delivery truck came barreling through the intersection, smacking the little white butterfly against its windshield as it drove through, oblivious to the damage it had just caused.

For one terrible moment, my heart stopped. I sucked in my breath, my arms stuck at my sides, unable to move. I felt the rock in my stomach turn over as my brain attempted to process what my eyes had just witnessed. I prepared myself to see the little white butterfly drop to the ground.

But then I saw it. The little white butterfly, though perplexed and confused, was still fluttering around. I let out a huge sigh of relief, and watch as the poor creature swung itself around, getting its bearings. It then drifted upward towards the sky and continued its journey safely into the line of trees on the other side.

It had survived. It had been knocked off course unexpectedly, but had shaken it off and moved onward. My relief was replaced quickly by anger towards the truck. Who did it think it was, barreling over a poor butterfly like that? But then I realized that the truck driver hadn’t done it on purpose, obviously. It had no idea the butterfly was even there. He was just doing what truck drivers do, driving forward, staying the course that had been set for him.

And so had the butterfly. I had seen it as pure and fragile. I had seen it as this delicate and very breakable, defenseless creature drifting through its short life on this planet. But then I remembered, of course, that butterflies are resilient too.

Butterflies were only free and beautifully delicate because they had first survived an incredible transformation. Each and every one had been completely changed and renewed from the lives they had known before. They had been born again to a new life and given a second chance.

I breathed in and out deeply as the light turned green, signaling it was okay for me to cross the street. I felt the rock shrink back just a bit, and the fog in my head start to clear. I am resilient too. And I also have been given a second chance.

Wearing White Jeans Again Part III

Just catching up? Here are Part I and Part II

I remember the moment so vividly. It was just a fleeting glance, but it captured my manic body image frenzy as a new mom as perfectly as a photograph in my mind. There I was, a brand new mom of a beautiful baby girl, walking up the block of a café-and-office lined street towards the park on a sunny weekday.

I was with a group of other new moms with whom I’d started to form friendships, and we were taking our babies to the park because it seemed like a normal ‘mom thing’ to do. Forget that we were exhausted from lack of sleep. Forget that none of us had probably showered that day (okay week), and had telltale mom buns, no makeup, and nursing tops with milk stains all over them. None of that mattered to us. How could it, when we could barely form sentences at that point? We were all basically winging it, as all new moms do.

Anyway, I remember that as I was walking up the street in the middle of my mom-pack, I happened to glance over at my reflection in the glass of a dimly lit store, and saw myself staring back…only it didn’t seem like me at all. I didn’t even recognize the person in the glass. That person looked tired, worn down, disheveled, bewildered, and paunchy. I looked down at my belly in disgust, and tried to suck it in, like I had learned to do in dance classes. I looked in the glass again and saw that what had once worked to give me a slender profile through the stomach region, now offered very little change in bulk.

And I remember looking up at the new moms in front of me, wondering why and how in the heck their bellies appeared to be flatter than mine. Or were they? I didn’t really know for sure, but they were at the very least recognizable as the same people I had seen before and after giving birth. It didn’t seem fair to me.

Even more confusingly, I couldn’t really grasp why I was feeling that way. I knew as well as anyone that it takes awhile for your belly to go down postpartum. Never mind that I was at my pre-pregnancy weight less than a week postpartum. I was proud of that fact, don’t get me wrong, but it was my overall shape that took me by surprise. I looked…well…different. I didn’t feel normal.  And I didn’t feel like I fit in with my peers.

It harkened back to the feelings I had the fateful Day of the White Jeans. I wasn’t good enough the way I was. I should have been able to pull it together the way all the other new moms seemed to do. I should have been exercising more, and taking showers, and putting on some makeup at least. I should have at least done that much if I was going to have a belly like that, resting atop hips that had also seemed to have gathered some excess baggage along the way.

I remember longing in that moment for the days before my baby’s birth, when I could sleep when I wanted, exercise when I wanted, and shower when I wanted. I felt a fleeting sense of resentment, followed by guilt for having those feelings, because I loved my baby girl so much! I vowed that I would at least try to exercise more, if only for my baby to have a healthy mama.

And I would also take a shower, for goodness sake.

Stay tuned for Part IV!

Wearing White Jeans Again, Part II

Just catching up? Read Part I here.

Yellow splotchy white jeans. Yellow splotchy white jeans. Interestingly (or not) enough, it was the perfect metaphor for my life. The white jeans were how I should have seen myself, washed clean of imperfections, forgiven, loved, with my whole life ahead of me. But all I saw were yellow splotches of imperfection, failure, and evidence that I was not enough.

With the tears still stinging my eyes, I tried in vain to scrub the stains off of my jeans. The splotches wouldn’t go away no matter what I tried. I took the yellow splotches as a sign that white jeans were for somebody slimmer, more popular, more wealthy, and for someone who could achieve it all without getting dirty. I threw them away in the garbage, and went on with my life, telling myself they just weren’t my “thing” and I still had plenty of other denim options. White jeans would be forbidden.

My body insecurities followed me well past my teens. I was a walking cliché of every young female with body image issues. Convinced my bottom and legs were simply too big, I fell into fad diets and exercise, protein bars and energy drinks, and “energy pills” to keep me going through full-time jobs and full-time junior college. I lied to myself, saying I was simply trying to get healthy.

Even after I got married, and my husband truly absolutely loved me and loved my body proportions, I still struggled under the guise of trying to “get healthy.” Fortunately for me, I never actually hit a rock bottom. In fact, each new thing taught me more and more of what NOT to do to achieve health. I could see the patterns emerging. I began to research in terms of health and nutrition as opposed to losing weight. I pushed myself through vigorous workouts, and dance classes, but really it was because I enjoyed them more than it was because I wanted to lose weight…losing weight would just have been a bonus.

Then, I got pregnant with my first daughter, and my view of my body began to permanently change. As I saw my body begin to change, grow, and literally expand before my eyes in such a new way, I began to feel as though the design for my body was completely out of my control, and out of my hands.

Pregnancy was new to me, and there was just so much information out there. Lists of do’s and don’ts and worries and frets of pregnant women all over the place. And there I was, wanting salted caramel ice cream one minute, and Granny Smith apples the next. The once chocolate and garlic lover couldn’t stand the smell or thought of it, and she even now liked mushrooms…MUSHROOMS!

I felt completely out of control and away from everything familiar when it came to my body. I was an emotional mess (well, okay, arguably that wasn’t new haha) and I felt like, based on stories I’d heard, I would never get my body back again. And there was a person growing inside me every day. Bigger and bigger, taking over control of my sleep, my movement, and my appetite.

I looked fine on the outside, buying up maternity jeans and tops, reading up on pregnancy health and nutrition, and listening to any podcast I could find about birth stories and the like. I even kinda liked my belly bump look. It was nice and firm and gave me an excuse not to exercise as much, eat what I wanted “for the baby” and dress in yoga pants and a loose top for work. But on the inside, I was starting to freak out about how I would look after the baby was born.

Stay tuned for Part III!