“Wherever you go, well I can always follow. I will feed this real slow, if it’s a lot to swallow.”
I always feel like the greatest compliment you can lend to someone, whether breaking up, ending a friendship, or just leaving a colleague as you move on to another job is, “You’ve changed me.” Because of YOU, I am a better person. Because of you I am better. Because of you I am free.
Any one of those variations is a beautiful statement. A gift.
I think of the people that have changed me. The older woman with the big hair when I was in middle school who told me I could be anything. The first touch that changed me, romantically, because he said he loved me and for the first time, someone meant it. He meant it. My skin could discern the truth, blanketed in goose bumps and moonlight, youth and love and first times. The first time I reciprocated. I loved. I touched him back. Dimly lit and green, but changed.
Changing even changes as you grow. The salad days and first -time types of changes are replaced with something more difficult. I call them butterfly days.
There were the times when love and lies and cheating left me feeling, so cold and dumb. I left feeling hate for having been made to feel so, so dumb. For giving someone so unworthy something so fragile, “Here, take this…” I smiled and closed his fingers so they firmly, but gently, clutched what I had to give.
I kissed the callouses on his hands and went off on my way. My book in hand, this pounding in my chest. An air under my feet that made them agile and weightless, for once.
And the moment I turned, skipping on my way, unknowingly, he threw it. As an over-sized truck came down the street, right as the rubber spun close to the height of his waist, math calculated and everything, he threw it under the first monster tire he saw. My heart was splattered on some street in Upper Montclair with the Catholic school girls in their rolled up skirts running by.
Pieces of me, and an “us” that never existed, stuck to their shoes like dirty chewing gum. I can imagine the truck with my folly spinning over and over again as it goes on unknowingly, doing its job across the states for all to see. I was a laughing stock. I was dumb. He didn’t want my heart. He was cruel. Life was cruel. That may be more accurate.
I started to make lists of all the people I was cruel to, even the people I just didn’t love in “that way”, unintentionally cruel. A list of amends that I would make with my God, asking Him to deliver my “sorries” to those I have hurt without ever knowing exactly how much hurt I caused them.
Which makes me think of something that must be said and it is another post entirely, but I must say a quick something about it now. As much as that fucker (I’m presuming that is what you’d like me to name them) or those fuckers hurt you, you too have hurt people. As much as he/she/they lied, you too have lied. For every finger we point in hate, feeling red inside, we must point three back at ourselves. We’re all fuckers.
Your greatest lesson in life is to see these moments of great pain and disappointment as Divine Appointments. Can you forgive as you seek to be forgiven? As innocent as you think you are, I assure you that you are not. None of us are. It is almost arrogant for me to get so red and hurt because someone hurt me. How many people have I hurt knowingly and even unknowingly? When it is ME, it is unforgivable? That is arrogant. We must forgive. It is the most difficult process, it is our greatest test, and it happens in the cocoon.
We all have a metaphor like the aforementioned Mack truck metaphor. We gave someone something for free, despite it being the most valuable thing we own, and they threw it away. We gave someone our trust, our love, freely and we insisted they can do what they like with it, and then they mishandled it, they got evil with it, they threw it in front of a Mack truck. Splat.
Side note: It is only love when it is given away freely. Love is a risk, but you get mad props for giving something so awesome away (your heart is AWESOME) even if someone did something disrespectful with it. You STILL get cyber hugs from me for taking risks and loving freely. But since love is free, we cannot hate for what the recipient did with it. Let your love be the only truth that came from an ugly situation. Keep it pure. The ugliness, the untruthful part, let that stay with them.
You loved. Amen.
BUT, your heart hurts. Getting run over by a truck, even figuratively, will do that to a person. You will be laid out, flat on your back, unable to do many things for a while. Until the first time you stir, that is the first time you bat a wing against the side of your cocoon. That is when the change begins, an incredible change.
When butterflies are wrapped in their cocoons, do you know what they are doing? They are banging, banging, banging, slowly, slowly, faster, stronger still. Their wings frantically fighting with the walls that bind them. That is how the butterfly tells the cocoon they want desperately out of there. It is how the cocoon tells the butterfly, “You are getting strong. This exercise of beating against me is making your muscles; the ones that will allow you to fly when you are ready.”
All the beating against the edges of that cocoon aren’t for naught. That is what readies a butterfly’s wings for flight. It makes their wings strong. They learn to extend. To flap, harder and faster…until they break free and fly. Only when their wings are strong enough and ready, the cocoon splits open and they are free. Flying.
The situation that envelopes you, makes you “stuck”, makes you angry, makes you hit and beat against yourself, is often the thing that makes your wings. That strengthens them. It’s often the thing that sets you free. If you were a teacher with a butterfly kit in class for your students to watch the process, and someone felt badly for a butterfly trapped in its cocoon and decided to split it open, to set them free. They’d be doing it a great disservice. Because the butterfly didn’t do the work on its own, it wouldn’t be able to fly. It would die.
In life, the person who was awful or mean or whatever, the situation that sent you flying backwards onto your back, is often the cocoon. How you react is you beating your wings, readying them for flight. Every time you stir in hopes of getting over this great hurt – a prayer, a new project, a new friend, letting someone take you out of the house for a while and listening to live jazz with one of your closest confidants, getting dressed, showering, working despite feeling so broken, knowing how someone you loved stole from you and your family and letting it go…all of that is you extending those fragile wings against the inside of the cocoon.
You are beating it. You are getting stronger. You will break free, and ultimately fly.
No one gets credit for that, but you. You alone get credit for fighting through it. Fighting in ways that are not destructive, but productive. You learning to flap instead of rage. You breaking through. You took that horrible situation and you let it change you in a positive way. That is how you fly my friends.
PS- I’ve been listening to this song for days by Damien Rice, “I Don’t Want to Change You”. It’s about loving someone and telling them you don’t want to change them, you just want to be near them, faults and all.
So “change” has been the theme taking over my mind of late. It is what I have been walking with. Hence, the post.
I have come to this conclusion – showing up because you dig someone, all of them, is awesome. Not wanting to change them is a gift you give to someone while ENTERING a relationship (any, I don’t mean only romantically). It is the best way to enter a relationship. But leaving one, having changed the person anyway, without trying, is the GREATEST gift- a beautiful, beautiful gift. To whom it serves the greatest, I’m not totally sure.
Someone once wrote me, “Thank you, you changed my life.” I sat, smiled while taking it in, and responded, “Thank YOU.”
We both meant it. We were both…changed.