While in my last year of University I was tasked with writing a short memoir on something that shaped who we are today. I decided to write about the loss of my mother, the reason why I fell in love with writing in the first place. In this short memoir I start my story in High School to frame attributes about all characters to high light who I was and the environment I was surrounded by. In this memoir I use the phases of the butterfly to highlight the phases I travel through to self-revitalization. Choosing the butterfly to commemorate our matching butterfly tattoos together. I contemplated between posting this memoir or keeping it for myself. I chose to post it to provide my readers a starting point that almost all my consecutive writing pieces will shadow with hopes one day to draft a full memoir.
The Butterfly Effect
It happens all too often in society, that our dreams and devotions run wild in our mind. We devise an ideal life for ourselves and when there is a minor bump in the road, we feel as if our plans are foiled. I believe life is capable of the most beautiful things, and more often than not beauty wears a mask of trauma. Who says trauma can’t be a resurrection story? A pinnacle point in life where you recreate yourself and amend your broken pieces. Media everywhere paints the picture that heartbreak is a death sentence and learning to love yourself is all too tough. Let me paint you a story about a butterfly, a once troubled girl who soon develops her wings and learns to soar.
Learning to love yourself is the hardest journey of all, I was tried and tested in the meek years of high school. Growing up as the girl who got shorter tests, easier questions, and one-on-one help was never easy, but I learnt to accept it. Being defeated by every math test I wrote beginning from ages eight until the present day, was never helpful. Life when you get to high school changes you. You're the new kid in school, surrounded by thousands of faces you've never seen. Ears unaware of your story and lips that have never quivered your name. You’re a ghost amongst the hoarded hallways, all of which are segmented by subjects. Unaware of where you fit, are you an athlete or a bookworm? Forging my caterpillar years, hopelessly awaiting my wings I build my armour. Strengthening and preparing me for the trials I would face in life. There isn't much that separates you or I, I’m an average twenty one year old girl. Managing a social life, active in my community, residing in the same city she was born in. I have an amazing family and have a roof over my head, what is climactic about that? I faced the same adversity of many people alike myself, mental, emotional, and spiritual ones. Wishing I could warp back in time to warn my younger self of the world. Red flagging the people who would soon trial my actions. I'd remind her not to let people impose on her autonomy. Join me and slip into the mind of a fourteen year old girl who begins high school. What is on her mind? Fitting in possibly, or boys? Your scenario becomes boy meets girl. Succumbing to five years of submissive behaviour at the hand of a belittler. In the years of discovering yourself you step into a life of uncertainty, scared to make the wrong move or you will be left alone. Home was no peach, parented by someone who blamed their child until proven innocent. You find yourself situated between two walls closing in on you, one being your love life and the other being your mother, which way do you run? Both see your faults in every action. Stepping out of fourteen year old sneakers and into nineteen year old heels, I reach second year of university. A pinnacle transition in forming my cocoon. Wrestling for my autonomy I take charge in my life. I close my five year chapter and open to a fresh page. To my amazement my fresh page wasnt hot off the press, it was weathered and torn.
I had bright eyes for the future, appreciating all opportunities presented towards me and feeling rejuvenated. My mother felt otherwise. The next 8 months would be a warzone between a mother and daughter, nit picking who I was and what I now stood for. My mother and I would do everything together, I’d train her at the gym, she’d treat me to a salon day, and we’d end up nuzzled in the end. But what went wrong? Things got sour, and fast. Going from best friends to enemies is a hard pill to swallow, but having an empty nest isn't easy for a mother either. I moved on, I found someone new. I was happy, working two jobs I adored. I was never home. Her words became as strong as a tsunami, washing every good memory away. When your best friend loses hope in you, you start to as well. Circumstantially I crumbled at work, to the point of no return, I’m sent to therapy. I find myself in a bright room, fish tank to my right, a man in a chair to my left. I already knew I was manic depressive and managing anxiety on my own, no need for another PhD to tell me I was. Four hours a week I sat in a chair, watching fish blow bubbles. Reaching the edge of the cliff, I was holding on by a sliver of hope scrounge up to unpack my life ending thoughts. Inevitable sadness overcoming my mind puppeteered by my mother. Trapped in my mother's one woman show as a ventriloquist, I learn how to manage my mind in times of sorrow. I held myself accountable to journal and outsource my emotions daily. Time spun forward, beginning to see him less and less. I felt good, well as good as I could be.
An unfortunate phase to face is the purgatory of joy and despair. I was on a teeter totter, balancing my happiness and my mothers. Then my life got flipped upside down. My mother's life would become a battle in the ward of neurology. A permanent scar resides on November sixth, something that cannot be fixed. Pulling up to the hospital at the crack of dawn, little did I know she was already foregone. I rolled her into triage, checked in for admittance and now my hands are marked with quittance. Humble as she could be she steps into her gown, a smile shown onto her face as if everything was falling into place. Doctors ordered to say goodbye, ‘I love you’ crept through my lips and a kiss on the head. Sitting with such grace, I had no clue it would be the last time you see my face. Although the hands of the clock shifted, no words were gifted. Word breaks the surgery was not a success, rest assured mom is in recovery and surgery would commence. Hours past, many questions asked. Minutes felt like years, oh so many tears. Family gathered near, all covered in fear. To the ICU we woe, it felt like a tableau. Everything didn't feel quite the same and I wasn't sure who I should blame. Surgeons emerged, the room became surged. They conveyed the time frame, it would then become a waiting game. Morning breaks and we make way from what little slumber we could sway. We somber to her room to be greeted with gloom. Although days progressed her health digressed. Time passing like a sand timer, the room feeling foggy. The only thing to stick was ‘suspected brain death’, the last test would be the breath. We prepare for her demise, I couldn't look into her eyes. If I knew it was the end, I would have amend. But it was too late now, I mustn’t question how. There was always a plan in mind, everyone is left blind. Tucking myself into my cocoon, in fear of the next stage of life.
We learn a lot about ourselves in times of grief. What images we see, the words we tell ourselves, and what triumphs were capable of. When my mom died my life changed, I knew I had to be the backbone of my family. I had to step outside my personal bubble where suicidal thoughts and dark matter intermingle. Consecutive weeks and months to come were the moments she prepared me for. My headspace bounced between the five stages of grief. Believing my mother's funeral was anything short of a night terror was a daily occurence. Guilt dampered my smile and anger was worn on my sleeve. Revisiting the white room and two chairs almost daily, with a heavy sigh I knew what PhD was going to tell me. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Allowing my mind to consume me with instant replays of the ICU, a casket, and an empty seat at home. Life becomes a lonely place when you're forced to grow up faster than everyone around you. People in their twenties are living life to the fullest. They go out for drinks, go away on vacation, almost never home. My life was quite the opposite, some might say I was the modern day cinderella. I began to fill my mother's shoes: water the plants, cook dinner for the family, indulge in endless hours of cleaning. The things my mother taught me to do over the course of my life never felt relevant, until now. Life began moving faster and faster and I couldn't outrace it. I was spinning out of control unable to calm myself down. I knew it was time to conjure my resilience. A mentality that has stuck with me is the idea of a blank slate, if I was once a child with no habits, no inherent truths, why can I not become a new blank slate? I had to let go of ideas I coddled and habitual tendencies I grappled. I had to rise up from the ashes and erase the words of self doubt. Halting the self-pity train and embracing the new life I had was something I began to learn. In times of melancholy we as humans grasp onto dopamine highs, the interactions on our social media or an alert on our phones. These are short term highs and I was in need of a long term fix.
A caterpillar was resurrecting from its cocoon, moving onwards into a flourishing life. I knew no one would make me better, I had to form my own hope. Mapping a road for my life was never something I envisioned, but I needed to push barriers. The first barrier I hurdled was realizing I am not stronger than all my demons, I needed to ask for help. I called a psychiatrist. Once again finding myself in a bright airy room, I situate myself on the couch and feel my hands sweat as the legal paper makes an appearance. Dissection begins by recalling the relationship and trivial matters between my mother and I. Originally believing my mom was to blame for my dwindling life satisfaction, I soon discovered I was my own road block. I then committed myself to undivided self-love, I resumed my mom's practices of feng shui and meditation. Engaging with my practice I call upon elements in my space: rose quartz that promotes amending my heart and compassion to myself, rosary beads that remind me there's a higher purpose, the aroma of incense cleansing my airspace, and a picture of my guardian angel. Journaling has become a drug, giving me an indescribable high. Coming to peace with my emotions I began to learn my words would take flight. Starting to believe my life has a purpose I find passions and triumphs in the small things. I let my creativity be my medication for happiness. Painting and writing words that framed the image of my mother, allowing me to keep her memory alive. Although my pages filled with words of sorrow and melancholy, I felt nothing short of resilient. My words gave me affirmations that I needed to make me wake up everyday and leave bed.
When you are stricken with grief you constantly remind yourself of the cliche ‘time heals all wounds’. But that may never be something I believe in. I think grief is a process of self-revitalizing, not something you trudge through. The wounds of being a motherless daughter will always remain, but they will not always define me. In this moment of grief I’m building myself to be the woman my mother wanted and the creator I always dreamt of being. The trauma of my mother passing away is a mask of beauty, the beauty being the journey to self love and creation. It wouldn’t matter how many therapy sessions I’d have or how many prescriptions doctors would write for me. Those would only be wound fillers. It would take my mother leaving earth for me to gain the wings I needed to fly. Although her wings flap amongst the rebirth plane up above, mine cut the wind amongst the beautiful journey ahead of me.