When Things Fall Apart: Learning to Lighten Up

It was 9pm and my oldest son and I were raring to go on our road-trip to MA in the morning. That’s when I got the call from my dearest friend, Lisa, whose house we’d be staying at for 4 days. She said there’d been a miscommunication - she wasn’t expecting us until the following weekend.


I’m DUMBSTRUCK. Stunned. I manage my calendar like a hawk! HOW DID I GET IT WRONG!? 

My hubby has taken off work. My older son has been so excited to see his friend in MA! We’re ALL PACKED! ACK! This is cataclysmic to me! Perfectionist me. Unforgiving me. NO!

I feel tears welling up. But. Lisa doesn’t sound as demolished as I feel. That’s when my protective inner Mob Boss grabs the ammo, knowing just what to do with my mortifying emotions. Shut. Them. Down. Lock & Load.    

Rut row.

I hang up with Lisa before the heavy-duty blamer BS (Belief System) starts firing. It speaks fluent Aim & Blame in dramatic CAPITALS and exclamation points!!!! It’s HER fault! 

Crap. I thought I was past this. I’m all about taking responsibility for myself, my reactions, feelings and beliefs. But here I am acting like a full-fledged card-carrying defensive and angry victim. Ugh. 

Growing up, I’d became slightly militant about the ways I should/could/would be RIGHT. Details, plans, people. I feared that my dwarfed body and I were just wrong all over the place. Making mistakes made me even more WRONG and unlovable. My Mobster BS insisted I’d better be perfect, if I wanted to be kept safe from a heartbreaking world. 

BS #2 (they run in packs) insisted, “I should be able to get over this stuff, once and for all.” Haha. Apparently, there is no such thing as “done” while living in an emotional-earth-suit. We’re a work in progress. 

#3 on the BS hit parade is C-O-N-T-R-O-L. Or my illusions of having it. Nuf said.

Blame, criticism, intolerance etc. are powerhouse viruses. They’re going around. When fear runs a muck inside us, but we don’t want to feel those feelings, it’s very tempting to deny, duck and judge. Hot potato. Toss the blame to someone else! 

But no matter how we serve up that French-fried blame, we’ll remain a wreck, because the “wrongness” is still simmering within us. When we revisit these old wounds it’s because there is always another silver lining to learn. 

There is always more humanness to forgive.

The following morning, still very mad at myself, my hubster Bill calls out, “Hon! Come see this butterfly on the stairs - INside!” 

Aw! I carefully lower my finger down in front of the butterfly and she climbs on.  





I bring her to my bedroom, where she flits to a sunny lace curtain, fragile as pale yellow confetti. It’s freezing outside, so releasing her isn’t happening. 

But. What about food? I take sliced oranges, bananas, a tray of sugar water and the vase of Valentine flowers and put them in the window. We’re the Butterfly Cafe.

My attention to the butterfly, to the moment, breathes grace into my previous self-pummeling. How can my heaviness stand up against her lightness of being?

The following day, I take some honey water on my finger and slowly put it in front of her. She hops aboard. And then I watch in awe - her teensy curled tongue (proboscis) which is a hair-thin straw, unfurls and begins probing the sweetness. And then . . . DRINKING. WHOA. I’m feeding a butterfly! 




After a spellbinding minute, my feathery friend re-curls her tongue and stands like a quiet statue. Both of us satiated.  

The week flies by, and it’s time for my son and I to take the trip we’d planned! Soon after we land in MA, my son and his friend have a major miscommunication about a pick-up time and place. We end up driving two hours to the wrong house. 


First, I want to blame his friend, then the dad, then my son, who suddenly wasn’t sure if he had overlooked the correct address. 

Rinse and repeat. 

After texting with the dad, we’re back on the road and I’m breathing easy again. Quick turnaround! Phew.

But my son.

He’s quiet and I ask if he’s okay. He says that NOW he understands why I cried over the previous mix-up with Lisa. He adds, “I think of myself as a smart person, but this mistake makes me wonder.” 

I can relate! 

Even our positive qualities can be limiting if we’re hard on ourselves when we ‘fall short.’ I apologize to him. Several times. We have a great talk - it’s so freeing to be imperfect together. 

There is always more to love.

If Lisa and I hadn’t miscommunicated the week before, I might have missed the heart to heart with my son. 

I might have missed the butterfly.

I might have missed the opportunity to see more of who I am. Black spots and all. And to blossom anyway. 

I might have missed the chance to draw closer to the divine. To flutter more like the butterfly, in and out of these changes and challenges. This is the everyday nectar of life on earth - learning to grow with the flow - amidst butterflies, blame, and mob bosses. They prepare us for the bigger dance - when life doesn’t do what we want it to do. When things fall apart. If we’re ready to release the heavy baggage - to step out of our comfortable cocoon and to trust our untested wings - then the soul offers abundant opportunities to lighten up and fly.

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