• Shermain Jeremy

Find Your Wings and Fly: Excerpts from My Book, How To Catch a Butterfly

One of the most beautiful creatures on this planet is the butterfly. Many don't realize however, that she is so much more than just her beauty. Her sole purpose is to give life as she flutters through brightly colored gardens and forests helping plants and flowers grow before she finds a mate, lays her eggs and dies.

Her journey is not easy and along the way, she may find herself prey to many. With all the right conditions in place and if approached just right she may fall victim, but one thing rings true. She can't be held down. Her freedom and her purpose come second nature to her because it's the only thing she knows.

As I celebrate another year of life, I feel connected to the butterfly. Just as her delicate and complex transformation is crucial to her evolution, I know that the intricacies of my own life both good and bad have prepared me just the same. I too understand all too well how priceless freedom is to one's personal growth and development and in turn fulfilling one's purpose.

This may sound crazy but there was a time in my life when I was afraid of mirrors. Anything that showed a reflection of myself evoked feelings of fear, discomfort and unfamiliarity. Only someone who has ever looked in the mirror to find that they could no longer recognize themselves can fully understand this. Being unable to recognize you, to actually look at yourself in the mirror and see the face of a stranger, of someone who is not you is the scariest feeling in the world. Now, instead of fear, I feel relief whenever I see my reflection. I am so in love with the woman I see. I can see me again and ontop of that be confident enough to say "yes that's me but ten times better!" I love the place I am in. Still a work in progress but I am happy and it shows.

As I reflect on the last few years of my life I can't help but think that the tough times we go through are the moments when God is hitting us over the heads trying to wake us up out of our stupor. Many of us go through life completely oblivious to the signs He sends us. Going about life with no care in the world, leaning on our own strength and understanding only to keep repeating the same mistakes of the past over and over. Some of us are so numb that we don't even realize it, while some of us rationalize our poor choices by blaming others or are so damaged that we recline into depression and become even more lost.

Then there are some of us who actually wake up. The phrase "stay woke" is real because there are real dangers in this world. Monsters. But they are not the ones you see in the movies. These monsters appear normal, charming, attractive, kind and loving, perfect even, but they are so deeply damaged that the only thing they know is pain and as they seek to mask their pain they transfer that pain onto anyone who will let them. This blog post however is not about these people (that's for another time), but rather I wanted to instead place the focus on me as I peal away the layers of my own delicate chrysalis.

Self-realization, growth and therapy have brought me to a place where I have come to accept that for a long time in my life I was asleep. Living but dead. A product of my environment where for some reason all I wanted to do was people-please. Where I thought the world was full of nice people and no one would want to hurt me or use me because I was a good person.

During my slumber, I allowed external forces to dictate my life because I had become so good at second guessing myself and sacrificing my God-given instincts so that I could fit into society's definition of a woman. Being in the entertainment world did not help either and I realize now that over time I was slowly being stripped of my self-confidence and self-esteem. For some reason, in that world you are never good enough and it was no wonder that during this time, I attached myself to a relationship that only sought to solidify and intensify all those same negative feelings and emotions.

You see, what time has taught me, is that my experience with my ex-husband though the icing on a bad cake, was not the first toxic relationship that I had been in but the crazy thing about abuse especially if you grew up around it is familiarity brings comfort. You learn over time how to deal with it and something that should be bad for you becomes so familiar that you are able to build coping mechanisms in order to survive. The alarming thing about this is that I had no idea that I was doing these damaging things to myself and here in lies the light bulb moment.

While I can go on harnessing negative feelings towards all who hurt me and blaming my exes for being horrible people, the reality is I have to take responsibility for myself and my own actions. I have talked about healing in previous posts but I have come to realize that acceptance is bigger than healing or at least the biggest stepping stone to forgiving yourself and finding redemption. Learning to accept our mistakes as just that...mistakes...learning lessons. It's true some mistakes leave scars forever or have lifetime repercussions and accepting that is difficult at best but crucial to true healing. Taking the focus off the "other person" and placing it on myself has opened a labyrinth of truths that maybe I did not want to see or accept maybe because I felt that by placing the focus on me that I would be too vulnerable or too exposed.

Either way I now know, that in order to no longer keep repeating my poor choices of the past that I would need to dissect myself and understand the 'why' behind it all before I could really move forward. I also know now that vigilance is key to survival, that I should never take anything or anyone for granted. That staying "woke" is the only option because I have the right to protect myself and what is mine at all costs no matter how displeasing that may be to someone else. That I should always pay attention to everything and everyone around me including myself. Shaking off the 'nice girl' persona so that I can focus on staying true to myself and standing firm in my feelings especially those that come from the gut continues to be a work in progress. Learning to respectfully say "No" is another big take away. I can't be everything to everyone and I have learned that pacing myself and managing my time better relieves so much stress and anxiety, so that I can be whole and present for not just me but my two girls.

Practicing daily affirmations and breaking bad habits have become a challenging journey, but one where I have seen the most positive results. It is amazing the things that can happen in one's life if they choose to change their mindset. You would be surprised at how impactful the mental and emotional can have on the physical. All the work I have put into me over these past two years has been challenging to say the least, but I am reaping the benefits. Looking back to where I was and seeing where I am today sends chills up my spine. I definitely did a "glow up", because I did not give up on me. I did not give up on life. I fought through it and I am smarter and stronger for it today.

When a butterfly evolves from its chrysalis her wings are wet and weak. She is tired and vulnerable at this stage but with rest finds her strength, spreads her wings and attempts to fly. Though difficult at first, she learns quickly and within a few hours is flying seamlessly. Like the butterfly you too need to find your wings. In the weak moments find peace and clarity by taking a step back. Resting. Evaluate yourself as truthfully and as objectively as possible and hold steady your crooked crown while you practice to fly. One thing that gives me the greatest satisfaction is knowing that despite everything I have been through I keep WINNING! So remember no matter how crooked the crown, a crown is still a crown and you are still a QUEEN!

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