I sat down to write a story today; a story of transformation. What came to mind was an event when my daughter was about 7 years old. It happened on a beautiful spring day. She came running into the house screaming that she had found a “CATAPITTY”. I instantly realized that she was referring to the brown and yellow fuzzy caterpillar she was letting climb up her arm. My earnest reply was “Wow, How cool is that! Let’s find a jar to keep it in.” So we put Ms. Catapitty in a mason jar and poked holes in the top for air. Determined to make her new friend’s home cozy my daughter set out to retrieve a stick and some leaves from the bush where she found her new fuzzy friend. Along with a tiny bottle top of water she placed all of the items in the jar. She left Ms. Catapitty in my motherly hands went out to play. At seven years of age she knew that caterpillars transform into butterflies. She was convinced that she was going to witness a miracle.
My transformation from a fear based being to one that is grounded in love is much like the caterpillar’s story. From 0-10 years of age I was cute and fuzzy but kept in a jar and fed. 11-25 years of age I was still in the jar and very determined to find a way out. 26-40 years of age I was in a cocoon. 41 – 45 I started gnawing my way out. The warrior was set free.
In The Bottle – The Makings of a Warrior
I grew up the youngest of five in a Catholic family in Salt Lake City, Utah and I’m sure I was a woops. Our family was the classic 60-70s dysfunctional family. My oldest sibling is 13 years my senior. By the time I was 5 he was on his way to Vietnam and my oldest sister was pregnant at 16. My brother was critically wounded in Vietnam. At the age of 7, I went with my family to San Francisco to retrieve him from VA hospital. I actually walked the halls of those wards. Some said, that my father wanted us to know the grizzly effects of war. It was gruesome to say the least.
Then things really got harried; my other sister decided the heck with all of that and started down a path of drugs and alcohol. I have memories of sitting at the dinner table knowing she was tripping on acid and instinctively covering for her, I was around 9 years old. Within a year and a half she had ran away to join the hippie movement in Haight-Ahsbury, San Francisco. During this time my mother had a mild nervous breakdown and my father became consumed with finding her. We moved from our family home to an apartment, some said it was that my father couldn’t stand the memories of that “dream” home.
While I was in that bottle I was verbally fed tons of the wrong things, my environment (bottle) was not one to grow emotionally, physically, mentally or spiritually. You see Ms. Catapitty didn’t survive nor did any of the friends that were added to her jar. They just were not in the right environment to do what they had been born to do. This was a hard lesson for me and my 7 year old daughter.
Escape Plan – Warrior gone a skew – One flew over the coo coo’s nest
At the ripe old age of about 12, I started to look for a way out of that jar. Some of my methods were not very wholesome. I was picking fights at school just to see what it would feel like to physically fight someone. I got drunk to the point of passing out various times under my parents noses. You see I was still in the bottle. They were dealing with all of the stuff on the outside of the bottle. My poor mom was so overwhelmed with depression and grief. You see my father had succeeded in finding my sister and bringing her home. She was on the verge of being lost forever, but he had done it, he found her. She was very, very sick with addiction and physical ailments. They briefly hospitalized her and then she was sentenced to the State Mental Institute. Remember this is the sister that I instinctively tried to protect. I spent every weekend visiting her and going on group outings with her fellow inmates. You see I was fighting for her. I felt responsible to make her better, to make my parents see her as the wonderfully funny person she is. I was boldly protective. This extreme need to protect her went on for years, well into my twenties. No matter what she was doing, how she was acting, who she was hurting I defended her because I saw something different than the others did. This was the beginning of my enabling.
By this time my mom had pretty much given up taking us to church. You see in our family my Dad would go to Sunday mass at the crack of dawn so he could go golfing and then my mom would take us little girls to mass later. But by the time we were living in the apartment she had given up. I don’t remember ever going to church during that time. But I did attend “Jesus Freak” bible studies. My friend’s brother would pile us 12-13 year old girls in his station wagon and we would attend Friday evening Bible Study with a bunch of hippies. I still wonder why my mom let me go. Maybe she instinctively knew I needed a different kind of food to be added to my jar. Like all good lil’ Jesus’ Freaks I was led to the altar to accept Jesus Christ as my lord and savior. It was the first time in my life that I remembered someone telling me that “I was love” that “love” resided inside me. I kept this fact from my family. In a warped sense I felt like what I had done was wrong, I was trying to tip the jar over and break it.
During my teenage years, I had a few more moments of truth, where I briefly embraced the knowing of my birth right, the idea that I was love. I experience enough of this knowing to keep me looking for an exit route, to keep me rocking the bottle trying to tip it over so as to execute an escape.
I got pretty banged up in that bottle, I experimented with drugs, experienced deep depressions, found boyfriends that liked the fact that I was in the bottle and easily controlled. I was the epitome of a co-dependent enabler. I found my purpose in others; I was a warrior for others. I defended, protected and furiously fought for the very people who I allowed to abuse me.
The Tipping Point – The bottle Smashes
10 days after my High School graduation I moved to California to be with my older sister and my boyfriend. You see I had now taken on the duty of protector of my oldest sister. She was living a self-imposed exile from her children and family and I had chosen to go live by her. I had become her warrior. No matter what she was doing, how she was acting, who she was hurting I defended her because I saw something different than the others did. I saw the loving kind motherly sister who held me and wiped away my tears when I was young. Overtime she progressively became sicker with drug abuse and abusive behaviors. I reluctantly began to pull away. I was really rocking my jar.
I was married at age twenty and immediately preparing to move to Venezuela. My sister was very hurt and dismayed that I was going to live in another country. I was looking for my way out and had chosen to go away, far away. The bottle was about to get smashed.
One month after my wedding day I was standing on the Los Angeles International tarmac repacking a container. The crew had let us out there to empty and repack it to see if we could fit our table and chairs. While doing so a horse shoe given to me by my mother fell out and hit me in the head. Time stopped for a moment. I KNEW that something horrific had transpired.
Sometime while we were on that tarmac my oldest sister was involved in an accident. She experienced a head injury which caused severe brain damage. The details are not important. The outcome is that I found myself amongst broken shards of glass; my bottle had tipped over and I was gasping for air.
In the days preceding her accident we had all together stopped talking. Now I was in an ICU standing before a distorted version of my sister asking for a priest to administer her last rights. This was happening as my parents and brother were in Salt Lake scrambling to find flights to join us in California. I found my 20 year old self being asked to make decisions about her imminent death. I didn’t sleep for over 24 hours while I waited for her to die or for my parents to show up. Not knowing which would happen first.
Susie’s body did not die that day. Though the Susie I knew and loved did. She remained in a semi-comatose state for over 5 years; she had gone to her cocoon and I moved to Venezuela to begin to experience life out of the bottle.
Walking on Broken Glass - I don’t know how to move through this
I had nothing to prepare me for the world I now found myself in except for my warrior spirit and my glimpses of Love. I lived in Venezuela for 5 years and had 2 children there. I began to play the part that I would play for the next 20 years of my life.
You see all of those events were written in my Book of Law, they were how I perceived this life and at times I didn’t want to participate. I suffered through intermittent bouts of depression and self-loathing. I had slithered away from the shards of glass to climb a branch and begin to build a wall around myself. It was time to go into the cocoon.
Unraveling the Threads- In search of sunlight – Love is calling your name
I think I would have remained in that protective cover, not knowing my potential, not experiencing my perfection and magnificence if it wasn’t for my earthly angels, my teachers, who happen to be my children.
You see, I tried my damnedest to have the perfect family. I talked the talk and walked the walk. No one not even myself knew that we were dysfunctional. It wasn’t the same kind of dysfunction that I had experienced earlier in life but it was. You see I had now taken on the duty of protector of my husband. No matter what he was doing, how he was acting, who he was hurting I defended him because I saw something different than the others did. He too became progressively sicker with his abusive behaviors.
The story started to repeat itself, oldest son involved in drugs and alcohol, daughter suffering from depression and needing hospitalization and my youngest the innocent fuzzy catapitty is watching the whole thing. Me, the warrior run amuck, was running around protecting and trying to fix everything and everybody. I needed to get out of that protective cocoon. I need to unravel the threads that made my protective garment. I NEED TO SEE THE LIGHT! DEAR GOD, PLEASE LET ME SEE THE LIGHT NOW!
On the 27th day of December, 2005 my cocoon split open. My husband of 25 years, physically attacked my daughter who was home from college. His rage was so intense, so directed that it took 4 of us to pull him off. You might be shocked that I just shared that with you. Let me assure you that day is not looked upon by the parties involved as a day of punishment. It is held up as a blessed day, a day of awakening. On that day I transitioned, my wings were loosed, and a new me was on the horizon.
The Way to Peace is an Inner Journey – Bread crumbs to love
Within one hour of that incident I was sitting calmly in front of my family enveloped with the peace of God understanding that every moment, every instant in that bottle and cocoon was me preparing for the next chapter of my life, and I proceeded with grace and ease. You see I realized that this here life is my life, my illusion, my creation. Everything that happened in that jar, in that cocoon was created by me, it was the laying down of bread crumbs to the discovery of my perfection, my magnificence. I realized that “I” was the only being that needed to say, know, experience, demonstrate that I AM LOVE.
Since then I have gone a wild discovery of self-love which has led me to this moment in front of you today. I am on a mission to surround myself with love, to be love, to exhibit love, to be a spiritual warrior for love. Don Miguel Ruiz says that a person who embraces the Toltec Teachings of the Four Agreements is a Spiritual Warrior. This is about me showing you that you are made of this same light. The light of your creator. You are Love. Touch your heart, this is where your true essence resides. Your reset button, your begin again button is right there available to you at all times.
I am in my knowing, I am in my knowing now, I am in my knowing.