When I was a kid they called it - butterflies in your stomach.
It wasn’t supposed to be a negative thing.
It is the reason that people ride roller coasters; a wonderful special sensation of anticipation that humans seek out to break the monotony of their daily routines.
It is that inner-body quiver that young lovers experience when they are about to be with the person who lights their life on fire.
People pierce and tattoo their skin to capture the sensation. They dive off of cliffs and out of airplanes and swim with sharks, just to feel that simple somersault inside their bellies.
And I feel it each and every time I finish letting out a breath…every single day of my existence…over and over and over again.
It isn’t constant excitement for me though. Most people call it anxiety. It is a prevailing sense of dread. It is knowing that the world isn’t quite right, and living in fear of what may happen next.
Although I believe that it increased significantly after I had my children, I recall having lived with it every day of my life.
On Christmas mornings when I was a child, I remember lying in bed and counting out how many more Christmas mornings I had left to be a child.
Each and every one of my dolls had mangled fingers because I could not help but chew on them for relief.
As an adult, I have learned to be functional, but it doesn’t mean that my butterflies have left me - and to be honest - I wouldn’t want them to.
I believe that they keep me safe.
They have led me to be more educated about all of the things in this world that frighten me, and I have learned that I have every reason to be frightened of those things.
I find great comfort in knowledge and the pursuit of better understanding.
As much pain as they cause me - my butterflies protect me - they help me to protect my family, and that is a sacrifice that I am willing to make over and over again.
I have been nauseous most of my life.
When the butterflies get excited - they flap and they swarm and they fill my stomach with air.
I have learned to burp very quietly when I am around other people.
Crowds and new faces make me uncomfortable and the butterflies go wild so I just burp as silently as possible and try not to attract attention to myself, and work hard to keep the exposure brief.
Occasionally, I have to hold a lot of air in until I can get to a place where I am alone, or with my immediate family, to release it all. This causes lots of pain and nausea.
I can barely ride in a car with another person driving without throwing up. I trust my own husband implicitly, but riding in the car with him driving for any distance can be torture.
I am so accustomed to the feeling that I usually don’t pay any attention to the butterflies. They get worse if I pay attention. It is only when everything is peaceful and quiet, that I can’t help but notice.
Or when it hurts a lot.
So, this is the reason that I really like my house.
The same reason that I will always park in the same parking spot no matter where I go if it is available.
The reason that neighbors have left my doorstep in confusion because I was hiding from whoever might be knocking on my door unexpected.
Most people just answer the door - logically however - how safe is it to open your front door to a person who is not expected?
I am still working on answering phone calls that do not come from my husband, my kids, or my mom.
This is a choice that I have made. I am well aware that great numbers of “professionals” would seek to medicate my frightened awareness away.
I know that being on stimulants is fun - I have the experience - but the idea of being on them all of the time chills me to the bone.
I know what those people’s lives look like. I know how much of their free will they have surrendered to society because they are preoccupied by their prescriptions.
I understand that they are doing what is right for them, and I believe that it is what every person should do.
Yet, that is not a place where I want to be.
I want to be present and conscious and alert…even if that means that I am constantly critical, suspicious, and unnerved. This is simply who I am.
I am stubborn, I know, but I am not ready to surrender.
I don’t believe that life was designed to be easy on us, but rather to push us to grow, and inspire us to help other people.
So my butterflies shall flutter away, and I shall continue to set aside fifteen minutes to physically get out of the house when I leave, and I will continue to battle my fear every time that my son goes out to mow the lawn.
Fear and anxiety are natural instincts for humans and for animals. We need them for survival, and I have begun to look at my life’s reality more from a view not of what is wrong with me, but rather what is wrong with the world…and I’m holding onto my flutters.