“If your butterflies had a voice, what would they say?”  I asked her.  She looked at me long and hard.  After what felt like an hour, she said, “I don’t know…”, her voice trailing off.  “Okay, love.  Can you breathe into the butterflies?  Take in a deep breath of air all the way to where the butterflies start and then as you breathe out, allow any tension and nervousness to go out with the breath.”  I watched as she took in deep breaths and exhaled deeply.  I checked the time, “I’m so sorry beauty, we’re going to be late if we don’t leave now.”  I could feel the lump in my throat growing though I was praying it wasn’t audible as I spoke.  I could hear the pitch of the motor of the running pick up outside, warmed up and ready to roll.

We pulled out of the driveway, the heaviness in the air weighing down the souped up dually.  We made small talk and I silently prayed, asking God for comfort, peace and to somehow ease the ache in our hearts, that ache that seems to grab hold every time the kids leave.  Each time we arrive at the destination, their norm is to go into the residence, drop off the things that have been packed for the weekend and then return for hugs (She packs a phone charger, he packs the kitchen sink!  Lol!).  “Don’t leave, be right back for a hug.”, they say every time.  I watched as they slowly made their way up the front walk, as if they were holding the hugs hostage.  And I waited … each and every time, I wait, relishing those hugs.  This time, as she approached, I could see she was fighting desperately to hold back her tears.  “I don’t know what it is mama.  The butterflies won’t subside and all I want to do is cry, and cry, and cry.  It’s as if the butterflies think something bad is going to happen.”  I took a deep breath as I held her tight.  “Well beauty, let those tears roll.  Don’t ever deny that small still voice inside of you.  Don’t ignore those butterflies.  Sometimes it’s not about what they are saying to us so much as it’s about acknowledging that they are there and we hear them.”

I kid myself, as I’m sure, many others in similar situations do too, into thinking that this is part of our routine, our normal, you know, it’s the way things are and it’s the way things have been … for years now.  I lie to myself, telling myself that this doesn’t effect me, that it’s settled in my heart, I’ve come to terms with it all, that the kids are fine and they’ll be back in a few days.  I’ve gone so far as to tell myself that this is preparing me prematurely for what it will be when the kids are grown and gone, you know, empty nesting.  “Geeze, Jess, really!?!”, says that part of me that deep down,  knows it’s not okay.  It hurts as much now as it did when it all started and it’s NOT normal.  I can and have cried raging rivers worth of tears over exchanges.  Mothers shouldn’t have to send their kids places they know their kids are NOT wholly, completely and unconditionally cared for and loved.  I understand that each kid is on their own path, traveling their own journey where their own sum total of their experiences in life will constitute who they are.  They are and will continue to be the sum total of their experiences just as I am, you are, your neighbor is, etc.  None of that makes any of this okay.  Kids aren’t supposed to leave every Friday night, returning each Monday evening throughout the school year.  Moms aren’t supposed to be forced to choose life at the expense of losing time with their kids.  Moms aren’t supposed to be put in a position where they are ordered to send their kids to the very abuser who wreaked havoc on their hearts, souls and physical bodies, abusing them through psychological, emotional, sexual, spiritual and physical means over going to jail.  Deep breath …. yep … sit with that for a while …..  I do.  It’s my reality.

The abuser would say to you, “Hey, this was her doing.  She chose this.  She left.  I wasn’t anything but good to her.  She had everything when she was with me.  She threw it all away.  I was everything she could ever ask for…..”  Sure thing.  You keep telling yourself that.  Makes perfect sense … to an abuser.

I pulled out of the driveway, conflicted, angry and heartbroken. So very tired of my heart feeling so raw, wounded and oozing.  As I eased out onto the county road, tears rolling, I dropped the reins like a reiner giving her horse the cue to run like hell down the long side of the arena, allowing the horses under the hood to dig in and throw dirt. “You, you son-of-a-bitch, you have taken a lot from me!  You know what you will never take!?!  You’ll NEVER take the essence of who makes me, me.  You will NEVER win because I have what you never will, GRIT & GOD’S GRACE!!!!!  You know what else I have you pathetic, sorry, loser?  I have what matters more than life itself, kids who love and respect me!  Kids who are becoming the coolest, most amazing and incredible young adults.  Despite you and likely, in spite and to spite you!  I’ve done the heavy lifting with the support of some incredible saints and I have everything in this life that you never will.  Tell me, what’s it like to lose sight of the very thing you tried to contain, confine, control and destroy in the dust and dirt of my road to health, healing and success?  You know what I have that you cannot even fathom?  I have the ability to turn what was intended to destroy me and use it to heal not only myself, I have the humbling privilege of healing others.  Turning evil intent into positive shifts for more positive futures.”  

I sat at the corner of the “Y” in the road everything in me screaming to turn around and retrieve what is so deeply and profoundly rooted in my heart, knowing that I couldn’t.  “Jess, this Corony Crap (what COVID-19 is known as in our house) has been such a blessing.  Your babes are home each and every day with you right now.  This is time you never would have banked on getting.  School work in the morning and horses, blue sky and time … precious, sweet, beautiful and fleeting time, each afternoon.  While others are losing their minds wishing their kids were in school, you, sister, are praising God for each and every minute those kids are home with you.”  I turned onto our road, allowing the horses under the hood a few more strides to gallop and get a little sideways, blow out and stretch their legs before putting on the Jake brake and reining them in.  My phone whistled at me, it was the beautiful little brunette that looks like me, talks like me and will be far smarter than me!  “Thank you for riding with me today mama.”  I parked the pick up, “Oh, baby girl.  Thank you.  Someday far too soon, you won’t have time for me and these moments, like riding with you today, will be what I keep close to my heart.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

“I saw you standing in the middle of the thunder and lightning

I know you were feeling like you just can’t win, but you’re trying

It’s hard to keep on keepin’ on, when you’re being pushed around

….. Every storm runs out of rain

Just like every dark night turns into day

Every heartache will fade away

Just like every storm runs, runs out of rain …..”

Gary Allen – Every Storm

This too shall pass and the storm is about to run out of rain …..