“Two Moths & Seeking the Light”
I found Chelsea sitting on a footstool in our living room and looking a little shell-shocked. She hadn’t been doing super well the last two weeks. I knew she had been eating very little and not working out with me as much. This usually indicates she is dealing with a heavy emotional issue. However, I had learned that much like a cat, she would come out of her stupor when she was ready. Yet, like a cat, if I approached her too soon, she would frighten. The fact that she was sitting unprotected in the middle of the living room in emotional pain meant she was approachable. I spoke carefully, much like you would to a wounded animal that was frightened because I saw fear in her eyes,
“You have emerged from the land of the undead I see.” It struck me as a bit zombie like that she had essentially dropped of the face of the earth emotionally for two weeks and had re-emerged. I have done the same thing, but I prefer to think of myself as half-vampire. Vampire’s might have undead qualities, but they are super sexy.
She smiled at me and then cried. It is funny how the gift of having someone see you is often that which can bring one to tears. She began to share, “It has been such a difficult week. I was struggling so bad today, I went down to the church and had them pray for me.”
I asked, “Did that help?
She began to massage her arms and she rocked herself a little also. She said, “It did. I felt a burden begin to release. It made me recognize a deep fear within me. I have been abandoned my whole life by everyone I love; I’m afraid that everyone is going to reject me. This fear has had power over me and prevented me from making more healthy choices at times.” She let more tears fall. It was the most I had ever seen her cry. They were deeply passionate tears from a place that had obviously been locked for a long time. When you unlock one of those; it often releases the flood gates. She looked at me to see if I was going to reject her for telling me.
My first thought was that this is not an uncommon fear, especially for a woman. Yet, I felt like saying that removed the validity of her feelings and what made them unique to her story. She needed to be seen in her pain. I instead chose to say, “I think when we voice our fears out load it is healthy. There is something about saying it which begins to remove the power of it over us.”
She quit rubbing her arms so vigorously and began to soften into a more comfortable sit. She was still a bit shaky, but her eyes didn’t have that wounded animal look anymore. I said, “You know what that lady who disciples me told me? She said that she was never worried about me becoming a slut because I errored the other way and overprotected myself against men. (I thought here privately about how funny it is when we have a wound, we tend to respond in one extreme or the other. Moderation so often indicates health.) For example, she said I have pushed away every man interested in me since my ex. She understood, but suggested the next healthy place would be letting myself be allowed to want to be loved and giving someone the chance to love me when I am ready.” I then paused and waited for her response.
She chuckled and said, “I hate it when my counselor says stuff like that to me because it is so often the truth.”
I sat across from her and pulled in my knees to my chest. I let out a breath of air and said, “Yes, truth can be a bitch. I rather think she was a jerk for hitting me up with so much at once.” Then, we both laughed.
I continued, “I want to be loved for who I am also. I think I carry a fear that if a man were to get past my body and see the real me; I too will be rejected as that is what happened in my marriage. It is a comfort knowing that God knows the real me and doesn’t reject me. However, we need people also. It is hard to feel alone. If it makes you feel any better, I think the real you is valuable and worth keeping around.”
She laughed at me and responded with, “That does mean something coming from you because you don’t make up stuff to placate people. You meant it.”
I thought about my painting I had done during the day. It was of two moths, two pretty moths. One was near a light-bulb, which I think was myself. The wolf had drawn me as a light-bulb once. It was rather endearing to know he saw a light in me. Until he didn’t… but, that is not the present. It does not do one well to live anywhere except the present for long. Furthermore, what he saw or didn’t see does not define my reality. So, I was going to keep the positive image. However, I felt like I was the moth stumbling in the darkness trying to keep near the light more than the light-bulb. I think Chelsea was the one near the flame. We are two overly nocturnal creatures dealing with the pain inside us that often kept us awake at night, but still trying to seek God’s light. I decided she needed the painting.
“I’ll be right back,” I told her.
I tip-toed down into my room and grabbed the canvas. It was dry. I practically skipped with it back down the hall to her because I knew she would love it. I handed it to her, “This is for you. It is my painting of the moth and the flame. Moths are symbols of faith because no matter how dark the night, they are known for trying to seek the light.”
She took it in and her eyes re-filled with tears. She said in a hushed voice, “Thank you. This means so much to me.”
Her gratefulness moved me. I love giving my paintings to my friends who have been raised poor. They act like they have been given gold. There is no snobby appraisal of the level of skill. I didn’t know how to handle so much genuine appreciation and therefore switched the conversation back to her, “So, do I get to know what triggered your falling off the face of the Earth?”
She glowered and set my painting gingerly down next to her and said, “You know how you were telling me that you define integrity not simply as who we are when no one else is watching, but what we say about other people who are not there to defend themselves?” I nodded. She continued, “Angie at work said something which showed a complete lack of integrity. It really affected me. I had been trying to decide if I was going to tell you because I didn’t want you or your Dad to handle it for me.”
I titled my head and thought, “So, what did she say?”
She hung her head and said, “She implied your Dad and I were having an affair because he stuck his head in the accounting office to check on me.” Chelsea carries so much shame with her because she had been a stripper and a bit of a slut at one point. However, those things do not define her anymore. (Nor, should a person's choice of profession remove the fact they should be respected as human beings.) I wanted to go smack Angie. Chelsea would have received an insult like that because she is not done working through her shame. A part of her even felt like she deserved to have that guy rape her, that is the main thing she has been healing from as of late. It is strange how our mind carries the shame of being in a bad situation regardless of if we caused it or not. No person deserves to be raped.
I asked, “She said this with you right there?”
She nodded and said, “After I hadn’t been eating, I confronted her about it. She tried to pretend she hadn’t said what she did and that I misunderstood. However, now she waits to trash me until I leave the room. She trashes everybody.”
Then, she apologized, “I’m sorry. I should have said something sooner. I didn’t want people thinking I get special privileges since I live with your family. So, I didn’t tell anyone even though she slandered your Dad. I don’t think I had your back. I want you to know, if I hear anyone talking bad about you or your family again, I will say something.”
I laughed an uncomfortable laugh. “Most people are weak-minded individuals who enjoy believing the worst about other people. Angie should have used a filter and kept that comment to herself. However, her comment was a reflection of what is inside her and how she views the world and not you. I’m proud of you that you stood up for yourself. You have to believe you are worth standing up for before you can stand up for anyone else. I don’t think you believed that until recently, so I am proud of you. Secondly, people are going to hate on me. As my friend, I don’t expect you to say anything. People need to be able to hate on their boss at times. I just expect you not to join. However, I do think what Angie said was at another level of inappropriateness. It was slander, and it should not be allowed in the workplace.”
Then she laughed and said, “When I did drugs, I was extremely loyal. I supported my friends if they were right or wrong. I think I lost something when I became a Christian in losing that loyalty. I want you to know I have your back.”
I didn’t ask her what people had said about me. I didn’t care to know. It also sounded like she felt guilty for overhearing a conversation trash-talking me, and that she didn't say anything. I simply said, “Babe, I know you have my back when it is important. If people are knocking on me for something true that is a minor thing—like she is so messy. You feel free and join. These are minor things. I have real problems. However, I know you’ve got my back if it is a real thing and wouldn’t join. Secondly dear, I am afraid you will not be able to convince anyone you don’t get favored since you live with us. There are battles you just can’t win. You are favored because you live with us, accept it. The ones worth knowing, they will like you despite being jealous of the favoritism.”
She began to rub her hands uncomfortably. She looked up at me and said, “I am so uncomfortable now.”
I smiled, “Yes, you exposed yourself. That is a hard thing to do. However, you are making good progress. I am proud of you. We will keep seeking the light together.”
She picked up my son’s Pokémon card and said, “You have all kinds of bad-ass things that are so cool you use to explain yourself. I mean seriously, you think of yourself as a frickin’ half-vampire. A creature of the night who belongs to the light. I want to be something cool like you. I think I will be a Digimon.”
I was surprised. Then I laughed, “Ummm. You want to be something cool, so you would be a Pokémon?”
She shook her head no, “Not a Pokémon. I would be a Digimon. I want to be the offspring of the angel Digimon and the demon Digimon. They wouldn’t have mixed in the Digiverse, but you can see what it would look like coming from a Digiball if you mix the DNA. It is really ugly the version I found on the internet, but the idea is cool.”
It is interesting to me that whenever we decide to begin the process of awakening, we have to see the battle of the flesh and the spirit inside of us, the yin and the yang. Whatever you want to call it. You have to see that there is darkness in you. She essentially told me she would be a yin and yang. Then it occurred to me, that was what my half-vampire self was also. When you have truly begun to see yourself and let go the lie you are projecting to the world; there is both ugly and beautiful. I liked her idea a lot. I said, “So, I think I could draw you as this Digimon in a way that you would think is cool. However, I need you to explain to me why you chose this character to help me be able to draw it.”
She thought about it. “I have that battle inside of me. I have both the angel and the demon. I get to choose which side I want to feed. I feel like my character would be a visual representation of that to me. Also, like your vampire, they are sexy-looking once they evolve." She pulled up a picture and showed me. I laughed, they were drawn like big breasted super-hero ladies with a significant amount of skin showing. "The other thing that is neat is the dark Digimon have been corrupted. It isn’t their natural form, but they have to be brought back to the light.”
I nodded because that is the gospel story in many ways, and many of the best stories derive truths from the gospels and the need for redemption. I told her, “I think we need to go downstairs and mindlessly watch a few Digimon battles and transformations now so I can be thinking about how I will draw your character.”
Her eyes grew big and she looked excited she declared, “Okay!”
We walked downstairs together. (She carried the painting with her) Two broken creatures who are struggling in the night, but both seeking out the light. We are so very lucky we are not alone, even if we have moments that feel alone. #prose #shortstory #writing @ellowrites @ellowriting