the caged bird sings.

written, designed, and edited by Bee Butler

From the other side.

Bee Butler1 Comment

How do you adequately explain to someone that you literally wanted to be dead, but now you are full of joy for the coming days and years, and you wouldn’t trade a single second of that previous pain, because it gave you what you have now?

Like that, I guess.

All I know is this. One year ago in May, I packed what small amount of belongings I could into my tiny Chevy Spark (with the help of my stepdad and my ex’s dad) from the garage that housed it, which belonged to my ex’s parents, where we’d been staying for most of our three-year relationship. My stepfather then drove me from San Diego, California to Houston, Texas in a matter of three days, and I moved back in with my parents. Those first days, I didn’t have my medication, was curled up in my bed in agony, felt like everything was over, and that I would never be okay again.

Over the summer, I got back in touch with a guy from my past, and while I went through a series of jobs, he and I dated long distance. That continued, along with my depression and the worst insomnia I have ever experienced, and in the mean time, I made plans to move in with a friend from high school in the spring. I would be closer to my new boyfriend, I would be living with my new best friend, and everything would be great.

Then, reality set in.

There was no way I could move in with her, because we hadn’t been able to secure enough money for a house or apartment, and she was in the throes of the worst depression of her life. My boyfriend broke up with me, but kept me in his life because I was a source of sexual favors and constant support, and, occasionally, money (of which I had very little). Slowly, he distanced himself from me, then completely ghosted me. Then, my best friend wound up in the hospital. During this time I allowed myself to be proposed to by a man who had been in love with me for eleven years, who I was not even remotely interested in, because I wanted to feel loved. I wanted to matter.

During this time, my stepfather had emergency open heart surgery; a quintuple bypass that required weeks in the hospital (with my mother at his side) and months of recovery at home (during which my mother went on a cruise AT THE REQUEST OF MY STEPFATHER AND I, don’t think she’s a bad person) and I was left utterly alone.

I stopped eating. Stopped showering. Stopped everything. Over Christmas I had a nervous breakdown and began sleeping on a blow-up mattress in my parent’s room every night. I watched and re-watched episodes of the Great Big Quiz of Everything on YouTube and tried to sleep all day with various over-the-counter sleep aids, which, EVEN WHEN MIXED WITH TRAZADONE, did little to nothing. By the time Mom got home, I was done for. We drove out to Dallas to visit the doctor who had been supervising my medication since early in the fall in the hopes that he could prescribe new meds. His last prescription was the cause of my nervous breakdown at Christmas, and I was terrified, but I put all my hope in him.

It was during this time that my friend Heather took all the photos you’ve seen of me lately. We did a photoshoot with my mom at Samuel Farm in Mesquite (for free), and I am still to this day SO grateful for her act of kindness and the beautiful photos of my mother and I.

The next day, we visited my doctor. and he gave me a bunch of new prescriptions… one of which I could not obtain legally because I didn’t have health insurance, which meant I had no access to a specialized pharmacy, which was the only place that stocked it. Did I mention that this medication was my new sleep med? And that I would now have NO sleep med? And that I was not sleeping at all, or sleeping a few hours at a time, and that this was slowly driving me off a cliff?

When we got back, someone told my mother about the Harris Center in Houston, which is where I began seeing a new doctor and qualified for free treatment because I had no income. Dr. Lu is a Christian, and his approach to my treatment included prayer and information I had never been privy to regarding a strong medication I was on and the dangers it posed to my brain in the long run. I was blown away.

I also began seeing a Christian therapist from the same center, and we meet for our sessions at the Barbara Bush Library, where I now have a membership and can check out books (and rooms in which to read them in solitude) any time I want.

I’ve written at length about the event I went to in early February that changed my life and made me see God’s plan for my life; my calling according to His will made clear. That experience is one that will never be erased from my memory, and it has become a part of my story that I never fathomed.

In the interim, though, I spent all of my time randomly bursting into tears; deep, heavy sobs that I could not control, heaving in my chest, my entire being emptied out of my eyes. I was glued to my laptop and the TV (or another tab in my browser open to Hulu) to distract me. I had to be distracted at all times, or I would begin contemplating suicide again. It would not stop.

I have never hurt like that in my (almost) twenty-nine years of life on this earth, and I would not wish it on my worst enemy. I wouldn’t wish it on ANYONE. No human being deserves that kind of pain and brokenness. No family deserves to endure endless wailing and walking on eggshells around such an emotionally fragile person.

Imagine the most painful day of your life.

Then imagine that you had every reason to believe that from that moment forward, every day would be just as painful. For the rest of your life. No end in sight; this is who you are now, and it will never get better.

It gets better.

In the last month, things had gotten bad again, and while I wasn’t crying, I was agitated and irritable. I began twirling my hair again and chewing on the inside of my mouth, causing ulcers. My anxiety was crippling, and I could not focus. I stopped doing my school work entirely. I hated who I saw in the mirror. I missed church on Sunday, my new church, where I was part of the team responsible for our new campus… I missed THAT church.

Then, last Thursday, I met with Dr. Lu again, and I told him everything. He changed my medication and put me on an anti-anxiety medication, and now I have the drive to get up and do things. I’m okay. I don’t want to die. I can see spring blooming all around me, bluebonnets, which I hadn’t seen in bloom for five years. An old friend came into town, and on our excursion to get our nails done, I made her stop the car so I could get out and be photographed in the bluebonnets, celebrating this state as the place where I was healed, even though I had pined for California.

This morning I offered to grab Sonic for my mom and I, and on the drive, a song came on that I had never heard. And it broke me down, laid bare my truth, and nearly put me in tears. I hurried home and played it for my mom, and, as we have so many times lately, we pondered the infinite love of our God, who rescued me from sin and death, not just death, but a desire to die. He rescued me from myself, from my serotonin-depleted brain, from my broken dopamine receptors, from my trauma-ridden past. He rescued me from the bleakest, darkest night, just like He has before, only this time, I am giving Him praise for it, turning from my sin, and asking Him to continue His work in me, even if it’s painful again. I KNOW His plans for me are good, and I still cannot believe the change I’ve undergone.

I have been redeemed, reconciled back to the One who holds my future in His hands, and His love has allowed me to let go of my life and my coming days so that He may show me the path He wants me to take. It is beautiful and freeing, and I cannot wait to see where He takes me.

That said, I have a pounding headache right now. I’m exhausted. My body has endured a LOT in the last year, including rapid weight loss and over-medication, and I am struggling to regain my strength. Every second of every day is not filled with praise. My heart is still breakable. There will still be struggle.

But my God, I will gladly pick up this burden and carry it in place of my old one.
Spring is here, and in the rebirth of the earth and the blossoming of the flowers, I too have been made new, springing forth from the ground where I was buried, a new creation in Christ.

And I am so, so thankful for the scars.

 

If ever I connected with a song more, I don’t remember it.
God has shown me His heart and His scars, and I cannot wait to share the story with the world… but I’ll start here, today, on this website that reaches a few hundred people in the hopes that one of them will see it and know He loves them too.

God’s capacity of love for His children is boundless, and His showering of blessings, even after you’ve given up, is unreal. I am beyond humbled to experience Him like I have, and I cannot wait to continue.

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