It’s the second day of spring and I’m trying to keep to my goals from the beginning of the year. It’s supposed to be my year of yes and sometimes I forget to say, “yes.” I just had two weeks in the Northeast and I’m back feeling both refreshed and overwhelmed and it’s very confusing. Springtime is a season of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and regrowth and it made me think about the butterfly, the symbol for Lupus. Technically the butterfly is the shape of the rash that forms on the face of a lot of lupus patients. I never had a butterfly shaped rash, but my rashes were my first symptom of the disease.
Butterflies are also animals that go through a rebirth of their own. They start off as a slimy, not so beautiful caterpillar and then go through a messy, uncomfortable, long transformation in a chrysalis before they emerge in the delicate form of a butterfly that has to let its wings dry before it can fly. I began to think that this animal is much like me and many other Lupus patients. We are transformed because of and despite this disease. I have noticed over the last few years that having Lupus has made me more compassionate and empathetic to the unknown struggles of my family, friends, and the people I encounter on a daily basis. Although I am still very spicy and my temper is not completely cooled I no longer judge someone’s physical appearance, financial status, or actions without more information about who they are and what they are going through. It has transformed the way I eat, for the most part, and the way I take care of my health and myself. I know that at times I can seem anti-social or selfish but it’s just because I’m mentally or physically not well, and I need to take care of me. My body is still in the chrysalis stage and I am enduring this long, messy, uncomfortable, and painful transformation into what I can only hope will be a butterfly, because I want to fly and become what I am meant to be.
In the midst of my research of the reasoning behind the association of the butterfly with Lupus I came across the literal meaning of the word. Lupus comes from the Latin word for wolf. It is attributed to the thirteenth century physician Rogerius, who used it to describe erosive facial lesions that were reminiscent of a wolf’s bite. It got me thinking whether I am the enchanting, delicate, colorful, beautiful butterfly or the aggressive, resilient, clever, majestic, warrior wolf? Can I be both? A wolf is a predator it is seen as a frightening yet intriguing and mysterious animal. It is much like the disease that has infiltrated my body and in turn I have taken on some of its characteristics. I am even more aggressive than I ever have been and I have this fearlessness that I used to have in my early twenties when I didn’t know better. I guess I see life as fleeting and uncertain and there is no way that I won’t go after what I want today because tomorrow is not promised to anyone; especially not me.
So I will take on and accept the best qualities of both animals and recognize that I am still my own complex and unique creation. I also still have some negative habits that I have to work on but I need to accept where I am with them in order to change them. I am renewing my promise to myself to not let this year be one that passes me by because I am so caught up with what my past has taken from me. I have to learn from it and move on to a future that will not be deterred because of the obstacles I have faced or may face in the future. I am still saying, “YES!” Hello Spring!