I talk a lot about choosing butterflies. About actively choosing things that are scary, things that seem bigger than we can manage.
But sometimes butterflies choose us. And sometimes they’re not good butterflies. Actually, I think they’re bats, not butterflies. They’re bigger and they hurt, and they are completely unpredictable. Bats show up when we are thrown into scary situations that are beyond our control, situations that seem bigger than we can manage. We don’t choose anything, we don’t step into the situation, yet it becomes our reality.
So then what? What do we do when we find ourselves in the bottom of a bat-filled hole? It’s dark, scary and unfamiliar. We’ve never been here before, and we don’t know how to get out. We feel completely alone and we have no idea what to do next.
From some angles, we can see the light way up there at the surface. It’s far away, but we think we may be able to get to it. But from other angles, there’s no light at all. It seems hopeless, like there’s no point in even trying to get out.
But there are people at the surface. Some of them wait at the top, ready to greet us when we come back out. But our people climb down. They can’t go all the way down to the bottom, because that’s a sacred place, but they can go as far as to reach us.
Those people will hang out down there with us. Maybe we’ll talk, maybe we won’t. Maybe they’ll cry and scream with us, maybe they’ll hold our hand while we cry and scream. They’re patient and gentle with us.
And when we’re ready, they’ll pull us up. They’ll climb beside us. Slowly, because it’s exhausting. We might take breaks along the way. We might even slide back down once in awhile. And that’s okay. Our people will wait.
Our people will cheer us on. They’ll tell us we can do it and that they’re proud of us and that they believe in us.
And slowly, after a lot of hard work, we pull ourselves up onto the surface. It’s way too bright and looks completely different than it did before. There are familiar faces, but even those look different now. It’s disorienting.
But there’s hope. We know it’ll never be like it was before, but we’re here. Somehow, we know we’ll figure things out in this new reality. We’ll find a rhythm. We’ll ask hard questions and recalibrate. We might find a new drive that wasn’t there before, a new motivation or passion. Or we won’t, and that’s okay too. But regardless, we’ll figure this out.
And there will still be days where we find ourselves climbing back down, but our people will be there. Sometimes they’ll just know somehow, and come and get us. Other times, we may need to yell a bit, but they’ll come. They’ll always come.
If you’ve found yourself chosen by bats, where being brave is the only option you have, but it’s an option that seems impossible to grab, please know you have people. You have people who will climb down and pull you up. People who love you and cheer for you and who will not give up on you. They’re not perfect and they might be scared too, but they’ll come. Your people will always come.