Death of a Fly, Rebirth of a Woman

A few days ago I woke up to a strange noise. I didn’t know what it was and at first thought I had dreamt it. I tried to go back to sleep but I heard the noise again; an aggressively loud erratic buzzing. I thought maybe it was the washing machine as the room I was staying in at my parents’ house was situated next to the laundry room. I had been awake until roughly four AM painting the night before and was exhausted, so I tried to go back to sleep. When the noise started for the third time, I impatiently got up to investigate.

“Is it a fly?” I wondered.  It couldn’t be, the noise was unlike anything I had ever heard before. I lifted the blinds and stood on the foot of the bed to reach the small upper window of my basement room. The noise was coming from up there. 

Sure enough, I spotted a plump black housefly. It was trapped in a spiderweb and its captor was approaching. The persistent noise was the sound of the fly literally fighting for its life. Something came over me in that moment of realization and I started to panic. I must save the fly! But the spider needs to eat. Who am I to play God? What do I do?

With no exaggeration, the fly was buzzing at the pitch of a scream. It had woken me up after only four hours of sleep. I impulsively grabbed a pen and tried to free it from the web, immediately regretting damaging the spider’s meticulous creation. Knocking down the web, I nudged the fly from its tethers but my efforts were futile. The fly couldn’t move, likely paralyzed by spider venom.

I began to cry. 

Now, I cry A LOT, at least once a day. I am perhaps the biggest advocate you’ll ever meet of the cleansing power of tears, but crying for insects is next level even for me.

The fly’s terror reflected my own fear of feeling trapped and helpless in Vancouver. I had been back since Christmas after sixteen months of travelling in Europe and North Africa. I had originally planned to fly back to London at the end of February but ended up overstaying by three additional months. My desperation to save the fly was my own desire to liberate myself. The fly’s fear was triggering my repressed terror of the unknown, which had the paralytic effect of keeping me from from acting on my truest desire.

The guilt over interfering in this Planet Earth moment on my windowsill shed light on the fact that I do the same in the lives of everyone around me. Interfering or offering unsolicited advice where compassion would serve better. For example; my youngest brother is a manager at a local restaurant and the staff are like a close knit family with all the same love and inevitable dysfunctions. Since returning to Vancouver, I had incessantly brainstormed alternative career paths for my brother, “You should go into the film industry. There’s so much opportunity and money to be had,” or “You know what you’d probably enjoy? Being a merchandise manager on tour with a band. You love music and could travel around for free.”

My perspective was that I was being supportive, but in retrospect I realize I was offering advice he was absolutely not asking for. He is twenty-two years old and sincerely enjoys his job. That is more than I can say for the majority of people I know who are my own age (thirty-three as of today). I was projecting my desire to save myself onto his situation. Each time I told him what I thought might be best, actually  implied that his current actions weren't good enough in my eyes - potentially harmful to his self esteem and self worth. Who else was I harming with my condescending encouragement?

I gave my parents self help books for Christmas. I called out both of my brothers and their friends for offside locker room talk that I overheard and judged. These things would have been ok if my parents had suggested they wanted those books, or if I had been a part of the conversation with the group of young men. But they didn’t and I wasn’t. How had I hurt other family members and friends interfering where I shouldn’t have? Or former coworkers and ex-lovers? My unsolicited advice and opinions were an indirect way of saying, “You’re not good enough as you are,” which is a huge fucking lie! Each and every single one of us is perfect. Being imperfect is inherent to being human and as with art and everything else, there is beauty in that imperfection. We are all perfectly imperfect. Exactly as we should be in every moment. Not accepting ourselves as we are leads to judgment and lack of acceptance of others.

My view of myself as stuck and helpless was a reflection of my low self worth. I didn’t think I was able to go back out in the world on my own again and succeed. My lack of self love kept me cooped up in the cold dark guest room of my parent’s basement for the most part of the last six months. The same low self worth caused me to go around trying to save those around me because deep inside I longed to save myself. Ultimately, the irrational fear and worthlessness in my head was keeping me from acting on the dreams and love in my heart.

So I sobbed for the terror of that fly, for my own fear of being worthless, and for the pain my lack of self worth in turn caused others. Every time I stopped crying the fly would start up its noise again, as if sacrificing itself to trigger the repressed emotion I needed to release. Not loving myself had kept me from being able to truly experience love and compassion. When I was done crying and releasing my fear I immediately booked a one way ticket back to Europe. A week and a half later, I am writing this on the flight there. On this day of my birth, I am gifting myself new life.

 

With Love and Kindness, 

Jessie

PS As I sit in an adorable cafe in London editing this post, still experiencing waves of fear of the unknown, a fly momentarily landed on my hand reminding me to feel it all. There are always lessons in our emotions when we stop resisting them.

 

  Almost bailing on the moving sidewalk at the airport in Vancouver

Almost bailing on the moving sidewalk at the airport in Vancouver

  Sunrise on the flight to London

Sunrise on the flight to London

  Just before landing at Gatwick Airport

Just before landing at Gatwick Airport

  Instagram Story photo from out & about wandering in Shoreditch

Instagram Story photo from out & about wandering in Shoreditch

I Accidentally Started Blogging

Last night some crazy stuff went down.  I made a quick video while it was happening but it was too long for Instagram so I decided to just take screen shots and write a corresponding Instagram post.  It kept getting longer & longer and I continued writing until I thought, well now what do I do with this?  So I stayed up all night adding this blog section to my website.  It’s super basic for now until I get the hang of things.  I’m not sure what it’s going to become but I can promise this: it will be candid and honest and vulnerable and probably a bit crazy.   This post is on fear and if you check back later you can watch my silly video below somewhere (once I figure out how to work a YouTube channel ...baby steps).

I’m staying with family right now and last night I happened to be the only person home in what is usually a very full house.  When my parents bought this place they had to wait to do renovations, so I had the privilege of using it as my art studio.  I set up shop in the rec room and was free to make a giant creative mess knowing it was going to be reno’d over eventually.  I would come here at night after my serving job to work on paintings, prepping for my first gallery show.  Usually I’d be totally spooked; apparently the previous owner passed away here. I  got so creeped out I started to ask my then boyfriend to come with me.  He would sleep in a chair while I worked deep into the night. 

Last night I was all alone in the house in the same room, now redone, doing prep work for a painting when the security alarm went off.  I didn’t know what it was at first and it scared the hell out of me.  I had to call my mom to get the code to make it stop and she told me the alarm company would likely call to check in, standard protocol.  They never did and I still don’t know why or how the alarm went off in the first place.  Eight people and two dogs live here (I know, its mental) and there’s almost always someone home so the alarm is never set.  I locked the front & back doors and continued my art prepping. 

A bit later, one of the dogs started to stare into a corner and bark for no logical reason.  I got the same spooky feeling I used to have here years ago.  As I looked suspiciously around the room, now decorated with various sports memorabilia, I saw a print I had never noticed before; a profile view portrait of a goalie in a horror movie style mask, his eye peeking out of the cut out hole, glaring right at me.  Looking at him, I had a flashback to a friend’s birthday party in fifth grade where we all watched Scream.  I had never seen a horror movie before and remember being absolutely terrified of the knife wielding masked murderer.  I walked home from the party at dusk, trembling for the entire two blocks.  I had never felt that kind of fear before and last night the same feeling surfaced. 

We are so used to repressing our emotions and hiding our vulnerabilities that the default is to numb them with addictions and distractions.  Yesterday I woke up feeling inexplicably uneasy, so what did I do?  I baked and cooked and ate and cleaned and worked and made countless unnecessary Instagram story posts.  I was avoiding my feelings.  When we do this, the universe and our law of attraction finds other ways to trigger us.  In my case, by scaring the shit out of me!  I eventually clued in to the messages and asked myself, where is the fear really coming from?  What am I not allowing myself to feel?  I got my answer right away and began to cry.  Release!

I have been afraid of working and starting this commissioned painting because when I complete it I will get paid.  I have been using the excuse of not having any money as a reason to stay here because I am scared of leaving my comfort zone.  It took a lot of guts and a giant leap of faith to quit my office job and leave Vancouver the first time (more on that in a future post).  It was the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, but when telling that story to myself or publicly, I neglect to include the intense fear and doubt I felt leading up to leaping into the unknown.  Which is the same thing I felt last night; terror.  Our minds are sneaky and very good at rationalizing and convincing us out of what our hearts know is best for us.  I know it is my purpose to create and when I am living in my true desire, good things happen.  Incredible things (more on that later, too). 

When I say ‘create’ I don’t just mean art - that includes inspiration and connection and all sorts of good stuff - and I’m not able to do that when I’m living in fear.  Fear freezes us and prevents us from acting on our true desires; it has a paralytic effect.  I had to acknowledge the feeling and actually feel it to be able to overcome it. This is an ongoing process and usually involves crying to move and clear that blocked energy.  Because I was resisting it so intently, the universe had to keep turning up the volume until I got the message.  Tonight I finished the prep for my commissioned painting and am finally ready to start, in the same room as that creepy picture of the menacing goalie. We're friends now.  I’m sure I’ll address countless more blocks and triggers before my project is done and I eventually jet off to who knows where.  My eyes and heart are open and I welcome all the lessons that facing and releasing past traumas will bring. 

What are you most afraid of?

What distractions and addictions do you engage to avoid feeling fear?

What is your heart's true desire?

If you felt and released your fear, what could you achieve? 

I'd love to hear from you below!  We are all on this journey together, let's raise each other up.

With love & gratitude,

Jessie 

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