“It has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world.” Chaos Theory

Butterflies flap their wings and scatter away from my outstretched fingers as I stand on the edge of what was and what will be. “Stop wishing you could change things,” they seem to whisper. If only I could return them to their original starting place.

What if I’d had the courage to laugh in the bully’s face? The confidence to accept the boy’s invitation to the dance? The wisdom to leave a toxic relationship before it went too far?

What if instead of flapping their wings to the east, the butterflies flew west?

What if I’d learned sooner in life – in my tween or teen years, or even early twenties – that it truly does not matter what anyone thinks, as cliche and overused as that phrase is? It’s the truth, but I didn’t accept it until recently. I thought the lesson would have been learned once my adolescence ended and I entered adulthood. I wished the lesson had been learned then.

I was taught to be overly polite to others – to allow others’ needs to come before mine. But there is a price I paid for never putting myself first – for never saying no when necessary.

The butterflies land on my skin now and envelope me in comfort and understanding. Every inch of my body is covered except for my eyes. They lift me into the clouds and suddenly I am peaceful. As we fly higher and higher, I realize that the things I love about my life now may have never come to fruition if it were not for the painful events I endured and choices I made previously.

Suddenly I am lowered and returned to my home. They place me on the foot of my bed, and then one-by-one, they fly away through my open window. I watch them go with a smile on my lips.

Once not too long ago, I would have begged them to stay, with tears in my eyes and my hands clasped together tightly. But now, because of every lesson I’ve learned – regardless of when I learned it – I am finally in a place in my life where being alone is no longer something I dread.

I know I will see them again, and in the meantime, I can take care of myself. And then, almost as swiftly and gracefully as the butterflies leave me, so do all of my regrets.

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