Most people with mental health labels process feelings differently. I’m not sure that’s always wrong, it’s just different. In this particular case, I was very wrong. Many of us learn to read body language very early, for various reasons, but based upon a feeling of self-preservation. My personal struggle was the reference others made as to butterflies in their stomach, as it related to love/care and/or performances. Sadly, I confused the horrible nausea with butterflies, I felt when performance was required. I thought nausea was what everyone else was talking about when they said they had butterflies in their stomach, and it related precisely to the two times I heard it used.
My parents never used the word love, or at least I didn’t hear them use it. Later they would reference the word that the word didn’t need to be spoken, I should just know it . . . and the nausea would hit. That same feeling also hit when going to the doctor or performing solos. The one thing I did realize was how heavy this feeling was in my stomach; not like butterflies at all. It was easy to dismiss that, as I was already told I didn’t understand things properly. So, I figured I was misunderstanding my body’s reaction. My feeling of misinterpreting my own intuition was intensified, especially when performing, because people would use the term love, in that they “loved the song” or “loved the way it made them feel.” As I got older, I just came to believe my nausea was the butterflies, everyone else experienced.
Needless to say, that made for some horrible situations regarding intimacy. When I became a believer, things changed in my marriage, and to be honest, as a young believer I was zealous, which did not help the already strained relationship. He and I were already sleeping separately when we split up, and I remained celibate until I remarried. So the butterfly/nausea issue had never been addressed, until I found myself completely aware of all the details of my life, in an intimate setting, and that feeling of nausea washed over me, completely over me. Since this was supposed to be true love, I once again assumed the nausea was butterflies. Since any attempt at intimacy was a true test of tedious endurance, we both happily went our separate ways on that topic and I embraced my celibacy. Stupid me, though, still thought this horrible heavy nausea was somehow “love” and I struggled with it for a time. The misunderstanding of nausea for butterflies resurfaced when I began doing my radio show. That was when I realized, this feeling of “love” was the same feeling as stage fright and yet there was an element of “mixed emotions.” I did love doing the radio show and my producer was wonderful, but every Thursday morning, I would awaken to a very upset stomach that lasted until my intro, “Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs,” began.
I then saw the connected memory of those bits and pieces of childhood. I did love my parents and I knew how much they wanted me to be a perfect performer, so, in spite of the nausea, the show went on. The various memories flashed through my mind, and I soon realized people whose minds are different actually process everything differently. In every situation, my attempt at a “perfect performance” was the way I showed my love, and the nausea was not butterflies at all. The nausea was indeed the sick feeling that I simply wasn’t good enough.
I write this because I know there are several folks with “labels” and those labels alone can make some feel less than acceptable. When a child has a misconception that is never corrected, or worse, is fostered, that does become their reality. Of course, no one knew to tell me, being sick at your stomach is not butterflies of good excitement. This fact continues to confirmed by the comments of those who have known me the longest. The next entry I’ll share how my perspective was based on the KUDOS I received. I think many of us do that, whether we realize it or not.