My boyfriend Sabatino bought me a bug yesterday. I was so thrilled with it, I kept blurting out to strangers and friends alike, "He bought me a bug! A great big beautiful bug!" Tino then pointed out, very gently, that perhaps I shouldn't mention a gift so out of the ordinary and in such a generic way. "They're going to think I just scooped up some big damn cockroach and handed it to you," he said. So, let me clarify this highly unusual and most beloved gift.
It is a dead bug, a Vietnamese insect called a "Ghost Walker." It was mounted in a museum-quality shadow box by a gifted and obviously very patient artisan who has created such display pieces for museums all over the world. Sabatino, my gentleman, knows my passion for insects. I wanted to be an entomologist when I was a kid. We viewed two walls of these jaw-dropping bugs; everything from butterflies to walking sticks as long as my forearm. I was enchanted. Tino told me to pick one, it would be an early birthday present.
There's nothing I could possibly have wanted more. When we got it home, I laid on my back and held this thing up to the light, staring at it from every angle. It was glorious. I called several of my friends to wax rhapsodic over it and their cringing was almost visible over the phone lines. That, too, was glorious. Ten years ago, their horror would have made me self-conscious and over-sensitive. Today, it simply amused.
There's magic in self realization. Something whimsical and sparkly happens when you finally see yourself clearly after a lifetime of self-hatred. I used to get gifts from my ex-husband which were always something he wanted to give me, something he thought I should have that was useful or attractive to him, like a roaster pan or sexy underwear. I never thought to question these; I thought it was obnoxious and ungrateful to do anything but accept them. And I liked them; don't get me wrong. It's always nice to get presents. But the gifts were never chosen with me in mind. They were rarely anything that I would have bought myself if given the chance. My insecurities allowed me to be dressed like a doll, controlled like a doll, obedient like a mannequin, and grateful for the chance to please. There was even a skewed smugness inside of me over the fact that I was such a good, good possession. All my individuality was unimportant, banked down, controlled and frowned upon, first by my abusive spouse, then by myself. It was the insecurity addiction in full force; individuality and free thinking are the first things to go if the addiction wants to survive. And like any addiction, my insecurity wanted to not only live but grow. And it did, out of all proportion, until it ate me alive and almost killed me with suicidal tendencies and misery. That's why I look at my life now and shake my head at the wonder of it all. To come from such a broken-spirited train wreck of a human being to a person capable of accepting such miraculous, perfect gifts, given by someone who knows me and loves me. Six-legged buggy love. Weird, wondrous, and completely flawless to my weird and wondrous self. Good luck out there, all my dear screwed up brothers and sisters of circumstance, as you struggle to wrestle your own insecurities to the ground. They'll always be kicking and snarling, but they shrink fairly quickly to a shadow of their old selves when you don't feed them. Take care of yourselves and remember to love the crazy bitch in the mirror. She, he, and it are definitely worth the struggle.