Jessica Morgan McAtee
Insecticides and Emotionicides
Updated: Sep 18, 2022
The parallels between nature and life are everywhere. As I have worked closely with butterflies and created garden habitats, I have heard whispers of deeper things. When we slow down to listen, we can uncover profound truths.
My hobby of butterfly gardening began over twenty years ago. From there it escalated into a job and then a profession and eventually a form of spiritual awakening. There are numerous lessons entangled in nature. Mystics, monks and medicine-men have known this for centuries.
If you know anything about butterfly gardening, you may have heard that pesticides are a no-no. This is because any generic insecticide that is applied liberally to a garden patch will affect all insects, whether or not they were the targeted pests. This means butterflies are endangered when you, for instance, spray for mosquitoes.
This is inconvenient for butterfliers because along with the wanted butterflies, plenty of unwanted critters show up when you create an inviting eco-system. The dreaded list includes aphids, spiders, wasps, mantids, mosquitoes, beetles and moth larvae along with other pesky predators and plant suckers.
In the beginning of my butterfly-garden journey, like other newbies, I would fight the "bad bugs." There are numerous non-toxic things one can do to try to prevent the various other intruders, but no solution is ultimately sustainable. In other words, it is an ongoing effort to continually rid your landscape of unwanted arachnids and insects.
In time, however, I learned that the multiplicity of organisms in an eco-system is there for a reason and is the result of millions of years of evolutionary development. Who am I to believe that I know better? It is easier to let it be and so that is how I manage my garden these days. This stance is more peaceful, allowing and natural.
I reflected on the unnecessary and quick-fix nature of a toxic dump of insecticides. It interferes with a grand beneficial life-system that is in place for a reason. I wondered where a lesson may be.
The parallel that immediately presented itself to me has to do with with emotional numbing. It's not typically a favorite topic. We have all done this to some extent. Selectively feeling the "good" emotions and ignoring, repressing, projecting, stuffing, or numbing the "bad" ones doesn't end well.
It turns out that humans are really bad at selectively numbing emotions. When it comes to our hearts, we can only feel joy to the extent that we allow pain. When we attempt to only allow the positive emotions, but eliminate the negative ones, we live very imbalanced and incompletely. It's like being a half-human.
Some of us do this because we don't want to bum people out. We may present as cheerful, having no needs and problem-free because we want them to have enjoyable experiences around us. We don't want to bring people down. The trouble is, if we are not honest about who we are, we cannot authentically connect to others. In other words, if we hide the deepest parts of who we are, we present an incomplete picture of ourselves. Nobody can love us fully if we don't show up as fully ourselves.
In other people, it may produce a kind of "living on the surface" experience of life. Some people are more likely to start to notice the avoided feelings, then quickly turn to a distraction. Those of us who reject our darker emotions aren't fully living in the human experience. We are lop-sided.
Emotions bring us messages. A healthy person welcomes whatever emotion is present without judgement. She then becomes curious about the message that emotion is bringing her and that informs whether she needs to make a change, speak up, acknowledge something or otherwise act in a way that satisfies the emotion's prompting. Then she gently releases it and moves on. We don't want to ignore emotions but it is just as harmful to become stuck in them and refuse to release them.
Often the people who get stuck in negative emotions appear to be perpetual victims and can be experienced as self-centered and pessimistic. This can be another form of selectively numbing. Though, these people often selectively numb the positive emotions.
Whether we are more prone to numb our positive or our negative emotions, it is helpful to recognize this is mostly sub-conscious. Perhaps after reading this you will be shown whether you participate. How often do you feel sad, angry or scared? How often do you feel joy, peace, contentment? If the answer to either is almost never, that's your sign.
Life is not fully lived if we don't access all of our emotions. We do well to learn how to allow them to come to us, do their work, and then release them. They are brilliantly designed to help us stay mentally healthy and to process difficulties.
Sometimes this can be done in solitude, but sometimes it's helpful to tell a friend or coach. Of course, in cases of deep trauma, a therapist would be helpful. My work as an Enneagram Coach helps people quickly identify their sub-conscious patterns. It is how I discovered my own harmful habits.
Hard emotions that we don't process (anger, sadness, fear and others) will leak out sideways. We are not fooling anyone when we pretend they don't exist in us. Much of the time their toxins will affect those we are closest to and we love the most.
So, just as I don't spray toxins on my butterfly garden, I do not attempt to avoid my uncomfortable emotions the way I once did. I still have plenty of work ahead, but the fullness of life that is released as I naturally allow my heart, body and mind to work as they were Divinely designed to do reminds me this is the Way. Surprisingly, now that my grief is felt, my joy is full.