The song's music video depicts Carey in an abandoned house, trapped in a desolate life. As the video progresses, she leaves, apparently for the first time in years, and runs into a nearby meadow. Towards the end, Carey jumps over a barbed fence and goes out into the world on a horse. The song's lyrics and video were directly connected to Carey's personal life at the time.
"It was '97 and I was leaving my marriage [to Tommy Mottola]. which encompassed my life. I was writing the song 'Butterfly' wishing that that's what he would say to me. There's a part that goes, 'I have learned that beauty / has to flourish in the light / wild horses run unbridled / or their spirit dies / you have given me the courage / to be all that I can / and I truly feel ...[sings] and I truly feel your heart will lead you back to me when you're ready to land.' At that point I really believed that I was going to go back to the marriage – I didn't think I was going to leave forever. But then the things that happened to me during that time caused me to not go back. Had it been, 'Go be yourself, you've been with me since you were a kid, let's separate for a while,' I probably would've."
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