Updated: Feb 4, 2021
During the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly, there is the chrysalis stage. Contrary to what many may think, the chrysalis is not a resting state, the caterpillar is forming new body parts to become a butterfly. There is a lot of work to be done before the transformation. In the chrysalis, the old body dies and dissolves in order to form a new one with wings. Eventually, a butterfly emerges that holds the soul of the caterpillar but bears no resemblance to the insect that created the temporary home. The caterpillar before and the butterfly afterward are familiar to most of us, but the extreme changes and growth that occur in the chrysalis are unseen to observers from the outside. The caterpillar does not change into something new, through work and time it becomes what it truly is meant to be.
Recently I restarted my spiritual journey. It originally began at twelve when I first questioned religion and dogma with limited teen language and an understanding of how to articulate why it didn’t sit well with me. Which was then stalled by life choices and the shift from being in the culture and direction of my parents home to the culture and direction of my married home. So, in restarting my search for knowing myself spiritually, I came across this meditation, “Remembering who you are is how you take your power back”. I have been ruminating on the power and role of this line in so many aspects of my life. It resonates with me at the most unexpected moments and is similar to the metamorphosis and transition from married life to being an individual again. I didn’t say single, because it really does not have anything to do with whom you are linked to in a relationship. It is about you as an individual.
I will acknowledge for some that this occurs simultaneously in a healthy marriage or relationship. But when you are in toxicity the relationship inhibits the ability to see the things that make you whole. The air is stolen from the atmosphere to limit the amount of oxygen needed for your brain to function at full capacity. That is what suffocation in a marriage starts to feel like. This minimal capacity brain function relies on the mode of survival. Growth and self-care don’t even make their way to the table when you are constantly measuring your words and taking a periodic temperature of the emotions in the room that can sway the pendulum just with the utterance of a misinterpreted word or slight tone change. Living with the tone police as an expressive woman is exhausting! It not only takes away the ability to be an individual, it replaces that sense of individuality with the destructive nature of codependence.
That’s probably why I thought leaving the environment would solve the problem and change everything. What I didn’t realize at that time, is that It’s just the start of the next chapter, not the complete alternate ending to the story. That momentum I felt when I landed squarely on my feet in August 2018 following my separation, was a false start that made me think I had won the race. But truly, that is when the work began. To change my life, I had to do more than drop my husband and the home filled with unhealthy vibes. I had to start seeing what was broken in me and heal myself.
I have had the drawn-out extended time of a separation that feels like it’s lasting forever before the finalization of the divorce. But as I am reflecting now, I think it was how the universe intended for me to heal with more time and grace. In this second year, the pain has set in. Not the pain of leaving my husband or the dissolution of the marriage, that all still gives me a warm fuzzy feeling and lifts my spirits. But the pain of discovering who I am and realizing how little I know about it in all aspects of my life.
The power of owning and embracing your story holds infinite possibilities, but sometimes we have to shed the past narrative that was forced onto us to reclaim the one that truly belongs. It seems foreign at times and requires us to be comfortable with discomfort aka growing pains. That same metamorphosis caterpillars experience extends to humans. Google defines this as a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means. I have been shedding the aspects of myself that never fit to find what is meant to be present.
My transformation did not happen overnight. It takes a lot to walk away from the vision of a life you spent seventeen years nurturing and building. My ex-husband may have been the temperature of the mood in our home, but I was the heartbeat and soul. Leaving him meant leaving the only thing I truly put everything I possibly had in me to build and cultivate. But it also meant peace and the opportunity to craft a home that was truly an extension of the family I envisioned when I got married, minus the presence of a husband. How do you shed the broken parts and maintain the pieces that make you whole and feed your soul?
Work, work, work. Seriously, it’s constant and continuous work to notice how I think, what I feel, and how that leads me to feel threatened or safe. Luckily, the work I do professionally does that same analysis on a regular basis. When you guide others to have those types of conversations, it’s only a matter of time before you start having them internally too. The power that comes through when the fog clears and you can finally see all the constellations shining bright and individually in the sky, is the clarity of knowing and seeing yourself.
I am undoing the story I believed was mine for too long. That came from marriage and my life before marriage. Missing those instrumental years of discovery in my twenties and thirties because I was managing the reality of being a mother, wife, professional, and student, is an integral aspect of my current daily struggle and rewards. Sometimes, I am reminded painfully in my own decisions and words that I still have a lot of work to do when it comes to seeing myself fully and owning all the flaws in their raw truth. On other days, I have epiphanies where I assume control and it leads me to the places I want and with the people that continue to move me to growth. We are lifelong learners about ourselves and the world around us. When embracing growth discomfort is a stop on the journey, not the destination. So lean into it and get comfortable with being uncomfortable because without that we buy into the complacency of comfort. I am diving into my cocoon to experience all I need to with the goal that something spectacular will emerge in the truest and authentic form of this brown girl interrupting.