Are you feeling lost in a sea of change that feels overwhelming and hopeless? You may be struggling through the pain of divorce, the loss of a loved one or the fears and anxieties of retirement. Imagining being able to laugh instead of cry, or feel joy instead of anger, may feel completely out of reach in your depth of grief, loss and letting go.
Hearing from friends, family or professionals that you can work through these feelings and find that new path to joyful living is unimaginable. You may even be irritated and frustrated with these positive and hopeful messages of encouragement. When we are entrenched in being stuck in our pain, believing in something else just doesn’t exits…
But… it does! We are just not ready to see it yet. So what are we to do to pull ourselves out of this black hole? What can we hang onto when life gets tough and unpredictable?
When I was first struggling to define what my focus in my counseling practice would be, I felt the call to shine a light on life transitions and how they challenge all of our beliefs, histories and issues.
My decision was that Women Reshaping Lives would be dedicated to support for transformative change. This transformation comes from within. It is about how we absorb and choose to deal with life transitions which are a constant in our human life cycle. What better way to visualize that process than through the development of a butterfly.
The following stages are not scientific.They are metaphors for our human process of change, growth and greater meaning. Eric Carle, author of the children’s book,”The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, when asked why he used the image of the cocoon, rather than the scientifically precise image of a chrysalis, explains it this way:
“when I was a small boy, my father would say, “Eric, come out of your cocoon.” He meant I should open up and be receptive to the world around me. For me, it would not sound right to say, “Come out of your chrysalis.” And so poetry won over science!”
I think that cocoon and chrysalis both describe the holding pattern and stuckness of our resistance to change and transformation. I use both of these terms, as they each have their own unique vision.
Maybe one image may resonate with you more than the other. You might connect different parts of your struggle to both. Whatever fits… I hope that your can start to see how a pathway can be formedback to the light of living
One of the dictionary definitions of a cocoon is a place of retreat from stressful conditions. A cocoon can be a time out from whatever feels too hard and scary to face. In the darkness and seclusion of our cocoon, we can feel it as a resting place before growing into whatever butterfly we will turn out to be.
The difference between a cocoon and chrysalis, is that the cocoon is an external, soft structure. The chrysalis is hard, a protective place for the butterfly to develop and grow. It is a site of preparation for transition. Is that hard shell a spot where you can hide out before preparing for change?
For example, what preparation is needed before transitioning from being married to being single? In approaching retirement, the preparation for change is questioning our identity without our occupation. The chrysalis is that preparatory or transitional state of growing into a new life circumstance.
Our times in the darkness of cocoon or chrysalis prepare us for readying ourselves for change. Within our protective silken web or hardened shell, we may need some time to deny and resist what is happening before we begin to wrestle with what we are going to do.
Embracing life as a single person after divorce is learning about who we are and how to value ourselves. Creating a new identity after retirement is the transition of letting go of what was in order to be able to fly to new places.
The formation of the butterfly is the transformation.that sends it newly formed out of cocoon or chrysalis to spread its wings and take flight.
Where are you in your transformation? Are you hiding, wrestling or ready to take flight? Whatever stage you are in, I can offer support for your