“I am in a growth spurt. Another way to say that is part of me is dying. Another way to say that is that sometimes I feel alien, even to myself. But I know that to become my truest self, I must feel raw and foreign for a while. That’s the price of evolution.” ~Tama J. Kieves
I like the idea of this journey I am going through as a growth spurt; that feels very much like what I am experiencing. It seems like I notice changes and growth and shifts happening daily in the way I perceive, think about, and react to life. I notice long-held attitudes, habits and expectations shifting into healthier options. Old wounds are losing their control over me. New understandings and new ideas are blooming like spring flowers. I greet these signs of growth with great happiness and excitement. I celebrate their arrival with upswellings of joy.
At the very same time, I watch parts of me dying to make room for each new arrival of growth. Old habits in thought, word, and deed are no longer comfortable or useful and are being discarded. Defining attitudes and understandings of myself and the world around me are being blown apart. Long-time hopes, dreams, and expectations are dying the slow deaths of the damned. Possessions, relationships, and defining labels have been lost or thrown on the trash heap. This ongoing encounter with dying parts of myself brings up deep-seated grief and anger. I rage against the ongoing stream of losses. I grieve for the cherished and comfortable parts of myself that are no more.
I know, too, the raw feeling of being alien even to myself. How often have I looked into the mirror over these last few months to see a stranger staring back at me? I am a foreigner in my skin, in my own head, and even in my own heart. I stand on ever-shifting ground that never seems to settle. There is nothing I thought I knew about myself that is not open to question and to possible death or change. Even my relationships with those dearest to me are in states of change and uncertainty as they have to deal with the discovery that I am no longer who they thought I was. This causes discomfort and resistance at best, attacks and rejection at worst. My relationship with myself fares no better. This amount of change and uncertainty prompts fear, anxiety, terror and worry. It’s unsettling and scary and uncomfortable. Panic is ever hovering near the surface waiting to steal my breath and send my heartbeat into overdrive.
“How does one become a butterfly? You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” ~Michael Motley
This is the price of evolution. I want to fly enough to pay the price of giving up being who I have been to be who I will be. And that means that I keep moving forward on this journey through the joy, the grief, the fear, the excitement, the rage, the anxiety, the happiness, the sadness, and the panic. In doing so, I have made a rather amazing discovery (at least for me) in the last few weeks. I have discovered that these are all just feelings, reactions of my body-mind, that come and go as they will. In fact, the more I am able to sit with them and acknowledge them without any judgment, the faster they dissipate into the ether and cease to be a distraction from my path. Once they have been fully felt and acknowledged, I am free from them rather than stuffing them into my shadow where they have the power to hijack me later. I witness them, I learn from them, I let them go.
This is really key for me—this recognition that feelings are just ephemeral emotions of no inherent value. They do not define me. They are not me. Don’t get me wrong! They are real, and I do not deny their existence or their power for a moment, but I am growing in my ability to feel and observe them with non-judgmental curiosity … and let them go. There’s no need to cling to the “positive” emotions or battle away the “negative” ones because there is no good or bad. They simply are what they are, and they are just part of the process.
The most remarkable thing I am discovering about this is that when I am able to accept and acknowledge all of these emotions for what they are in a dispassionate and observing way, I not only learn more from them, I am also better able to see and experience the abiding qualities of my deeper self that have been there all along. I am more aware of my soul’s deep sense of contentment, strength, and calm that remain undisturbed by the storms of emotion that flutter about the surface. I am learning to rest on this bedrock of stability as I observe the stream of emotions flowing by. This is not to say that it’s easy or that all of the emotions become enjoyable or even that they don’t still sometimes take my breath away with the intensity with which I feel them, but I am not blown to and fro nearly as easily as I was even a few weeks ago even if those who know me still observe more emotion than they are comfortable with. In the midst of the emotion, I am still in touch with that calm core that no one else can yet see.
This journey is not an easy one, but it is worth it for the chance to one day fly. This learning to ride the winds of the storm with grace and serenity will serve me well when my wings are ready. In the meantime, I am content and quietly confident that my journey is progressing as it needs to.
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a very fragile place, and it takes a good deal of vulnerability to share this personal journey of transformation so openly. Therefore, I need this to be a safe place for exploration and sharing for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight—or the expression of that experience or insight—are NOT welcome here and will be deleted.