Cat From The Mat

A Womb with a View

When I was a young girl, my neighbor had a wild garden full of milkweed, which meant she attracted many caterpillars.   She would invite me to capture a few of them and bring them home with lots of milky herbaceous food, so that I could hold the space to see their transformation from one form to another.  Experiencing this metamorphosis, I waited patiently everyday for the moment that the Monarch would emerge from its chrysalis.  I was inspired when witnessing the adult butterfly finally spread its newfound wings of freedom.  It was also a reminder of how much time, patience, and discomfort it takes to shift into a new form of self. 

For an insect or amphibian, metamorphosis is a biological process of converting from an immature into a mature state, via cell growth and differentiation, involving distinct stages.  I experienced first hand watching butterflies going through four stages of change: from egg, to larva, to pupa, and finally to adult.  Humans too undergo such a transformation; however, the transitions that happen are not always so visible.  I wonder in which phase I am, as I grow more mature. 

Due to the many recent compounded losses, I have been learning to accept some painful realities.   I am adapting daily to many new normals.  Mourning my own breast cancer diagnosis and surgeries, I am still in the grieving process of losing an aspect of my femininity.  My mother’s death in the middle of it all was an unexpected blow to the maternal guidance that I once took for granted.  A late bloomer now in my fifties, I must become my own parent.  It’s time to grow up. And yet, one doesn’t not become an adult overnight.  Sometimes, never. 

In response to traumatic sadness, I am focusing my attention inwardly while I experience the process of metamorphosis.  It’s not so much an intention of shutting out the world; rather, it’s a need to find solace in my own nurturing cocoon.  In my convalescence, I am enjoying nutritious food, rest for my healing body and heart, creative endeavors, and support from loving friends and family, when in need of back up.

Technically a human being, I have been primarily a human-doer for most of my life.  I am good at trouble-shooting, anticipating options should the one at hand not be working.  I have accumulated many tools and have refined their use.  I am finding, however, that they are no longer enough to facilitate the change I desire.  Grieving isn’t a process of doing.  It’s one of acceptance, of being with what is.  And this is rather uncomfortable for me.

A chrysalis is an inactive stage.  The self-created womb is a rather compact container of nourishment while developing into a new manifestation of self.  There’s nothing to do in my safe haven of quietude but to be in the discomfort.  I embrace the many aspects of myself.  I cry.  I laugh.  I sing.  I am silent and still. 

Just like watching a caterpillar convert into a mature butterfly, I am waiting for my transmutation to come to its fruition, with compassionate patience.  I am no longer the person that I was.  And I am not yet the person I wish to be.  And so I wait in this chrysalis state, observing immeasurable progress that is revealed in ebbs and flows.  My yoga, meditation, and empathy practices provide an anchor during this painful transition.  I am learning that my vulnerability is not only a strength but is the only way to transition into my truer self.

Hoping to fulfill your greatest potential, in what stage of growth are you?  Are you at the beginning larvae stages of your quest?  Are you a caterpillar chomping on greener pastures?  Or perhaps you are now the pupa spewing the thread to form your own swaddled insulation in which to develop your wings.  Eventually the time will come for your creative juices to bust out of the cozy yet constraining confines of your chrysalis.  Are you truly ready to take flight? 

I look forward to when I can look back with 20/20 vision to see all of the steps that it took to spread my wings and gracefully soar.  Transformation is not easy and is rarely comfortable.  It is though inevitable if you wish to continue to not only survive, but to thrive in life.

Happy Metamorphosing!


Cat From the Mat

October 2019