Almost 20 years ago, I had what I call my breakdown breakthrough. It was the culmination of 5 years of desperate struggle (all in all, more like 10 years). I lost my mother, my marriage, my life-long dream of having children, my home, my credit, my faith, and I almost lost my life. Literally. It was the messiest and darkest period of my life. It was also the most transformative. Beautifully transformative.
Looking back, I see that I entered a chrysalis of sorts. When a caterpillar enters the chrysalis, it digests itself. Certain imaginal cells survive the digestion and those cells transform into something radically new.
Listen, when a person is digesting herself, it can be hard on those around her. They can’t see the metamorphosis as anything other than destruction and it scares them. Understandably. So, people try to intervene. They try to solve, fix, treat, medicate, preach, protect, or get her to snap the hell out of it. They do this because they are scared and because they love her. What else are they to do when they don’t understand metamorphosis for what it is?
It’s scary for the person going through it, too, but she hears those imaginal cells whispering words of new life to her. So, she’s flying in the dark. She’s confused and frightened. She may even believe she’s dying and, in a way, she is. She can’t see what is beyond the chrysalis.
Too often, we are afraid of our experience and emotions. We avoid them or indulge them because we take them very personally and seriously. We do this innocently because we don’t understand the inside-out nature of experience. I believe this is why my breakdown breakthrough chrysalis lasted as long as it did. I was confused. I didn’t understand that the dark transformative place would do its work and pass. I didn’t understand that I wasn’t broken. I couldn’t see my innate resilience. Yet, every now and again, I felt the pull of those imaginal cells. Had I understood that I wasn’t broken, I believe I would have moved through the metamorphosis more easily and quickly, though I still had to dissolve in order to transform. No way around that, I suppose.
I’m telling you all this because I want to invite you to be a little more hopeful and gentle when you, or someone you love, are going through a difficult time. Even if it lasts a decade or more. Neither you nor they are broken. You don’t need fixing. There is nothing wrong with you. You are whole and resilient. You have innate well-being. Always. And so do they.
You have the wisdom to navigate the darkness. I invite you to take your experience and emotions less personally, less seriously. They will pass. I promise. I want to assure you that you are OK, even if everyone around you, including the experts, have told you otherwise. Take a deep breath and allow your revved up thinking to quiet down a bit. Feel your own imaginal cells. They may be calling to you.
As you wake up to who you truly are, you will find your way. Get support if you need or want to but seek out someone who knows you have innate well-being and who will point you back to your essence, to your own light. That's where you will find your resilience, clarity, and peace.
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