The Art of Change
In order to become a butterfly, you must first be willing to give up being a caterpillar.
That’s an old quote of unknown origins (unknown to us, at least) but it perfectly sums up the dilemma inherent in beating an addiction. We all have the capacity to rise from the ashes and transform our lives into something healthy, positive, and strong. We want to. It’s just really hard because everything we’ve ever known has to change, and most of us are naturally resistant to change.
When the time comes that you decide to make a change in your life, whether it was after a particularly nasty episode or an insistence from those who love you, it became clear that there was going to be some difficult challenges involved. You have to let go of things that once defined who you are. We get our identities wrapped up in our drugs of choice, be they substances or behaviors. We wrap ourselves up in them to pretend that’s the sum of who we are.
I was that fun-loving guy getting smashed at the company parties!
I was a well-dressed gambler and owned those card tables!
I was the party animal who could handle more coke than any of my friends and I was living on the edge!
These are some of the common ways a person with an addiction can justify and rationalize it in their own minds. It becomes who they are. So when the time comes to let go of that, even for the better, it can feel like a part of your soul is being ripped away.
But as the quote we opened with alludes to, there is something even greater on the other side of that difficult change, and you know it. You may not know exactly what it looks like on the other side just yet (just like the caterpillar can’t predict the color or pattern of its butterfly wings) but you go through the difficult transformation anyway, trusting that it’s a part of the process and you’ll still be you when it’s complete.
The change isn’t easy for a caterpillar in that cocoon either. It’s body is liquidated into a slimy goo and new “imaginal” cells are released to restructure and recode the insect’s body to create the butterfly. This new body is reformed from the cells in the “goo” and a brand new creature (still the same creature, just restructured) emerges to fly away and add beauty to the sky.
Don’t fear the cocoon or the change. Have faith that on the other side await blue skies.