For me, aside from their incredible beauty, butterflies signify the extraordinary growth that all living things -- including humans -- are able to make a choice and change. I often reflect on the journey of the caterpillar, and can make a distinct parallel to my own growth.
Think about it: a butterfly starts out as a cumbersome caterpillar, crawling slowly along the ground, being stepped on, and then discarded. It is easy to discount the caterpillar.
Yet caterpillars somehow instinctively know that if they don't make a huge change, they will die. As well, if they stay in their self-made cocoons for too long, they will perish; but if they try to emerge too soon, they won't be strong enough to succeed as a fragile butterfly. Our gentle caterpillars seem to know exactly what to do to preserve their self-care and become the very best they can possibly be -- beautiful butterflies -- spreading their wings and flying in whatever direction they please, giving joy to those who behold them.
How can we not learn a lot from butterflies?
My butterfly effect
It was at this time where I had experienced an emotional breakdown. All I could feel was this extreme feeling of sadness, hopelessness, fear, shame and guilt. I remember crying for weeks on end, not really being able to pinpoint what or where these emotions were coming from. It was this rock bottom point that drove me to my transformation.
My journey of recovery began when I allowed myself to reach out for help. I remember how difficult that was for me, and I also remember the amazing people who cared enough to assist me. This beautiful couple who in the past had helped me through a domestic violent relationship welcomed me into their home. They must have sensed how ready I was to come out of my own self-imposed prison. From allowing myself to receive the nurturing they provided I was on my way to finding a solution. I found a mentor. It began with the anxiety experience, believing that this was the main issue. My mentor brought me to a new level of awareness, self discovery and self mastery. I began to engage in a self loving adventure. And then the penny dropped. I needed to peel back the layers and heal many wounded parts of me to be able to release the shame and guilt I was carrying from many Behavioural/identity/values/beliefs from childhood. right through to this time. I was not going to experience my beautiful wings if I had not had this awakening.
It is exactly because I have experienced crushing defeat in my life, and have humbled myself enough to reach out for the help I needed, that I know how scary it can be for my clients -- to make that first phone call or send that first email to me. I often hear that they chose to contact me because of how authentically I present myself, I understand the courage it takes for them to be emotionally vulnerable with me in the session. I respect that courage and often let them know that.
I sometimes speak from the benefit of my experience with recovery -- and they listen because they know that I understand their pain. What I know today is that even when the details of our stories are different, the feelings are the same -- the shame, the remorse, the despair, the hopelessness -- and what they most need is someone to tell them that recovery really is possible. I absolutely know that recovery is possible -- so I continue to tell them that, one session at a time.
If anyone had told me that I would be able to use my 'caterpillar pain' to help someone else become a butterfly, I would have thought they were crazy.
I didn't know I had become a butterfly until a lot later, when other people started to notice my changes. I'm thankful they were able to do that for me because now I can act as a mirror for my clients in the same way, always striving to find something positive or self-caring they have done to encourage them to keep going on their sacred journeys.