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August 25, 2022

After the Goo Phase

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.

Lately I’ve been trying to discover myself. Anyone else in the trenches of doing this?

It’s after the goo stage, when the butterfly must struggle against the chrysalis with its new wings. It must figure out how to get out of the formidable and cozy abode it created for its transformation. If someone were to cut the cocoon somehow to make the butterfly’s struggle easier… it would die.

Which means I have to do this shit myself and no one can help me.

I have to get my own shit together.

I’ve had a few cycles of extreme confidence, I’ve had cycles of devastating lack of self-esteem. I have met challenges every time I thought I was finally on a path that made sense for me. It’s like I get a shock every time I finally think I’ve grasped solid ground. After the shock, the bottom drops out and I’m right back again where I started. I imagine it looks something like R2D2 plugging themselves into the wrong connection and being hurled into the opposite wall, sparks flying, robot squealing.

Sometimes it’s nearly impossible to climb back up and convince all the stubborn aspects of myself to reach again for something, any hold of inner stability or certainty. Life is made up of a million things always changing, like a gauntlet the hero has to run through, and it beats the shit out of you every time you lose. Gotta keep running up that road, hill, building… and no one is going to swap with me.
I understand why we have thunder in our hearts.

Sometimes life feels like bullshit.

I’m losing and losing and learning and learning. I write, I weep, I sing, I weep, I art, I weep. The plague left our finances in shambles, so there’s no solid ground there, but it is improving. My husband managed to find his dream job as a therapist, with a work culture that is truly kind and supportive. They had a pool party, and every hand I shook felt kind, and every question and engagement felt sincere and safe. Five stars as an experience.

Want to hear a weak moment?

When my husband was officially hired, I started crying. Not out of pride, not out of relief.

I was jealous.

Well, my heart was. My mind knew I was being ridiculous but my heart usurped it. I apologized while I was crying and explained to him what was happening, but it really put a damper on the moment. I still have moments of regret where I spontaneously apologize to him for it.

My mind may be a witty wrangler of words, concepts, and declarations but my heart has an override button now that it’s awake. I imagine my heart, soul, mind, and body on one of those consoles the characters of Disney’s INSIDE OUT. My mind, body, and soul may have things figured out in their own way how to navigate life, but my heart is a wrangler of invisible meaning, comfort, and incredible sorrow. She punches her button and floods my system in ways none of others can.

Sometimes she can burst into flame.

I’ve been learning the song ‘Always Starting Over’ sung by Idina Menzel from the musical If/Then. There is this part in the middle of the song that has explained things to me in a way that all of me can understand, or at least take comfort in.

“All that has happened is happening now
All that might happen is here somehow
All of the choices that made me me
All of the accidents waiting to be
All that’s ahead and all that’s behind
It’s all in the moment
I make up my mind
And open my heart
And start
Just start”

It’s a song about starting over, and how it feels like we start over and over and over even if we’ve faced the gauntlet of life so many times that our heart and minds are weary. How starting over is not giving up, but a way to honor your past choices without being dragged back into the quicksand abyss thoughts of the past can be.

I have no desire to go back in time and change things, but I also am a little scared of the world and my future within it. I keep thinking that I’m going to someday wake up with all the answers, or at least have the confidence to seize the day and take whatever the gods have to give. I think I’m learning right now how to be brave and accept life instead of fearing it. Like the butterfly, I have built new wings, but struggling to get out of the cozy little place I’ve made for myself is daunting.

The struggle is part of the process, and it’s definitely the worst step so far.

There’s a long way to go, so I know it will get better.

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Dani Mullineaux  |  Contribution: 1,475