I don’t know about you, but when I think of metamorphosis, I usually associate it with a caterpillar becoming a butterfly…
In fact, I’m so focused on the butterfly, I don’t consider that the word metamorphosis is actually several stages of change.
The dictionary says…
- (in an insect or amphibian) the process of transformation from an immature form to an adult form in two or more distinct stages.
- a change of the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means.
Not only is it a process, but also one of transforming from an immature state to that of an adult.
A change in the form or nature . . . by natural or supernatural means.
I really like that last part, especially the bit about supernatural means.
Metamorphosis is certainly not limited to butterflies, and by-an-large the science and full scope of this concept will be outside the realm of this post.
As usual, I will personalize this concept to fit my own life and hopefully provide you with some things to relate to and consider.
Today, as I am contemplating my own personal journey of transformation, one thing I notice the definitions leave out is the presence of pain.
Not all growth requires pain, but today, I am keenly aware of it’s presence in my life, and yet, I am trying to make sense of it and at the very least accept it.
Again, I am not an entomologist or a biologist, and I only offer a layman’s point of view of metamorphosis.
But one concept that strikes me about the process of metamorphosis is that the caterpillar’s old body dies so that the new butterfly can form.
This reminds me of my post where I suggested we must let old things die in order to become who we want or are meant to be… (see post https://greenleaf4life.blog/2022/05/27/let-old-things-die/).
I’ve heard that the form taken in the pupa stage resembles a biological goo rather than an actual body.
This is a great metaphor for how I feel right now… a biological goo…
And like it or not… It’s coming to get me!
And unlike our ghostbuster friend, Dr. Peter Venkman, I cannot just put this goo into a box.
Okay, enough of the Ghostbuster references. I’m getting off track here…
The points I am trying to make is that this process of change requires me to confront my old ways of thinking, believing, and acting and to let them go.
While in this process of deconstruction, I feel like I am the pupa-stage goo…
At times I feel…
And in pain.
Other feelings that bubble up to the surface include sadness, fear, and anger.
I also feel this pressure while writing a blog about thriving beyond trauma to minimize or even omit this experience because I’m afraid it dilutes my message.
However, I also recognize the strength of authenticity and naming what I am actually going through.
If people are turned off by this, so be it.
The point of writing about thriving beyond trauma is not to sugarcoat the journey.
Sometimes, if fucking sucks!
And this period is another period of deconstruction for me.
I am working with my AA sponsor to look at my old patterns and change them.
I am sitting with the discomfort of knowing that I seek the attention, affection, and approval of certain women in my life in order to make me feel better.
I act out these codependent patterns to cover up the childhood wounds that tell me repeatedly I am not good enough, I am unloved, and I am unsafe.
I am leaning into the feelings of feeling alone and waiting for someone to rescue me knowing full and well no one is coming to rescue me!
In order to let go of these destructive patterns, I need to feel the pain of them without judgment.
As a friend used to say, “It is what it is.”
And by sitting with these uncomfortable feelings and allowing them to pass through me – they lose their hold.
But the point is, I have to feel them and then let them die.
I must let the old version of me go…
And today, transformation is painful…
No Pain, No Gain
Now that I’ve sufficiently shared what the inner critic inside of me wants to label as whining, let’s talk about progress. And more to the point – pushing through pain.
January 31st of this year I walked into The Barbell Saves Project for the first time, and there I met one of the owners, Rob Best.
The mission of BBS is to “support the well-being of individuals in recovery from substance use through using a community-based exercise program.”
BBS has done that and so much more for me.
As you can see from the pictures, I have transformed into a different person.
In a short few months, I have lost nearly 20 pounds, shed my old mask of long hair and a beard, and have gained confidence and a sense of community.
If you’ve read my other posts, you know that fitness is a huge part of my recovery and lifestyle.
Transforming physically has required a consistent commitment to working out 5-7 days per week, eating healthier, drinking more water, improving my sleep patterns, and yes, learning to endure pain!
By learning to push myself physically, I have developed more resilience mentally and emotionally.
My guess is since I have taken a huge step in my mindset and resiliency, I now get to face the internal issues I couldn’t handle before.
By working my ass off, growing, and developing a routine and resiliency, the Universe must feel it’s time for me to face the lifelong issues that have been plaguing me.
There’s a saying in AA – “If you don’t grow, you’ll go.”
For too long have I taken the easy way out when I feel uncomfortable.
That is not a luxury I allow myself anymore.
I have grown sick of my own excuses.
I know that no relationship or drug is going to fix me.
First of all, I’m not broken…
I’m right where I’m supposed to be.
Secondly, in order to grow through this stage of transformation, I need to expand my threshold of pain (Tool and Henry Rollins reference).
Fortunately, I am up for the challenge.
I will do the fucking burpees.
I will sit with the ache of loneliness.
I will get up at four fucking thirty in the morning.
I will go to the gym.
I will run up the fucking hills in the desert.
I will do hard shit.
I will cry if I have to.
But, I will not shrink back from this experience.
I am all in.
I’ve seen too much.
I cannot go back to a life of hiding behind distractions for temporary relief.
Binge-watching television is not a coping skill.
It’s a fucking escape!
Jumping from relationship to relationship is a fucking escape!
I’m done running from myself.
Now is the time to face reality, endure whatever pain I must, and just keep fucking going!
A Symbol of Transformation
Yesterday, I did a thing…
While running on a trail Saturday morning, I had the idea to get a tattoo to commemorate my commitment to Greenleaf4Life.
I actually cried tears of joy when I had the idea!
The power of my belief overwhelmed me momentarily!
Yesterday, I got a tattoo symbolizing my commitment to my dream.
I am all in…
I already had my last name on my back from 20 years ago and decided to finish the piece by adding the 4 Life, a leaf that looks like a spade, and flames…
I believe strongly in the power of ritual during times of transformation.
When my wife and I split up and my life as I knew it fell apart in 2017, I got the phoenix tattoo on my stomach.
Yesterday’s tattoo symbolizes me breaking free from society’s norm of how to live and be.
It also symbolizes embracing the fire within me that manifests as growth for myself and others.
I am leaving behind the life of codependency, being a part of society’s machine that says I have to work a “normal” 9-5 job, and the lie that says my success is dependent on what degrees I have.
I am fucking done.
As I sat there in the tattooer’s chair for a few hours, I embraced the pain of my transformation.
As with the phoenix tattoo, I release my old ways and commit to the new.
Today (regardless of how I fucking feel) is a day of growth and releasing the fire within me.
This part may sound a little woo for some of you, but fuck it…
As mentioned, I am a Capricorn.
Capricorns are an Earth sign.
Underneath the mantle of rock and stone, at the Earth’s core is molten metal!
Now is the time for my core to erupt!
The fire inside drives me even when the exterior appears cold like stone.
My journey and lived experience inspires others.
I see the suffering of people living empty lives around me.
Even my tattoo artist yesterday told me that he feels lost and lacks purpose.
I see people shrinking back daily out of fear and putting up these fronts by posting clever memes about how well they’re fucking doing.
I’m tired of living an inauthentic, empty life.
I’ve seen too much.
There’s no going back.
The only way out is through.
And if I have to walk through the hell of my own dying self to become the person I’m meant to… so be it.
When you’re walking through hell, just keep walking…
I am letting the old self die.
I may have to leave some of my “friends” behind because like energy attracts like energy – and quite frankly I am growing weary of people who emit a negative vibe.
I am tired of my own fucking excuses.
No one is coming to rescue me.
I am all in.
NOW is the fucking time.
I am leveling the fuck up.
I am right where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing, doing it with the people I am suppose to be doing it with, and doing it at the time I am supposed to be doing it.
“Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world mistake” (AA, pg. 417).
Whether you believe in God or not doesn’t matter.
The point is, today acceptance and perseverance are what’s carrying me through.
I am willing to endure whatever pain I need to to continue to live free…
When I posted the pic of my tattoo on social media yesterday, a friend of mine left one simple comment, “Transformation.”
In that one simple word, she eloquently captured this moment of time for me.
I hope that by sharing my transformation with you, you will be inspired to keep going on your journey of change.
I also hope that I clearly illustrated that transformation comes at a cost.
Change is messy and can be painful.
It’ll require you to let go of old beliefs and behaviors.
You may even have to let some people go, too…
And if I can do it, you can do it!
I am not special or possess some secret strength that you do not.
I am just a person who has found his breaking point and is not willing to “go gentle into that good night” (Dylan Thomas https://poets.org/poem/do-not-go-gentle-good-night).
I have found my secret sauce and you have it, too!
If you have experienced trauma and you find things like purpose and healthy relationships are lacking in your life, then you are in the right place!
If you are feeling sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, then your transformation is beginning.
Now is the time!
Grab onto this moment and decide you are not going to settle for a mediocre life of unfulfilled dreams.
You can choose to be happy, but you gotta be willing to endure pain.
And the good news is, you don’t have to do it alone.
Pain is not the enemy.
The enemy is the avoidance of pain.
Pain is mandatory, suffering is optional.
By embracing the things that are holding you back, you can learn to let them go, transform, and become the person (or butterfly) you were meant to be.
You got this!
Help is available today.
Just ask for it…
Thank you for reading about my ongoing transformation into thriving beyond trauma. Please like, comment, follow, and reach out. If you are feeling sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, reach out and we’ll get you on track.
You can also listen to my latest podcast on all major platforms. Here’s the link to episode four found on Spotify.
And here’s a podcast I was recently interviewed on! You can listen to more about my personal background and vision for Thriving Beyond Trauma!