On Snakes, Caterpillars, and Transitions

Trying to get back to a normal routine following the fire, I’ve been waxing introspective. I hope there’ll be relevance for you. As most long term readers will know, my life in the past year has been in utter turmoil. Since last July I’ve been dealing with a separation from Barbara, my wife of 24 years, which looks increasingly like permanence, if not divorce.

It seems as if so many of my old friends are pulling back from me. Family, even. Or perhaps it is more that I’m moving away from them, even if unconsciously. I don’t want that at all. But, then, I didn’t want any of this.

Perhaps I’m going through some kind of molt. Like a snake shedding its skin or, more hopefully, a caterpillar going through metamorphosis. There’s a good question; is it the former or the latter? I wonder if either creature looks back at its former self and recognizes the changes it’s gone through.

Perhaps the larger snake feels just as much more beautiful and supple in its more perfect raiment as does the butterfly. Or, in contrast, perhaps the butterfly frequently views itself as just a worm, even if an attractive one, grown up. Both changes are, after all, 100% natural.

People certainly often never lose the sense of being a caterpillar, no matter how beautiful their adult may be, especially if their youth was filled with negative messages from sick, distressed, distracted or, worse, abusive parents; or from some other form of hostile environment, such as poverty, racial prejudice, or war. I see that all the time. Often in the people I love most. It’s one of the great tragedies of life.

I don’t feel I’ll be any different, as a person, from who I was before this transition began, but I wonder. If duration of the change is any indication, I can at least find hope in the metamorphosis seen in the longer transition of the caterpillar. A year is a long time, and the process actually began long before the separation. As long ago as the Vision in 1986, perhaps.

Oh, to stretch my wings–or shed this skin. Whichever. The cramping grows more unbearable by the moment.

Love and Namaste.


The following entry was written the day after the above:

Okay, okay! So I was depressed. Sorry for burdening you all with it. My Dad used to repeatedly warn me about “wallowing in it.” Until last night, I always thought it was just an excellent lesson on how to live a good, productive life while minimizing its occasional pain. I began to realize that it was probably more, or as much, a warning about my own tendencies when I recognized how much like a country-western song that last entry (above) sounded.

When I e-mailed the original version to my list, it seemed like profundity incarnate. Now, in the morning light, it seems maudlin. For those who responded in loving thoughtfulness because of how clearly it conveyed my current angst, thanks so much, I really appreciate the support. But, what I was mostly doing was venting with the hope it would help me move on to shrugging off the confining shrouds of the current transition that have been binding me so tautly. I need to find a way that doesn’t flaunt my (temporary) distress so publicly. Sorry.

Worse, though, I recognize how hurtful it must have sounded to friends, relatives, and everyone I love. No, I don’t really think you’re deserting me. For one thing, most–probably even all–of you have stuck with me like troupers. Why, I don’t necessarily understand, especially after an e-mail/blog like the above and, in some cases, years of listening to me go on and on about gloom and doom. Especially Barbara, Kristine and Roger, Pann and Lee, and all the many others who’ve remained close since I went “bonkers” in 1986 and, again, in 2001. Anyone who’s stuck with me through all that has done yeoman’s work. All I want to say to all of you–and if you even suspect you might be on the list you are–is thank you from the depth of my heart. I most truly was not intending to threaten leaving any of you. You’ve–every one–been what’s kept me alive. I was depressed, okay?

Further, no one, especially Barbara, can be blamed if they have to pull back, be it a small way or a long way. I certainly wasn’t trying to point any fingers. I do believe that everyone does the very best they can–always. And no one–no one–I know has done any less.

But it’s been so long since I’ve been confronted with that peculiar trait of the internet which continues even today to lead to so many “flame wars,” that I’d forgotten the cardinal rule: never click “send” until you’ve either read it yourself with “how is this going to sound” in mind, or, much better, had someone who knows and loves you and has your best interests at heart read it and tell you, “wait a minute,” or “that’s nice,” or “maybe you could say this a little differently.”

My best sounding board is no longer conveniently looking over my shoulder. Anyone who was hurt by my words, please forgive me. I am distressed right now, but it’s no excuse. And it’s certainly not anyone else’s fault. Not even a little.

Love and Namaste.

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