“I want to escape. Spend time in my bubble of solitude.” These thoughts have echoed in my subconscious for most of this year. Although feeling a sense of contentment with my solitude, I also felt a niggling worry that I was enjoying it too much. When I came across a quote that said: “even a caterpillar has to cage itself in a cocoon to become a butterfly with beautiful wings to fly”, it put my mind at ease as I embraced the period of inward-focus. At the same time, I have noted that my heart itself has been guarded and cautious but not yet willing to be completely open as I make sense of the current chapter and learning curve.
In this period of cocooning and stretching, I not only relocated from the city I was born and have lived my entire life in, but my mother quietly left this physical realm. On the one hand, I found myself having to slow down and connect to the grief and finality of her departure. Yet, as I grappled with a sense of disorientation, it occurred to me that both my relocation and my mother’s passing coincided with a period of self-redefinition and letting go.
It would be misleading if I did not acknowledge that some of this growth has not been easy. However, the one thing I have learnt is to create the space to sit with it and work through it however difficult. As I am writing this blog, I know that this process is still moving and shifting, but I thought it’s worthwhile to reflect for myself on what is that I am observing about myself as I look into the mirror right now.
#1: The power of surrender
The lesson I learn over and over again is that there are moments where I just have to get out of the way and allow whatever needs to happen. Even as things are shifting, as I feel a sense of uncertainty, disorientation and often the loss of knowing myself as I always have; I can see that the best response is to surrender to the process and allow what needs to emerge to do just that. The only thing I can do is to observe and to ask myself relevant questions as I try to make sense of what is emerging. Surrender is not easy particularly for someone that has placed a lot of value in the past in being in control, with a clear sense of direction and purpose. Surrender requires letting all of that go and trusting that whatever emerges is for my greater good.
#2: The power of vulnerability
I know there is a lot out there currently about vulnerability. We all have a different relationship to vulnerability and hence it is not easy to welcome it. Looking back, I can see how my mother was not afraid to be vulnerable. When I was younger, I saw this as a weakness and saw her emotional and mental breakdowns as the reason why things did not always turn out well for us. I was also always amazed by how she was not afraid to ask for help and to show herself as ‘weak’. It took me a long time to learn this lesson and I know this is an area of ongoing growth for me. However, in this period for me, I can see how both relocation and the loss of my mother have evoked certain vulnerabilities within me. Acknowledging it has been powerful, and I continue to remain curious about it as I explore the meaning of it and how I can tap into it as I get ready to shift and fly like the butterfly.
#3: Courage and exploration
I cannot yet say what is emerging. What I do know is that I will be more than okay. However, for me to fly, I have to activate my strong will, fierce independence and unrelenting curiosity to explore areas that I may not yet have considered. I am struck by how long it took me to leave the city I was born in, and yet having moved I know it was the right and best decision for me to make. I am struck by how I created the chains that held me back. Whether it was in my imaginings of roles and responsibilities, or in how I defined who I was in the world. Despite a conscious narrative that I am open-minded, in reality, I still held back. So, as I look in the mirror and think back about who my mother was, I realise that she was unafraid to dance her dance no matter what. I remember listening to whispers of disapproval of her choices, her ways – and I see now how some of those hurt her. Despite this, I marvelled at her strength of spirit, because despite this, she continued to be who she was, continued to meet the world on her terms and dared anyone to say she could not. At times I experienced this as her being selfish, and I now realise why in the past 3 years, she kept on telling me to live my ‘own’ life.
As I continue on this journey of growth, I am allowing myself to break free from the chains that tied me up. All I know for sure is that I cannot guarantee the outcomes. I can only be guided by the knowledge that it is time!