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Why is this cocoon so damn dark and lonely? Wait, why am I in a freakin’ cocoon?

by | May 21, 2018

I know this is a WAYYYY overused analogy for life in general. But I’m going to use it anyway, and stick with me here, it’ll be worth it. And you’ll get swearing, as per usual.

The journey into and through middle age is sometimes fun, definitely filled with learning, and ginormous ups and downs. At best, we have a pretty steady life that we like a lot, people who love us, and good health. At worst, well…let’s just say hell might look a lot like what many women feel during midlife. Oh? Not so, you say? Mmmmmmkay. Here’s just a sampling of what many women go through:

Hot flashes. Night sweats. Mental fogginess. Rage. Unpredictable periods (some with hemorrhage like bleeding). Sleeplessness. Unexplained pain. Vaginal soreness. Depression.

Shall I continue? Yeah. Didn’t think so

Ok, so like I was saying, sometimes it’s rough. It’s not just our bodies that are changing. It’s our brains as well. They are literally being rewired. All the shit that we didn’t deal with in our youth, or as young adults is now DEMANDING our attention.

So, what does this have to do with cocoons? I’m so very glad you asked. You know how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly, don’t you? It doesn’t simply pick a day and say to itself “Geez, I’m sick of scooching around on leaves all day. I’d really love to be colorful and have some wings and fly around. I think I’ll make myself a handy little sleeping bag and wish real hard and out’ll pop some wings, and people will see me and be happy.” Yeah, that is NOT how it goes.

First of all, a caterpillar doesn’t CHOOSE. It just does. Much like a woman doesn’t choose to go into menopause or midlife. Secondly, a caterpillar essentially makes itself a coffin because when it’s inside the caterpillar ceases to be. The DNA of the caterpillar completely changes into goo. GOO!! WHAT…? Yes! Goo. Then, the DNA completely rearranges itself into the DNA of a butterfly. Then, as if THAT’s not e-fucking-nough, the butterfly has to break out of it’s own coffin, and sit there completely vulnerable to predators and wait for it’s brand new wings to dry off so it can finally FINALLY feel the freedom of flight.

Shit. That’s a lot of work for that scrappy damn little caterpillar. Can you imagine how scary it must be? To willingly build a tiny coffin, get inside, and essentially die? Ok ok ok. Yes, I know caterpillars probably don’t feel fear. They’re working on instinct. But guess what? YOU ARE THE CATERPILLAR!!

So, this is you. You’re happily munching your leaves, or like getting married and raising kids, making a career, getting a puppy, buying a house, traveling the world…what have you. You’re like, “yeah, baby! These are some tasty ass leaves, my life is just fine. What’s that, tiny voice in my head? Maybe I’m not super happy crawling around stuffing leaves down my throat? Maybe I’d rather fly? Ha, tiny voice. That’s nuts. I can’t fly, I’m a wee little caterpillar. Look how nice my life is. Everyone tells me it’s great, and that I must be so happy. But, sometimes I do have dreams about fluttering about enjoying the nectar of flowers…no! That’s crazy. I’m just a mere caterpillar, who am I to EVEN think about flying…”

You get the gist.

So, then menopause hits, (or metamorphosis time if we’re sticking with this caterpillar thing), and we make a little cocoon. In the human version, a cocoon looks a lot like mild depression. It’s when we are wrestling with ourselves and our desires, and noticing, and feeling shit we haven’t allowed ourselves to, and getting curious about what else we might want. It’s not easy. Often we don’t have energy for much more than keeping ourselves and those we are responsible for alive during this time. We’ve been told we are caterpillars for so long, and now we have a longing to fly. We have to cocoon, we have to allow the “coffin” to come up around us so that we can allow the old, small caterpillar to die.

The great thing about not being a caterpillar, among other things like walking and not secreting viscus substances, is that we know we won’t actually die when we go into our cocoons. But at moments it feels like we might get pretty fucking close. The time of huge shifts in middle age is scary. It’s dark. It’s extremely lonely. It’s exhausting. And it’s confusing. And if you’ve ever had the merest brush with depression it can be absolutely terrifying that you are headed back into that cesspool of shit. And this is why, dear readers, so very very many women don’t and won’t go into that cocoon. So, what do they do instead? Hmmm. Well, get diseases, injuries, divorces, botox, have affairs, disengage from their children, drink too much, sleep too much, shop too much, self harm, over eat, under eat, etc.

It’s the brave little caterpillar who feels the pull of the butterfly in her soul who will make herself a little coffin and lay herself down in it to allow the old her to die.

Of course it’s scary and dark and lonely in there. Cocoons are for rearranging your “self” at the deepest level. Although no one can fully be with you in your cocoon, there are certainly ways to get support, community, and love while you’re in there.

Of course, a TRANSFORMATIONAL coach can help. (See what I did there?) It’s my mission to help women transform from scootching little caterpillars to badass fucking butterflies. Fly on!!

xoxoxo Sam

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FREE CHECKLIST TO THRIVING IN MIDLIFE

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