The crawdad has never felt this way before. Her skin is dry and tight, brittle, and she strains against it. It’s as if she’s coming undone, falling apart. Feelings of restlessness, unease, and discomfort descend upon her. Anxiousness and fear join forces and shroud her in uncertainty.
Soon her exoskeleton begins to crack and fall away. Frightened, she burrows deep in the mud in an attempt to stay safe. She’s vulnerable and she knows it. In this dark and hidden shelter, she rests. She’s tired, so very tired. There she stays, gripped by confusion and impatience. What is happening to her? Is this normal? Do others ever feel this way? Thoughts clash in her head, some peaceful, some passionate, some persistent. She stays quiet and observes them, curiously, as they wash over her, and she lets most sweep away.
Time passes, and the crawdad realizes the pain has subsided. New sensations have crept in. Feelings of freedom and liberation begin to settle upon her. Hope has arrived and with it, possibility
Now the crawdad feels a great hunger. Her old skin is nearby. It holds the truth of her life to this point…the triumphs and the tragedies, the pinnacles and the pain. That old shell tells her story. It is a part of her, for sure, yet it no longer fits. It is not enough for all that is now inside her, urging her to break open.
The crawdad instinctively knows to consume it, to absorb it and welcome it back into her being. This process gives her strength and energy. It givers her courage and confidence.
Soon, she notices how her soft skin has expanded, grown. There’s space now where before there was none. It seems to be inviting her to uncurl and unfurl…become more than she was.
In due time, this new exoskeleton hardens, providing a shield between her and the world. She is able to let in air and sunlight, yet filter out pollution and impurities. The new skin fits this new version of who she is. The shell allows her to stay safe on the inside as she interacts and connects with the world around her. It is her screener, and she uses it to inform her boundaries.
The crawdad’s journey is not complete, as this “in between” process will happen again and again in the weeks, months, and years to come. This cycle of feeling held back and suppressed, followed by a time of great vulnerability and confusion, almost always ends in significant growth, so that she can look back and see how her body and mind have expanded with time, experience, trauma, and healing…and with each cycle, she steps more fully into who she was meant to be.
Photo: Bluff Point State Park, Groton, CT. 10.29.22
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