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Hip Sobriety School, Day 38

"I am allowed to change."

· Uncovery

We are all butterflies. Earth is our chrysalis. —LeeAnn Taylor

One of my wise yoga teachers said that anything can be healed from the inside out. She's on the money with that one, because "from the inside out" is the way all transformation occurs. The caterpillar doesn't start sprouting wing buds on its back that grow until they reach full span and enable it to take flight. Off it goes! We all know the story: That slow, plump worm climbs up a branch and spins a cocoon and then its body starts to melt into pure liquid. Back to God—just not all the way back.

It goes without saying that any important inner work creates shifts of consciousness that will eventually rock our outer world. Depending on the depth and power of the transformation, the impact might be a few ripples in our close circle or a full-blown tsunami that takes out our entire village and washes us into a world of new relationships and circumstances. No wonder the process of transformation takes time and patience. We have to grow our wings and then bash them against the side of the cocoon for a while before we're strong enough to fly.

Claiming the right to change usually goes far beyond dealing with the reaction of friends and family to the shifts in our attitudes and conversations and manner. As a new path continues to unfold, we might feel hesitant to openly express all that we are becoming. What will they think? Will they still like me? It's very human to expect the people around us to show up in predictable ways. We settle into grooves in our relationships, we create a dance together—sometimes a dysfunctional one but it's still a dance. It only takes one of you to change the steps for the rhythm to come crashing down.

Maybe we should start greeting each other with "Who are you today?" instead of "How are you today?"

Back in my pot-smoking, single days, I was dating a dentist who invited me to join him for dinner at his married friend's home—another 30-something professional. Larry said later that his friend was abjectly unhappy because his wife had changed. She was no longer the fun-loving, party girl, free and sexy love thing he was so crazy about during their courtship. The moment they said I do, she wanted him to tamp down the alcohol and forget the weed and start establishing a healthy, stable home for a family. Larry was puffing on a joint as he was explaining all this, and clearly he saw a lady who had trapped his buddy with a calculated bait and switch. I saw a woman who had shifted from a girlfriend to a wife, living with a man she assumed would change in sync with her. The Magic 8-Ball was saying Outlook not so good, Don't count on it, and Very doubtful.

Most of the major transformative shifts in my life have been such catastrophic ruptures that no two stones were left standing together, the ground was leveled. Everything changed. After years of storing and continually moving a box filled with old yearbooks and high school photos, I heaved the entire thing unopened into an over-sized trash bin. Fuck it, fuck it all. That girl lived so many generations ago that nothing in the box held any present value. I had no idea who she even was because she had no idea who she was.

Whatever it takes to find the real you, don't be daunted if the rest of the world looks on in shock. —Stephen Richards