Closer to a lobster than a butterfly

When the caterpillar leaves its chrysalis

Story by
Ariane-Li Simard-Côté
June 1, 2023

“I have enough time to be in what’s essential.”

These words appeared to me in the middle of lockdown when I felt I was reaching the end of my life. There were many desires that I had accomplished: a transformative romantic relationship, a fabulous job, travels around the world for business and pleasure, and so many wonderful memories. And then there were the things I didn’t accomplish like directing rock musical movies, having a catamaran, or importantly, raising a beautiful family with children.

As I sat peacefully on the front porch of my childhood home, feeling a deep sense of belonging, if I’d been asked what more do you want? I would’ve answered: Nothing. I’ve done everything I wanted. I’ve lived my life. At that exact moment, I no longer had any creative impulse. None.

Talking about my own death is certainly one of the most disturbing and moving experiences. I reached the moment when the caterpillar leaves its chrysalis, only to see enormous protuberances appear on its back as it develops its wings, losing its bearings.

I felt like there was a me before, and a me after. Beyond all my fulfilled dreams, there were the blows, the scars, the wounds. Sitting on my porch, I felt serene, but scarred. And somehow, I didn’t know where to find the strength to get up. As if this distant force of my youth had dissipated.

Deep inside me I knew what I was saving for the end: playing music and having a family (…and watching sunsets on a catamaran). This is what I considered to be “essential.” But why hadn’t these so-called “essentials” come first in my life before now? Had I been afraid to do it earlier for fear of ruining everything or of lacking experience? Certainly.

But time suddenly seemed to be running out. And it’s at this exact moment that these words appeared like a whisper from my body and soul, while enjoying the yellow setting light at the end of a warm summer day: I have enough time to be in what’s essential. I started breathing again. And as I’d already lived my life to the fullest, I had nothing more to prove to anyone.

Something in me seemed to seek this tenderness of yesteryear, and asked the question: How can I be so far from the version of myself that I loved so much? This younger me was a sort of distant memory. But as soon as I stopped opposing myself to her, I rediscovered the scent of the perfume of my 20s, I rediscovered my friends, my laughter, my energy, my curiosity, my thirst for life. I wondered whether I no longer had access to this crawling and devouring caterpillar with an inexhaustible thirst for life.

I thought so, until I came to believe that I was closer to a lobster than to the butterfly. Under this hardened shell, which had become too small, another growth spurt awaited me. A larger and much more tender shell would become my new skin. Like that of my 20s, but more adapted: taller, softer, better. Caused by deep

I don’t know how to talk about what I’m about to talk about, since the lived experience is so deep. But I will try, guided by words that resonated stronger in my heart during this transition. Abuse. Regaining power. Healing. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Limits. Affirmation. Validation. Growth. Peace. Abandonment. Entrust. Trust. Higher power. Serenity. Present moment. Friendship. Love. Self love. Giving. Reciprocity.  Respect. Family. Truth. Rigorous honesty.

Recovering from abuse in your life is not easy. Firstly, you have to realize and become aware that it is abuse. And for that, you have to know how to define your boundaries and trust that your limits are set in the right places. Then, you have to learn to respect them.

What I can say is that the traces of the abuse in my life left such a hard shell, that I didn’t realize that I could no longer move. Thanks to a friend, thanks to #Metoo, and to me for having dared to speak, to entrust myself, to entrust to another human being who knew how to hear me, believe me and listen to me without judgement… The shell is gone.

And what I have found is so tender… so tender that I had forgotten what it was like being hardened. I remember being like this at 22, and the feeling has come back to me at lightning speed, and my body is 22 again. In this motionless moment, as I exhaled, I could feel inspiration brewing. I decided to let go of doing and to discover being, to explore this known concept people talked about: the here & now.

The relationship to time is so mysterious, but the image I have is one of strongly pushing away this young woman whom I judged to be naive, making her walk beside me, as if on a parallel lifeline and keeping her at a distance. I had become hardened and made sure to keep her “naivety” away from me, a familiar feeling from 20 years ago. Sometimes I missed it, but did not know how to feel it again. The day the shell disappeared, she fell on her knees beside me, and I took her in my arms and I cried, and comforted her, soothed her, healed her. And this young woman lives again in me, tender, available, not naive, but beautiful, tender and serene. This new softer and more beautiful skin under the new shell, at the dawn of my thirty-ten years, I would not exchange it for anything in the world.

I am so proud to have continued to grow despite the rigidity of my shell, because I would probably never have lost it and could never have lived life tenderly again with the sensitivity of my 22 year-old self, and the seasoned outlook of my thirty-ten years.

And I say thirty-ten years, but I know that my soul inhabits the millennial body of all my mothers born from their mother’s womb. And they all give me the strength to die and be reborn as needed, as all women who hold the key to the power of cycles. And in these 24/7 cities, I hope that one day, we will understand the importance of valuing and preserving these powerful cycles.

Thank you to all the mothers of my body, for having whispered to me that day on my porch: I have enough time to be in what’s essential. And I thank myself for having heard it, and being daring to apply it, moment to moment. I like to say sometimes our heads don’t understand everything, but our soul knows what it’s doing. By trusting this, we instantly feel all the infinite abundance and richness of Life entering our hearts and manifesting everywhere around us. Like the transformation of the butterfly, and the skin of the lobster, billions of cells die in our body every second, then are reborn, identical but different at the same time, more adapted to what Life is preparing for us. And we live again. Once more.