Autism, Identity, Neurodiversity

For the past two New Year posts on my blog I’ve gone with a botanical theme: “Green Shoots” in 2014 and “New Leaves” in 2015. Perhaps I should call this post “Flowering,” but then that would leave me with “Gone to Seed” in 2017, wouldn’t it?

Also in recent years I have chosen a word to be my mantra or theme for the year – I was doing this before I knew “One Word” was a thing, which I don’t think makes me extra cool, more like extra out of touch with pop culture. In 2012 my word was PEACE, in 2013 GROWTH, in 2014 TRANSFORMATION, and in 2016 it was KNOWLEDGE. I choose these words in kind of a woo manner, by plucking a word intuitively from my subconscious as it comes to me. They always end up feeling on point, probably in much the way that horoscopes are on point, by being sufficiently vague and universal enough to never not feel true.

This new year I didn’t have a word come to me as such, but more of a feeling. I’m going to call it STRENGTH because I must describe it somehow. I suppose what I am predicting, or at least hoping, is that this year all the upheaval and remaking of my world will solidify and stabilize somewhat into something more cohesive and robust.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one of those Internet videos that shows how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly – what happens inside the chrysalis. I probably hadn’t thought too much about it before but if I had thought about what happens to the caterpillar, I guessed it would be sort of like how a tadpole turns into a frog: this part grows, that part shrinks, shapes change, and voilà.

Like most people who saw the video, I was shocked to find out that that the caterpillar breaks down into a kind of goo before it re-forms into a beautiful winged insect. It’s not completely formless, as it still possesses a basic nervous system, but indeed the poor creature breaks down almost completely into a primordial ooze. From that the butterfly assembles itself.

This feels an especially fitting metaphor for me as a person who’s undergone radical transformation and growth, and acquired life altering knowledge in the last few years. I don’t know if the caterpillar feels fear, pain, confusion, or hope as its old form is undone, but – well.

When I was a young child I once saw a monarch butterfly hatch from its chrysalis, inside of a jar that my best friend had kept it in with a sprig of milkweed. My friend gently laid the jar on its side in the grass so the butterfly could walk free on its own. What surprised me then about the animal was how delicate and uncertain it seemed. It was not the triumphant moment I’d imagined in which the butterfly burst free from its shell and flew away. Instead, it emerged slowly, tentatively. Its wings were damp and took some time to unfurl. Its legs seemed a bit frail for the first minutes as it stepped into the open lawn. It took time to rest and gather strength before it could fly.

This is what I envision for myself in the coming year: to unfurl these fragile wings and grow stronger in my sense of self, to begin feel my power in my life, in my work and in my family. I hope that my whole family will feel a new strength and stability this year, to gain confidence in our endeavors and in our connections with each other.


Image is a yellow and black butterfly sitting on a green leaf, with the text: This is what I envision for myself in the coming year: to unfurl these fragile wings and grow stronger in my sense of self. – eisforerin.com

One thought on “Unfurling

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