Real Recovery Require More Than Being a Caterpillar with Wings

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image by Nick Hobgood

image by Nick Hobgood

by Paul Garrigan

Have You Ever Seen a Caterpillar with Wings?

We all know a caterpillar can transform into butterfly, but it would it be correct to say that a butterfly is a caterpillar with wings? Just think about – have you ever seen a caterpillar with wings? I doubt it. This is because in order to become a butterfly, a caterpillar must go through a radical transformation known as ‘metamorphosis’.

The caterpillar’s metamorphosis happens inside a cocoon and involves the insect using enzymes to digest its own body. The caterpillar basically becomes a soup-like substance which then begins to rebuild itself into the form of a moth or butterfly. It’s such a radical transformation that the new insect bears hardly any resemblance to its former self.

Addiction Recovery as a Metamorphosis

Unlike caterpillar metamorphosis, addiction recovery doesn’t require that you enter a cocoon to digest your own body, but it is a radical transformation none the less. In order to be completely successful, you need to be willing to let go of your old life so you can begin something new. Your transformation is going to involve at least some discomfort, but this is a price you become willing to pay if you want a better future.

You can think of coming to somewhere like Hope as being similar to entering a cocoon – it means you can begin the process of transformation in the right environment. In rehab, you start to let go of your old life so you can build something new. Of course, your transformation isn’t fully complete by the time you leave rehab – you have your wings, but you still need to learn how to fly.

The Danger of Being a Caterpillar with Wings

A common mistake we can make when trying to break free of addiction is we try to be a caterpillar with wings. This happens if we give up alcohol or drugs without changing anything else. Even if we do manage to stay clean for weeks, months, or years, it is unlikely to be a satisfying way of living. This is because the underlying issues behind the addiction have not being dealt – these issues are likely triggering new maladaptive behaviors and making things miserable for us.

Giving up alcohol or drugs is almost certainly going to improve things for you, but unless you commit to a more radical transformation, these improvements might not be enough to keep you committed long-term. For you to be fulfilled in life, you need to transform into a butterfly, and being a caterpillar with wings isn’t going to lead to this.

image by Uwe H. Friese

image by Uwe H. Friese

Tips for Becoming a Butterfly in Recovery

“How does one become a butterfly? They have to want to learn to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”
Trina Paulus

• Be willing to let go of anything that gets in the way of your transformation
• Understand that your transformation is an ongoing process that will continue for the rest of your life
• Let this be a brand new chapter in your life
• Find out what is true about yourself and what is false – don’t allow ‘it’s just the way I am’ thoughts limit you
Gratitude speeds up the process of transformation – it also reduces the likelihood of you going backwards