Today I read, “growth is painful. change is painful. but nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.”

I don’t feel stuck these days. I feel like I am learning to fly.

As I am learning to fly, I wanted to use a butterfly metaphor … but then I decided that moths have a bad reputation.

What’s the difference between a moth and a butterfly anyway? They are of the same species, they both go through complete metamorphosis, they are both winged creatures. Butterflies are beautiful and moths are pests.

There are differences between them, and for each difference, there is often an exception. For my metaphor to work, I need to define the 2 metamorphic critters.

Basic differences:

1. Moths are nocturnal, butterflies are not (except for the moths that are not).
2. Moths tend to rest with their wings open and butterflies rest with their wings up (unless they are sunning)
3. Butterfly antennae are wider at the tips and moth’s are feathery.
4. Butterflies have more colourful wings … usually.

And if that wasn’t complicated enough, there is another category of butterflies and moths called skippers. Skippers have the traits of both. They fly during the day, have antenna like a butterfly, have the colouring and fuzzy body of a moth, but hold their wings differently than both; they hold their forewings separately from their hindwings.

I have decided that I am a skipper – neither moth nor butterfly, spreading my wings at my own angle, not fitting neatly into one category or another, learning to fly, practicing holding my wings.

In order to gain my wings, I will need to come to terms with my past. Butterflies, moths, and skippers leave their caterpillar selves behind them.

I am examining my story. Sharing my truths that have been bottled up and kept secret for so long. Through this process I am growing my wings.

Did you know that the process of metamorphosis from caterpillar isn’t just a matter of growing wings? Inside the cocoon, the caterpillar’s cells dissolve into a gooey substance and reform their cells into a whole new creature. I feel like I have restructured my cells and am building wings.

Maya Angelou wrote: “we delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” The changes that I am going through are long and hard. Looking at myself and looking at my past is hard work. understanding where I came from and how I came to be who I am today is helping me to become a stronger, happier, healthier person. We can’t just become a butterfly without entering a cocoon and turning to goo and reforming as a new creature.

Change is terrifying to me. Change means giving up the familiar, giving up what we know to be comfortable even when that means remaining in discomfort. Sometimes it is easier to stay with the discomfort that we know instead of moving into the (dis)comfort of the unknown.

In order to fully change, I have entered the discomfort of facing my darkness and sharing those dark spaces with the people I love. Choosing the right people to share with means receiving empathy and compassion. I have crawled out of my cocoon and am learning to fly.

Going through darkness means facing the discomfort of my past. Not dwelling in the darkness, not dwelling in what was, but learning how to make what is, out of what I know, and relearning what could be. learning how to take care of myself instead of everyone else around me. It means acknowledging what I didn’t get, so that I can seek out those things now, and learn to be a parent to myself.

As scary as change can be, it can also be good. without change, there would be no butterflies. Without change, there would be no growth, there would be no flowers, there would be no beauty in the world. Without change, there would be no art, no music, no creativity. Without change, there would be no need for courage. and we would repeat the cycle of our parents, and grandparents, and their parents, and their parents. Cycles of poverty, of violence, of addictions, of struggle. We need change to be able to create new cycles of love, hugs, beauty, affection, healthy relationships, and self-love.

Sometimes our changing is scary for the people around us. They wonder how they fit with the new us. Remember that we aren’t changing to get away from people, but to learn to love ourselves more deeply.

I trust this process. I trust the changes that have been happening within me and around me. I trust that one day I will be able to fly on my own.

Kira Dorothy is a Toronto-based Writer, Special Education Teacher, Artist, and Advocate. Her work explores her passion for body politics, especially body image, body shame, body language, and self-acceptance, as well as Fibromyalgia, Mental Health, Chronic Illness, and stigma. Her goal is to fiercely explore experiences of eating disorders, body-shaming, and the pathologizing of body-size, and to share experiences of chronic illness and chronic pain. Her own struggles, her love of writing, her passion for advocacy, and her dedication to ending stigma and misinformation is what drives her passion to be a part of this community.