I woke up this morning feeling uncomfortable and restless for the third week in a row. Three weeks. This had tipped over from a passing mood to a current, annoying phase. I deal with temporary swings into emotions routinely by taking a minute to journal (or think through) the chaos until I get to the source. It helps with the build-up-of-baggage tremendously, those many minutes I take. But a few weeks into a mood usually means something different. It was time to acknowledge what was happening: Hello there, Molt.
Molt was back. She’s likely the most annoying characterization of a phase that I’ve ever experienced. She comes around when you least expect her, just when you’ve grown into your big-girl-shoes, and you’ve gotten the hang of your stride. She shows up at your party, and in the middle of your dancing, she begins to take measurements for the new shoes you’re going to need by the time she leaves. You protest, “I don’t need new shoes. These fit perfectly, and they’ve even molded to my feet. My swag is on point in them!” She ignores you. Molt is rude. An uninvited, rude guest. The WORST.
In the animal kingdom, molting [moulting] is the process in which an animal routinely sheds some part of its body for either new growth or change (like metamorphosis). While it doesn’t take place for all animals, the purpose of molting varies from growing bigger to attracting mates. For me, Molt was always the mental and spiritual harbinger of change. Her appearance meant that something was about to be shed, to be removed … to die. Ten times to one, I’m never ready. A hundred times to one, I don’t see it happening until it has already begun.
Molt is a force of nature: at a minimum, she’s disruptive; in her most potent form, she’s obliterative. In the past, Molt has removed everything from friends and relationships to projects and jobs. But those were only the outward manifestations of what she had likely murdered: some part of me, something meaningful and beloved, which was an essential driver within me at the time. She comes when alignment, or realignment, is needed for some seemingly divine reason, and for her, the ends justify the means — aka, by any means necessary.
My symptoms were clear: uncomfortable and restless for multiple weeks could only mean that her incubation period was over, and she had begun her work. I needed to get ahead of this. I’ve known better than to stop her [i.e., I learned the hard way, MANY TIMES, that she’s unstoppable], but I’ve always resisted her despite that knowledge. My survival mechanism is also a formidable force. Lately, however, I’ve felt exhausted from fighting both losing battles and battles that weren’t mine to fight. The only way to get ahead of this would, therefore, be the one thing I could do: enable it.
So today, I held a funeral for the part of me that was now hindering my purpose, and two people — Molt and I — attended. I grieved while Molt comforted me, a new side of her I hadn’t seen before. We sat and reasoned about life afterward, and I asked her why she was so rude to me in the past. It turned out that Molt had always been here, an immortal part of the world, charged with a duty to the progression of life. I showed up, a few decades ago, and soon decided to make my own laws and rules for living. I was the uninvited guest showing up at Nature’s law-and-order meetings and telling everyone there how it should be done. My attempts to gain sovereign control violated the laws of Nature, but despite my impudent imposition and unsolicited “rules,” Molt still had my back. She showed up every time my evolution required it. She made the necessary changes within me to give the greatest version of myself the best possible chance of survival.
We laughed as we walked back to the Cemetary of My Hinders and stopped at the tombstone we had just put into the ground. Unlike the others, this one was inscribed by me. The epitaph read:
Here lies the part of me that has stood with me for many years but whose presence will, without ill intent, stand in the way of my future. Thank you for being selfless enough to stay when I needed your divine instrument, but not being selfish enough to stay when my need for you was to my detriment. In surrender to the molting of all that I am in service of all that I will be, may my past rest in peace and may I rise in purpose.