Shedding Old Skins

Growing up, I always wanted a pet snake, but my parents didn’t see the appeal (seriously, snakes get a very bad name for no reason). Now that I am an adult, my wife and I can finally have our pet snake. Well, part-time pet snake. You see, it is actually the classroom snake for my wife’s elementary school class, but for school vacations, it becomes our pet snake.

And as I watch the snake go about its days, I sometimes envy how much time it can spend luxuriously curled up over the heating pad, enjoying the day at its own pace. And when it is ready to grow, it literally sheds its old skin, which apart from being really cool, is also a good metaphor for growing and healing from a mental health condition.

I say this because our minds and bodies instinctually will develop ways to survive, ways to protect us from an outside world full of things that might trigger our darkness. Our skins develop maladaptive ways of keeping that world out, even if there are those in that outside world that want to help.

And when those maladaptive skins are stripped away, we inevitably feel raw and exposed and want to find the closest rock that we can hide beneath (just like a certain snake). Yet shedding our old, maladaptive skins is the only way that we can develop healthier ways of interacting with the outside world. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but if the snake can do it, so can we.

Because believe me when I say that shedding that maladaptive skin is the first step to a new and better you.


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