The spring season brings up many images of renewal. Flowers are blooming, babies are born; the world wakes from its winter sleep. This idea of rebirth can be easily applied to the inner work we do when we embark on the path of recovery. We leave the old way (soil, womb, sleep) for a new one (above ground, alive in the world and awake). I have a professor, Dr. Michael Wapner, who talks about change and how scary and threatening it is for most of us. Dr. Wapner likens our journey of change to that of a hermit crab.

As you probably know, a hermit crab adopts another creature’s abandoned shell as its own. Dr. Wapner says that as the crab grows out of its shell, it must look for a new one to call home. In between shells or homes, the crab is defenseless and vulnerable. Wapner says that this is how we feel when faced with change. We have outgrown the old shell. It isn’t working anymore. The expedition to the next shell is like the time spent in treatment, therapy or any other kind of inner work we do that requires us to change. The old way no longer serves us but we haven’t found a new way yet. Neither here nor there, we may feel like we don’t know who we are. We may feel raw, exposed and threatened.

It is imperative that we have support during this time of change and vulnerability. Though we may not be in real danger, we may feel like we are since we have new awareness, new feelings and are bravely taking new actions. In the right environment, free from predators and danger, the change is successfully endured and the hermit crab finds a new shell.