It’s the best word to describe the past month of my life. Things happened that were just plain surreal and strange. At times I was underwater. Other times, I felt detached from the strange happenings in my life, as though I were standing next to myself, slightly shocked, observing.

Wild and weird things happened. Things transpired, like Jack causing near car accidents and actual car accidents. The attacking of family members. Biting. Kicking. Scratching. Screaming. A younger brother being pushed down the stairs. Extended periods of rage. And ultimately, a trip to the neuropsychiatric unit at the university.

I sat in the small, bare assessment room at the hospital with Jack, Dutch, and the psychiatrist a few days after New Years and felt like I was outside my skin, watching this strange event like an awkward scene in an art film.

It was quietly bizarre.

The on-call psychiatrist was very direct with us. She was empathetic and knowledgeable, and the three of us decided that admitting Jack at this point was not the best choice. Dr. Jessica had short hair and looked part crunchy, part intellectual. We learned that before becoming both a psychiatrist and a pediatrician, she was an engineer.

“Is this what people do when they don’t have a bunch of special needs children to care for?” I thought. Do they just keep earning multiple degrees and trying on impressive careers at will? Perhaps. And why not? We need analytical, smart, and compassionate mental health professionals.

It was a Saturday, so the place was essentially a ghost town, which added to the spare, dream-like quality of our trip.

Dr. Jessica adjusted Jack’s meds, outlined an outpatient plan for the next few days, and told us that in her professional opinion, we need to find childcare and take a two-week trip to Bali.

I do not disagree.

There was another moment during the long and trying Christmas Break when Dutch took over and I slipped away to meditate. I went to the temple looking for peace.

While I was there, I spotted a butterfly. It was actually a butterfly motif worked into the decor of the room I was sitting in, and when I saw it, something nudged me.

I thought, “Perhaps I am noticing this because life is not unlike being a caterpillar. Currently things are slow and we are figuratively crawling through the dirt. But someday, Jack and I and the rest of us will be like butterflies.”

I sat pondering my interpretation of this revelatory moment when a voice in my head said, “Chrysalis, not caterpillar.”

The voice spoke blatantly, if silently, and my mind was suddenly filled with an image of a chrysalis suspended, a delicate blob hanging from a twig.

This image of a tightly-wound cocoon altered my perspective of the life I am living.

It isn’t that now we are fuzzy caterpillars inching slowly along the ground. Rather, we are bound up in a whirlwind. It’s a sticky, transformative mess.

It’s confining.

It hurts.

It is the womb for a better, lovelier, wholly reinvented version of ourselves.

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