Saturn on a line
A sun afire on strings and wires
To spin above my head and make it right
But any time you like
You can catch a sight of angel eyes all emptiness and infinite
And I dream of Michaelangelo when I’m lying on my bed
I see God upon the ceiling I see angels overhead
And he seems so close as he reaches out his hand
But we are never quite as close as we are led to understand.
~ When I Dream of Michaelangelo, Counting Crows
I have perfected the art of cocooning myself in my bed. One pillow under my head, one on my back, one at my front. A wheatbag wedged between me and that pillow on my back. Not too hot, but hot enough that it almost singes my skin and delivers a therapeutic dose of blood-circulating warmth. Fleecy dressing gown rolled in a ball in front of me. Doona over me, sealing in the cocoon. I sink down so that only my eyes and nose surface.
I lie there. And it’s heavenly.
In that moment I find a safe place to rest. Soft. Supported. Soothed.
I’ve been seeking comfort most of my life. It’s only now that I’m 42 years old that I am realising I can find comfort in myself. I can’t keep hoping to find comfort from other people because it’s not always going to be possible. And when it’s not possible it’s scary how quickly it leads to disappointment and resentment. And the loneliness of that funk is a load that gets too heavy to bear.
Self-soothing is a thing you can do. Imagine that. I’ve written a list of things I can do so that in the moment of feeling down I can remember what’s in my toolbox. Long hot shower, cup of tea, a walk in nature, putting on some music, stretching my body… and if all else fails the bed-cocoon.
Self-soothing isn’t just comforting. There’s something very powerful when we take responsibility for ourselves. I feel strong. I feel capable. I feel like I’m not going to break.
Lately I’ve been listening to this song. Adam Duritz is one of the greatest poets that ever became a musician. (And don’t look at the pictures, there is no official clip, it’s just music).
When I cocoon myself in my bed I look up. No Sistine Chapel on my ceiling. But it’s white and fresh. A blank canvas for my thoughts.
Sometimes I imagine the serene eyes of angels looking down on me. Sometimes they stroke my hair. I’m sure that angels have always soothed me. I imagine other beautiful things. I imagine trees misty wet with rain, fields overgrown with wildflowers, bells ringing from churches, the threading of my toes through the sea. I imagine words. Magnificent words. Like supple, silky, shine and soar.
The thing about a cocoon is that it’s a temporary sanctuary. You’re not meant to stay there for years on end. At some point you need to come out. Because real life in all it’s tediousness and pain is also the place where there is beauty and goodness. The haven should be just enough to comfort without being an invitation to wallow and get stuck.
Sometimes I only need my cocoon for minutes, sometimes I need it for hours. But when I resurface I am transformed. Isn’t that the purpose of a cocoon, to change into a more beautiful thing?
Today I stepped out my cocoon. Beautiful butterfly. Lightness and colour. Ready to stretch my wings.