chameleon By Corrinna Douglas, MA, RCC

Waiting with anticipation for the New Year to come, meant I could say good-bye to the previous year and completely forget about it; good-riddance and I’m never looking back!  I had come accustom, and quite accepting, in believing that the best place for sadness, hurt, pain and challenge was in the past locked away.  January 1st was the start of a new journey, a clean slate, a fresh start and of course always with the best of intentions to be and do things differently.  I would make a commitment  to myself the last week of December that I wouldn’t fall into the ‘traps’ anymore and I would become someone different, or I would do things differently.  Only one challenge, the Chameleon would continue to reappear.  I never really understood why this creature would come back every year.

I remember the day like it was yesterday when I decided to be like others and hide.  It was grade 6 when my imperfections were used to humiliate me and inform me of my worthlessness.  My primary focus was how do I get people to stop comparing me to others and stop seeing the ‘not so good’ stuff that started to become apparent and recognizable.  That’s when the hard working chameleon started to exert its powers.  My identity derived from whoever I was with or wherever I was; always changing.  I became the context in which I lived.  My Essence was based on the perception that I thought others expected from me.  People accepted and loved the colourful Chameleon and always wanted her around.  She was joyful, fun, loving and free-spirited.

I became slightly aware of my perfectionist tendencies during the completion of my Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology.  However, I met my Chameleon while learning the Satir Model through the Transformational Systemic Therapy training.  At the beginning of this incredible; yet scary journey, I started to see this part of me as old, tired, ugly and fake; a part that I wanted to forget and bury in the past. However, it was through a deeper self-awareness and discovery that I realized the beauty of such changing colours.  The Chameleon was sensitive, compassionate and protective.  The new relationship I created with the Chameleon transformed imperfections to strength and complete wholeness.  This awareness was so unfamiliar yet freeing – I am perfect with all my flaws.   My new learnings allowed for an appreciation of the abundant internal resources within my Self; my spiritual Essence.

Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfections, and Oscar Wilde’s quote “Be yourself; everyone else is taken” were extremely impactful in my decision and desire to be Me.  But who am I?  With 30 years of perfecting the Chameleon, losing my ability to camouflage and conceal Me was reflective of shedding my skin…leaving me bare, open and vulnerable.  On my continued path of self-discovery through the integral support of Virginia Satir’s wisdom, work and teachings, I established a new relationship with my Self.  With the cocoon-like foundation of love, support and safety of the Satir Model, I was able to grow into Me – accepting all of me and still appreciating the delicate, cautious and sensitive parts of the Chameleon.  The changing colourful skin has transformed into unique transparent wings.  Virginia Satir’s poem “I Am Me” was extremely impactful and transforming in my life as the Perfect Chameleon to the Authentic Dragonfly.

by Virginia Satir

In all the world, there is no one else exactly like me
Everything that comes out of me is authentically me
Because I alone chose it – I own everything about me
My body, my feelings, my mouth, my voice, all my actions,
Whether they be to others or to myself – I own my fantasies,
My dreams, my hopes, my fears – I own all my triumphs and
Successes, all my failures and mistakes Because I own all of
Me, I can become intimately acquainted with me – by so doing
I can love me and be friendly with me in all my parts – I know
There are aspects about myself that puzzle me, and other
Aspects that I do not know – but as long as I am
Friendly and loving to myself, I can courageously
And hopefully look for solutions to the puzzles
And for ways to find out more about me – However I
Look and sound, whatever I say and do, and whatever
I think and feel at a given moment in time is authentically
Me – If later some parts of how I looked, sounded, thought
And felt turn out to be unfitting, I can discard that which is
Unfitting, keep the rest, and invent something new for that
Which I discarded – I can see, hear, feel, think, say, and do
I have the tools to survive, to be close to others, to be
Productive to make sense and order out of the world of
People and things outside of me – I own me, and
therefore I can engineer me – I am me and

Last year if you asked me what my New Year’s resolution was, it would be to find out who I am.  This year I have no resolutions.  I am grateful for my past experiences; remembering that each experience has provided me with wisdom.  Excited for change and new experiences, the future offers an opportunity of possibilities.