The Importance of Being Earnestly Uncomfortable

I have always run from the awkward and painful. Historically my preference is to be enveloped in coziness… quite literally. I vividly remember crawling under the oversized and worn cushions on the living room couch as a child, hiding undercover, surrounded by softness and gentle darkness for hours at a time.

I’ve spent so much of my time in the past avoiding the discomfort that goes hand-in-hand with exposed moments. To clarify, I don’t mean “oops, where did my pants go” kind of exposed. Instead, I am referring to feelings of raw vulnerability, sheer pain, or anything that could possibly lead to cringing and/or heartache.

Sometimes I hide. More often, I take something I perceive as negative and then convert it in some way, with the ultimate goal of placing it into a “happy” category. Here are a few examples:

A) When my lovely niece used to vocalize her disappointment (aka, scream) at not getting something she desperately had her heart set on – most often a sharp, pointy, or poisonous object – I would attempt to redirect her by dancing around her face with a smile like a crazy person singing “we’re so happy, happy, happy, HAPPY!” and clap my hands.  Oddly enough, this worked. 

B) I can’t stand even the beginning of a headache. If I there is a hint of a pressure change near my brain’s frontal, occipital, temporal, or parietal lobes I run to my giant vial of ibuprofen (lovingly nicknamed my “ibuus”), often with Usain Bolt-like speed.

C) The violence and heartlessness that I learn about on the news everyday has, in the past, made me smash plates on the ground – and thereafter blame the incident on my mom’s cat with a pleasant and relaxed smile on my face so no one thought I was insane. Hmm, not sure how well that one worked, actually…

D) I will scream and shout and agonize if a movie does not have a happy ending, only to come up with my own in my head so I can get through the week.

E) Anyone who has the misfortune of waking me up from a deep, cozy, dream-filled sleep may lose a limb. Maybe even two. After this carnage I will immediately fall back asleep with a serious goal of finishing said dream.

So, it should be obvious by now that comfort and I are good friends, and I constantly wrestle with how difficult the unpleasant is for me to handle. Recently, though, I have found I don’t have much of a choice. Because let’s face it, crap just happens, and lately it seems like a lot of crap.

Yes, of course, politics – I’ve written about that a lot, most recently in a post that includes thoughts about the current political insanity.  

Environmental… you bet. Global climate change doubters, please get your heads out of your butts. If you need a little proof, spend some time in New Hampshire, assholes. We had spring during winter and now we have winter during spring. Can’t wait to see what summer has in store for us. 

Physical pain…. well, I’ve had some struggles with that recently, too. 

Most notably, though, my heart has been heavy with emotional pain and guilt from loss that I feel is indescribable. Maybe some day I will write about it, but now isn’t the time. I can say, however, that I’ve felt unbelievably raw and exposed. And, I have taken some time to sit and wrestle with all of this; a highly unusual activity for me, as I typically hide from these feelings by pouring myself into work or other hobbies and activities.

That has presented me with an opportunity. Maybe even an opportunity to grow. (DUH… There are self-help sections of my local bookstore devoted entirely to this topic. It isn’t breaking news, really) 

And I’ve come to the conclusion that sometimes you have to feel really, really terrible before you realize that life is really, really good. And oh-my-goodness-gracious, I’ve got it freakin’ good.

Reflection is a good thing. Self-pity is not.

And being grateful is powerful.

Thank you, all of the wonderful people and four-legged creatures in my life, for helping me to see this. 


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