Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dwelling in the Discomfort Sucks

Be careful what you wish for. Boy, oh, boy. Yesterday I made the mistake of asking for "emotional sobriety" to live with uncertainty and a future of unknowns. I may not have received exactly what I asked for, but opportunities presented themselves throughout the day to allow for growth and emotional development. Before I knew it, this girl was in over her head.

Every morning I read The Daily Love, a blog by Mastin Kipp. The timing of his words has been perfect for me. This was the gem from my morning's reading:

"Ask for the emotional sobriety and peace of mind to be okay living the maybes. Get comfortable in the in-between. Know that delays are not denials and have fun in the moment, in the mean time, as it evolves into an ever better version of reality."

Jeff Goins is another writer I follow, and I have learned so much from him about living fully in the "In-between" times of life. (For those of you who identify with the term "in-between," you might gain some important insights from what Jeff has to say about navigating through the uncertainties.)

We have to trust that everything will work out just the way it should, but while the universe is at work, bringing wonderful things to pass, we need to fully enjoy the life we've been given, right here, right now...even during the uncertainties of the in-between time.

"He that can have patience can have what he will."

- Benjamin Franklin

Mastin Kipp reminds us that a delay does not mean a denial. I read a quote yesterday about patience, which has never been my strong suit. Patience is not simply waiting. It's maintaining a good attitude while waiting. (Thank you, Joyce Meyers.) The best way for me to do that is to stay busy while I'm waiting, and be grateful for the blessings that are already mine.

Yada-yada-yada. I couldn’t have known that after posting all of these thoughts on my Facebook wall yesterday that I would have to face my demons, and ride a big, old nasty wave of emotion within hours of my posting.

During my morning reading, my mind felt elevated and inspired by the words I read. It was easy to want to be present in the comforting reassurance of Mastin. I was drawn to his words, and felt such confidence. And then, without warning, I had to put this information to the test, and all hell broke loose.

Yesterday was day three for me of a little experiment I was trying. Instead of numbing myself in mindless habits that have been my go-to stress relievers for the last thirty-odd years, I decided to challenge myself by avoiding my own avoidance techniques. 

I planned to dwell fully in the moment, and live with an intention of mindfulness, even when life gets hard. In doing that, I was not going to allow myself to fall back on old patterns of behavior that gave me something to do, but did nothing to fill the hole in my soul that presents itself from time to time. A friend had warned me that when we avoid our avoidance techniques, it brings out the demons. I was going to be fine. I'd managed two whole days of living with intention. My plan was to live in the present, and face life head-on.

THAT is easier said than done, my friends. Everything was going along smoothly yesterday morning. I went for my daily four-mile walk after I finished my writing, first thing, before the day became too hot. When I returned, I spent some time with a friend via Skype. Then I headed to the gym for a Zumba class. (Yes, I know, I tend to use exercise as a numbing agent, too, but I had set a goal of “two-a-day” workouts. There’s a difference. I was in a good place mentally, and was being intentional about that.)

My day was clicking along…listening to Bridger play guitar, checking in with friends on Facebook, and then, out of nowhere, my old friends the demons came by for a visit. All it took was a familiar trigger, and it was like I’d opened my brain to a host of fears and troubling thoughts.

We all have our demons, our own personal challenges. Do you know what thoughts plague me? Abandonment. Rejection. Loneliness. Being alone is my greatest fear. It is what has driven me to make bad decisions in the past. Goodness knows I’ve had to confront my solitude time and time again, especially since Christmas. After a long and lonely winter, I was starting to feel like I had a handle on things. I was wrong. Giving those fears a place to rest yesterday afternoon was my first mistake, but I was recognizing the experience for what it was.

“Ask for the emotional sobriety and peace of mind to be okay living in the maybes.” Emotional sobriety was nowhere to be found. I resorted to old thought patterns, and let my fears convince me that what I was feeling in that moment is how I was always going to feel. It wasn’t going to get better. I would always be alone. I would be required to live out the rest of my life facing my biggest fear on a daily basis.

That these thoughts are irrational was not a consideration. I was in a bad place, and I needed to figure out what to do with these thoughts and feelings.

Dwelling in the discomfort sucks. Just sayin'. It hurt. It was uncomfortable. I recognized it for what it was, and tried to reason with myself. That’s a hard thing to do.

“Just because you think it doesn’t make it true.” What if you can't stop thinking it, though? What then? Huh?

"This feeling won't last forever." Uh-huh. Not buying it.

“Experience these feelings; get to know them.” No, let’s just not. I have known them most of my life. Making friends with them seemed like a very, very bad idea. I'm not good at doing the counter-intuitive.

The old me would have retreated to the kitchen, seeking out the soothing solace of filling my mouth with food in an attempt to fill the emptiness inside of me. Not today. Today I refused to allow myself my numbing habits.

So I sat in my living room, wondering what we were all going to do together. Fear, Loneliness, Anxiety, and I, all just hanging out on the couch, looking at each other nervously, driving each other crazy. I couldn’t offer them something to eat, even though if they’d been normal visitors, a good hostess might. I couldn’t ignore them by leaving them to themselves; I had promised myself I wouldn’t. No, I needed to sit with them, talk to them, and figure out what they were trying to teach me.

Some people turn to compulsive behaviors as a coping mechanism when things get tough. I know what mine are. You probably know what yours are. Cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, sex, cutting, excessive exercise, eating disorders…familiar patterns of behavior feel like old friends when our self-talk becomes full of doubt, self-loathing, and fear. 

What was I supposed to do to get through this day of discomfort? I began to panic. A dull ache was taking up residence in my head. I tried a nap. The thoughts racing through my brain would not allow sleeping to take place. I selected one of my new books to try. Before long, I realized that even that was a technique of avoidance. I knew I needed to eat, but because I’d used eating mindlessly as a coping technique in the past, I would have to be careful.

I made a simple dinner of vegetables and eggs, and sat down at the table with my son to eat it. After he left to spend the evening with friends, I was left alone. My visitors loomed larger than life, and seemed to fill my house.

Sitting in the living room, staring at my unwelcome guests wasn’t getting me anywhere. What was I supposed to do to get through this? I shifted uncomfortably in my chair. I decided to take us all out for a walk. I know, maybe that seems like another avoidance technique, but it was better than my other options. I didn't know what else to do.

During my walk, I felt a sense of dread. Panic wasn’t far behind. I decided to reach out. I texted a friend, “Tonight my demons have come to do battle.” I pressed on, walking farther into the early evening hour, wishing with all of my heart I could make sense of all of this.

Within moments, my phone rang. I hadn’t cried all day, even though there were times I thought I might do just that. The moment I heard concern on the other end of the phone, I was like an injured child who holds it together until mom is in sight. The tears stung my eyes, and fell down my cheeks unchecked. I couldn’t do this alone today. And that was okay.

We talked about knowing we’re supposed to dwell in the discomfort, but not really knowing what we’re supposed to do while we’re in the thick of the dwelling. In talking, I was able to verbalize my fears, and I started simply by saying, “I got scared.”

Today, I’m going to find out what else we can do when tough times come. They’re going to come, you know. If I’ve learned one thing from this last winter, it is that nothing lasts forever. Good times…bad times. We’ll always be fading from one into the other. I’m thinking we better know what to do when the next wave hits. 

So, today, I'm going to be a super sleuth. I'll investigate, and I’ll let you know what I find out. And if you have any tips for weathering these storms, I would be most grateful to hear your thoughts.

What do you do when life gets uncomfortable? I'm not asking for your dark confessions; just any tips that have worked for you when life gets uncomfortable, and you have lessons to learn. Is it just a matter of waiting it out? I have so much to learn; I hope you will share with me, and I will continue to seek out answers for myself. Stay tuned...

And just so you know, this morning when I woke up, I discovered that my unwelcome guests were nowhere to be found. Now that I know them, and have spent some time getting to know them, I think their visits will take up less and less of my time. Here's hoping!


  1. It's necessary to love yourself to be comfortable alone. It took me much soul searching to reach that point. My problem was I thought I knew and liked myself, yet I surrounded myself with people and avoidances most of the time. I enjoy my time alone now and with other people. My greatest fear too has always been abandonment. We must learn to never let it get in the way of living today. I don't have any advice other than not dwelling on your fears. I do know that it is much better to be alone than spending your life with the wrong person. Only you know what you need and where you need to be. Let your heart guide you, not your emotions but your heart; there's a difference. The fact you recognize your avoidance patterns is a big plus. You are stronger and braver and more beautiful than you think. Look inside and see what you might just amaze yourself. Give yourself the advice you'd give your daughter; become your own best friend.

    1. That you took the time to share your insights touches me, Susan. Thank you for your concern, and your suggestions. I'm always better at taking a longer perspective when I consider my daughter; I'll take that to heart...

  2. Love when Suzi said become your own best friend. I'd start by asking yourself what are you telling yourself? Chances are when we get to those hard places, not only do we let anxiety, loneliness, or other negative emotions visit us. We mirror what they say. "Never" and "Always," are clues who is over and what we're listening to.

    What has worked for me and still does is writing out things that are true. Then eventually when I tell myself lies, the other part of me argues with the truth.

    I'd also ask yourself why being by yourself is the worst thing? And whatever your answer is, question that too. I thought your post was insightful and vulnerable. I am going to guess it will resonate with many.

    I too have waves where things look dark and scary. I have to be very careful what I tell myself in those times. Thanks for sharing your heart and your struggles.

    1. I heard myself telling myself lies, and making up information yesterday. I need to ask myself many more questions, as you have suggested. I have always feared loneliness. I suspect the abandonment issues began long ago when Daddy moved out. It was all for the best, but I'm afraid my take away as a little girl was "men leave." Thank you, Anne, for sharing your thoughts with me.

    2. The reality is that some men do leave. (Trust me. I know this.) The danger comes in thinking that has anything to do with you or your worth or your future. Even if all of them leave - dad, boyfriend, first husband, second husband (yikes!) - it's still about them. At least that's what your post has encouraged me to tell myself. (Can you tell these are the demons I've been wrestling with the past few days? Don't make me tell you what a crazy fool my demons made of me yesterday!) Hang in there, Sweetie. It will continue to get better, and worse again, but then even better. It's the nature of it I suspect. Big hugs!

    3. Kendra, thank you for reminding me that SOME men do leave. That is different than telling myself, "Men leave." Perspective is important. Thank you for reading, and especially for leaving a thought-provoking comment.

  3. Hi Denise ... I had to chuckle here because while I don't consider myself to be dwelling in discomfort, I have come to realize that the best place I can be is to become comfortable with discomfort ... It is the edge of the edge where I love to be ... where change is ...

    I have been intentionally going after the unconscious core negative beliefs that initiated the creation of negative coping mechanisms to stay safe ... every one two weeks for the past 2 years I've been systematically discovering and dissolving those beliefs and replacing them with what is true. What I have found is that as I have done that, the need for the behaviors goes ... What I also know is that the molecules of emotion associated with fear, anxiety, grief, are real, embedded in our cells ... and when they come out it feels like all hell has broken loose ...

    Often I will use Byron Katies 4 questions and a turn around ( ) to help me through between sessions ... Sometimes just going to the website and hearing another person go through the their questions helps me with my process ...

    And, Retracing Sequence Method is the primary tool I've been using [and now practice in my area] and is for me to date, the most powerful "belief reprogramming" tool available ... Here's a link to that website: ...

    I practice breathing intentionally when it feels overwhelming [and it does] and deeply rooting into True Love. I remind myself very gently that I do what I do until I don't and that the negative coping mechanisms are [were] there for a good reason ... I no longer mindlessly lose myself in sex, [one of my biggies] and I don't have to fight it ... food and busy-ness the same story. Illness, overwhelm ... same story ...

    Hope this helps some ...

    Blessings to you ...

    1. Your thoroughness in your response is impressive. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts, and how you handle change. I am unfamiliar with Byron Katie, and will spend some time looking at her website. Thank you, Deborah.

  4. I love the openness and vulnerable way that you write and share your life. I know that is an encouragement and message for others.

    1. Thank you for all of your support. Your encouragement touches me.


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