I have never been a friend of comfort, at least not as long as I can remember. But I have a feeling we might be able to get along.
I’ve internalized a voice that sings “Nothing comes easy.”
The complete soundtrack includes: “You have to struggle to get ahead.”
“You get what you pay for.”
“No pain, no gain.”
“You have to suffer to be beautiful”
and other hits.
I’m not saying there isn’t an element of truth in any of them, but somehow along the way my brain overgeneralized the concept and morphed it into the belief that I must be hard on myself, that it was somehow a noble thing, the way it should be done, the path to glory, and living your dreams. I embodied that belief with unequivocal convinction. I became a rock star at beating myself up.
Comfort might be an incidental side-effect, a reward for hard work and self-torment, but never ever something to be sought out.
That kind of internalized thinking takes its toll. It’s hard on the body, mind and soul.
(and now I’m rhymin’)
As I was typing this, an alarm went off to remind me to take some pain medication. I’ve had a flare up of acute pain over the last couple of days, a hat trick of dental chickens come home to roost as a result of procrastination and pandemic shut downs. The pain has been crippling, leaving me feeling like curling up in the fetal position and crying for my mom.
I have a deepened respect for people who live with chronic pain, and deep gratitude for my largely pain-free life.
I was able to see a dentist who assessed the situation and suggested a plan, including doubling the amount of pain medication I had been taking and timing doses regularly over a 24 hour cycle to keep it at steady levels in my system.
This strategy has been incredibly helpful. After two times, I am feeling little to no pain and able to function again. I was able to sleep deeply and through the night last night and woke up feeling like life might be okay after all.
But when the alarm went off just now, my first thought was “well it only hurts a little bit; maybe I should hold off on taking more drugs.”
It only hurts a little bit.
There is a difference between navigating pain as part of an intentional process, or because someone or something is causing you harm, and intentionally seeking it out as a reward for your efforts (also referred to as martyrdom).
Pain is a side-effect, not the goal, and it is most certainly not a reward.
I’m throwing off one of the remnants of growing up Catholic. Goodbye martyrdom. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
I already know from experience that I can take any pain life has to throw me and I hope that I’m able to do it again when it inevitably revisits.
But I’m through throwing pain at myself.
I’m writing a new song; “Comfort is healing baby” The title might need work.
I’m unlearning self-combat and replacing it with self-compassion, gradually, and with a lot of support and input from people are writing real self-love songs. To give my body, soul, and even my mind, some ease. To give my nervous system a break from the fight/flight/freeze and downregulate, to give the ego a rest so my soul can regenerate. Maybe they can be friends some day? I bet there’s something valuable in that Somatic Internal Family Systems Therapy book I’ve been longing to dig into.
What’s stopping me? Reading is comfort. Comfort is healing. Healing is my jam now.
It’s all part of the trauma-informed approach to healing. I am a shiny new student in the ReBloom trauma-informed coaching container kicking off this week with a 4 day workshop and continuing part time throughout the year.
As part of the preparation for spending 4 days online together (even a pandemic has a silver lining; this training would be much less accessible to me when offered in person on the other side of the continent in another country) it was suggested that we – gasp! – be intentional about creating ease for ourselves. This might include wearing comfortable clothes, eating healthy, nutritious and delicious food, drinking lots of water and comforting tea, and maybe having a hot water bottle on hand if you tend towards freeze as a response to trauma. (Hello, have we met? I’m Freeze’s Nonna)
I can’t remember if a weighted eye mask was suggested as well, but I’ve used them in spas and yoga classes before and love them. It just never occurred to me to buy one for myself because, well you know.
Meet my new best friends:
AND THEY’RE PINK!
I’m off to read now.