Sitting with Discomfort

blog author sitting with a a coffee mug with a contemplative gaze.
photo by Samantha McGranahan @

I have been sitting with my own discomfort. Surprise, surprise, it’s pretty darn uncomfortable! Nor is it enjoyable. I don’t like exercise. It makes me sweat and feel pain. It’s a mindset I have never conquered with consistent success. Sitting with my own discomfort feels similar. I want to do it. I know it’s good for me. I need to grow. I desire to reach my goals. But the actual grinding, anxiety provoking, mental gymnastics, dig to do it is another thing entirely.

I am thinking about HOW FUCKING UNCOMFORTABLE I am. I am thinking about what sitting with this discomfort looks like, what is feels like. I am trying to build skills, hone mindset, and craft tools I need to be in the discomfort. I am tired. I am tired of running from it, anesthetizing, dissociating, working around it and never getting it addressed with finality, or at least in a way that is not constantly triggering and reactionary. It’s exhausting and I need to get through it or I’m going to be engulfed in the quicksand of it.

I want cake. All I really want to do, for the first time in years, is order a big old cake and just sit down with a fork and quart of milk and be left the fuck alone to eat it. To just shove it into my mouth until I’m so full I can’t talk, can’t feel, can’t see and can just be zoned out on sugar and carbohydrates, medicated into not feeling the discomfort. Damn it! I have come too far. That cake doesn’t do the trick anymore. It hasn’t in a long time. I mean, I love cake. But I’ve come so far that numbing out doesn’t work all that well anymore. Whatever the numbing agent, my body can’t process it, my heart rejects it and my spirit doesn’t want it. The guts of this work is not just calling to me, it’s screaming and clawing at me. It is desperate to be engaged in and completed. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to dull the pain of doing it.

 I am choosing the discomfort. I am choosing discomfort over the pain because I want to move through it. As a clinician, as a healer, and in my gut I know that through is the only way. It has taken me so long to get to this place that I can’t stop now. If I were magically transported to the “other side” of this garbage pile, I would never fully appreciate the fresh air and sunshine that I hope is on the other side. To stop now would be like crossing a river and stopping in the middle, in the deepest part. Sinking like a stone or being carried away the current, I would be no more. Finally, I have peeled back so many of the layers that I am now doing the deep and necessary core work. It’s time. Discomfort now lies in all directions. Cake or no cake, there is no way out but through.

I must tell you though, I am weary. I was so exhausted from carrying the baggage that I had to unpack it. But the work of unpacking it is also exhausting. Actually at times it is more exhausting.  Anesthetizing and denial have their perks to be sure. Staying in it, with all the messy ambiguity spilling all around?  It’s pretty damn uncomfortable, yet so painfully necessary.

I know I am not alone. Plenty of us have our baggage, our discomfort, our own pain to reconcile. But sometimes I feel alone. Digging through our own work is a lonely and solitary proposition. We can share the challenges, voice our truths, hold space and hear one another, but in the end, each us has to do our own work. We each have our own story about what brought us to this place, our own journey to the other side, and our own work to move through it.

I certainly don’t have all the answers. I’ll keep sitting with my discomfort because I am determined to get to the other side. I’m going to keep digging in, speaking my truth, being honest about how very painful and hard it can be. I hope you will continue to your work too, knowing that others can and will understand when you need to express it. Healing is lonely work, but we are not alone. We will take rest breaks as needed, find the humor where we can, rely on those we love to hold on to us when the current is strong and we feel too exhausted and weak to keep swimming. I can do this. One uncomfortable moment at a time, I will do this.

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