Being Uncomfortable

Fiona Apple sings, “I’m good at being uncomfortable, so I can’t stop changing all the time,” in her song “Extraordinary Machine.”

She continues with, “I noticed that my opponent is always on the go and won’t go slow so as not to focus…” She also notices that her opponent is “no good at being uncomfortable so he can’t stop staying exactly the same.”

Introspection stomack ache

I really like the ideas embedded in those lyrics. It definitely jives with being vulnerable in our everyday lives. Being vulnerable can be incredibly uncomfortable, and it seems to me that many people will avoid vulnerability because of this. We’ve all been hurt at some point in our lives. Those past hurts make us want to close off those pieces of our hearts and protect the tender spots from further damage.

The problem is that the protections accumulate. We start closing off more and more of who we are. In isolating the broken sections of our heart, we also isolate ourselves from those who might care for us if only they could see the REAL us. Our hearts become stifled from the weight of the wall that we’ve built around it, and we no longer grow and thrive. We become so afraid of showing our true self because we might get hurt, that we “can’t stop staying exactly the same.”

Running away distance

But what if we stick with the discomfort associated with vulnerability? What if we stopped throwing up our walls when raw emotions come around?

A few months before I moved out of my old house, my room mate and I had a fight. A day or two before the fight, we had a conversation. During the conversation I said some things that left my room mate feeling yucky. She wasn’t able to put words to the yuckiness at the time, so once she identified there was a problem she confronted me. (Which is absolutely what she should have done!)

My first response was surprise, because I had mostly forgotten the conversation. It was just a conversation to me… My next response was to become defensive. I certainly hadn’t meant to hurt her feelings, and I felt she was telling me what I contributed to the conversation was “wrong.” I felt she was judging me and like she didn’t want me to be myself. Of course, that wasn’t her intent.

For a little while the fight was pretty heated. Nothing disrespectful, but voices were raised on both sides. As we talked, something funny happened (funny in comparison to past fights I’ve had with people). We weren’t talking over each other for the most part. Each person would listen to what the other was saying before talking. There was also no name calling. There was no blame. There was a true effort to gain understanding. Some past wrongs came up during the fight, and while we agreed that it wasn’t ideal that they were all coming out at that specific time, we were glad that they had been brought to light.

My first response had been to throw up that wall of defensiveness, because that was what I was used to doing. Fights in my childhood and marriage homes involved a lot of yelling, a lot of name calling, and a lot of blame from whoever was involved. But unlike those previous fights, I was able to come from behind that wall. I was able to be vulnerable and keep myself open to those raw emotions, instead of shutting down and hiding behind curses and blame.

At the end of the fight, neither of us were happy that we had fought (I think we were both pretty exhausted), but we were able to end the fight feeling better about it. We understood each other better. We were in agreement that we would try to bring up the little things that bugged us as they occurred, even if it seemed trivial to do so.

We stuck through the discomfort of those ugly emotions that came up early in the fight. We fought fairly and respectfully, as people who care about each other should do. Ultimately our friendship became stronger because we worked through that challenging time together. We stuck with the discomfort, and we changed. For the better…

I’ve had the opposite happen. A rip-roaring fight where the two parties don’t talk for days/weeks/years/ever after. Those fights have never resulted in a closer relationship if we did talk again, and there have been more than a couple that just ended.

I’m so glad that I am working to change those negative cycles in my life. In another life, the fight with my room mate would have taken that second path, simply because throwing up a wall of anger and blame would have been the only path available to me. I’m getting better at being uncomfortable, and because of that I have other options. Those options are allowing me to have healthier relationships with deeper connections. Those options are allowing me to change for the better all the time.

And that feels really good.

Namaste. Peace Red heart Note

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