my discomforts

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“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” -M. Scott Peck

There are things in life that are not “wrong,” merely uncomfortable. They do not mean I am bad or doing everything incorrectly. They are feelings, actually just as much the inevitable stuff of life as good things, though they feel bad or make me unhappy.

This is reinforced to me many times. We build coping mechanisms for the times we feel discomfort. Sometimes I panic, forget that I am loading judgement and often blame instead of failing to accept them for the discomfort they cause me. I spiral downward. Other times I am able to calm myself and recognize my uncomfortable moments for what they are–seconds in life’s continuum that may not feel good but last only a short time.

Recognizing these uncomfortable moments teaches that they are as impermanent as a passing storm. The rain and thunder of my discomfort give way to sunshine. Accepting discomfort as simply another inevitable aspect of life allows me to mine these uncomfortable moments for valuable lessons into myself and those around me.

It is rare that situations we face are singular, occurring only once. I have always believed you keep making the same mistakes until you learn the lesson the mistakes are trying to teach. I have done this many times and I seem to repeat the same patterns of mistakes until I have the “Aha” moment of clarity.

So, then, these are my discomforts. By labeling them I hope to recognize when they arise so I can just sit and drink some tea and observe my feeling as if it were passing rain and thunder. I may not like it but its impact will be shorter and less severe:

-that I don’t see or experience my daughters nearly enough; the divorce means I only see them every other week at the most
-that when I am with them I am concerned about making every aspect of their lives happy and making up for my guilt in the divorce
-that they are specifically aware how my marriage to their mom ended and how they see me in their eyes
-that my kids and my fiance’s kids feel uncomfortable with our living conditions; that my desire to have a wonderful, healthy relationship with a partner means  the kids all have to find some ways to endure and get along
-that what I felt I had to do to survive caused pain for my kids; that separating from my ex meant ending the safety of a traditional family for them
-that time marches on and their childhood is only a moment and I have missed too much of it
-that I still struggle almost everyday with guilt from all of this
-that I dwell most often on how I caused things without acknowledging the part my ex played and and without casting blame
-that peace about my life and my responsibilities to those closest me eludes me
-that I somehow fucked up my chance for happiness, that there are no do-overs, only picking up the pieces and moving forward, even when the past feels like so many wrecked cars
-that I too often look back instead of keeping my head in the present where I live
-that I can’t rescue my oldest daughter from her anger and sadness and bring her back to a loving, caring relationship that will help her live a full and happy life
-that I have regrets about the way I’ve managed so many things in the past
-that all the discomforts mean I will never find my place in life and feel peace and joy about who I am
-that I have not been a good example to my children and they will look to others as better examples
-that my daughters see their dad as a failure

All of these things, and there are probably more, are uncomfortable. They rumble in my psyche. They take me away from focusing on how I choose to feel in the present, which I can control.

I hope the labeling reduces them to minor, passing storms in an otherwise fulfilling life. That may be my mission now with whatever of my years lie ahead of me. Maybe that’s what I can teach my kids: that discomfort is as much a part of life as joy.

If I can help them recognize discomfort as a feeling rather than a character flaw, maybe I haven’t done such a bad job after all.

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