Have you ever gotten through an entire day without feeling uncomfortable?
After suffering a panic attack before teaching a writing class at the library last month, the director from a recovery house called to ask if I would consider teaching that same class to the patients there. (“bird by bird,” word by word)
It seemed absurd, like the blind leading the blind.
Not because he was asking a recovering addict to teach other addicts who were suffering, but because he was asking a recovering addict, who has a fear of speaking in front of more than two people at a time to teach other addicts who were suffering. (What About Hope?)
Maybe I should have thought about taking a class on how to get comfortable with being uncomfortable first!
When I get uncomfortable and overwhelmed by fear, my throat tightens and my neck feels like it’s being squeezed like an unopened bottle of ketchup.
Air compresses and bottlenecks in my windpipe, making it difficult for me to talk or breathe.
While my fingers unfurl inside the palm of each hand and roll little balls of sweat into worry beads that want to choke me around my neck, my poor heart worries about failing me too, so it beats faster and harder to save me.
Fear is a powerhouse emotion.
Once the floodgates open, its power defies gravity and forces its way through me, cascading past my heart and every other organ inside of me.
As it rushes luge-like through the length of my body, it washes me in a cold cycle of sweat that rinses and collapses me in a nauseating heap of defeat.
I never knew I could stop panic attacks from happening, but now, with the exception of the occasional one that catches me off guard, I recognize the onset and rarely suffer from them anymore.
It doesn’t matter what the discomfort is – disappointment, discouragement, disillusionment, depression, doubt, defeat, dis-ease – public speaking!
It all comes from the same source in varying degrees, but the only thing that gives me a consistent reprieve – without exception – is surrender.
A spiritual tool that I didn’t know existed.
I have to completely surrender.
Because my panic attacks became unmanageable.
I perceived them to be a real and viable threat to my well-being, instead of the illusions that they were.
I didn’t understand that my free-floating fear was irrational, so I was out of my element trying to fight back a gladiator when I was armed with only a bottle of bubbles.
Now I surrender with my bubbles-in-a-bottle to the powerhouse gladiator who looms over me, wielding his fear of the unknown in my face.
I blow bubbles in his face of fear and reclaim my power.
I practice reclaiming my power to some degree by surrendering over and over again.
How Do I Surrender?
I stop whatever I’m doing, wherever I am and I pray.
I grab onto something sturdy to steady myself and I pray.
I tell myself to breathe in peace and breathe out fear and I pray:
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I knew I had to show up for my class of students at the library.
And I wanted too, so I just kept following my breaths – praying – until my breaths got deeper and my fears got smaller.
I reminded myself that I wasn’t alone, that I had to surrender my fears to something that was greater than myself.
Surrendering is not an act of weakness, but an act of strength.
It empowers me and fortifies my faith in an absolute positive outcome.
It reminds me that things aren’t so much falling apart because I’m uncomfortable or afraid, but that they’re changing for the better because I’m more comfortable and less afraid.
It’s unrealistic and prideful to think that any day should be perfect or that it should be free of pain and suffering.
Pain and suffering are part of our humanness and I’m human, and no where near perfect.
It’s taken me years to realize I can’t go it alone, that I need to ask for help sometimes, but I made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of something greater than myself a long time ago.
It’s why I’m able to show up for others today.
So here’s to getting comfortable with being uncomfortable and surrendering our fears to our faith, and, to the in-patient-drug-addict-alcoholic at the recovery center who refused to participate in my writing class because he said his life was perfect!
I told you life is absurd.
Until next time, please let me know what you do to get comfortable when you’re uncomfortable in the comment section below.
I’ve got family coming into town next week and that’s enough to throw any rational human being into a panic!
Cheers to showing up and finding humor in your day. It really is the weapon against all absurdity.