Making the Uncomfortable Comfortable.
As a childhood sexual abuse survivor who spent four years in high healing mode, I really thought that I had made peace with all that was uncomfortable in my world.
I worked exceptionally hard to heal the wounds of my childhood, and I now share my story of hope by speaking to audiences as a member of the National Speaker’s Bureau for RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.
What could possibly be more uncomfortable than that?
Two years ago, I made a conscious decision to find all the remaining pieces of me that needed my love and attention, to make the uncomfortable comfortable. I started looking for all the things in my world that made me squirm, that made me think I might be judged, that I wasn’t good enough, or that in some way pushed my buttons, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
“Only by healing can we live a life of our choosing, not a life of our trauma.” ~ Armand Bytton
Since then, I’ve made myself vulnerable in every way. When something irks me now, I realize it means I need to open myself further, be more real, more raw. There is no more hiding behind a comfy, high steel wall of fear. It is time to live, really live a life of conscious choices and life-affirming decisions, vulnerably, authentically, transparently, from a place of deep joy, bliss and pleasure.
I now ask myself regularly, “What will make my heart sing?” The answers always come in a split second, and in that moment, when it is just me and Spirit co-creating from a deep place of love, I always get a “Hell, Yes!” then a thrilling surge of anticipation unlike anything I was ever able to conjure in my life of fear back in the days when my walls were high.
Yet almost instantly after the answer, my ego engages, no longer loud, overwhelming and debilitating, but in stealthy little whispers, my remaining fears bubbling to the surface of my awareness.
All the reasons why I should retreat begin to buzz like frenzied bees in my head.
“Psst, you will fail. You will get hurt. People will judge. You will be injured or, worse yet, die, leaving your children motherless.”
Ego sternly tells me the multitude of ways my delusional singing heart will lead me horribly astray. The bottom line is always the same: this will not go well!
It takes everything in me to overcome that nasty ego-chatter.
Since rising in love, my singing heart and I have traveled the country alone, sat in a crowded cruise ship restaurant on Christmas night enjoying the peace and bliss of solitude, scuba dived to depths of 100+ feet below the surface of the ocean, and sat vulnerably alone in many Earth Medicine ceremonies, all in an effort to explode my blocks, face my fears and make the uncomfortable comfortable.
Finally, after much diligent and fearless work, mission accomplished! There is nothing left to rattle me in this lifetime.
Or so I thought.
My most recent question of “What will make my heart sing?” was met with “Improv Class… Hell, Yes!” I instantly signed up and thought it is about damn time to bring this full circle, embracing with every cell of my being the love, light and laughter of the world.
Little did I know, the Divine had a much more profound growth opportunity waiting for me.
On the first night of class, the teacher spoke of making the “uncomfortable comfortable.” “Yeah,” I thought, “Been there, done that, now let’s get funny!”
Then she spoke of the foundational improv concepts, listening, trust and vulnerability with your scene partner on stage in front of a room full of strangers… Whoa, wait a minute, nobody said I was going to have to connect with humans in this process for the whole world to see! I just wanted to learn to be funny. What the hell have I gotten myself into?
Connecting to people on this level just merely for the sake of fun and laughter? Why bother? It was all too much!
I cried the entire drive home from that first class, totally consumed by my humanness, completely unable to make any spiritual truth of my panicked state. All I knew is that I had already paid for this summer adventure and I was no quitter.
It took a couple of days for my ego to recede so I could hear the spiritual truth.
First and foremost, never forget that every single thing that makes its way into your reality is what you prayed for… ugh, okay, fine, I will focus on the growth opportunities.
Next remember, triggers are showing you pieces of you that need your love and attention… damn it, screaming pieces of me, be quiet!
Finally, you’ve done a great job connecting to self in the four years of high healing mode. It’s now time to trust and be vulnerable in joyous collaboration with others.
Wow, okay, this was totally in my blind spot. I didn’t see this coming at all.
I saw my work to open to romantic connections, but I did not see my walls to platonic, loving, collaborative connections. I’d worked hard to break down my personal barriers to co-creation with the Divine, yet did not see my total and complete disconnect with blissful, playful, fun humanness.
When my most recent relationship ended, it brought to my awareness how, despite having done a great deal of healing myself, my go-to lifetime MO of connection with and through pain was still very much alive in me. That epiphany not only ended my relationship, but also ended many other pain-based connections in my world.
“We have become therapeutically fluent in the process of creating a new language of intimacy that I call “woundology.” We now use the revelation and exchange of our wounds as the substance of conversations, indeed, as the glue that binds a relationship.” ~ Caroline Myss, PhD, “Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can”
As I began to see the truth of my formative years and the socialization I learned through prolonged abuse, I realized I only knew one way to connect to people. Every connection I’d ever had in life had been through the bonds of pain, either by living through it together, causing it to one another or discussing the parallels of our excruciating journeys and/or how we’d healed it.
I did not know any other way to relate to people. Whoa, now that is one hell of a realization.
Today, as I prepare for improv class, I realize how this experience ripped me from my comfort zone kicking and screaming, just as scuba diving class did last year. It pushed all my buttons and opened me in ways I could not have imagined.
I’m thankful that through the darkest moments of my healing journey, I learned to be gentle with myself because the truth is, the decision to leave the permanent, hopeless, helpless state of lonely depression and return to the land of the living, it comes with a huge learning curve.
Not only do you have to learn to feel, but you have to then open yourself to others by sharing those feelings, by being vulnerable, authentic and transparent. Learning to feel sad, angry and scared is the beginning of the process, making peace with the dark to make room for the light, letting people in, showing them the true you. It is not easy.
But what nobody tells you is that cultivating bliss, joy and pleasure is an equally challenging and courageous act. Learning to actualize those emotions is just as uncomfortable as the others. Learning, is learning, is learning. It is all about stretching beyond our limits, growing to unimaginable heights, exploding our blocks and making the uncomfortable comfortable.
Christie Del Vesco is a College Administrator and Professor, a Universalist Minister, a member of the RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) Speakers Bureau and single mom. She’s a children’s advocate, a survivor of many forms of sexual violence, and a voice for the survivors who have yet to find their own. Chris is a firm believer that we go through what we do, to help others when they go through the same. She also believes if we would all just “be the change,” we can change the world.