The (Very Normal) Discomfort of Contentment
When my longtime mentor, Lynn, had her first experience of “peace,” she didn’t recognize it.
She shares the story of how she called her own longtime mentor, concerned about this profound new feeling of “boredom” she was experiencing.
After a few questions and answers back and forth, her mentor delivered the surprising news: “That’s not boredom. That’s peace.”
As Lynn tells it, while this cleared up the confusion, she still had to wriggle and wrestle around a bit before peace felt more peaceful and less boring.
I bring this up because the other day I caught myself feeling contented. Sufficient.
As in, I love my new casa in our quiet, safe, beautiful neighborhood. My flock is healthy and happy. I am getting plenty of freelance writing assignments. My health and fitness overall is better than it’s ever been before. I actually have some emergency cash in the bank. Things are going well with my friends and my boyfriend. My parents are well and so is our puppy….
Even as I look around for something wooden to knock on, I am also aware of a subtle….discomfort. However, likely thanks to Lynn’s patient mentoring over the years, I do recognize the underlying state of contentment arising within me.
I just didn’t expect it to feel so uncomfortable!
Similar to Lynn when she first discovered “peace,” I am now finding myself wriggling and wrestling around to try to get comfy with feeling contented.
Like a new eyeglasses prescription that the doctor insists is spot-on yet feels just a bit too strong as I peer out of the new lenses, I am trying to balance the newfound sensation of “enough:” having sparkling clear vision AND owning it fully as mine.
I guess I would have to say I am feeling contentedly uncomfortable. Or uncomfortably content. Or perhaps it makes more sense to say I’m waiting for my insides and my outsides to match up.
By this I mean, part of me is still back at the other casa, surviving but never thriving. Part of me is still mired in memories of far less happy times with my boyfriend than these. Part of me can’t ever forget the years of utter isolation and loneliness that occurred when I was sick with an eating disorder. Part of me still remembers the five long years of big debt I just dug myself out of.
Part of me also seems to have gotten so used to discontent that the experience of contentment now feels….odd. “Enough? Me? Happiness? Peace? No worries? SERIOUSLY? No – really. Seriously.”
Luckily, I recognize what is going on here. This is key because otherwise I think I would just shove contentment away without even looking closely to see what it is first.
I’ve done that a few times when a good-luck ladybug has attempted to land on my arm or face or head and I’ve shooed it away without looking, sometimes swatting rather heavily to repel what I assume is a mosquito or a wasp.
The regret and sadness is keen when I catch a glimpse of the small spotted visitor spiraling away from me and realize what I’ve just rejected.
Contentment is just another form of the good-luck ladybug coming to visit me, and I don’t want to swat it away. I don’t want to miss out on such good company now or ever again.
I have my mentor to thank for being able to scrabble together sufficient awareness to even realize the opportunity I’ve received – the chance to welcome contentment, to work with the discomfort until it eases and to then finally feel at ease in my new contented skin.
Today’s Takeaway: Have you ever shoved something or someone away, only to later realize it was just what you had been hoping or praying or asking for? It stings, doesn’t it! What has helped you to slow down, take a breath, take your time, take a look and not just reject such blessings because at first they may feel less than comfortable?
P.S. This post is part of my free monthly e-newsletter, “Good News for Recovery + Life.” Read the full edition HERE.
Cutts, S. (2017). The (Very Normal) Discomfort of Contentment. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 25, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/mentoring-recovery/2017/07/the-very-normal-discomfort-of-contentment/