I was struck this week by the reaction of many to last Sunday’s episode of Downton Abbey (SPOILER ALERT!) One of my favorite characters, Anna, Lady Mary’s maid was attacked and raped the valet of a guest at Downton. While decidedly not graphic in nature, it was clear what had occurred and it was simply devastating. I was so sad that this happened to such a good and pure character and that she decided to bear the burden virtually alone made it even moreso.
Many of my friends reacted similarly but some were more outraged and promised to swear off the show entirely. To each his or her own, of course. Yes, it was devastating. Yes, it was heartbreakingly sad. It was wildly uncomfortable for us to witness. And I think that is the issue, more than anything else.
It’s been a rough week of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole for me. And frankly, I don’t care for weeks like that. Who does? They make me want to step back from the stressors, throw my hands up, and say, “Forget it. I’m done.” Wouldn’t that be grand? To just walk away from that which bugs us, challenges us, confronts us; that which causes us pain and discomfort? It’s possible, of course, but certainly not easy and often not the right course, either.
Because not everything that causes us discomfort is bad.
One of my goals for this year is to improve my overall health and wellness. I’m part of an online group and each week, the moderator posts a challenge: drink more water, get more sleep, stretch…this week was eliminate something from your diet, such as sugar.
I was aghast.
Ok, honestly, I’ve been working to cut down on my sugar intake for a bit now, so it didn’t really send me into THAT much of a tailspin. But the thought of not being able to have my favorite comfort foods (chocolate, ice cream, more chocolate) made me very uncomfortable. Enter a craptastic week on many fronts and my discomfort is elevated to an extreme. (I’m not proud; at least I’m honest.) But I’m making it through, with only 2.5 more days to go.
Similarly, as part of the same goal, I’ve been trying some new classes and workouts at the gym. Last week, it was Sweating to the Oldies – which, for those who are familiar with the old Richard Simmons version – this ain’t your old Sweating to the Oldies! Circuit training, push ups, jump rope, the whole nine.
I am decidedly out of shape. Plus, I have a rod in my spine. Exercise was simply something I tried to get out of in school (and often succeeded); I’ve never been one to “workout” with any kind of regularity until I trained for the 4 Miler in town last summer. Since then, I’ve been a bit off the exercise wagon again for various reasons but I wanted to try it and tried my best. There were several parts where I was terribly uncomfortable and just felt like a complete doofus. I can’t even jump rope, y’all. Who can’t JUMP ROPE? But I pushed through my mental and physical discomfort and made it through the class.
This week, I took a yoga class. I’ve tried yoga before because every single soul on the earth seems to think it is the magic bean I need to shed my Tin Man-ness and increase my flexibility. It was a 60 minute class. The ENTIRE FIRST 40 MINUTES, I was writing Facebook statuses in my head about how much I loathed yoga, that it wasn’t for me, about how being the Tin Man probably wasn’t that bad…I mean, he got a heart in the end and that’s pretty good stuff.
The last 20 minutes wasn’t too bad. I got past all the thoughts in my head about how it hurt and I couldn’t do this and I couldn’t do that and I just did what I could. I didn’t do any of it well, that’s for sure. And I probably did a lot of it wrong. And some of it still hurt. But I stuck with it and got through it and the instructor praised me for doing so, which went a long way…I may even try it again.
Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of instances where I do just throw up my hands and walk away rather than deal with something uncomfortable. I’ve got a neighbor upstairs bouncing a basketball in the living room every night. Seriously. And as far as I’ve gotten in dealing with it is complaining on Facebook about it and CONSIDERING scenarios in which I would go up there and tell them to knock it off.
But many of the times when I push through something I don’t want to do or I’m scared to do? The times when I feel so awkward and out of place and out of sync that I feel physically uncomfortable but I keep on going?