"Choose discomfort over resentment." Brene Brown (via Geneen Roth who posted it on Facebook). Choose discomfort over resentment... Choose discomfort over resentment... I've been turning this phrase around in my head ever since I read it this morning. And I know just how often I choose resentment over discomfort and the huge impact it has on my life and on my eating.
When I choose to give Evie a lift all the way to fencing club instead of dropping her off at the tube, which would mean I could take the time to have a bath or do nothing much for half an hour, I am choosing resentment over discomfort. Saying NO to my daughter just feels too much like the lifetime of NOs I heard from my own mother and I can't bear the discomfort, so I choose resentment.
When I spend the the only quiet hour of the day, the one just before I go to bed, with Ben because he really wants to spend some time with me, he hasn't seen me all day when really I want to curl up in bed and read my book or catch up on an episode of The Great British Menu, I am choosing resentment over discomfort. Saying NO to him, doing what I want, pleasing myself rather than everyone I live with is just too damed uncomfortable. So I choose resentment. "Why does he have to be so demanding and needy" is a much easier, more familiar place to rest.
When I spend the day dashing from one place to another, clients, shopping, Fairy Hut, pick ups and drop offs, packed lunches and cooked dinner... and, yet again I don't make time to stop for a sit down lunch for myself, I am choosing resentment over discomfort, again. I can't risk disappointing another, I cannot bear their disapproval. I have to do it all and strive for perfection. I have to cope and make it work. I have to. It's so much safer and more familiar to stick with putting myself last and disapproving of myself. So I keep driving myself and staving off the discomfort of being a fallible, average, unique - but just like everyone else - human being. I want to be special and maybe if I do everything for everyone one they will think I am? The discomfort of not being special enough is just too painful.
I am more comfortable feeling a low level of pissed off resentment "I do everything in this house, I never have a moment to breathe, if I just stopped it would all go to pot, how much do I have to do before I can stop? Do they love me enough yet? Have I done enough? Am I good enough now?" Of course I never say any of those things out loud, I'm far too proud and keen to kid even myself that I am not resentful or close to overload on a daily basis! I prefer not to admit any of that, even to myself. And yet it's my theme tune. In one way or another it's what I tell myself when I choose resentment over discomfort.
Is it any wonder that food is such a good friend? Always there. Always available. Never demanding or expecting anything of me. There to provide a moment of respite. A moment of escape. The perfect plug for all my resentment, for all the contempt I feel for myself when I live in fear of discomfort. Dependable. Predictable. Soothing. Reassuring. My best friend food.
These days I am opting for discomfort more and more. And while sometimes staying with discomfort is so painful, I wish I could escape from my body and be swallowed up by the floor, sometimes it almost feels good! Yesterday when Ben asked me if I would make him a sandwich to take to work (with a puppy dog look, mixed with criticism that I do it for the kids so why not for him?) while I was rushing around at 7am, doing five things at once, so I could get out of the house on time, I stopped for a moment and said "No, I'm sorry Benj. Not today". For a moment the look of disapproval and disappointment on his face felt like the most uncomfortable pain. I felt it with my whole body. I interpreted the look on his face and his cold, curt "Ok, fine" as "If you don't love me enough to make me a sandwich then I don't love you". And that is sooo uncomfortable. And what I have discovered is that it's bearable. The discomfort is ok. If I can catch the urge to fuel the feeling of discomfort with recriminations of my own "you should be more generous, come on, you could have made him a sandwich, it's not much to ask, no wonder he feels that way, he's right, you really don't care about him enough" etc. When I catch that Gremlin and shut it up, I don't feel uncomfortable for very long. And I don't end up feeling resentful. I don't feel like a doormat. I have given myself the message that it's OK to disappoint another to be true to myself. And that feels so, so, so good, a bar of chocolate doesn't even come close.
"Choose discomfort over resentment" could be the strap line of our new book and workshop: Beyond Temptation. It's what Audrey and I have been working with, personally and professionally for the past 6 years; how to manage everything in our lives which is uncomfortable, without succumbing to the quasi irresistible temptation of food.
I will continue to choose discomfort over resentment and numbness, today, tomorrow. Whenever I am willing. One day at a time. Discomfort is my new best friend. Sorry food!