since I found the above image I have bookmarked it on my phone and have looked at it on occasions (mostly work) when I have found myself way outside my comfort zone and only just treading water.
the idea that we make progress and grow when we are outside that zone is not new to me. in particular I read M Scott Peck’s book, ‘The Road Less Travelled’ some time back, and still have it on my bookshelf. (note defiant use of English spelling of travelled. I am an Englishwoman and this is my blog and I will spell accordingly 😉 ) His premise is that ‘life is difficult’.
‘What makes life difficult is that the process of confronting and solving problems is a painful one. Problems, depending upon their nature, evoke in us frustration or grief or sadness or loneliness or guilt or regret or anger or fear or anxiety or anguish or despair. These are uncomfortable feelings, often very uncomfortable, often as painful as any kind of physical pain…’ ‘Yet it is in this whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has its meaning. Problems are the cutting edge that distinguishes between success and failure. Problems call forth our courage and our wisdom; indeed, they create our courage and our wisdom. It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually.’
this is a road less travelled because it is a hard road. and for someone descending into alcohol dependence it was too hard a road to travel. because what alcohol does to us is to shrink our comfort zone until almost everything is outside it. when I think back to my final drinking days my comfort zone had shrunk to the two feet of counter next to my fridge, whilst pouring a glass of wine, and the left hand end of my sofa, where I drank the wine. I had become a willing captive, exhibiting classic features of Stockholm syndrome. I was Reek, for fellow Game of Thrones fans.
but … “the sea is deep and the world is wide. how I long to sail!” said the tiny snail… (from The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffer. could probably recite you the whole book 🙂 ) so. no more drinking. learning (especially from the lovely Christy in a comment on my blog) that:
- it’s probably not as bad as you think
- to ask for help if you need it
- you will feel better when you’ve done it
and gradually my comfort zone is expanding. and the more I do the bigger it gets. every little stone in the pebble jar an elbow or a knee pushing outwards into the world. making more space for me. and there is still a lot of fear in my life. fear of the future, of the unknown, of all the things I worry about. but do you know how I was woken up this morning? by being stung by a bloody bee. asleep to leaping across the bedroom trying to pull out a sting from my wrist in 0.0003 seconds flat. now, there’s something I’ve never worried about. being stung by a bee in my sleep. it’s nearly always the things you never expect that really turn your world upside down. so. trying to live with the fear shark. not turn my back on him but not let him rule my life, either. because there is magic in that big circle over there, outside our comfort zone. even when we don’t see it. particularly when we don’t see it. when we feel we don’t know what the fuck we are doing, but are doing our level best to do it anyway. that’s the magic. wishing you and me a magical day, with as few bees and sharks as possible. and keep your eye out for the friendly whale!