Super Survivors – Discomfort as a Pathway to Growth

We trauma survivors are superior at living with discomfort.

When we turn that ability towards our own growth we are called “Super Survivors”.  

For us “normal” was a nightmare that would scare the socks off most.  Make you want to gag.  Direct experience of physical and sexual trauma sends your body and soul into protection mode. 

It takes super strength to open your vulnerability with care and compassion.  Yet why do it?  What might be the benefits? 

Lord knows, I am a wimp when it comes to doing hard labor or heavy exercise; you won’t find me training for a marathon.  Why? I’m not willing to suffer.

But, I spent years suffering and withstanding emotional pain.  At the same time acting as if all was well.  I developed a capacity for physical and mental pain that I spent on bad relationships and avoidance behaviors. 

Every once in a while I would take a dance class here or pick up a musical instrument there.  But I could not focus on learning the dance steps and could not tolerate sounding horrible as a beginner.  All because my mind was heavy with garbage and self-loathing.

The daily job of my brain was to integrate confusion and betrayal and to accept it so I could go to school and appear normal, go to the market and look the butcher in the eye as I asked for my order, play ringolevio up and down the street with the neighborhood kids.  All the while not letting them see what I was really hiding from them.   

I developed a dual personality.  I was full of fear and hungry for adventure.  Full of insecurity and boldness. 

I wanted more out of life, but I expected nothing.

At each point where I met healing, I dug deep for the ability to make small changes.  I was willing to suffer through my insecurity and my fear.

  • Taking my first job in film for $200 a week took courage
  • Performing street theater took courage. 
  • Signing up for college took a leap of faith. 
  • Sticking my face in a sink full of water to learn to speak without my Brooklyn nasal twang took daily practice over 2 years. 

What came from suffering through such tiny changes and deep capacities

  • I can sit with other people’s pain and suffering. 
  • I can laugh with the best of them.
  • I can plan and execute.
  • I can see it through.

There is a willingness to be open to new things – new things that might lead to GOOD THINGS, rather than willingness to place myself in dangerous situations where I might be lucky to escape. 

The sensation of discomfort is the same.  Now I ask myself:

Am I withstanding discomfort for just surviving or for personal growth?

Can I use my capacity to be uncomfortable to continue to hurt me or to support me?

What might you dig deep for?  What changes could be your gift?  How have you forged an inner strength from your own experience of pain, healing and growth?

What is on the other side of experiencing discomfort for yourself?  What if you cleared the deck of mind garbage?  What might you be willing to do?  What might you be willing to receive?

  • Ask for a promotion/raise/ or to be included in a project at work
  • Have that difficult conversation with your co-worker, parent, sibling, partner
  • Say what it is you actually want
  • Get into recovery
  • Lose the weight
  • Learn a language
  • Go to therapy
  • Fight racism
  • Write a novel
  • Go on that date
  • Plan a vacation
  • Take that class in singing, pottery, improvisation, cheese making, welding
  • Volunteer in your community school or local food bank
  • Learn how to fix a car or to develop code
  • Study to advance your career
  • Support young people
  • Run a marathon
  • Fill in the blank___________________

Supporting you to live an empowered life.  I can do that.  Are you ready?  Learn more about me and my work here and give me a call.  What do you have to lose?  Only your confusion and misery.