When I refer to doing something that makes you uncomfortable, I am in no way saying that you should put yourself in uncomfortable situations that might hurt you physically, mentally, or emotionally. You should definitely not try to do anything that would be detrimental to you. What I do mean is that, at times, there may be certain things that you think might be beneficial to you, yet you’re scared to do it because it’s uncomfortable and doesn’t feel good. These kinds of things come up in life a lot. I’ve noticed that it comes up in therapy a lot as well, and oftentimes clients such as myself need to go through and confront different emotions and situations. Let’s use one example from my life:
Growing up in my mom’s house when I was younger was very difficult and a bit traumatic. On top of multiple other factors, the house was incredibly cluttered, messy, and dirty. There used to be no floor space; it was covered with bugs, crumbs, dust, and odds and ends, including cat feces, etc. Anyways, we all moved out of that house around 7 years ago, and since then the house has been redone – sanded down floors, new paint, new windows, etc. A ton of things were packed up and a lot was thrown out. Well, now my mom is moving back into her house again, and since I just graduated from college and I don’t have great finances, I have to move home. Guess where I’m moving to? If you guessed my mom’s house, you would be right.
A couple weekends ago I came home to help my mom “get the house ready” to move into again. I walked into my room, which is fairly big, to see what had to be done and I just…I stopped. The room was filled with furniture, boxes, and random other pieces of crap, including dishes and kitchen stuff. It was so cluttered and it smelled like cat pee and the air was kind of stale. I felt all this anxiety coming on – it was so bad that I started breathing heavier and also started shaking. It was so hard for me to be there – much harder than I had imagined. It was so difficult for me, in fact, that we left after half an hour. Later, I called and asked my Uncle to help my mom clean out my room while I was away for the week back in my current apartment.
Now, some people have questioned this decision of mine. My sister especially had some things to say about it. I was told that there comes a time in life when everyone has to do things they don’t want to do. I told her, “Yeah, well, it’s not that time yet, for me.” My other sister judged me a little bit too. She didn’t think it was a good thing to have my uncle to something for me that I could have done by myself. I kept telling myself that they were wrong – that I wasn’t strong enough to do it. That it was too traumatic for me – too many memories.
Then I started thinking more about it. Was it wrong for me to have had my uncle clean my room out for me? Perhaps. I can’t be sure. What I do know though, is that after he cleaned a great part of the room out, I came back home last weekend to help finish up. I realized that I have to try to help, if only to make myself feel more comfortable in the space that I was in. And you know what? That second time I went was nowhere near as bad as the first time when I was shaking with anxiety. I actually felt pretty good about it actually.
I’m moving in just around a week from now and there’s still a lot to do. That’s why I’m home this weekend, ready to help finish cleaning out my room and to help my mom with shelf paper and other random stuff, I suppose. The point is, I’m not as afraid about going over there to help anymore, and I can guarantee that had I not gone to help last weekend I would have been.
Don’t get me wrong; everything didn’t become magically easy and fixed. In fact, I am still a bit uncomfortable going there. To be honest, the idea of moving in with my mom still makes me very nervous, and at times I am scared. I just keep reminding myself that things are very different now. My mom is not as sick as she was, the house is clean now, and I’m an adult. Sometimes I have a lot of trouble trusting myself and sometimes other people as well, but I am trying to tell myself that I am strong enough to handle this. It may be uncomfortable now, but I believe it will be better for me in the long run.