I have been thinking a lot about the idea of our comfort zone. It is so often said that we have to leave our comfort zone in order to grow. Face our fears.
The problem with that for me as a survivor of abuse is that for the longest time I had no comfort zone. We faced debilitating fears every day because our abuser made sure that we were always off balance, always expecting and anticipating the worst.
We did not live in our comfort zone, but we did live in a familiarity zone. As abnormal as the experience of abuse is, it becomes your normal. It is familiar, even if it is erratic, unpredictable and painful. You know what is coming, namely abuse. There is probably even a certain ebb and flow. Whereas if you were to leave? Would you find support? Would you be able to cope? Would you be safe? The answers to those questions are unsure, and the abuser will make you believe that they are no, no and no.
So when it comes to leaving your comfort zone to grow? NO! Make sure you have a comfort zone first. But also realize that you made the biggest leap into the fearful unknown ever when you walk away from your abuser.
Instead of settling for the painfully familiar – like your monkey brain probably tried to convince you to do, since it does not like the great unknown – you took a run and jumped off that cliff. Not knowing what was hiding in the deep. Not knowing if you would succeed in growing a pair of wings on the way down.
Still, you jumped. Because you wanted something better for yourself, your children, your friends, the world. You decided that the comfort of familiar did not weigh up against the pain of the abuse.
So the next time someone suggests you need to get out of your comfort zone to grow, so you should go jump out of a plane, just smile and nod and know that you jumped from a much greater height, into a much darker abyss, and without the fucking parachute. Then, get back to building yourself a comfort zone to lounge in.