Three weeks into recovery from my second ACDF surgery and I am adapting to bed rest much better this time around. As you can see, I’ve created a nice little nest complete with fluffy blankets, fragrant candle, and fuzzy puppy. It feels just as good as it looks and I am incredibly grateful for these simple luxuries as they have allowed me to follow post-op instructions perfectly: to remain as comfortable as possible.
Not sure where I heard the phrase, “Comfort starts at home.” And nothing is truer- covid lockdown certainly taught us that! Already well trained in staying put plus having gone through this same ACDF recovery two years ago, I am a pro at corralling creature comforts (that also happen include an actual creature named Timber- isn’t he the cutest?!).
Yet comfort goes well beyond the things we can see and touch. Comfort is also found in thoughts, emotions, and the people we surround ourselves with. If we can agree that comfort starts at home, then we can further agree that the concept of “home” stems way beyond four walls and a door- home is also where our body meets our brain. Home is the soul, the place where your true spirit lives.
All that a body and mind seek is comfort: free from pain, healthy, strong, hydrated, well-rested, and loved. Ease of self, through and through is much easier said than done. It is a privilege to attain true comfort and a lot of people do not live an existence that allows for that, including me. Being comfortable in the uncomfortable, rather, seems to be life’s ultimate goal.
It’s relatively easy to check off the tangible things that bring comfort but of course acquisition of things is limited by monetary in/stability. I can afford little things like blankets, candles, and fluffy socks whereas a private island in the Caribbean is out of my personal financial realm of possibility no matter how much comfort that would bring. However, even wealthy people state that going bigger does not mean getting better, the accumulation of expensive things does not provide true happiness. Mo’ money, mo’ problems as they say. (Side note: I invite this “problem” of immense wealth to take a turn on me- I am very interested in seeing how “difficult” it really is so for all the millionaires reading this- hahaha!!!- feel free to let me know if you want to release some of that “burden”. I got you.)
Affordable creature comforts in place, my body feels at ease. I have meds to take away the pain and know that my family is here to care for me and will help me with anything I may need along the way. Six weeks of bed rest is hard on all of us and I try my best to do things like at least make myself a cup of coffee in the mornings but my husband always says, “I will get that for you. Go back to resting.” (And sometimes I even listen.)
All this down time for recovery leads to lots of reading books, listening to podcasts, and thinking about it all. Tons of comfort in all that as well- in one lifetime we will never run out out things to learn, books to read, places to explore. Saturating my brain in this way always feels incredible. All these eye-opening stories stir up new thoughts and realizations and yes I am that woman walking down the street in a neck brace and goofy smile plastered across her face, manifesting the joy and pleasure I feel when all wrapped up in the comfort of newfound understanding.
The more I learn about the world, the more I learn about myself: I have never been very good at creating comfort beyond those things I can see and touch until now. I was a binge drinker, I hated my job, and my friends were mostly surface so I stopped drinking, found a new job, and fostered a new community of like-minded people; yet, the comfort therein did not immediately show itself. Quitting alcohol took time to settle into, my new job was interrupted by this surgery, and finally closing the chapter on decades long toxic relationships takes time to get used to.
I can’t attain comfort by putting poison into my body. I only felt constant discomfort trading stress for a pay check. There is also zero comfort in hiding pieces of myself only to make other people feel comfortable. I did all of the above for way too long, I can now see and admit it. I often chose situations and people that on the outside seemed first class and looked like fun but, upon deeper inspection, only brought pain and dissatisfaction.
For so long, my choices were purely based in pleasing others. I gave my time to people who wanted certain pieces of me and ignored the rest. I collected friends and packed my social calendar while working myself to the bone. I thought earning more money and living in a bigger house and going on expensive vacations was synonymous with happiness and success. While that’s everything society (and all of social media) expects, it’s not the way I choose to live any longer.
We can only ever chose to learn from our past and I am still learning more and more every day. I am beyond appreciative for all the past (and this current) discomfort I’ve endured as it led me to an immeasurable knowing of myself- there’s an ocean of sadness within me and it informs every little river of life that pushes through. With it, I’ve bent and I’ve accommodated and I’ve agonized; but no longer. Now I’m building a dam and holding my boundaries, only letting in things and people that bring with comfort of mind, body, and soul.
Things no longer define me. Rather, integrity of spirit does. And that, to me, is comfort in its truest form.