My mind is awake, just now.
It’s an odd sensation, one that causes me to look around like a scared rabbit. I’m fairly certain I even twitched my nose and drew my ears back protectively.
I keep looking at the couch and chairs furnishing the room in which I sit and type, or at the ceiling fan hanging harmlessly, or at the walls barely blocking me from outside. THEY ARE REAL; really there.
No, I’m not stoned.
Honestly, I’ve never touched recreational drugs or alcohol. So, what is so fascinating about The Desert of the Real? Isn’t it always there?
No, it’s not. I do not always feel.
I choose not to feel. Any chance I have, by many different means, I block reality. Things were not always this way; and, yet, they were. Much like my metaphor of expecting Depression to suddenly hit, My Favorite Coping Mechanism has insidiously crept into my habits over many years.
Aided by natural sleep loss (listed as a synonymous term for motherhood), poor eating habits, no intellectual stimulation, and then incredibly insufficiently-fulfilling entertainment (like gaming apps); the creep of complete mental cloud rolled in until it almost always obscures every sensation.
Yes –every sensation means that I block positive and negative. It’s like cancer radiation. I never felt really happy that often, anyway, so didn’t mind the side effects.
Depending on what demons you dance with; you will either react with concern, or a resigned nodding.
Yes, my dark, comforting numbness! Come, envelop me with your loving arms of nothingness. Turn my thoughts away from cold, unfeeling light… Actually, that was Phantom of the Opera. Great operetta, but slightly off-topic.
Even given the progress I’ve made lately with counseling and hormone therapy, I still numb. Why?
Let me tell you a little story. I’ll make it brief; I promise.
A few years ago, I read Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. It took me a while, because I have children, but I got through. I was amazed, inspired, motivated, excited, etc. Using my newfound gifts of self-helpedness, I decided to STEP OUT and follow her advice. I would agree to feel, and would deal with the ensuing consequences.
Therefore, I opened up just a tad. Feeling happy and loved and vulnerable, I texted something flippant to my neighbor during a conversation. It was about the creepy feeling her daughter gave off when she was around my kids. Words do not always mean the same thing to me as to others, and I deeply offended her.
Problem is: I have a lot of social anxiety. Therefore, I was crushed. The story still makes me cringe.
And, like a small child burning himself on the hot stove, I learned to not reach over there ever again. I’ll keep my blanket of numbness, thank you. This rabbit will hide most of herself down her hole where she can’t get hurt.
Which is exactly why I numb. Why you numb. Why we all numb: fear of hurt.
And, I’ve since learned to open up, love everyone, never worry about what they think, and negate those hurtful feelings with positive truths. The End.
I will tell you something true, however. I’ve grown to HATE the numbing. Sure, I still pull its fluffily soft blackness over me -but, I shudder as I do so. I hate and love the Numb, just as I hate and love -well, now, that’s The Lord of the Rings.
In The Story of Me, I’ve come to want to think again. I want it more strongly than my subconscious wishes that an inadvertent end would take it away, just as Alan Wolfgang wrote.
Again, some clarity has come through the aid of my paid friend and my very expensive hormone doctor.
If you, too, wish to feel, and are afraid, here is another invitation to get help.
My counselor says we learn behaviors; we form neural pathways from a feeling to a direct action. She’s helping me. All of you are helping me, too; giving me solidarity, hope, and courage.
It’s not easy, because I have to consciously make a different choice whenever I have an uncomfortable feeling. Whenever I am impatient (which is always), I need to remember that My Favorite (Bad) Coping Mechanism has been used for most of my life. It just might take a similar amount of time to completely re-wire it.
There really is no The End of my story, or yours, just a life worth continually living.
Chelsea’s Writing Site, in case you’re interested.