How do you numb?

I wrote and scheduled this post before everything happened, before we lost our little boy.  I still think it’s very relevant, maybe even more so now, though it is interesting to read back on my own words because at the minute I find myself actively seeking numb.  Numb feels better than the pain and helps me get through the day – though I know it can’t be forever.  Numb can be a temporary solution while everything is still so raw, but eventually I will have to allow myself to feel it all.  Because if I numb out the bad bits, I’ll miss the blessings as well. It’s almost as if the me of a few weeks back knew a thing or two I’d need to hear now.  Synchronicity at its best.




When we think of addictions and numbing I know most of us usually think of drugs and alcohol as the only ‘problem addictions’. But I’d like to suggest that anything you use to numb against feelings you don’t want to feel can be a problem. When you stuff those feelings down under a family size block of chocolate or drown it in a bottle of wine, you’re pretty much guaranteeing it’s going to pop up somewhere else; as something else. Frustration at yourself or loved ones. Anger. Sadness. Illness.


Food, a couple of glasses of wine (or more) every night, keeping so busy you don’t have time think, controlling every aspect of your life down to every minute detail, obsessive calorie counting and restricting, aimless social media scrolling, mindless tv watching.


Now I’m not saying that any of these things are problems by themselves. Food. Wine. Chocolate = ALL GOOD in my book. But it’s the way we use them that is the problem.


A glass or two of wine in celebration = good. Needing to obliterate yourself = bad.
Watching your favourite show on tv = good. Mindless channel surfing = bad.
Keeping busy doing the things you LOVE = good. Saying yes to everything because you’re afraid of what will happen if you say no = bad.


Now let me also put it out there that I think I’ve probably used every one of these crutches to numb at some point in my life. As a teenager I was on the perpetual yo yo between obsessive restricting and then binging on food to numb out feelings of not being good enough.


In my early twenties I’m guilty of using wine in a way that may have looked like celebration, but that really was just me using alcohol to hide my own lack of confidence in social situations.


Then as a new Mum I’ve numbed through thousands of hours of mindless social media, rather than facing the fact that I no longer recognised myself or my life in this new role.


You name, I’ve used it to numb. Most recently numbing with busy-ness has been on my mind and feels like a constant battle.


I find myself falling into the busy-ness trap and catching myself. Asking myself instead. –  ‘What are you trying to run away from?’


Instead of going straight to numbing I’m trying to sit with the feelings, even when they’re uncomfortable. Even when it makes me itch in my own skin looking desperately for distraction. Sometimes it’s numbing against worry or fear about events or change.  Sometimes it’s numbing rather than facing feelings about the boys or Andrew. And sometimes I’m not even sure what feelings I’m running from.


Why is numbing bad?


Because we’re also numbing out the good stuff as well. Because the very things we use to numb out the bad stuff, creep into the rest of our lives and rob us of the good stuff as well. Social media creeps into our family time. Our obsessive thoughts of food take over time we could have used for creativity and fun. Too much alcohol leaves us feeling a little seedy and embarrassed, rather than filled-up by social gatherings that should have brought us a lot of joy.


But mostly it takes us away from being fully present. We’re not really experiencing now if we aren’t feeling the good AND THE bad. When we actually let ourselves feel both, our experience of the good becomes even better.


Not only because we have the contrast of the bad that allows us to feel grateful for the good, but because it makes all of it a little clearer, a little more crisp and in focus when it’s no longer made fuzzy by our numbing addiction of choice.


I’d love to know. How do you numb?

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