Numb. Because life isn’t Complicated Enough.

Most people, when they see rolling hills and wide grassy expanses feel a sense of joy and relief in the beauty of the world. In reality, I can entirely relate to this and even crave the peace and quiet and regenerative qualities of the great outdoors.

Yet, with anxiety, the emotional counterpoint of those rolling green hills takes a darker turn. Beneath that beauty, lies a minefield, and if I’m to function, I have to find a way to cross it.

Fun! (Not.)

I spent the weekend crashing at Guy’s place partly due to our weekend plans. He’s taking a class this summer, so we spent a lot of time studying.

He is a very calming presence generally, but there were some moments that triggered me this weekend, Friday and Saturday respectively. One was a drunk driver crashing into something. The other was him losing something.

Both were things that my ex reacted to in a bad way. Both were scenarios that were resolved in a mature and practical way this weekend by all involved. But they built off each other in an odd feedback loop that messed with my anxiety and marred what otherwise would have been a wonderful weekend.

When my ex lost something, he would essentially throw a toddler-like tantrum, dumping containers, storming about the house, and making a fuss that focused attention on him. I could not coexist in the same space as him having lost something, and continue to do anything I wanted.

Guy, on the other hand, though he was visibly distracted – did his best to find the item. Took responsibility for it. Took what action he could to limit the impact to others. And then moved on. It was clear it still occupied a small part of his mind, but he didn’t take it out on anyone else.

Somehow though, it still messed with my universe. My therapist calls this ‘body-memory’, which I suppose is much like the muscle memory that allows you to memorize and play an instrument without sheet music.

For the record? Body memory sucks.

While I still functioned, studied, went to all the planned activities and events, I struggled to break through a certain numbness. I couldn’t feel, not in the way I wanted to. Internally noncommittal to everyone and everything I experienced, including Guy. There was a certain calm that comes from being around people I believe are safe. But nothing else.

It threw me for a loop, the non-feeling. Leaving me conflicted, feeling a little absent. Not sure what that meant for future me and future guy. Is this numbness purely an artifact of my anxiety? Is it a sign of something else?

I fear leading Guy on. I fear being hurt. I fear not being able to reciprocate the feelings Guy has for me. He is a very giving person. He and I both share a loyalty to our families that is not always balanced with enough self-care, though I think I am a little more aware and proactive in that vein. I think, perhaps, I see a little of myself in him. And I fear putting him in the position of caregiver, because I grew to resent that so much with my ex.

In a way, perhaps that partially answers the question I haven’t been asking. What action should take about this numbness?

For now? I wait. This kind of fear shouldn’t be anything that I base decisions upon.

Whenever the influx of possibilities from my overthinking begin to overwhelm me, I just have to tell myself: Be Kind.

I deserve the same patience and grace that I try to offer others, after all.

I wouldn’t mind some extra data points, however. Those of you who have experienced that feeling of emotional numbness – how did that impact you? Your relationships? Your decisions? Did it get better? Any advice for a fellow survivor?

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4 thoughts on “Numb. Because life isn’t Complicated Enough.

  1. This was such a helpful post, thank you. I had a married couple visit for the weekend recently- they got quite scratchy with each other over an incident whereby the husband was kindly mending something for me and the wife took over. The man got very frustrated and irritated and I became very uncomfortable and began to try to distract everyone away from the difficult situation. However I realised that I was reacting much more strongly to the event than they were- their tolerance of marital disharmony was much greater than mine and effectively, I was over-reacting as it didn’t affect their relationship at all. So yes, I think I frequently spend time being ‘numb’ and waiting for the other shoe to fall when others don’t react with anxiety at all; but I think its pretty normal when I’ve had these bad experiences from the past (where no disharmony was tolerated) and I’m just glad to have the opportunity to notice my feelings and try to recalibrate my emotions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Recalibrate… that is an excellent word for learning how to deal with these types of scenarios. It lacks the judgment some other words hold.

      I have this cycle of over-reacting inside, and under-reacting outwardly. Maybe it is that discordance and not knowing what to do with the feelings that feel unreasonable that make me more numb. I suppose a bit of numbness is a step in the right direction, away from total shut down.

      Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My anxiety doesn’t cause the numbness for me…I do it to myself. To protect & shield from the pain of memory & experience. It can be a comfort, sometines, until it gets out of hand, & I sink down too deeply into the safety of it.

    However, when I recognize the signs that I’m headed over the edge & into the Novocaine, I will bombard myself with happy things. Rom-coms, Family TV, Disney…taking walks with a friend, & forcing myself to talk. Making a point, deliberately, of even talking to nice-seeming strangers in waiting lines or outside from my front porch. Staring at the stars late at night. Anything that I can do to inspire some kind of emotional response. Practicing my crafts with sculpture & wire working.

    Start small with something that normally could spark an interest in you, but don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work first time around.

    Liked by 2 people

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