WHEN HAVE YOU BEEN TOO NUMB TO FEEL?
Blog 33: Dec. 1997-April 1998—I have a confession to make: when I was in college and my roommate told me that she had been raped during a drunken night in which I was in the same room with her, passed out, I didn’t react. I didn’t feel. I didn’t show compassion. I was numb. I couldn’t feel. I stay removed from the world, separate, untouched.
Now, in pain, debilitated, with body broken, in a house of lost people in Berkeley, California, I feel. I feel it all. And while it hurts, there’s something liberating in knowing I can feel every bit of the pain and love that’s possible in this world. It’s as if this brokenness allows me to feel the world again—to feel it all.
For so much of my life, my heart has been closed in protection. My fear of being hurt, rejected, of being unworthy and unloved cloaked my heart with heavy armor. It was a way I had learned to be, to survive, and yet here I am in California, with nothing left but myself and my heart.
I watch the world walk by, so many afraid of not surviving, of not making it, of not having things just as they need them, of losing their cloaks, their armor, that have protected them for so long from. They become cold, hardened, and forget to love the stranger that comes to them, crying, in need of compassion, because they are afraid to lose their way, their habit-forming rituals that define them and provide the illusion that they are okay.
I feel now, and I am grateful. Yet, I ask for forgiveness for so many times in which I offered a cold heart to another, in which I caused pain to another in my frigidness. And I feel compassion for others for their cold hearts toward me. For, I know they have learned, as I have, to be afraid to feel. From one generation to the next, they have learned to close their hearts in order to survive a world too frightened to feel its own pain and love, too frightened to be truly live.
I kiss their hidden tears, over and over again, honoring the love waiting to break through.
WHEN HAVE YOU BEEN TOO NUMB TO FEEL?
9 thoughts on “33. A Confession to Make”
I hadn’t been so numb in my life yet. And this is good that you asked fo forgiveness!
Thank you for sharing, Secret Smiles. You seem young, so I applaud you for being young and feeling your life. What triggered me to ask for forgiveness is that recently I had a situation where someone was that way toward me…unable to feel or act from a full place of compassion…and I could see so well how I had done the same to otherwithout having noticed my actions at all. Also, I know I experienced that numbness (unable to feel or have compassion for me) from others as a child that I brought into my adulthood and then acted this out toward others. I can only feel compassion for those who are too scared to feel now, and ask for forgiveness for my lack of being conscious. Now I know what is real behind that.
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Yaa so i’m…nd i can understand your situation. Sometimes it hapens naturally that we want to help people but we cant do anything fo them. And fo that we dont need to feel any guilt. Take it as a lesson ; your experience made you learn many things.
So often how we see ourselves is not how others see us; what we see and feel of ourselves is what we allow ourselves to see and feel. And in a similar way, so often what we think we are feeling is not what we really feel. For example, we might see a video of an African-American man pinned down and shot at point-bank range, and feel anger and sorrow at the injustice of it. But is it anger and sorrow for the man who has been shot, or is it anger and sorrow we feel for ourselves — for those times we ourselves have felt unjustly attacked or hurt? Or is it both?
A recent disagreement with a close relative over something that felt hurtful to me has left me pondering two very different ways of approaching these things. He is of the opinion that the past is something never to discuss, because it only re-opens old wounds. I hold that past events have ripples that establish conditions in the present, and can shape the course of events into the future. Thus if the wounds of the past have not healed because of a lack of resolution, they remain wounds in the present. And this has led to a painful cooling of affection between us. I feel compelled to distance myself–to go numb–to deal with the perceived injuries; whereas he functions in a “numb” place in order to avoid the pain to begin with. One perspective (his) is a numbness of proactive choice, while the other (mine) is a numbness of reactive choice. And so I contemplate this: Can two beings approaching a painful problem from such radically different perspectives ever bridge the divide between them?
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I like your thoughts and reflections and agree with your comments on our response to events and whether they come from our own experiences or from our experience of the other, or from empathy and compassion for the other. I have found that the more I feel what I have lived, the more real I am, the more my experiences and that of others are one of the same. I know when I felt numb toward so much in the past (when I experienced what I write here), I didn’t do so out of choice. I did so out of habit, learning, a protection and pain I didn’t realize was there. So, I feel what is key is that we have choice, that we are conscious enough to choose how we are with things.
As for what you are sharing with your close relative, it’s a shame you can’t be with what has happened, since I have no doubt that even if we ignore what has been, or numb to it, our bodies and energy bodies carry this past, and it will affect us, sooner or later, on a physical or spiritual level, and if not in this lifetime, than in our journey forward. I choose not to be numb to what has passed, even if another does choose to ignore it, because I know that this is my journey and work…to unravel what has come before. When we unravel what has come before, it actually shifts the spirit world and heals the ancestors before us (so the healing happens at a level we don’t even see). Some of us have come into this world to do this work (or are ready to do the work) more than others, and are more sensitive and are being asked to the lead the way. For me this is my journey and work, and it has shifted all around me, and even family members, by taking the hard road to truly be free. (I went a bit long, but this topic is close to my heart and I have experienced much of this through my own healing, and also in doing healing on others. It is part of my shamanic path as a healer).
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Yes, I know it is close to your heart, as we had shared some of these experiences together. The work continues for me as well, although for me it has manifested itself in a different way, and I have chosen a different path. One thing I have embraced is the idea that kindness is not always painless, and conversely, what can feel like kindness is sometimes anything but kind.
I have also been contemplating the parallels between personal situations and social ones. Just as in my relationship with my close relative, this nation continues to be troubled by injuries of the past that we have yet to unravel as you put it. And yet until we do, those past injuries will continue to reverberate in the present.
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So true. Thanks for your words, Paul.
The important thing is that you asked fo forgiveness. Not everybody have the courage. You wer scared thats okey!
Many times, even now, I occasionally will “flip” where I completely turn my emotions off, because I sometimes feel really intensely, and feel the energy going out in a huge uncontrollable way, afraid of what it might result in due to the sheer intensity of it. The last time I let such energy go, it split an immense oak desk neatly in half.