Why do we do destructive things to get numb?? Whyyyyyyy?? It’s very obvious to me now… thank goodness. It’s because it prevents us from confronting our real issues head on. That sounds funny, right? I get that… but I’m telling you when you are sick or in a position to rather numb than deal that’s what that is. Four, five and 10 years ago I would rather drink than face myself. Any.Damn.Day.Of.The.Week. I often said in my many years of trying to get sober that I can put down the drink no problem, it’s living sober that’s the real issue.
Why do people relapse, continuously disappoint, and turn back to their destructive ways? It’s plain and simple really… because, believe it or not it’s so much easier! It’s easier to disappoint and apologize, recover from a hangover, make empty promises, live with regret, live with insecurity… (you feel me, right?)… than to face the music of how we got there and to fix it. We know it sucks. Like really, really sucks, but slipping back into old patterns and succumbing to the numbness is just so much easier than getting well. Getting well was, by far, the hardest thing I have ever done in my whole life. In fact, another thing that I often say is that I might never relapse again because learning to live sober initially sucks so incredibly. Now… would I do it again anyway? Absolutely!! The best thing I ever gave myself, my children, and my husband was my sober self, who was willing to look at herself and find an amazing life inside wellness.
The thing that we, the people who numb, don’t fully understand in the depths of our destruction is that while numb there may be no pain, but equally there can be no joy. That’s big. And true, sadly. In hindsight, all of my “joy” when drunk, drinking, or recovering was false or forced. Authentic joy, well.. and all the other emotions only became authentically me in sobriety.
What we choose to numb may seem harmless enough, even pleasurable. Sucks that what feels pleasurable in the moment is really just screwing with the quality of our life. Numbing agents take care of the surface issues lickity split, but in turn cover up the deeper troubles. Well… duh! Right? Of course. Though I can tell you that I did not know that that was what I was doing until I started doing the inside work required once you put that numbing device away. Once it’s gone you will in fact be flooded, mowed over, and bombarded with feelings. Most of them annoying and gross and too heavy to bear. It’s why in my case I seeked out a lot of outside help to see me through it. It’s in receiving that help that those very same feelings and emotions started to add vivid color to my life instead of out and out fear.
It’s a road. A long and windy road, that I can promise you. But what I can also promise is that if you see it through everything will start to make sense. It’s very powerful, but more importantly, it changes you. It is only through change can we keep the numbness from seeking us out, from patterns repeating themselves, and from returning to our previous selves.
One thing that we often aren’t willing to give this very experience is time. But time is what it takes. Wholeheartedly, you have to be willing to get through the muck to get to the good stuff. I’m telling you, it is worth the ride. I look back now and nearly laugh at my emotional ignorance, and yet am eager to continue learning more. Every time I put away a numbing agent that I was using to avoid my reality, I’ve grown. Feelings become more intense and acute, but not tragically, rather enjoyably. Now, don’t get me wrong, the things we’ve been storing up, hiding away, avoiding will come to the surface too, but with a clear mind and a new outlook, getting to the other side of that is extremely powerful too.
It is a continuous journey. Continuous. I still have things about myself that drive me bat shit crazy. Insecurities that don’t make sense to me and frustrate me to no end, but instead of getting drunk in the face of them, I seek learning and practice to overcome. It’s a bumpy road, sometimes trying, but often wonderful…. beautiful even. Avoiding numbness has given me the courage and the grace to handle even the most intense of emotions and situations today. Courage and grace. Those are words, four years ago I would never have used to describe myself. I still have so much to learn, do, and give back, but today… I’m so grateful to be unnumb.