Emotions and Numbing

I was talking with my son a little while ago about intense feelings that he described as something much more than sadness. He was saying that older people don’t feel things as strongly as kids do. He was getting picked on in school for having a crush on a neighbor girl and was feeling the embarrassment as well as the loss of trust. I talked with him about how it felt when my brother, Matt, died in June and the loss and pain I feel even now not having my brother to talk to.

I don’t do well with experiencing and acknowledging my feelings, especially loss. I tend to numb what I can when I can and therefore miss out on the sorrows as well as the joys of life. As a matter of fact, I have been numbing to the best of my ability for many, many years now. Self-harming is my thing. I’ve been doing it since second grade, and even now I struggle daily to allow myself to tolerate feelings rather than utilize what I find to be comforting.

When I look back on trauma I have experienced in my life I wonder if things would have been different if I had different tools in my toolbox. If I had different coping strategies or if the weight of my past had not affected me so much would I have demonstrated more resilience to experiencing those difficult emotions? I cannot look at the what-ifs though. I have to focus on the here and now; the ability I have to experience each emotion as deeply and as powerfully as it was meant to be felt. I hope my son continues to feel deep pain when he gets picked on by classmates as well as deep joy when he jumps in the leaves or rides his bike with that very same girl he has a crush on. I hope he does not learn to numb his pain but rather feel the weight and vulnerability of it.

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