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I am emotionally numb

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by runner, Nov 16, 2016.

  1. runner

    runner Newcomer

    Hi folks,

    I first discovered this community when I had RSI earlier this year. Thanks to Dr. Sarno's book and what I learned from the structured educational program, I am doing a lot better. Thank you.

    However, some difficult things have been happening in my life, and I am currently feeling emotionally numb. This has happened in the past when difficult things happened which made me feel sad or hurt. For example, a few months ago I found out that my grandma is dying. At first I felt very sad and cried a little. But then it's like this invisible shield goes in place, and I don't feel sad (or much of anything) anymore. I just feel numb and detached from it. I think that I should feel sad, but it's just not there. And I just start thinking about it in logical practical ways or don't think about it at all. I suspect this defense mechanism was a contributor to my RSI/TMS: my brain prevents me from feeling emotional pain or other bad things, and eventually the feelings express themselves as physical pain.

    I feel that I am in this numb state again because of the difficult things that have happened recently. This time the numbness nearly cost me the relationship with my best friend, because, I think due to being numb, I had a hard time feeling empathy and wound up saying some difficult things rather harshly.

    Is this common? How can I allow myself to feel these difficult emotions? How do I overcome being numb?

    Thank you for the help.
  2. Gigalos

    Gigalos Beloved Grand Eagle

    I think it is common for people to raise a shield. It is a good thing that you discovered that it works that way.
    There are ways to connect to your emotions but it is very personal what works for you. One thing that comes to mind... poor yourself a cup of tea and sit down, close your eyes and imagine giving your granny a long hug... let expectations, reactions or thoughts float by, just keep going back to how it feels and allow emotions to appear in your body and mind. Don't get frustrated if they don't appear, you can't force them out. And maybe other members here have other tips that might work better for you.
  3. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi runner, I'm glad you decided to come back for advice, because we're here to help each other.

    I'm sorry you are facing the loss of your grandmother. I would suggest that the negative emotion that your brain doesn't want to acknowledge is abandonment. It's a key human issue, and a really scary one, because to our inner child, it goes back to the innate fear of being abandoned by our parents, which means we wouldn't survive. That's one way to see abandonment.

    Another, and I think more important way to see it is that Death, of course, is the ultimate form of abandonment. I suffered two devastating (and separate) losses not long ago, and I was able to tap into the fact that I felt utterly abandoned by two people who were really important to me (and who should have survived me, each being only in their 50s). Doing this was strangely powerful in a way I still can't really describe. It's like I had the freedom to really really feel their loss, because of what it meant to ME.

    I also was able to recognize that I was only able to acknowledge my emotions thanks to having done this work the year before.

    Because here's the thing about abandonment, especially when it is due to death - I think we feel like it must be supremely selfish to feel abandoned by someone who has died - when it is that person who has experienced the loss of life, am I right? To say nothing of the other people (spouses, in the case of my two losses) who must be suffering much more than I am, so how selfish is it for me to feel abandoned???

    And yet, our deep vulnerable child DOES feel abandoned. And our primitive fearful brain represses that emotion, because it's too dangerous to allow it to surface, because the emotion might distract you from being alert to danger, which means that you might not survive.

    The good news is that in today's safe world, we CAN acknowledge this deep emotion - acknowledge it, and accept it, and give comfort and love to our inner child who has suffered the loss.
    ladyofthelake, mike2014 and Gigalos like this.
  4. ladyofthelake

    ladyofthelake Peer Supporter

    Following, can relate.
  5. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi All,
    I love the responses so far. I wanted to add that a basic technique to approach numbness is to sit with the sensations and not fight this. Feel it in your body, explore it, even though there appears not much to "explore." In my experience, the more we just hang where we are, the more things can unfold gently and naturally. This often takes some Inner Critic skills to defend our right to be "just where we are." In truth, our numbness wants to be felt too, and with it, the sense of isolation, and then tenderness may arise.
    Andy B
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  6. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Runner,

    Thank you so much for posting this question and for all of the thoughtful responses, it's very timely and helpful for me, too.

    I've been quite low and reading such responses from caring individuals is heart warming.

    To feel loss at some point, is a natural part of the human condition and our inner critic is forever challenging us and filling us with false narratives; could we have done more, been more, felt more etc. it's important to know and accept what will be.

    From past experience, coming to terms with loss is never easy, but how we view loss and celebrate an individuals life helps take the edge away from difficult times.

    I feel at times, like such, it's important to look deep within ourselves from a place of compassion, warmth and love. Knowing nobody would want us suffer or mourn, but instead, for us to hold on and cherish those life defining and joyous moments that matter.

    P.S I love you all dearly, my friends.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  7. runner

    runner Newcomer

    Hi all,

    Thank you so much for your responses. I feel lucky that you folks who I have never met are willing to help. When I posted this yesterday, just the act of writing about it and acknowledging it seemed to help. I started tearing up right on the train... but didn't feel like it would be a safe place to cry, so ultimately held it back. It feels better to finally acknowledge the pain that I've been in during this most recent situation. I can relate to what Jan said about the guilt to feel abandoned. This whole time I was really trying to help and comfort the other people who are more directly involved in this current situation (not the impending loss of my grandmother, but some really difficult things between close friends), and felt guilty to tend to myself and my own pain. I think up until this point I did not recognize how much pain I have put myself through in the process. It has been the second most difficult thing I have dealt with in my entire life. I am still feeling numb, though I feel better about it, having recognized my pain. I will try to some of the advice above, like exploring the numbness and where I am.

    Thanks again for your support. If you have any other suggestions, I'd love to hear them. I think I will try journaling too, since writing about it yesterday seemed to help.
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  8. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Bless you, you sweet soul.

    If you feel the need to cry, please find a safe place to do so.

    Jack Kornfield mentions that by grieving and allowing sadness in, we are able to accept, express and integrate a loss in a healthy fashion. Suppressing it can only lead to inner conflict and emotional unrest.

    I feel journaling may be a useful tool to help clear your thoughts, but by doing so please ensure that you are gentle with yourself and do not feel a sense of guilt for all that is happening around you.

    I want to share the following link with you for a loving kindness meditation, which I'm currently using:

    https://jackkornfield.com/meditation-grief/ (A Meditation on Grief - Jack Kornfield)

    With warmth and love,
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  9. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    This warms my heart to read. Thank you.

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