I love to numb out.
When a wave of emotion or “feelings” come my way and I get that tension in my chest or gut, I look at those feelings and say, “Nope, not today!” and I turn and run from them. I find myself aimlessly surfing through my emails, social media, allowing all my boundaries to get crossed by my friends, family, and my partner. I welcome the sidetracks. I might grab a glass of wine or one too many sippers of my favorite whiskey. I find myself standing in front of the pantry, the freezer or fridge completely blank in my stare, but hungry to my core. Avoiding these scary things that are lurking inside of me.
I find myself wanting to shelter myself with whatever measures I can from the storm of depression, anxiety, fear, anger, loneliness, lostness, guilt, or pain that I don’t want to deal with at that moment. Now, as a coach with thousands of hours of training and in office practice on these subjects plus my own healing that I have gone through since I was in my late teen years, I am very aware of how my actions of avoidance are not great coping mechanisms, in fact they are massively counterproductive.
A lot has shifted in the way that I process my feelings about having feelings since I was 18.
I look back at youthful me, immature me and wish I could jump into a time machine and go back and smack some sense into myself. Back in the day, I numbed out strictly through avoidance of life. Everything was overwhelming to me. I literally was scared of my own shadow and walked pigeon-toed with my head hung, looking at just the steps before me. I was blessed and cursed to have a mother who helicopter parented me (although she did that because of her own codependency issues) and owned a clothing store that I helped run. This enabled me to avoid life, people and flapping my own wings all the more. To make matters better and worse, I home schooled. Which got me through high school a year and half early, kept me out of a shiz storm of trouble most likely but also did not teach me how to cope with the real world. The day I went for my first interview I almost passed out. I threw up and dropped into a three year old tantrum saying that I could not do it, that I was not good enough.
Seriously, a three year old tantrum, I am not kidding here AT ALL.
The kicking, yelling, tears, all of it. The whole show.
I recall my mother who had nothing to do with any of it but drove me there because I was too freaked out to get my diverse license. She was just in tears because she had no idea how to help me. She just told me that if I really did not want to go in, that I did not have too. I looked at her and felt ashamed. I was pathetic and I knew it. I did not want to let her down. So I went in, I got the job. It lasted three days, it was cold calling in a little box which felt like a prison. The worst thing I could imagine, spending hours calling strangers, ‘cus that’s what you should do when you have bad anxiety… just push through. And to a degree, yes, facing the fear and push through is the answer,but not without the tools to support. Of which I had zero.
So what did I do with my patheticness and inability to enter the world?
I shut down of course.
I colored my hair jet black.
I went goth, when goth was not a thing.
I cut my hair short.
And then I dyed it flaming red!
I told my mom that I was good just working at the store with her and living with her.
My mother was happy she was not losing her baby girl.
And thus became the true start of me learning how to numb out.
Step one – avoid what you fear.
Step two- grab a glass of wine.
Step three- change your outside image so you can pretend it never happened and you are not that pathetic person any longer. Which is just avoiding the true problem… The problem of self-love and acceptance is creating self-sabotage and the inability to walk strong in life.
Step four – grab the numbing drug of choice (alcohol, weed, food, sex, work, video games, social media, anything that shelters you and helps you to not feel the feelings of sadness and fear.)
Step five – if none of the above work, hide and sleep, praying the world will end or you won’t wake.
I recently read, “When you’re busy numbing out your feelings, your feelings are in the other room doing push-ups. Then, when you’re done smoking weed or watching Netflix or whatever you were doing to numb out, and you walk into the other room, you’re like, Wait a minute. These feelings are worse than they were before. That’s because you gave them all that time and space to do push-ups.” According to Caroline Fenkel, D.S.W., L.C.S.W., executive director of Newport Academy which is a rehab center for teens that deals with such issues as I was having and worse.
This statement is so very accurate and terrifying.
It is exactly what happens.
And it leaves one in a nasty loop of hopelessness.
The overwhelm of not believing that you are good enough, strong enough, smart enough, equipt. Not knowing what to do and not really being able to hear the answers even when they are presented because the anxiety, fear, anger, depression keeps our cognition at a low level. It’s literally like we are three years old and operating from this space of the world being this big, scary place that WILL squish us if we venture out.
Well, my tale only got worse.
I spent my early adult years acting out and appearing to be a crazy chick.
God bless my poor husband at the time and our children for putting up to the best of their abilities with my issues.
Fast forward, I did manage to step out of my comfort zone and get my drivers license when I was 25. I know right… WOW! Big grown up step that was.
Fast forward through some more shiz, a bunch of heartache, fights, tears, losses and lessons, I did manage to get a bunch of study done, certifications in all sorts of psychological stuff and coaching, nutrition, energetic practices, and more. I discovered that I could numb out with being a f-cking fantastic student and I was just that. A quick learner. A great sponge. But then came a few years in my late twenties and up to 30 that I found myself tremendously lost in a deep depression. Mama to five babies. Remodeling a 1942 house in the middle of the Sierra Nevadas in California, no friends, my husband’s family around but I was alone. And I was done with life.
It got so bad that I could not leave my home. I refused to leave. I was convinced with every fiber of my body that if I left the house something horrible was going to happen. My negative self-talk and separation from society and life had cornered me into the darkest space I had ever ventured and it was ugly there in my mind. The feeling of sadness, anxiety, fear, anger and just feeling lost and not belonging anywhere as well as being totally unimportant to everyone including my husband and children overtook me. I shut down. I stopped eating. I stopped consuming anything but alcohol and some prescription drugs that allowed me to feel nothing.
I was wanting out.
And I had been pondering a plan as to how to go about it.
Now, I am not going to get into that tale any further, but God sent in an earth angel you could say to smack me around and guide me back to the light. Back to hope.
What this earth angel did and said is what I truly want to share with you today.
He told me, “Feel your feelings. You have a right to feel them. You are safe feeling them. We all have them.”
And then he told me to pull my head out of my a*s. That this world needed me and my heart.
He reminded me that I had tons of people in my life that needed me and if nothing else to get my shiz together for them.
Then he went on to not enable me in my guilt, fear, sadness or desire to create or cause myself pain and drama. Because that is what we do even though we do not want to admit it, we actually have this little voice in our head in these times that creates plans of how we can do harm to self to prove to ourselves that no one cares, or to create drama to show us that no one will show up for us, because we are that worthless. We have no desire to harm our loved ones, but the end result is that we do serious damage to self and others in this process.
My earth angel refused to let me create such a drama triangle.
He told me that I had to do this myself and that I had a big girl choice to make in my life right now. I could continue down this path and blow up my world and live in sadness alone, because I would push everyone away. That I WOULD PUSH THEM AWAY. Not them leave of their own free will. Or I could do what I was thinking of and take my life, put an end to it and abandon my loved one, destroy their lives. OR…. I could choose to reclaim my life.
Reclaim my life?
Then he shared his own story of being on the ground with depression and wanting to take a gun and end it all and how he was pulled out by his earth angel in the last moment. He told me how he had to relearn himself and find a safe space inside of himself.
I realized that I was not alone and that if he could do it, so could I.
From there I chose each day to feel.
I chose to take the action steps I needed to to support myself and to learn how to fall in love with ME. To accept myself no matter what.
And I learned to stop looking outside of my own backyard for approval and love.
But I had to stop the insanity of running to the 1,2,3 of numbing out so quickly.
I had to learn what my go-to numbing behaviours were and what they changed too as time went on. I had to keep tabs on them and still do, because those behaviours and desire to hide from my emotions and feelings are still with me, but today I know that its healthy to feel ALL OF LIFE. I know that in order for me to feel the ratures of love with my partner and surrender my heart in my partnership as well as be blessed with the joy of being a grandmother and witnessing my now seven children grow, that I am required to feel.
To feel it all.
In order for me to do the work that I do with countless women and couples, I have to be able to tap into who I am and feel the correct thing to guide them, to support them and that I could not do this if I numbed out.
I would be missing my beautiful blessed life if I allowed myself to hide from me.
I also had to learn how to identify my feelings. I actually started a practice of naming my feelings. Getting okay with them. I journaled on them. I felt them. I became friends with them, even the ones that scared me.
For me to befriend even the negative ones, I had to stop judging my feelings. This was tough. I am a super critical soul. But step by step. I did it more frequently. And I still judge them here and there, but I have learned grace and compassion with my feelings and thus myself to allow for error.
I started a practice of inquiry with my feelings, as though they were my therapist or friend. I asked them, “What do you want me to know?” Then I asked myself, “Is that true?” and I kept asking that until I moved past my fear and ego and found my truth.
Then I learned to not hold onto the feelings but to get moving mindfully and safely. Today you will find me doing random things, I clean with velocity, I take a quick paced walk, I ask to go do an activity with a loved one that gets my body moving and if I don’t want any of that, I let the tears roll. I scream in a pillow, I punch my mattress or the punching bag. I move the emotion from getting stored up and creating physical memory in my body.
Nowadays, I teach a lot of sensational talk with my clients. I teach them to communicate what the sensations in their body are instead of what they “think” or have coming up as an emotion. The mind body connection is powerful and cannot be ignored in the healing process of emotional distress.
I created something called the Pause Button and I use this exercise often with my couples that I work with to help them process through what they are feeling and want to communicate but perhaps are not in the right frame of mind or literal space to do so. This came about because one thing I had to learn to get okay with was hitting pause on my own emotions and allowing myself to step away from a situation, person or even the emotions in that moment. I felt like I was avoiding them, but what I was doing was honoring the reality that it was not a safe space to deal with them right there.
Today, one of my biggest coping mechanisms and numb outs is distraction. I am damn good at it. But what is important to realize about distraction is that it is exhausting AF! You can get too much on your plate in a hurry and have nothing left to give to yourself or others. It’s important to be cognitive of this and learn how to say no to distractions when you realize that you are using them to avoid bigger matters at hand or that they themselves are creating more serious complications such as exhaustion. Allow yourself a rest day or weekend.
And finally, realize that if you are among the millions of souls out there feeling like you don’t fit in. You are lost in who you are. Anxiety, fear, anger, depression has you by the balls that its a life long practice to keep yourself healthy and strong. Much like healthy eating and exercise or making sure that someone you love knows that you love them, you cannot do it just once.
Imagine if you told someone that you loved them just one time in the life of the relationship…
How would that pan out?
You have to keep showing up. You have to keep practicing the seemingly hard steps of loving yourself and learning yourself.
Your whole life, my love.
I assure you though, you can make it through.
You can overcome the darkest storms and find shelter not in the numbing but in the love of you.
If this musing was helpful to you, share it with someone who needs some words of encouragement. If you would like more information on how to implement these self-love and acceptance steps and how these steps can lead you to your F-ck Yes! Life and yoru soulmate relationship then reach out to me today. My true passion is bring individuals such as yourself into alignment with their dreams.
You are worthy.
Claim Your Life Today.
And As Always,
Stop Existing & Start Living
“Coaching for Grown A*s Believers”
Image of me during my fire engine red of lostness at age 17.