Friday, April 23, 2010

Numbing Out.

From Courage to Change:

"When I came to Al-Anon, I didn't feel. When I lost a job, I said, "No problem, I can take it." When had a child, I said, "No big deal, just another day." Nothing moved me at all. It was like being dead."

When I first came into Al-Anon, I couldn't weep - not one tear, not even a hint of moisture - if I was terribly upset, I might get the lump in the throat, then the door to my feelings would slam closed, the steel barrier plummet down, and numbness would result.

I considered that a very good thing, because I didn't feel my feelings for more than a short time before I'd go numb. It was like flicking a switch to the off position.

I was in Al-Anon for quite some time before I began to try to figure out how that process worked, so I could try to catch it in the early stages, and not go there automatically. I discovered that I had a mantra of sorts, which I'd begin to say to myself repeatedly, and that started the chain which ended in numbness.

In program I learned that by numbing out the "negative" feelings, I made an unendurable situation (my first marriage) endurable. That  realisation was of a magnitude I had trouble grasping - I remember going through my daily round in a bit of a daze, after that conversation with my sponsor. I was unable to think of anything else, stunned at how my own reactions, worked against me.

I've reached the stage in life where I'm a sentimental fool - I can get misty-eyed at nothing much, but oh the joy that's possible when one is this opened up! Miraculous.  I laugh a lot. My entrenched character defects have gone from something shameful, to a source of laughter, when I realise that once again, I'm doing this-and-such, and now need to make an amend. I used to wriggle and squirm about my amends - now I make them willingly, humbly, with a full heart, grateful that I have this amazing program to help light my way.

I will never be perfect.  As a program friend once remarked, "I've decided not to aim for the Personality Olympics this year."

I loved that; it stayed with me as a reminder to give myself a break now and then, allow myself to be merely human. I cannot do what isn't humanly possible, and my best is good enough.


  1. Numbing out is what I still try to do, without even understanding that I am doing it... Old habits are so hard to change, but at least these days I am recognizing them faster...

  2. I used to numb my feelings, too. When I started feeling them it was pretty scary. The only feeling I was comfortable with was anger. Eventually, by God's grace, I learned to live from my heart more than my head. Some days I still scuttle back to my head but the trips there and the time I stay gets less with practice. It is such a relief to be human instead of superhuman.

  3. I can still block and numb around difficult situations, especially unacceptable behavior. But the difference is that I get away as soon as possible and process things. I realize what is occurring but have learned that it's good to not immediately react to a difficult situation without prayer and some thought.