Numbness

There are so many days that I don’t feel anything. You might think this would be a blessing in disguise, but it’s these days I hate the most. When I say I don’t feel anything, I mean I feel completely numb. I look at my hands or my legs and I don’t feel like I’m looking through my eyes. It’s like I’m in another person’s body.

The thing I don’t tell people is that I’m numb more often than I feel. When I was working with domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, people constantly asked how I could do that job. How I didn’t come home and cry every day. It’s much easier when you don’t feel the words they’re telling you. It’s not that I’m completely cold or heartless. In my mind, I understood that they were upset and traumatized. I knew how to respond appropriately. I understood that they were in pain. But emotionally, there were so many days that I just felt nothing.

I would sit in my office and be so confused. I was surrounded by people who felt so much every single day and I just didn’t know why I couldn’t. That confusion would lead to guilt. I knew I was supposed to feel something, so what the fuck was wrong with me that I couldn’t? I would torture myself with the thoughts of what was happening to these women and berate myself when I didn’t think I had the right feelings. It got to be so much that I nearly went into panic attacks every time the crisis line rang. It wasn’t from the nature of the calls. It was because every call and every person with whom I worked was another reminder that I’m a freak who can’t do something as simple as feel emotions.

The one exception is when I’m watching movies or television. Then I feel all the emotions that I think I should be feeling in everyday life. For instance, I went to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower tonight. At the end of it, I was bawling. It’s not a particularly sad ending. I just had so many feelings.

It’s the numbness I hate the most. The racing thoughts go away for a little while, but it doesn’t make things any easier. I just feel like an outsider. I lose track of time. I drove 50 miles today before I fully registered that I was driving somewhere. It’s not that I was unaware of my actions or being inattentive to the road. I just had no emotions, no thoughts, nothing. I walked out of the theater and instantly reverted to the numbness. I’ve never been high, but the resounding thought in my head is that it feels like I’m stoned.

The worst part is what happens after the numbness. More often than not, this is the calm before the storm. It’s like I shut down and then all of a sudden, I’m just spiraling downward. I hate this more than anything. All I want is to feel like a normal person and I know I never will.

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