Feeling Numb

"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from indomitable will.”
-Mahatma Gandhi

Have you ever felt that you had so much going on, or so many feelings that instead of being able to feel them you actually do the opposite and feel numb? I see that a lot when I work with patients on a physical level through chiropractic work. When muscles get so tense and what I call splinted that they don`t or can`t respond as they should, there is often a sense of numbness instead of pain or discomfort. I often do accompanying muscle work with my patients to help to restore natural movement and to release tension and to help adjustments hold. When the muscles get splinted or tight frequently they experience a lack of feeling rather than intense feeling. It is when the muscle releases that they begin to feel pain. The same holds true for us emotionally.

I was speaking with a friend recently and she was explaining how with the revelations that she was making regarding her father, she felt kind of numb. In our worlds, we are very influenced by our families and our groups and communities. There is a type of myth or belief that they tend to hold; as part of that group or family we tend to believe a certain thing about a family member or idea. These myths become what is true for us as we don`t know any better. And when we are little we think that how the group or family is is how it is in the world for everyone. Often this belief or these beliefs had helped us to survive. We then feel we belong to our family by carrying the same beliefs or myths about a person or a way of living and believing. This belonging is an important part of our surviving at a certain time in our lives, but we often keep holding them long after we need to.

In my friend`s case, these myths that her family and siblings held were about her father. They believed he was a rock of the family, smart, stable, and that he had good judgment about everything. Her mother had divorced her biological father and when she remarried, her new husband adopted her. Mom was not very strong emotionally and needed the stability and seeming strength of her new husband. He provided that for her. All the children held a very similar view as their mother…maybe even for their mother. My friend is discovering mistakes he made in his life and also in her life. He is a financial advisor and he did some things with her portfolio which she is now questioning. As she is questioning and learning more about certain financial decisions he made, she is beginning to see him in a new light. In addition, he was never able to embrace or believe in her career and passions, nor was he emotionally available to anyone but their mother. 

She is beginning to question many myths her family has held about her father. And yet, instead of feeling any emotion, she is feeling numb. What does she do about what she is learning? What does this mean about her relationship with her adopted father and about her relationship with her family? Is it even worth asking him questions as what good would that do? These are unstated questions, but ones which are swirling through her mind. This is all a lot to take in. These are questions she couldn’t even imagine even a year or two ago, much less as a young child. We need our caretakers for our survival. Now, what does she do about this family belief system disconnect? 

It reminds me in a way about something I have been going through recently. I have been very in touch with some primal feelings from when I was young, and yet with the wisdom gained and aging which allows me to understand and accept what my young experience was and to know it is now something which I can work with consciously. I have been feeling profound sadness in knowing how some things were for me with my father being very invasive and possessive of me and not allowing me to grow up because of his needs, and how unavailable my mother was and my fragile relationships with my siblings. All of these feelings coalesced in me with a concert of intensity more than I could emotionally hold at one time. As a result, I developed an abscess in my mouth which was very painful. On an unconscious level, it was easier for me to be with and feel my physical pain than the fullness of my emotional pain. I see this dynamic also happening with many of my patients. So I have been with my sadness in a new way which in spite of the pain, feels healing to me because of the new awareness I have of my early experiences. 

The difference here between me and my friend is that for whatever reason, I am ready now to feel more of the full impact of my sadness. She is not quite ready yet. This all has to happen in its own time. The inner movements of pain, sorrow, understanding, accepting, and healing has their own unique rhythm and timing. As we can all allow our personal understandings and healing movements to occur, we can more and more embrace our full, whole and vital selves.

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