Don’t be a Robot. Feel.
For some people, being asked to feel might be like being asked to breathe. It is something that comes so naturally to them that they can achieve it almost effortlessly. However, for individuals like me, who have built so many walls around themselves that they can barely see over them anymore, asking them to feel is like asking them to climb Mount Everest in booty shorts.
Of course, feeling was not always this difficult for these individuals. People aren’t born with walls, but when the world is cruel they can quickly develop over time. I feel like I wore my heart on my sleeves as a child, I wasn’t afraid to love openly and trust came very easily. Although as I got older and my battle with depression got more severe I found that trusting people and being open was really difficult. I was also bullied in middle school, which definitely didn’t make matters easier.
By the time I reached my junior year of high school after my friend died I stopped feeling altogether. And for about a year after the tragic event it was nearly impossible for me to feel anything at all. People would try to comfort me or make me laugh or even cry but nothing they did worked. I was trapped in this numb state. Unable to correctly socialize or connect with people because I had lost the ability to feel.
And then finally about a year after everything went south and I had been in therapy for awhile I slowly started to regain the ability to feel things. It definitely wasn’t a very fun experience though, because many of my initial feelings were painful ones. I had lost my friend, and a myriad of other things as well. My life had been turned completely upside down. And once the pain of all of that really hit me, I cried. A lot.
However, as messy and exhausting as the experience was, it was also extremely cathartic and satisfying to be able to really release all the pain that was welling up inside of me. And once the pain had subsided, I was able to begin feeling much nicer things like happiness. Granted, I still have periods in my life where I shut down; I have learned that once you initially start going numb it is a very difficult habit to break. Thankfully though, I have never gotten to a period that was a bad as the initial one that I went through.
So, while shutting down may seem like the easy solution to stopping pain, remember that while you may very well succeed in keeping pain out, you are also preventing yourself from being able to let love in. And in the long run, not being able to feel will do you a lot more harm than it will good, because it is impossible to truly heal if you are numb. Crying is ok. Being vulnerable is ok. Sometimes letting all of the bad feelings bubble to the surface is what we truly need most.