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Recovery and Rehabilitation

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I'm sure I heard john mention that we can sometimes become a bit numb in recovery? Well, this has been my experience for quite a while now.

Although I have been getting more enjoyment out of life recently, I often feel that I should be feeling more emotions, especially towards others. For instance, someone recently died on the news and I felt nothing. I actually think people act out sorrow to appear more bothered than they are. People talked about it being very sad for the woman and her family but I really cannot feel for those people, even with effort.

Also, sentimentality and nostalgia are things I don't really get any more. I don't feel the feelings others seem to experience when looking back at past experiences.

It has been this way for a couple of years now, and remains the same, even on the tablets I recently started taking for anxiety/depression. I don't think I can blame the tablets as like i say, I've felt like this for some time. A school friend I lost touch with died a couple of years ago and I felt nothing. I was shocked and it felt strange when I thought about the fact he is no longer here and alive but there was no sadness, no sentimental feelings.

It feels quite alien. Can someone please relate or comment?

PS. i suppose the worry here is that i am a cold person, but i always felt the opposite was true, before looking.

I'm very familiar with the kind of numbness your describe, Jim. I've been feeling that I'm cold, too. I'm not very concerned about it these days, though. I don't blame myself for feelings or lack of them. What can you do about it, anyway? It's out of your control. Our opinions about what we should be feeling can be skewed, too, especially about things we can do nothing about. The tendency to lose your protection against other people's suffering and the barriers between us seems to me to be something else. It might be that during recovery your mind is busy rearranging stuff and under construction and doesn't know how exactly how to react to things while the old is going, hence numbness.

Also, it might be that death and grieving gets a slightly different meaning, eventually. I'm not sure about this, but I don't see death as sad for the dead because death is the end of sadness, too. Sadness is for the one's left behind grieving. Then you go on. Grieving takes it's course and then passes, I'm sure. I believe a kind of intelligence takes over grieving, too. Part of grieving is all kind of thoughts about what happened and why. Those would be ignored, the skewed ones, at least, or wouldn't even appear.

All my life I didn't feel much towards children, but then a person close to me had a child and I "got it". The fragility, vulnerability the utter reliance of an infant on adults hit me like a bomb. It was hard to bear. I started feeling very strongly towards him. It came out of the blue and took me by surprise. I can reach an imagined grief when imagining a death of such a child, and playing along with it I imagine the complete and world shattering shock it would bring on the parents, but I noticed that a sense of intelligence in there keeps an eye an on it. Now, I don't feel the same about grown ups, but I can detect some kind of shift happening there as well. I see people acting stupidly and I see that the only smart way to relate to that is to see them as afflicted, sick with fear of life, and therefore needing compassion rather than judgement. This feeling keeps getting stronger and more and more frequent.

I used to take pills for depression for years, on and off. They had no effect on me, numbing or otherwise, except making sleeping uninterrupted difficult. I haven't taken any for many years, yet I'm more confident that I'll get better than I have been for decades. My life has been expanding recently towards new hobbies and new people, and though I used to either turn them down of pine for them in the past, I kind of let it happen while I feel quite numb about them. Or ambivalent. For example, I participated in an introductory sailing course just a week ago. I haven't been to any courses for over ten years. It just kind of happened. It was a good experience. I'm now a member of worker's sailing club. Two weeks of sailing the summery archipelago is in the plans. I'm still unsure whether its an activity for me, but I let it happen and I'll find out. I kind of feel not up to speed and a bit uncomfortable with what's going on, but that's life. It's new and new things are slightly uncomfortable at first. I used to reject the new.

I don't know whether the general numbness will subside, but I'm confident that it's nothing to worry about.

About nostalgia, I recently read an article discussing studies that concluded that nostalgia is good and constructive for you. I don't know about sentimentality, but I don't reject any emotions or worry too much about lack of them for the simple reason that they are outside of me and beyond my immediate control. I'm responsible for them but I don't make them happen.

It seems to me that the experience of living without fear is such a unique and radical thing, not only in our personal lives, but in the broader context. We are breaking the internal rules we followed for so long and we are breaking the consensus rules in many ways. My feeling at this moment is that we underestimate the power and impact if this simple act and we expect to just get on with life in a slightly updated software version of our former self. I don't think it works that way. Sure, I've felt numb too, but if you look deeper there is something seismic going on at our core. I am coming to believe that regeneration, recovery, whatever you want to call it, is so complex and multifaceted and so idiosyncratic to each individual's life. Some of us take a long time to come through it, perhaps the rest of our lives, depending on the level and impact of the fear. Numbness, craziness, hypersensitivity (which I seem to be experiencing now) calmness, all this cycle through as we adjust to a completely altered perspective. These changes seem to be surface disruptions as things bubble up from our core and geological shifts of the mind and personality continue. We know who we are. Everything else seems like the weather... if you don't like it, use directed attention and wait ten minutes. As I mentioned, my current weather is hypersensitivity and my body going through changes I can't even quantify, but I've definitely had the numbness too. It's just more interesting weirdness and I think we have to respect and trust the process and the way we individually go through it.

It helps to hear that others experience what I experience, I can relate to both Jim and Seppo's accounts. Thanks for the sharing, as we are in this together.

Many years ago I was with a Indian Yogi who was a 'Muni Baba' (term meaning silent monk) People around him were often over taken with this monks eternal silence. So some began to imitate being silent themselves. Gradually a few people began experiencing mild detachment and joy, while others experienced a rush of thoughts and nervous energy. A small number who continued being detached from speaking 'started' experiencing depression, and others had problems with various empty emotional states, which lead a few toward temporary insanity! When one is sick one needs to take the correct dosage of medicine. We should be aware medicine has to be regulated in a specific way in order to have the best effect. I trust John to guide me here .I have seen numbness in a number of spiritual and non spiritual people who went threw intense meditation that caused them a lot of mental suffering. On the other hand 'a few days silence' may just be what the doctor ordered, likewise mindfulness done with awareness is very helpful to me and balances expression of my emotions.When someone close to us dies its natural tears come, I can't imagine it any other way. I can truthfully say: before the looking I was stone cold, while now I am not afraid to express feelings. Men are conditioned to hold emotions back ..it can be very bad for health to do this.


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