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Numb. Hmmm... Such a great word for what you're describing. Yet, I'm not sure that I get numb. I keep things close to the vest, to be sure, but I definitely feel. Then again, there are times where it seems like my life is a movie. It's like I'm being carried through somehow, watching the whole thing unfold, yet acting in it at the same time. So maybe I do get numb. I just can't feel it.

Nice post. :)

Aww!! Sounds like you are having a craptastic couple of days. So sorry to hear about your dogs – I imagine that feels like when my 20-month-old daughter slipped and tumbled on the stairs the other night, bashing her chin (a huge purple bruise blossomed just in time for picture day at daycare today – awesome!) and scaring the crap out of me. If you feel like me, you must be shaken, irrationally angry (damn gravity!), and in need of a good hole to crawl into. As for numbness, isn’t that why we love good TV? (Thumbs up on Poirot, but I always go back to the BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries – some say it’s a cliché, but I say it’s a classic.)

As for your loneliness, I just want to tell you about the conversations I used to have with my now-married sister (the one who met and married the groomsman at our wedding). She used to sob to me on the phone or, in darker moods, just say in her best, most convincingly rational voice that not everyone got married, and that maybe the jerk who had broken her heart had been her one chance. I’d KNEW that wasn’t true, and I’d tell her over and over that she was a wonderful, beautiful, fascinating person who was destined to find an equally wonderful mate. I KNEW it. She’d just say, “Rebecca, I know you believe that because you’re a romantic, and things worked out for you, but it doesn’t happen for everyone.” You know what? It did happen for her. The when and where and who shocked the hell out of her, but it was – and is – a life-changing, soul-feeding love that brings them happiness every day. (This is not to be confused with Happily Ever After – they’re screenwriters and she’s a film editor, so they worry about the normal stuff like money, artistic fulfillment, whether their temperamental dog will misbehave at the dog park – though their screenplay has been getting attention recently – yay!). Even though my sister was positive that true love would never come to her, it did. And I see this all the time with my friends – a guy friend of mine dated someone sort of evil for five years, got engaged, and then GOT DUMPED BY HER ON HIS BIRTHDAY. Yes, true story. But now he’s getting married next month to a much, much kinder, nicer, and cooler person (seriously, she’s a bereavement counselor at a hospital – how’s that for a karmic turnaround from fiancée number one?).

When people are cool, and smart, and don’t fit into life’s cookie cutter, they may have to wait a little longer to find someone as weird and cool as they are. You can’t share your life with some boring, lame person, right? You need someone who will truly get your unique worldview – and they may not be the first person to come up on your eharmony profile. But I truly believe that everyone – from my fierce, mercurial sister to my husband’s stuck-in-the-sixties-with-40-cats-on-Fire-Island uncle (yes, on the third try, he’s happily married) – has a mate out there, just as eager to find you as you are to find them.

I love your blog and this is the first time I have commented. Yeah, there are times when I want to numb out to avoid feeling frustrated. I moved to another city for a relationship that did not work out. So my house, in the old city, sits on the market while I also pay rent for a studio and I am broke. Trying to transfer my job back to old city and I'm at the mercy of one black hole of a human resources dept. now. Hoping for better days, sometimes I just have to put on my music and play some Mah Jong for a few hours on the computer to relax about all of it. No matter what, I never seem to lose my sense of humor so life is good after all! Reconnecting with a few friends who have serious illnesses has given me perspective and gratitude. Now I call them to cheer them up and just listen. Being there for others really helps. Then there's always my boy wonder kitty who loves to cuddle his mom.

Like you, I am an SMCer. In my journey to TTC this past year, I have become numb. I started out at 35, all positive and hopeful. I've always been a can-do person, believing that if I give it my very best shot, I can do anything. Guess what? I'm now 36 and have been trying to get pregnant for a year. My RE keeps saying there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. Well, except I haven't been able to get pregnant. All these months of going to the clinic, injecting myself with hormones, living healthy, only to get a negative test back, it kills your hope and your joy. It beats you down so that the only way to show up at work is if you push it aside. Trying not to feel the overwhelming pain and sadness is the only way I can function and even present that facade to most of the world who knows nothing about the pain one carries around.

I am with you.

Rebecca, I love your posts! I am so hopeful after reading your messages.
Sarah, I love your blog! I read it every day. Today is the first time I am posting because I can relate to being comfortably numb. Like you, however, I embrace moments of happiness. You have really inspired me to make things happen and not wait for certain events, like marriage, to begin my family life. Thank you for sharing your story with us! -- Amy

I am so sorry to hear about the pooches, and I am glad that Mr. Moose kept his nose out of trouble! Your post really hit a nerve with me, because somedays I feel the exact same way. Not so much depressed, just wanting not to feel the despair of the day, or things that weigh on my mind and the great expectations I keep waiting to see happen in my life.
I really liked Rebecca's perspective (thanks for the great post!) because it helped me see the view of my friends and family who really do have high hopes that I will meet the person of my dreams. I may just have to wait a longer time than most. I do admit, I'm pretty cool and kinda weird.

I recently had a "talk" with my gyno (who is a man) who horribly put it this way to me. "Miss F, I have to have this talk with you, since you are in the mid thirties range. If you want to have kids, you should decide soon, because as you get older and searching for a partner, all that may be available are the leftovers or divorcees." Wow. Can you friggin believe it? Well I did for the rest of that day.....talk about NUMB. Ugh. I have since cut that doctor out of my life.
On the flipside, I love being alone at home, find hapiness in my friends and family, and I consider myself so lucky most days. As an added plus, I really love reading your posts. You are speaking for so many women out there, and I think we all need numb days to get through life sometimes. On my numb days I lay out on my deck, have a glass (or two) of wine, listen to some of my favorite music and decompress.

Thanks, Amy and Paloma – so glad I’m not just taking up space here! (Paloma, YIKES! That doctor sounds massively inappropriate!! Besides, what’s wrong with divorcés? I love vintage!)

P.S. Isn't Sarah a writing goddess?! I love reading this blog! :-)

Sorry you had a yuck day. How miserable to come back to unhappy (bloody?) pets. (This is the good thing about cats. They chase, swat, hiss...but never seem to actually connect with one another.)
I totally hear you with the "numbness" thing. It is much easier to not wholly feel at times. Especially when badness is coming at you from all directions: both professional and personal. It's like you're donning an emotionally impermeable--and thus magical--cloak.
Only problem is, you can't exactly climb trees, enjoy scuba diving, or dance very well in that cloak. It tends to trip you up. Or worse, it prevents you from engaging in any "happy-making" activities at all. 'Cause you would have to take it off to do them.
Trite, I know. But pretty true, in my experience. When I find I've been wearing that darned thing for more than a day or two, I have to deliberately restart the emotional engines again by doing something--anything--that triggers a positive response: talking to a friend, going for a run, watching a terrible teen movie, or just sitting in the backyard, waiting for the local woodpecker to make a visit. Which of course, often brings the negative stuff out of its little box, too.
I think that's what they made pedicures for.

Kate-- The great thing about feeling like your life is a movie is that movies have happy endings... if you imagine your life as, say, a romantic comedy. As long as you don't veer toward noir or tear-jerkers and all will eventually be well!

Rebecca-- WHO SAID PRIDE AND PREJUDICE IS A CLICHE???? NOT OK!!! NOT OK!!!! I'm fine now. WP tells me the same thing... and I always respond, yes, but some people just don't get married. We'll see. My astrologer says I couple up this time around. I'm not holding my breath.

Dara-- Mah Jong has gotten me through many numb times, too. Good luck with the human resources black hole! I'm impressed that you manage to keep your sense of humor-- very often with me, that's the first thing to go. And that's BAAAAD.

Margarita-- I don't even know what to say. It must be soul-draining and excruciating to go through what you've been through. I could well be headed down the same road, and I guess I'm just going to remind myself that when people come out the other end they always say it's worth it. I hope you have either great friends or a compassionate, smart therapist-- maybe even both! Know that your joy will come back with time, and until it does, I wish you tons of luck.

Paloma-- Good for you for ditching that awful gyno-- what a creep. What are you supposed to do, conjure a perfect husband from mid-air? And I'm with Rebecca-- divorce is pretty common these days. If you rule out divorced men, you're gonna seriously limit your pool. And it's possible that some of these divorced guys are men who want to trade up-- as in, smarter, cooler, weirder!

@Sarah Fain: lol Good point. :)

And Amy! How did I miss Amy! Thank you for being so kind-- and good luck. It's scary, right? But, as is often stated on my FAVORITE blog, The Happiness Project, we can't let perfect be the enemy of good. Just because it's harder to get the things we want, doesn't mean we can't get 'em, dammit! We'll just inspire each other and move forward and create the lives we want...

L-- Love the cloak metaphor. So right, it's hard to engage in the good stuff when the cloak is tripping you up. I was just dreaming about a pedicure today... Maybe tomorrow I'll unwrap the cloak from around my feet and indulge...

i have to say as a big ol' lesbian, i grew up without marriage as an option. and thankfully, as a tomboy was not really exposed to the prince charming dream wedding thing. that being said, at age 38, i realize i actually could get married in some states and that i really want to do that someday. but damn it, i will not settle. as someone said, i am hoping that a lovely grounded woman who appreciates silly and weird scrabble playin' nerds will bump into me one day. hmmm maybe i WILL peruse Whole Foods today after work. Someday...

From what I've heard, the whole numbness option goes away once you have a baby. Then it's feel, feel, feel all the time. For good and for bad. Unless... maybe... there's REALLY good reality TV on...?

The numbness is good, as long as you're in control of it. Lie alcohol, it's fine if it's a couple of drinks to wind down, but when you're using it as a crutch to get through the day, then it's a problem.

Thanks Rebecca for naming the emotion that I have been trying to explain to people for almost 5 years now. Emotional numbness is what I can use to describe the feeling I have when people I know think I'm weird. A lot of people I know think this because I still find nice things to say about my husband who passed on after succumbing to compulsive gambling.

Because of his compulsive gambling I lost a lifetime of savings, a career, military spouse retirement benefits, and am now million miles away from my kids because I can't afford to start life over back in the States.

See, so as not to be an enabler, I divorced my husband after I couldn't make him go through counseling to get help with what I think is a gambling disease. The decision to divorce him coincided with his retirement from the military. A year after the divorce was finalized, he died. VA says I have no benefits whatsoever because we're divorced even though I was married to my husband the whole 20 years he served with the military and even though I have a general power of attorney from him after our divorce.

I don't know why I'm writing my story when I am just wanting to commend you for naming what I am going through. As of right now, I also have to thank you because in my head it seems like I'd have to use a million of pages to tell this story. . .hmn, I've only used 2 paragraphs. I will be visiting your site often from now on.

hi we're the same age & i came to your page fr The Happiness Project by GretchenRubin. i wanna get numb. i have depression and it sucks. i can't get myself off the meds without repercussions. it'll be good to be numb. my online personality is so different fr my real me.

Dara, I'm with you. None of us should settle-- big ol' lesbians, or big ol' straight chicks! I wish I could say I lived in one of the states where you could get married. What the h-e-double hockey sticks is wrong with California?

Solomon-- As long as you're not using numbness to get through too MANY days, I think. Using it to get through a couple really rough days... I thinks that's the equivalent of your "couple drinks." But you're right that bingeing on numbness, like bingeing on alcohol, is bad. Bad bad bad.

Vicki-- Hang in there! It sounds like you've been through some seriously rough stuff. And nothing is worse than having no control when bad things happen. You sound like a strong, smart woman, and I'm wishing you luck.

aichaku-- I know depression can be brutal. But it sounds like you're getting treatment, and that's very important. Good for you for doing what it takes to be healthier and happier-- it's hard work, but worth it.

I don't know... what you describe as 'numbness' may not be the same as my experiences of it, not even remotely, but... I don't know. For me, numbness is a, no THE symptom of depression. And I hate it--in a sort of distant, detached, non-interventionist way--when I experience it. But consider this: To be depressed is to have one's feeling s and reactions reduced, lowered, pushed down (hence, 'depressed'). It hasn't necessarily to do with a sense of sadness, grief, loneliness, etc. Feeling and reaction are just less... to me, this is 'numb'. One can still function, but it doesn't seem particularly important, at least for the moment.
bness you describe may be perfectly fine, but it probably wouldn't hurt to have discussion with a professional about whether it really is NOT depression, because if it is, it would be nice if you could catch it early one.

Numbness is being devoid of emotion it’s a stasis where one wakes up one day to realise that hurting solves nothing.. and you step back and discover that you focus upon the ‘facts only’ later the song line from ‘Everybody is free to wear sunscreen’
“but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.” For many years I was numb but it did save my emotion heart from the soul’s suffering. And as your article says you do emerge from it…. And to day I still remove the emotion out of all issues DeBone’ white Hat….. it’s a good theory ‘The Thinking Hats’….. point was as ever with things in life you experience them then years later discover it’s a known fact……but numbness is good

Numbness is such a lovely term for the state I'm in. Like the undead, I am in a state of unmarried, singledom within a marriage. I have been here for so long that I cannot imagine what happiness feels like any more.

I view everything that happens in terms of how much work it generates for me. Everything that happens is something that I must take care of on my own. No one steps up to the plate. Rather, they hand me their issues to take care of for them. If I don't, they literally live with the consequences, annoyed with me for not taking care of it. I am numb.

If I weren't numb, the sadness and sorrow of being the unloved would be too much to bear.

I found this blog post to be, somehow, vain.

Alice, why are you not moving on? If being married is that sad for you, then get out! Life is too short!
I am married too. He's a good guy, but at times I'm challenged also with taking care of him and his "stuff". I think it's unfortunate that men are who they are, needing mommies. My daughter has a son, I told her, you better raise him to be as self sufficient as you are raising your daughter!
But it shouldn't hurt to be married.

i agree with diane re: Alice. do it, because there's being numb, and being stuck. and moving out of stuck on your own will is better than getting knocked out, which is usually how stuck ends.

i was vacillating in numb this summer, as i saw my business of many years (19) begin to unravel. slowly, and daily, it came apart. Kate's comment about feeling like you're in a movie? bingo.

imagine having no money, but still having a line of credit from the bank. it's payroll tomorrow. there's 25 people expecting their checks. (one of them, me!) now imagine watching yourself click the mouse on "transfer money", and shazaam!- i've just borrowed money to pay myself! it was the most surreal feeling, going against everything that made sense.

it was like writing checks in an account you know is empty, something you might have done in college, knowing you could maybe get your parents to bail you out. but i'm 49! wtf? it took getting to almost 100k before i put my foot down (how does one put their foot down on oneself?).

after that, i found someone to help me with a plan, and my summer of numbness came to an abrupt end, thankfully. but it was a nauseating numbness, not a dreamy, opiate-like numbness.

numb no more!

I seem to have lost my ability to use numbness as a coping mechanism. I stopped being able to go numb after I became a parent and suddenly all emotions were heightened times three. The upside is that joy is magnified just like sadness is...the challenge is that I can barely watch the news without something setting off sobs. I would think I was quite odd except several of my mother friends report the same phenomenon.

Dear Ones, after the marriages, kids, divorces and careers--or not--one enters a time of life in which numbness stalks you like some sort of wild animal. Not to mean it is a bad thing.

Numbness can be a friend when one is besieged by questions such as what have I done with my life that really mattered and what can I do now that time and opportunities are limited by age and the physical, mental, and emotional consequences of all that has gone on before.

Sometimes invited in and sometimes just showing up unannounced surprising you with its presence, numbness can be a pretty comforting companion.

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