Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Gift of Numbness


I sat on the dental chair with a 'let's-get-this-over-and-done-with' attitude. Replacing two fillings should be pretty straightforward and relatively painless. First, a little numbing gel was applied. No biggie. After a few minutes, the dentist came and with him was that quintessentially fear-inducing fat metal syringe that made me want to curl up and turn away, if only I could. In a matter of seconds, the syringe was in my mouth and I felt the initial prick of the needle. Then it hit me....the thought, that is, not the pain, although I can't deny that one as well...

We have to succumb to the inevitability of pain before the numbness sets in. 

I felt the sharp needle prick me momentarily, as I conjured the image of a nerve getting hit. I could feel the anesthetic slowly burrowing through my gum tissue. I squeezed my eyes for a bit as I waited for the pain to pass. After several minutes, the numbness set in as I felt the right side of my jaw, my tongue and lower lip feel heavy and thick. 

Our relationship with any kind of pain that touches our lives is the same. It builds, and builds, and we take as much as we can. We have to feel it all first, suffer through it, be broken by it to some degree, before the possibility of numbness surfaces. 

Pain needs to peak, before numbness peeks. 

Numbness gets its fair share of criticisms. Sometimes it's used to describe someone negatively: unfeeling; unsympathetic; indifferent. But it can also be a necessary friend, one we call upon for self-preservation. 

Beneath all numbness is a long history of pain and a deep desire to survive. I can't say that's deserving of negative judgment. Yes, it's great to be able to feel. But if feeling too much hinders the promise of normal functioning, or a happier, healthier state of mind, then perhaps an infinite capacity to feel and surrender to pain is overrated and even detrimental. Perhaps numbness is a gift we should not be embarrassed about because it's a reflection of self-love and self-respect. Perhaps if we just let it be, Numbnesslike every other emotionpasses when we are ready and strong enough to feel again. 








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