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numb & numb-er

numb & numb-er

I’m doped up on meds and numbing the grief. Yeah, I said it. Me. The girl who insisted on “feeling life” – the good, the bad, the exhausting, the sad, the painful – is now heavily medicated.  Is there shame in that? Nope. Not for this girl.  Here’s how it happened…

I’m anti-drug abuse. I’m pro-medication use when necessary. Still. Nothing has changed.  I have seen people numb themselves my whole life. Some of the best numbing agents are alcohol, prescription meds, and relationships (you know the kind… bad relationships or multiple and frequent relationships). I’ve never been a big drinker, I don’t buy Advil, and my heart truly breaks when I see a friend settle for a yucky guy just so she won’t be lonely. I’ve done that “drug” a number of times and it just ain’t worth the high.  At parties or gatherings, I used to be a bit of a stick in the mud because I was never the one falling down drunk or getting high with the rellies. My, how that has changed. After killing a bottle of wine night, every night, for 7 consecutive nights, I think I can safely say that I have found my version of Advil.

I’m no saint, of course. I just never made it a habit to get numb, in any category (alcohol, meds, relationships). So how weird is it that last week I drove to my doctor, sobbing, and begged her to drug me out of my mind?  I told her “I need to be so numb that sadness cannot find me. I need Grief to lose my address, and pain to forget my number.” Not really. It went more like this, “I…<sob sob>… can’t…<hiccup>…<sob>… even…breathe…<sob sob sob>… I need you to… <more sobbing> give me something!! I don’t want to feel anymore <nose blowing, snot and tears everywhere>. But I still have to function and do my jobbbbbb <wail, sob, sniffle, hiccup, deep breaths>.”

Yeah, she doesn’t seem to have that one drug that makes you not feel the pain of death, the one that boosts your immunities to grief and sadness, or the med that makes you feel like a million bucks instead of a bounced check. Someone needs to invent that soon. I’ll volunteer for the clinical study even if one of the side effects is ear bleeding. Bloody ears never hurt as bad as THIS. This pain and sadness is excruciating. It sneaks up on me and without warning erupts out of me in gasping, heaving sobs. I cannot predict when or where, and I cannot control it. Ask my lil BFF who talks me through some of these episodes. She never knows what to say so she says whatever she can think of in the moment to talk me down from the ledge and bring me back to my normal setting. Poor Biffy… she had no idea what she was signing up for when she became my friend. I wish she had known me before. I was much more fun.

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On the way to the doc’s office, I decided I not only needed medical help, I needed spiritual help. My heart is broken and my faith needs to be renewed daily. Some days are better than others, obviously… but this day was a doozy. I texted three people. (No Oprah, not while driving…) I texted a girlfriend I’ve known for 25 years. I was baptized with her as a young adult, roommates with her after high school, and consider her more of a sister than a friend. She has the purest heart and has loved me more than half of my life. She prays hard and believes hard and loves hard. She is a gift to me, never expecting anything in return for her amazing friendship and many kindnesses. When you’re having a breakdown, this is the woman you want interceding on your behalf.

I texted another woman, a new friend to me, who is a mother figure to many. She is a wise woman with rock star hair and a sweet, sunshine-filled face. She is not really a friend as in ‘one of my gurrrlz’ but is more like a mentor to me. I hope when I grow up I can be as kind as she is and half as wise! She inspires me to dive in, trust deeply, and let God fill the empty spaces I’ve kept hidden my whole life. I asked her to pray for me. What else can anyone do? I just asked her to pray because I think I was heading to a very dark, scary emotional place that day. I almost got lost and I knew she would not only know the way out, she’d give me a copy of her map and hold my hand the entire journey home. I needed her hand that day. She extended it without hesitation, immediately offering to come get me wherever I was. Sometimes I am in awe of people who are so selfless. It shouldn’t be a surprise to come across people like this woman, but sadly she is a rarity. I am so thrilled that I get to be near her sometimes. She prayed…

I texted a third person that day too. Why didn’t I call anyone? Because 1) I was having a breakdown, hello?!?! And 2) I hate the phone on good days. There is no way I could’ve formed a coherent sentence on THAT day, and C) I was having a tsunami sized, hurricane fueled, massive tidal wave of an emotional shit storm and I needed help fast. So, I just texted. It was easier.

I met a woman about 6 months ago, a writer, who inspires me to write more and tell more and do more. She honors people’s stories and digs for their truth. She loves so many unlovable people (Is there such a thing? She loves so many difficult-to-love people. That’s better….) and finds new ways every single day to show love. She gets people. I think her superpower is seeing their pain and potential at the exact same time. She is transparent with her own flaws and openly asks for help when she needs it. Well, I think she needs a lot more help than she ever asks for but that’s just the way she is. She handles things. She handles other people’s things and helps in every way imaginable. She handles her own things too and probably should receive way more help than she asks for… but she is a superhero for sure. I texted her with a quickness. Siri helped her advise me to touch people’s butts (obviously an auto correct mishap) and it brought forth a sudden burst of laughter that I desperately needed.

I am independent and strong. I like to feel. We were created with emotions and tear ducts and our faces were designed to smile! The full range of emotions is for our benefit… so that we may live fully and experience life in all its yummy deliciousness. Sometimes, however, it just gets to be too much. I had to ask for help that day. I wasn’t going to make it. My doc gave me some happy pills. My three friends prayed. One cracked a joke. I survived the moment.

I have spent every day of the last week actively seeking joy. I am looking for it in my daily chores, whistling while I work. I am savoring the team dynamic my coworkers and I have cultivated. I am getting out of my bed and actually making it so I am not tempted to climb back in. I am no longer allowing myself to shop at Sam’s club if it means I leave with a box of granola and 7 bottles of wine. I am letting go of expectations in some areas and raising expectations in other areas of my life. I think the idea of one day at a time is still a bit much and I am just getting good at one moment at a time, to be honest.

I cannot bear this pain, so I laugh louder now. Deliberately. I dream during the day. I travel in my mind. I think up new ways to live, new people to live with. I cherish the friends in my daily life that let me forget that I lost my son. Sometimes, it helps to forget. <Gasp! How dare she say that?!> Lemme tell ya, I have to forget sometimes. I have to push those thoughts away just to survive. I have to go to parties, and bible study, and lay on my biffer’s couch and groan about my big thighs sometimes. I have to remember how to live in order to survive. Unless you have experienced this personally, you… don’t… even… know…

So all that to say, I’m doped up and ready to rock. My music is loud. My windows are open. My life is starting to bloom again, even though there is a gaping hole in the left side of it. I still look left, by the way. I always look left. One day, I’ll see that beautiful face again. One day, he’ll meet me in the sky. I hope my gramma is with him. They’re the two people I loved most in this life. It comforts me to imagine them together. They used to have great conversations in this life, and look at bugs and go swimming… I bet they picked up right where they left off. I totally hope so!

Before I end this, I wanted to share an explanation about ‘happy pills’ that might help some of you who are struggling with the decision to numb or not to numb, as I did. Firstly, there is nothing that can totally numb the pain within. We are designed to feel and feel we will. It’s ok to let yourself feel the hurt and allow it to pass through. It will not maintain its intensity forever. Secondly, there is absolutely no shame in asking for help. None. We cannot do life alone. Being alone hurts, so trust someone to love you. Trust someone to keep you in their prayers. Trust that confidante to hold you up when you feel like falling into the deep, dark, scary abyss.

And lastly, you don’t break your leg and go home to fix it yourself. You don’t cut out your own uterus during a hysterectomy, or scrape your own optical nerve for cancer cells. You don’t fix what’s broken. Your doctor does. Medicine does. Casts and Crutches help you heal, right? They offer support to the limb that is broken or damaged. They give it time to heal and then they are removed and the limb does its own work again. Sometimes, injuries cause permanent damage and we are forever changed… we may even walk with a limp, but we can survive. We learn how to function the new way. Why would our minds, hormones, or emotions be any different? I am experiencing a severe trauma that is too difficult for me to overcome without help. My doc is helping with the physical healing, my friends are helping with the emotional, and my mentors are helping with the spiritual. I will forever walk with a limp, but I won’t need these crutches for long. Heavy on the metaphors but you get what I’m saying right?

It’s just me, but I am not alone. I asked for help.

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  • Tracy
    Posted at 05:35h, 05 April Reply

    Oh Holly I so wish that there was a pill to take away these feelings of giving up, giving in and joining Jen. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve thought of it more than once or twice maybe even a hundred times since Feb 15. I couldn’t bare to put that on my husband or my son but I cant fathom another way to make the pain stop. I find myself driving in the far right lane just in case an “episode” hits me all at once I can pull over before I get in an accident. My best friend is going thru a very nasty divorce and custody battle and that keeps my mind busy during the day but I dread the setting sun because I know what lays ahead in the evening and the darkness. I’m so tired or taking a bath at 2 in the morning to drown out my sobs and wailing. I’ve seen a therapist and told her my story, she doesn’t get it. No one gets it except those who have been thru it. I want that happy pill your talking about. I want to live without regret but I honestly don’t think that will ever be. I so appreciate you listening to me as I’m not one to reach out. I’m the one everyone comes to for help and advice and I don’t like the feeling of asking for help. I use your blog as a timeline of sorts, I go back to the beginning of your post often looking to see if my life is on track. I think how was Holly doing after a week, a month. I’ve had Jens ashes for a few weeks but cant bring myself to put them in the urn yet or to spread some at her tree. I bought a bunch of little urns that hang on a necklace to give to her most beloved friends and keep putting them off saying soon I will get to it soon. I miss her so much and cant wait to be with her again when the time is right and God calls me home. I’m following in your footsteps girlfriend, your leading me right now and I cant tell you how grateful I am to have you there in front of me giving me the heads up. All my love, Tracy

  • Melissa Chavez
    Posted at 06:08h, 05 April Reply

    You continually do the right thing. I’d drive to Maine for you!!! Tonight!! One breath and one moment at a time… I am in awe and will pray for you always!

  • Carmel
    Posted at 09:57h, 05 April Reply

    What a great reminder. I remember one night, I was supposed to go out with my girlfriends (to a strip club, but that’s another story). I had just had a conversation with of my best friends about needing her to be there for me more often. I needed her or someone to tell me I had a choice to go out or stay home. So I called. I’m terrible at talking on the phone with my friends for some reason and I HATE crying in front of people. But I called and cried and she told me I could stay home if I wanted, but knowing me, I probably needed some social time because it’s part of what renews my energy.

    Why was it so hard before to ask for help??? I don’t know. But I’m glad I did. I try to remember that moment any time I start to feel alone.

    I’m glad you’re getting the help you need. You’re stronger because of it.

  • Sarah
    Posted at 18:05h, 05 April Reply

    So glad you asked for help, there is no shame in that, or in any other way you attempt to survive this! The very fact that you are surviving makes you amazingly strong, and yes, strong is shriveled up on the couch sometimes too. Sending you love, hope, and a glimmer of peace through the pain xxxx

  • Jennifer Mattia
    Posted at 22:46h, 05 April Reply

    I love u Holly gurllll! You are so real, so raw, and you reach me. Thank you, for sharing the way u share is an act of selflessness…even if it wasn’t intended that way.

  • Misti
    Posted at 00:06h, 14 April Reply

    Everything you said is so relatable! Your courage to share your feeling so openly is truly inspiring!

  • Debbie
    Posted at 21:21h, 25 April Reply

    You shine so much brighter than you realize, Holly. Kudos to you for knowing when you needed help and asking for it! I’m glad your life is starting to bloom again. xoxo

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