The Suffering of Not Feeling Pain

Sometimes my heart contracts and closes. I picture a hollow metal sphere divided into segments. Sometimes it opens like the petals of a flower.

My being is designed to find the things that give it nourishment, pleasure, wellbeing. Having located them – grasp for more of them. Meanwhile ignoring or rejecting sources of pain.

Opening myself up to be vulnerable to the pain of rejection or failure or shame actually is an experience that brings me great nourishment for the soul. To risk and be vulnerable is truly exhilarating. To connect with someone completely and be present for them is like peeling off my skin and letting the wind hurt the raw sensitivity underneath. The risk of such pain or rather the risk of really really feeling any pain is high. The thing that changes is my ability to feel. Then I realise that so much of the time I have chosen to not feel.

When I close down it can happen like a gradual grinding of rock slowly eroding definition of the world to a Henry Moore esque view of life. Rounded pebbles where there were sharp defined edges, missing details and the uniqueness that every thing and moment possesses. Or, my heart can snap shut, fast and reactive, closed against the possibility of hurt, reacting to anger or threat or rejection.

But the very act of closing withers my soul. The mistaken act of keeping out threat hurts. Each tiny closing of my heart twists an exquisite pain into my psyche, a snapping shut hurts so much that I just go numb. Too much pain to bear too fast.

I repeat the closing despite the hurt. My psychological reflexes shut my heart fast to keep out the pain.

Sensations keep me alive, but I shut them out. Closing down is like poison but I keep drinking it. When something makes me shut down I think I am frightened of pain. But actually I am frightened of being alive.



In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Zone.”

Getting lost in something….. bliss.

Thinking about that one activity to the exclusion of all other thought.
It happens for me in music – playing the violin, and physics – and meditation.
But weirdly in meditation the most concentrated moments happen when I’m not actually ‘thinking’ as such.

In writing this I’m thinking out lout – why is it bliss to be lost in something and not thinking about other things?

Two possibilities spring to mind

  • The other thoughts are unpleasant
  • The sensation of concentrating all my mind in one place is in itself pleasant

Both I suppose, unbroken threads of concentration are so satisfying, they don’t contain the constant background noise of self criticism or self congratulation.

Free writing

Writing101 free writing 400 words

Typos and spelling mistakes are left in for the sake of honesty.

Four hundred words free writing

So my day, left me with feeling tearful, cross, connected. Lots of work with people that have crashingly different feelings all melding together into a loud noise of, just, well people. The sum of two people being in a room is soo soo much more than just 2×1 somehow. what I bring into a room then someone else comes in and I am constantly second guessing their second guessing me. the third person in the room is the indefinable thing that happens between two people. This third thing is noisier the more the people try to understand each other and it drowns them both out, it stops them from hearing the other person because they are so busy trying to hear their own reaction to the other porson int he room.

Almost being not well enough to work. Almost but not quite, running to the bathroom to almost cry, almost but not quite. I can’t quite get it out that huge pain of something that I want everyone to see. Most of all I want myself to see it and I can’t.

How many other people in the crowded room have an invisible pain that they want to but can’t share. More than just me I’m sure.

I pass my day angry, sad, frightened, cycling through so many feelings, most of them I don’t even notice at the time. How can I make any kind of sense to another person when I’m not sure what my own feelings about anything are. I ignore fear the most, then it comes out as anger. Agression, when actually it is me feeling frightened. Is the loudest dog actually frightened. Is the growling and snarling from a fearsome dog just the same as my bad temper – both covering up fear and simultaneously driving away the possibility of contact.

the emptiness that comes after chasing away friends is particularly strong. I don’t mean to snap or dismiss, actually what I’m wanting to do is make contact and be held. Ahh to be held. I don’t know if I’ll ever be held again. It is the fantasy, therapists would say that I should hold myself. That nobody else can hold me, be my mother, father best friend. I need to find that all within myself. I wish I could.

Nearly at the end of 400 words. I am surprised where I ended up.

What I fear is fear itself

Writing101 prompt

One of my worst fears
In a style distinct from my own.

I’m not quite sure what my style is, so to deliberately do something different is difficult.
But here goes.

I am afraid of fear itself, the chest tightening sensation that travels to my gut and makes me feel sick with presentiment.

So I avoid it. I’m a coward, choosing to turn away from looking people in the eye if I feel their disapproval and hesitate before speaking the truth in a meeting hoping the other will change the subject or say it for me.

The anxiety that I experience is the fear of fear. Anticipation of something that has not yet and may not happen ever. I live in the future. And fear it.
As I write this I realise how useless it is to expend my energies thus.
Does that mean I can stop it and be useful, probably not.

But, maybe if I have an awareness of my actions then there is a possibility of changing them.

All sponteneity from now on will be scheduled

Writing day 15 prompt 

So my favourite moments in life are the ones that are unexpected belly laughs at life.

These are to be forbidden and rescheduled under the heading

Planned awkward fun

-the cosmic police-

I am so cross – my real voice here is fighting with my vanity. Vanity would make it sound more intellectual.

  • I don’t want to know the time or place that I will meet someone and share a moment.
  • I don’t care if the planned moment is lot of fun or really intimate.
  • I want the moment to be a surprise  – to creep up on me from behind and shout boo so I scream.

I am angry that cosmic control freaks have conspired against me.

Hear me I am angry !

Creating and loving scar tissue

So readers…. I was very affected by Michelle Weber’s post this week. Very moving, courageous and sad. It rather opened old wounds. That’s okay, I mean life is about learning to create and love scar tissue. But today for a while I need to think out loud.

Some colleagues at work were talking about suicide. One in particular, he is very religiously driven and had loud opinions on suicide being failure a giving up.

The compassionate side of me sees his fear, in the face of despair to judge may be a sign that to contemplate that despair is just too painful.

The threatened part of me thinks that if I were to kill myself that he would just say I was a failure. It’s a kind of strong negative feedback loop. It tells me that the fact that I think about suicide on a daily basis means that I am a failure, so therefore I should just kill myself.

The fact that the threatened part of me had a longer paragraph than the compassionate is interesting. I have more fear than compassion….. I should feel more compassion for frightened me…… hmmm I’ll work on that.

End of transmission

Noisy Medication

I am a musician and sound is significant to me. Pitch, rhythm, timbre I notice it all. I hear the regularity of footsteps and how some people seem to pound the ground as they walk what energy they spend on each step, I often stop to ponder wonder why.

So it is not that strange that one of the ways I have experienced anxiety and depression is as a kind of background noise. I saw one person on Twitter refer to it as a kind of tinnitus. In my darkest times my head feels very noisy, I don’t hallucinate as such, but somehow I can’t hear myself think. At the worst points my head is bursting with undecipherable screaming and shouting.

Once, after meditating – Mindfulness of Breathing – I suddenly was aware of silence in my head. It was as if I’d taken off very loud headphones. The relief was enormous. My muscles  relaxed and everything felt okay.

I do take medication over the years different kinds. One thing about medication is that is feels a bit like background music. It increases the noise in my head, but sometimes that’s a good thing because it helps to drown out the hiss of depression. But, when I’m feeling better I become aware of the noise from the medication, the muzak suddenly becomes annoying.

Just now my head is quite quiet and I’m aware of the fact, I feel well. That’s the other thing. The whole idea of noise is something I’m only aware of when it stops then, I frequently have another thought at the same time. Somehow, I know it was a part of me all along making all the noise.

The letter – Fiction

This is fiction for the Writing101 course. I’ve never written fiction for this blog or at all since school so it is very unfamiliar territory.

The letter on the ground the envelope torn to reveal the start of the letter. How did nobody else notice it. Handwritten in ink, fountain pen, who uses those these days? To Sam Handwriting neat but flowing, blue/black ink. The declarations. I love I love I love you. I’ve never told you, I hardly dare say it out loud and here I am writing it down. At last I’m putting it into words after years. The relief – I was going mad not saying it too you. The fear of rejection has crippled me, but I’m going to say it here it is. I love you! I turned the envelope over – a stamp, no post mark – it was never posted.

Today’s Prompt: You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter. Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

My Three Gardens – Garden 1

Today’s prompt for Writing101 is loss and the suggestion to make it the first in a serial.

At first I didn’t think I had the time today to write this. Then I realised that actually I was avoiding the subject of loss. On reflection I thought that maybe it would be useful to put the discomfort into words.

I’ve had a lot of change in my life and gardens have been there in the background. There are three significant gardens in my story.
I start with garden 1.

My first garden.
I’d read the books, I’d drooled over seed catalogues, I was so keen. Would I actually enjoy the reality?

I did. I found I loved the messiness, the smells, physical exercise and constant change.
My happiest memories are of a summer’s morning up early out in the garden to see tiny changes different from yesterday, things had actually changed in 24 hours.
Plants grew that I had planted ! I was God in that world, I granted existence to so many plants that grew and reproduced.
Some failed to thrive and I was outraged, I had planted them why didn’t they grow ? A wise neighbour gave advice that stayed with me ‘Don’t take it personally’ I realised that I had taken it very personally, how absurd.

I was happy there, there were happy days, life was full of distraction and stimulation. The beginnings of future problems were hardly visible, minor irritations in the ebb and flow of life, I didn’t understand their significance.

The seasons changed, some perennials became part of the furniture of our outdoors. Red hot pokers started to rampage through the front garden. My life was clematis and roses…. ah roses I never really got the hang of them.

A move was going to happen.
I was going to leave my first garden, my creation. But it was okay. I had learned that gardening was a process not a product.

But I am sad when I think of that garden, not because I lost the garden, but because I miss the happy days I spent in it at the time I didn’t know of the pain ahead.

My place

Daily post writing 101 day 2

I see myself sitting on a window seat.

The room is quite small. A log burning stove is quietly giving the room a generous warmth. The window on the stove is stained brown like an old ancient medicine bottle and through it the flames look very orange.

I take comfort knowing the stove is there but am totally engrossed in my book. Outside the window it is sunny but freezing and there is snow.

I am still, with no desire to go outside in the sunshine. It is warming me here through the glass adding to the stove, a faint tang of the citrus from oiling the small oak coffee table penetrates the background burning wood smell from the stove. A large coffee from freshly ground beans sits half drunk, my non reading part of mind is about to urge me to take a sip.

The room is my haven. A place of warmth and safety somewhere that I can finally take my eyes away from looking out for danger, stop running and indulge in the entertainment of a book. The snow is the outside, cold. The fire is love, energy, safety. This is my place.