“That we go numb along the way is to be expected. Even the bravest among us, who give their lives to care for others, go numb with fatigue, when the heart can take in no more, when we need time to digest all we meet. Overloaded and overwhelmed, we start to pull back from the world, so we can internalize what the world keeps giving us.
Perhaps the noblest private act is the unheralded effort to return: to open our hearts once they’ve closed, to open our souls once they’ve shied away, to soften our minds once they’ve been hardened by the storms of our day.” ―Mark Nepo
A friend of mine posted this quote to my wall on Facebook a few weeks ago because it made her think of me. I imagine she thought of me because I went numb with fatigue, pulling back from nearly every thing and everyone in my world two years ago. And I hope because shenow sees how I am opening my heart again.
Fall 2012. The D/s relationship ended that took me on a dangerous trip with demons and addictions in the driver’s seat. I saw Daddy’s addiction to taboo sex early, one of the red flags I chose to ignore,but I didn’t realize I was addicted to the havoc his sadism wreaked in my heart. It wasn’t until I found myself on my knees on my living room floor in the middle of the night, sobbing because he only gave me 5 minutes of his attention that night and I was desperate for more. I would have done nearly anything for more. It was a few days after that night that he ended it and something in me broke.
I stopped writing. I stopped talking. I stopped spending time with people, or when I did spend time I wasn’t as intimate, affectionate and open as I had been. Friendships suffered. My relationship with Chris suffered.
I suffered from too much pain, both emotionally and physically. The Fibro was flaring up for the first time, taking away my sleep andmy physical and mental capacities. More significantly, my heart was battered and bruised from a series of challenging relationships that ended badly, the one with Daddy being the final straw. I hit bottom in my addiction to masochism and playing the martyr. I was giving myself to people who used me, neglected me, and treated me carelessly. I used a quest for spiritual evolution through vulnerability as justification to put myself in harm’s way. While I can’t accuse anyone else of outright abuse during that time, I abused myself by making myself vulnerable to people who took advantage of the gifts I offered and treated me badly.
The withdrawal started just before the news of my pregnancy. Then I withdrew further into myself in order to give our baby the optimal conditions for life. The combination of Fibro and pregnancy wasn’t aschallenging as I feared it would be, but it was far from easy. And the emotional roller coaster of giving our baby for legal adoption (not yet knowing how beautifully we would become co-parents) took allof my emotional resources to process. It took everything in me – my strength, my grace, my patience, my love for the baby – to care for myself both physically and emotionally so as to keep the baby from experiencing too much stress. I could only allow bits of feeling at a time in fear that my heart would be crushed if I let it all in at once.
It took 5 months after Lake was born for me to stop feeling the heaviness of grief. There were many ways I felt numb and hardened, unsure that I could be, or even wanted to be, vulnerable to anyone again. But that time was also a time of deep healing. In the months I had off from work I processed everything. I found the gifts and meaning in my experiences. I recognized my addiction to masochism and decidedto make different choices for myself. I also experienced tremendous gifts of love and friendship during the pregnancy, birth and after. Ilearned that I don’t have to suffer or hurt to grow. That I don’t have to work or serve to earn love. That relationships don’t have to be boxing matches between each other’s wounded places.
The biggest surprise in my unheralded effort to return is falling so deeply in love with Chris. Our relationship changed and deepened withthe birth of our baby and the process of orienting to this new familywe’ve co-created. Somehow our time apart the last few months has brought us even closer, deepening our desire and commitment. With his love as a foundation, I am opening my heart.
Now I am here, making myself vulnerable again. The walls are coming down as time goes on. I am practicing how to reach out with affection. I am letting the right people back into my heart and learning how to set boundaries. I am learning to manage my energy instead of giving my power away and moving at everyone else’s whims. And I am writing.
I feel strong and brave and rooted in love. It’s a grand place to be.