Numbing ourselves

I have had those times in my life where I knew I was doing too much, and yet I did not know how to step off the fast-moving train. It often runs through my mind that sometimes being on a fast-moving train means that it is easier (or there is no time) to focus on the pain that we might be holding in life. The thought often crosses my mind — do I stay focused in order to ignore what is painful?

In the book, Rising Strong, Brene Brown discusses what we do to numb the pain in our life.

“We do that by numbing the pain with whatever provides the quickest relief. We can take the edge off emotional pain with a whole bunch of stuff, including alcohol, drugs, food, sex, relationships, money, work, caretaking, gambling, affairs, religion, chaos, shopping, planning, perfectionism, constant change, and the Internet.

And just so we don’t miss it in this long list of all the ways we can numb ourselves, there’s always staying busy: living so hard and fast that the truths of our lives can’t catch up with us. We fill every ounce of white space with something so there’s no room or time for emotion to make itself known.” Page 63

This does not mean the pain has to be gut wrenching. It might just be a dull ache, but we all have a past and often we believe we were left short-changed. Even those that might have had the dream family, childhood, and everything they ever wanted had pain in their life.

The idea comes and goes in my life — am I living so hard and fast, that my past cannot catch up to me? I have been an orphan for 15 years, and there are days when I forget what it is like to have parents. What would it be like to have my mom experience me throughout my pregnancy? What would it be like if she could share what I was like in the womb? Did I kick a lot? How big of a baby was I? What was I like when I was born? That is my reality, but there are times when I would rather get on the fast-moving train, stay busy, and not think about the hard stuff.

My dad, a bamboo pole, and some fishing

Yesterday was Father’s Day, and it was not until a friend ask to switch our brunch plans to later in the day that I remembered what day it was. Often Mother’s Day and Father’s Day tend to fly by without much thought. My dad has been gone for 15 years as of this year, and it gets harder and harder to think about what my life would be life if he were here.

Recently we were talking about fishing at work. A few co-workers are fishing fans, and I was remembering a time when we stayed at a lake near our house in Indiana. I believe the cottage was owned by a friend of my grandma’s and every once in a while we got to go and stay with her, which meant playing in the lake and fishing. Something tells me what felt like a big lake at the time would probably look a lot like a pond to me now, but it always felt special and kind of a big deal to me.

I remember one weekend we visited, on the Saturday morning for some reason I slept really late, when I went outside to see what everyone was up to, I found my sister and brother were out fishing with my dad (this photo shows me standing on the pier, my brother is next to me, then my sister, then my dad). For as long as they had been out fishing, no one had caught a single fish. I asked my dad if I could use the bamboo fishing rod, that for some reason I thought was so special. My sister and brother were using real fishing rods. I did not like putting the bait on the end, so I left that up to my dad, and I doubt I even put the line in, but what I did do (which is completely against my nature) was sit and hold that bamboo rod, and eventually I caught a fish, and then another and another. My brother and sister eventually got bored, and most likely annoyed that I was having such luck. They went inside or off somewhere else to play. 

It was just me and my dad and my happy success. I do not remember if we kept the fish and had them for dinner or if we put them back. What I remember was that I thought there was something special with that bamboo fishing rod, and that I got to spend some time fishing with my dad.

You can see all the fish I caught in this photo. I wish the photographer had not cut me out of the photo. I would love to see the look on my face showing my bounty. I know I have been fishing a few more times since then, probably while camping, maybe even with my dad, but that Saturday morning was the one I will never forget. He was happy, relaxed, and content to just sit on the side of the dock with his feet in the water, and watch us have fun with the process. Life was not usually that good to him (or so he thought) and so this year, Dad, I hope whatever you are doing, you are happy, relaxed and content. Wish we could go fishing again.