“We can’t selectively numb emotion. Numb the dark and you numb the light.” – Brene Brown
It’s a truth I wanted to unwrite that night. Sinking down onto the kitchen floor, a mob of emotions clamoring for dominance inside me: Humiliation. Exhaustion. Anger. Fear.
All I’d wanted was to get some exercise (I know, I know, What’s that??!). To skate around the local lake with my kids and provide a space for the two daughters with me to exhale after their older sister’s Bipolar-plus-middle-school-hormones meltdown.
That the younger daughter might have a sensory meltdown at the lake was a possibility, yes. But that it would begin at the farthest point from the start of the route, and continue with a mixture of throwing her bike, kicking and screaming on the sidewalk, and yelling “I HATE YOU, MOM!” for the entire last 30 minutes of the adventure?
Didn’t see that one coming.
Friends, I actually called 9-1-1 to get help with her. With my normal-on-the-outside, bright child.
As passersby looked at us, smirked at me, uttered disgust at my inability to get behavior modification or soothing to work, I wanted to crawl into a hole. I wanted to scream and yell at my child. I wanted to leave her there and run away.
But where would I run? Back home, where her older sister was in the throes of Bipolar rage and fear? Home, where the next sister still soils and wets herself in the wake of her trauma in foster care?
No, not there. Though we did make it home later that night. Where, after kids finally wore themselves out and fell asleep, I sat alone on the kitchen floor, wondering if I was going to be okay. If any of us would be. And how in the world that could be possible.
I actually asked God to take me home to heaven. I begged. There’s only so much a person can take—so much stretching and melting down and pouring out—before we just want to end it or numb it.
If we could just numb the humiliation, the exhaustion, the fear, the anger. . . but then, as Brene Brown says above (and as we know, deep down, from our own trying hard), numbing one kind of emotion requires numbing all of it. Which isn’t at all what we’re trying to do!
- What if we decided to believe there was still something better?
- What if we chose not to define who we are or how we’re doing by what’s going on around us?
These and other questions are the foundation of the book I’m reading right now: You’re Going to Be Okay: Encouraging Truth Your Heart Needs to Hear, Especially on the Hard Days, by Holley Gerth.
“If your life isn’t perfect, this is for you. If you’ve ever been disappointed, this is for you. If you sometimes have bad hair days, this is for you. If you’ve dreamed a big dream and then watched it fall apart, this is for you. If you are human and live in a fallen world, this is for you.”
Well, I thought, at least I picked up the right book!
It’s continued to be the right book for every page of every chapter since that night. Because Holley writes it to people teetering on the edge between choosing numbness and hope. People like us.