Throughout most of my life, I’ve struggled with feeling emotions. I’ve been able to experience a variety of emotions, but my body will recognizing and shut down any physical reaction to emotions. Most of the time, the feel-good emotions can come easy for me. I can feel happy and content, I can laugh and be funny, and I can experience satisfaction and pleasure. However, I had great difficulties in feeling sad, expressing anger, verbalizing frustration, and especially crying.
The other day, I cried for the first time in a long time. I found an episode of a certain show that I connected with for just a brief moment. In the small span of time, I felt sad. I allowed myself for the first time to just stay in that sadness. It took a while, but I was finally able to cry. Once I cried, I experienced a huge relief and I no longer feel that same sadness. In fact, I feel a great deal of joy that has replaced the emotional grief.
Many survivors have this same type of emotional numbness. This is a skill that survivors have developed in order to function. It is a mechanism that allows us to block out the trauma of the past so that we can move forward in our lives. It works really well, but it should not be a life-long skill that we maintain. I encourage all of us that have experienced sexual abuse to work with a therapist to understand the causes of our emotional numbness. By examining and defeating this blockade to our emotional well-being, we can enjoy a freedom from our trauma that is infectious to others.