I Cannot Become Comfortably Numb

Warning: This is a little disjointed and possibly tangential. Just go with the flow ~ 

Two songs have been rolling around my head these past few weeks.  Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb and Franz Ferdinand’s Well That Was Easy.   In particular, these lines:

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move but I can’t hear what you’re saying

…I can’t explain, you would not understand
This is not how I am
I have become comfortably numb

And from Franz Ferdinand

Numb, so numb
I’d let your words
Come and come

That imagery of emotional numbness is so strong in both these songs – it speaks to me because for a little while I wanted to feel that. To ignore the emotions and just let the words wash over me – without a second thought.  Say what you will, it matters not.   But that’s not how I am.

Sticks and stones may break my bones
But words will also hurt me.

And that’s OK.

Words are powerful. They hold power for me. They always have.  I connect with the world through words and language.  I love words because they affect me so deeply.  They elicit strong emotions – I suspect it is why I love music and stories so much.    It moves me like nothing else – more strongly than visual imagery.  I see the world through words.

So at my core, words are my breath.  Like I said, it is how I relate to the world.  Obviously, it is not how everyone does. But it is how I do.  And it is no better or worse than other ways of relating to the world.  It is not a value that you can give an intrinsic label. It is not ‘bad’. It is not ‘good’.  It just is.

Sometimes words tear me up.  Intentional cruelties.  They rip me apart.

 ‘Grow a thick skin’ 

 ‘Ignore those words’ 

I’ve been advised of this so many times.  They tell me if I’m to become a writer, I have to not be affected by words.  How? Tell me how? I feel them. How do you turn that off?

Here is my fear:  If I turn off those feelings from cruel words; what of all the other feelings from all the other words? What if I lose those feelings?  I can’t risk that.  I will not risk that.  I would rather feel that pain for whatever duration then to thicken my skin and possibly lose the emotions of all words.  I do not want to live my life numb.

This nagging conundrum – I need to write about it. I need words – these words, right here – to begin to change the emotions of words written with careless cruelty.   That is how I can get past this; not turning myself off; but turning myself around.

I cannot help being other than what I am. I open myself up to most people.   And what I mean by that is I talk. A lot.  I know this – I’ve been labeled with most all the adjectives from gregarious to loquacious to chatterbox.  Sometimes it makes me smile and other times it makes me feel embarrassed.  If I’m to be honest, sometimes shamed.

But what I’d like to say about my ‘enthusiastic’ talking is this – I only do so because I want to open myself up to the people around me.  I do so when I feel safe – and that feeling comes all so easily, sometimes too easily so it makes it hard for me to guard myself. And that vulnerability opens me up to be sliced. But there is a reason why I take that risk. More often, it gives me the chance to connect with someone deeply and that connection nourishes my being.  Those experiences are worth more to me than the slice.  So I’ve realized that I need to feel both; the joy and the pain –I have to risk the pain else risk the possibility of losing those nourishing experiences with people.  I accept those consequences.  It doesn’t make the pain any easier, but it makes me know I’m alive.

I will not become comfortably numb.

So those are my words.

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About Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher

I'm a research librarian for Public Television, story teller, bike commuter, baker, music fiend, lover of reading & books, mother, wife, friend - and many more descriptive adjectives and nouns.
This entry was posted in Blogging, Mental Health, Music, Words, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to I Cannot Become Comfortably Numb

  1. I’m agreeing with Alice. It’s tough being a sensitive person. It’s also sometimes easier to take a joke than at other times, which meant I spent a lot of time with my family thinking I was being moody and too sensitive when they thought they were only having a laugh. Maybe so to them, but it didn’t feel like it on the receiving end. It’s no wonder so many folks have emotional issues and mental health problems when the people around them who are supposed to care for them don’t take on board that timing kind of matters!

    • I’m typically a laughing type person; but insults do cut me – in this case there was deliberate cruelty. But we have discussions in our family about taking a joke too far too. It’s all about being attuned to how people are reacting to your words at times. And I am not innocent of being on the other end of joking (as in the joker) – which has gotten me into trouble as well. Ahh – it’s hard to be human!!!!

  2. In school they said don’t be so sensitive. I think we need more sensitive people and fewer jerks. So be sensitive.

  3. What would we be without our words? Rock on, Ruta and please..let yourself ” be” true.

  4. Pingback: I Cannot Become Comfortably Numb | thequeenieofcourse

  5. El Guapo says:

    Keep using your words, and don’t let anyone force you to keep them in.

    I have the advantage of not really giving a damn what most people think, so that lets me say whatever I want!
    (hehehe)

    Rock on, Rutabaga.

    • Thanks!
      Ah – sometimes I wish I could say exactly what I want – but often it’s a delicate balance btwn being civil and making waves… and seldom want to make waves – or I impulsively jump into the waves and make more then regret it. I think I need to turn my brain down a bit so I don’t think about things way too much.
      Rock on to you too, El Guapo!

  6. TheLastWord says:

    “It’s only words and words are all I have…” Now, not a huge fan of the BeeGees but they were on to something there. We have to continue to feel.

    Thought provoking post…

  7. You’ve hit the core premise of recovery. If we numb any part of our emotions, we risk numbing all of them. I’ve always taken words to heart. We are a species of language but what really makes us human is our ability to imagine. If you tell a monkey, “Good job,” they’ll never ask, “Is she being sarcastic?” I love and hate that words can mean so many things, even when spoken by the same person in the same sentence. And I love your words. I wouldn’t change a thing about you. xxoo ❤

  8. Amy Reese says:

    That’s what I love about you is your love of words. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think the more vulnerable you are, the more open you are to life experiences, and then you know, better writing if that is your aim. More importantly, a more meaningful existence. Denise…how are you?!! I’ve missed you! I hope you’re doing well, missy.

  9. List of X says:

    I chose the thick skin – and you’re right, if you want to be a writer, you probably don’t want that.

  10. rossmurray1 says:

    I look forward to talking to you someday in person. I really don’t say much so it’ll all work out.

  11. Paul says:

    Ah, words. They mean so much or can mean so little. According to the Bible it was the Word that created the universe. An interesting choice of terms by the framers of that scripture. Words are so often the sole link between our thoughts and our actions. As such they can represent all our actions.

    That graphic of the prism on Pink Floyd’s album is interesting. It represents the gestalt nature of our universe. Take one ray of white light and it can be broken out into multiple individual colored rays of light. How all those colors can combine and make something colorless is fascinating. Interestingly enough, I am of the persuasion of those who believe that when the supreme being created the universe (Big Bang – Sheldon Cooper- Ha!) He dis-associated (dis-integrated)part of Himself to create all that we are and all we see around us. In other words we is made of God. I see it as our job to reverse engineer what is here, to put it back together to move back towards God. That said, the prism is often observed left to right – as it is represented above. Because it represents the gestalt nature of our universe, it has metaphorical meaning when read the other way as well. In fact if you equated each colored ray of light with an individual then the prism becomes a leader who assembles all the inputs into a coherent beam of white understanding that shines light onto all sorts of mysteries. I once put together a whole presentation on that – along with a small prism for each participant (clear plastic ones I got from the science museum gift shop and had cut and polished by a local shop)./

    Anyways, I ramble – great post Rutabaga. 😀

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