Why Numbing Yourself Doesn’t Work

Six shots on a Wednesday night.

Taking an extra anti-anxiety pill.

Consuming an entire tub of ice-cream in one sitting.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all engaged in destructive behavior to escape ourselves, our worries, etc. But most of us also know self-sabotage doesn’t work. It only masks our feelings. It might even trick us into momentary bliss.

I used to believe that I could numb myself into forgetting the past. During my freshman and sophomore years of college I thought that by throwing myself into heavy partying and (unhealthy) relationships, I’d forget the trauma of being sexually assaulted. It didn’t work. In fact, it made things tremendously worse.

For seven years I battled anxiety and agoraphobia and partying became my escape. I drank until I blacked out. I was easily angered and intensely unhappy. I moved from city to city. I had no idea I was running from myself.

A couple of years ago, after having a massive binge that ended in an ugly fight with someone I care deeply about, I realized I had a serious problem and nothing I was doing would fix it. I was at a crossroads: continue down the same path and end up in jail or worse, OR, face my demons head on. I chose the latter.

“Hiding from difficult internal issues will not make them disappear.”

Reality wasn’t easy to deal with at first, which is normal when you’ve worked hard to avoid it for so long.

It took a lot for me to understand what I had been running from. Once I understood what I was trying to avoid – feelings of hurt, vulnerability, rejection – I was able to accept what happened to me. I decided to embrace it rather than treat it like a monster I had to hide from.

I want you to know that hiding from difficult internal issues will not make them disappear.

It isn’t the easy stuff that defines you. It also isn’t the easy stuff that makes you a strong and interesting person. The difficult things shape you and smooth out your edges. It’s the cuts, the battle scars, the extreme heat of fire that perfects glass.

Stop numbing yourself. Stop blaming yourself. Instead, accept and acknowledge your pain. Embrace yourself. It’s about time for you to heal and become your very own masterpiece.


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