The Excruciating Pain of Not Feeling


I've hurt before. I've hurt so hard that it felt like crushed glass piercing through my bloodstream, every waking second. I've hurt so much I wake up screaming when haunted memories stick a steak through my heart unannounced. I've hurt so much that I used to write pages and pages in my journal, turning my pain into words and then smudged them with tears.

And yet, and yet, I was somehow at peace.

It is odd, indeed. But when I was hurting, I felt completely in sync with who I was. I connected with myself on a deeper level, and I knew exactly who the heck I was. I knew what my core values were and I held on to them dearly. I knew what my pain was and I owned it completely. I felt powerful, even through the pain*. Because it was mine, and it was worth feeling.*

And now... and now, I am not hurting at all, and my life has been sailing smoothly for as long as I can remember. I've been working hard at my personal growth, day in and day out, and I am finally doing all the things I love. I am self-sabotaging a lot lot lot less, and I am healing from all the hurt that ever happened. But inner peace, oh she still eludes me. I just don't feel anything.

Inner Dreamer

On a lot of days, I am simply a product of my to-do lists, my habit tracker, or my planner. For very brief moments, on very auspicious days, I can channel my inner dreamer again to build my dreams for me, and she drafts up long term goals, and breaks them down to tasks and habits, and as quick and suddenly as she appears, she disappears without a trace... Leaving me behind with those blueprints for what she perceives will be the perfect life for me. And when she leaves, she also takes my heart with her. Snatches it right out of my ribcage, and she leaves remorselessly.

When my dreamer abandons me, she takes my heart with her. She takes my emotions with her. And so, I can't even properly feel the abandonment. I am simply a logical servant of her plans for me. They make perfect sense, they are sound in argument, so I follow them faithfully. So, yes. I have a wonderful life. I work hard to get all the habits right, I am as productive as I want to be, I do my chores, I do the paperwork, I pay the bills, I even do things that are rumored to have brought me joy in the past. But I just don't feel anything.

Wooden Chest

On most days, I am a fully functioning human with a wooden chest. There's a thick block of wood where love used to be, where a beating heart used to be. And that hurts. The pain of not able to feel anything, not even pain, that hurts. It's excruciating.

Why? Because you know what that means? It means I don't know what I care about. I don't know what I truly, madly, deeply value. If I don't know what I care about, then who the hell am I?

And these questions are haunting, and I sleep at 8pm on those days, because I don't want to face them, and I don't know the answers. I try listening to music that used to make me feel things, or movies that are brilliantly directed, and all I can do is appreciate them from an intellectual point of view but I still don't feel anything.

My Romantic

I've been a dreamer, a poetess, a romantic for as long as I can remember, these aren't just words to me, it's the color of my blood.

And now, without things to feel, I feel less and less like a romantic, and more and more like a fraud. I sometimes feel like a robot programmed perfectly to write what emotions could hypothetically feel like, and there's nothing inside me that translates that to actual feelings. And this hurts. The pain of not being able to feel is the only pain I've been feeling and it hurts. It may not be glass shards through my veins but it is a three hundred ton anvil dropped right on my heart and flattening it out of existence. And I carry that weight constantly with me. As a romantic, I used to be able to see beauty in everything, a book, a song, a bridge, a coffee... And now, I see beauty as ones and zeros, a rationalized concept, stripped of meaning, stripped of its flesh and skin.

I'm hanging by a thread, to this idea of me being a romantic, so fervently wanting to be one, yet I am met with the inability to simply be.

I don't know when I will feel with the ferocity of ten thousand white horses at sunrise... But I yearn for that day.


The pain of not being able to feel, and the yearning to feel.

Two distinct emotions. That's one more than when I started this article.

Maybe I do feel something, after all?


What's going on? How did I get here?

I've been working on transforming my whole identity. I was quite secure in my old identity and I was very attached to it. But several aspects of my values and beliefs were fundamentally flawed and I learnt some lessons the hard way. My actions had to change massively to make way for a new identity. My actions had to lead the way, leaving my beliefs and values to be reframed more gently, more delicately, more slowly, as letting my old ones go was difficult as I was so attached. So, my actions changed, my habits changed, my lifestyle changed. But there's still a major dissonance with my values and beliefs that haven't quite caught up yet.

I have faith that they will. Faith and patience.

I used to hurt a lot and know myself through and through. I used to know my soul, but I was deeply broken.

And now I have fixed my soul, healed it, and I'm functioning, and thriving, yet the cost I had to pay was my heart.

I don't believe it was a permanent cost, though. I think it'll come back. It has to, right!

If anyone finds my heart, please return to sender. I miss it truly, madly, deeply.


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