When Numbing Out, Is Self Care...

Updated: May 31


Victorious Sisterhood: We welcome you to join us every Monday at 11 am PST, where we connect and notice the cycles of our lives. Each week through checking in, we can see how we are shifting and changing over time. We hold a protective and safe space for you to be in whatever season you are without judgment or comparative energy. We celebrate all seasons and welcome each woman's experience. Please register to join us tomorrow or a Monday soon that suits you best!


My eyes are puffy from crying, my heart heavy. I received a call from one of my dearest friends last night, her voice shook and trembled as she shared hard news that her mother is very ill. It's terminal. My dearest friend knows what lay ahead. She has been here many times before. She supported me as my Nanny and Grandpa died. They died 11 years apart, and oddly enough in the same room in Hospice. My friend slept in terrible hospital chairs overnight for several nights in a row, because I refused to leave them in their dying process. She has also helped her family members pass. This is no easy task. Many run far and fast from the process of death. Now my friend has the challenge and honor to walk her mother home. And she will do it with laughter, grace, shock, sadness, and all the emotions known to mankind. I can see her and her mom now laughing together and making memories even in the hardest of times, because that is what they do.


I am love and light person. I believe in all things manifestation, and reminding the mind to surrender to the heart. I teach present moment and forward living as my full-time passion purpose. A large component in how I support others is helping them find the honesty and humanity in holding both the light and the heavy. Because the two can not be separated.


One of the sayings I dislike the most goes a little something like this...if you bring yourself into the present moment, there is no suffering, no fear, no anxiety. They say there is only peace in the present moment. This is simply not true. I can think of a hundred scenarios where this does not apply. Sometimes the present moment is full of pain and suffering. Sometimes that pain is too much, and we disassociate. Sometimes we need to regulate our nervous system and break from being awake in the moment.

My advice to my best friend last night was to take some time to numb out on some Netflix. She was shot. I could hear it in her voice. I know what it is like to be in that place of immense grief and suffering, and sometimes you need to prioritize a break and that may include numbing practices, such a watching TV.



Holding it all is too much sometimes. There were many times as I helped my Nanny(my grandmother, and the woman who raised me)in her dying process, that I didn't know what day or times it was. I was sleep-deprived and the grief was overwhelming. My Nanny deserved a more peaceful death than she had. She always wished she would drop dead of a heart attack as her Mother did. Fast and quick. That was not the death she had. In the last few weeks of my Nanny's dying process, she was in a drug-induced coma. She could still hear us, but she was confined to her inner world as the doctors were trying to protect her from the pain. Although she was dying of cancer, it was the fluid filling in her lungs that took her life. I listened as she drowned in her own body, lying in a hospice bed for two weeks. That was the present moment. And it was full of suffering. This is the reality of this life. The present moment is not always pleasant and full of peace. Sometimes it is brutal. I think the Buddhists have it right. The first noble truth is that life is suffering. But! Or rather, AND, life is also the most beautiful joyful creative magical experience! Life is all things. It can be a messy painful joyful complex experience. It is the human experience.


Strengthening our capacity to open our hearts to the present moment, no matter what it is presenting, is where we can find richness, but not always. Sometimes, self-protection is the most loving thing we can do. Knowing ourselves is key. And self-forgiveness around dissociation is often the compassion third option.


We have to strengthen our nervous system to engage with the world from a heart-centered place. And even with mindful practice and training, every nervous system is going to require different self-care tools. And every nervous system will have been informed by the life already led.


It is has been helpful to me to understand my nervous system better. I can feel when I am hitting overwhelm, shock, fear, control, and I am better equipped now because of the honest self-investigation into my patterns of dissociation. I think in the mindfulness community there can be this blanket generalized belief that only peace is found in the present moment, and that we must train ourselves to find peace. I get it, I do! And this is my practice most days. But the heart of my practice is to be with whatever is presenting. And sometimes it is painful and full of the deepest suffering. And there are moments its too much. And for some, there is no love or joy in the horrifying experiences that have visited them. There are moments when dissociation is helpful to the nervous system. It is the natural way the nervous system protects us when our reality is too much to let in.


I know for myself that I need mindless breaks that allow me to numb out, and that's ok. I think what has been helpful, is knowing what numbing practices are helpful long-term and which are not. Truth really is approached by degrees and sometimes we need breaks from the reality we are facing.


Laughing is the best medicine. I used to feel guilty for looking for the funny even in the worse situations, but now I know it is a part of the way I cope. It is a nervous system reboot. I have in the past and know without a doubt that I will choose to offer my nervous system the breaks it needs as I journey through life. I may choose to numb out on a funny movie, call and friend and bullshit about nothing, for I know through my experience of life so far, sometimes we need distraction and even numbing to some degree. If we can be mindful about the way we numb, great. Mindful self care is great. But sometimes mindless self-care is helpful too. Being mindful about being mindless, is mindful too, isn't it?


My dearest friend is starting her journey into grief, shock, disassociation, love at the deepest level, sadness, heartbreak, anger, ALL of the emotions known to us, humans. And that is my point. We are human. And as much as we may want to transcend this human experience which is a paradoxical experience, accepting that it is messy and complicated may be the more compassionate approach. And accepting that some dissociation may be a part of the process. That is what shock and trauma do to us. Self-protection is a real thing. Not every present moment is nice to experience. The advice I gave my friend is to approach this next chapter one day at a time. Numb out on a good Netflix show when you can. Document what you can, when you can. Listen to all the stories, get them on film. Light a fire and open the flood gates of vulnerability.


Opening the heart to such devastating pain is no easy task. Especially when your nervous system has already been informed from a life led mostly in survival mode. We have to work with the nervous system we have. My other advice to my friend is to lay on the ground as much as possible. This practice helps us to land back in the body when we have flown the coop.


My friend knows what awaits her. To walk towards this kind of pain is pure courage. Opening the heart, managing the nervous system, finding the funny, soaking in hot water and oils, laying on the ground, being in the deepest pain known to the human heart, this is the road of being human. None of us will escape that pain. How can we hold both the heavy and the light? With support and love and friends that will sleep in hospital chairs with you. Friends that will mourn with you. Friends that will help you manage the nervous system.


We were never meant to isolate and manage our nervous systems on our own. We need each other to regulate. We are designed to be a collective.

No matter what suffering or joy or both may be in your present moment, know that you are not alone. Reach out to those around you.


In grief, joy, sadness, and love,

Patricia MacNeill




Victorious Sisterhood: We welcome you to join us every Monday at 11 am PST, where we connect and notice the cycles of our lives. Each week through checking in, we can see how we are shifting and changing over time. We hold a protective and safe space for you to be in whatever season you are without judgment or comparative energy. We celebrate all seasons and welcome each woman's experience. Please register to join us tomorrow or a Monday soon that suits you best!




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