"Is this Peace? Or am I numb?"

"Is this peace?  Or am I numb?"

You know that feeling when you float on the surface of the ocean?  When your ears stay below the surface of the water and hear that loud silence, but your eyes can still open and see.  Weightless. No parts of your body ache or request attention. No reminders from a snug pair of pants to remind you of that weight you haven’t lost yet.  No achy feet from being upright all day. No tingle in that spot where your shoulder meets the base of your neck to remind you of the tension built after weeks, months or years of giving your physical, mental and emotional self with little-to-no self-care.  No gravity. No burden. You just float. In that vastness. Belly and palms up to the heavens as the gentle hills of water pass beneath you, rocking you into a state of incredible calm. When your body surrenders to the physical memory of being rocked as a baby.

That’s the equivalent of the spiritual state I’ve landed in after five years of conditioning.  Five years of breaking down the illusion of control, in some cases having it ripped from my fingers, in others it being surrendered willingly, falling from my hands.  Five years of heartache and miracles. Five years of isolation. Five years of small grief cycles as I mourn the loss of whatever I used to want. Mourning that makes space for something better.

Five years ago I became a mother.

Five years ago my husband became sober…. And then massively depressed.

Five years ago we stumbled into the dying church of Roman Catholicism, a stark contrast from our soft, liberal roots.

Five years ago we moved out to the country and spent many years in relative isolation.

All of these things brought heartbreak and beauty to my life.  All of the change in combination with the solitude, where I was alone with my thoughts and prayers a lot, led me to hunger for peace.  My priority became creating a bubble where the unexpected couldn’t penetrate the serenity I was fostering in my soul. I realized rather than toiling away for the purpose of avoiding the storm, water-proofing and taking out insurance policies on my valuables and things I’d work hard for, I needed to toil away at finding a peace that cannot be rocked by life’s inevitable disappointments.  A peace that remains even if the ship sinks along with all I love in this world.

Motherhood stripped me down to my studs and rebuilt me board by board.

Walking beside mental illness led me to his to dark places, forcing me to teach myself how to build a fire big enough to warm both of us.

Entering into Catholicism and it’s enchanting mystery, leaving behind my liberal upbringing, meant questioning all I had come to know about my place in the world, about God, and start over.

Moving to the country meant we were all we had.  We were surrounded by external beauty, experiencing internal turmoil, with only the walls to turn to for comfort.

This seed of peace was planted five years ago and has gradually grown deeper and taller to the point where I am now emotionally floating.  It feels like peace. I hope it is peace. But I also fear there’s some element of numbing that has happened. Addicts use drugs and alcohol to numb, the rest of us use things like social media, pop culture, video games, luxury, 24 hours news and busyness.  The criticism of any of these forms of self-medication is that you cannot target only the areas you want. Numbing techniques like this cannot be concentrated on one aspect of our body, mind or our past. We cannot numb to avoid the creeping and torturous side affects of sexual abuse, without also numbing the part of you that longs for community and relationships.  We cannot numb to avoid the broken heart from a parent who abandoned us without also numbing the desire to take care of ourselves and be a better parent to our own offspring.

So am I at peace or am I numb?  Or am I just sleep deprived.

I want community and kinship.  I want to research my family lineage and travel to see the places my people came from.  I want to be a writer. I want to be a photographer using her camera to benefit humanity in some way. I want to do mission work. But my energy falls short as soon as I step beyond the thought of all of these things.  So could it be that this peace is in fact a numbness? I feel cutoff from the belief that I in fact could do any of these things.


Is it true that delayed obedience is, in fact, disobedience?  If it is, well, shoot.

So here goes nothing.  Today I write. Because I have a healthy fear that my voice will die when I do.  And sometimes habits only form when you manage to fake it long enough. So instead of napping while my kids napped like my body wanted to, I wrote this because my soul wanted to. Perhaps it was for you. Are you numbing?  Or are you at peace? If you are experiencing unrest, I pray that you find a peace that surpasses human understanding, AND I pray you’ll be patient enough to wait for it. I pray you won’t seek out ways to numb that pain. Pain is the crack in our armor that gives God a chance to enter in and work his magic.  Also, therapy can be a lifesaver. 
Written by
Emily Hennessee

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