Not Feeling

Imagine you've had a really, really bad day. Your boss told you your performance is not up to par; your significant other told you to lose weight or pack your bags; you got another call from the school about your kid; the dog chewed up your winning lottery ticket. You feel bad, you're in a pit of despair, you have no idea how to get out. Wallowing will make things worse, but swift action might save your day (and your relationship). So, what if there was a drug that would just turn off the feelings? All of them? And leave you to deal with reality in a practical, productive way?

There actually is such a drug. The reason not everybody is using it, as needed, whenever they need a break from themselves is because it's nasty stuff. And, in some sense, turning off emotions is somewhat of a side-effect. (Think of an asthma drug that's now responsible for 25% of all spam messages.)

So, you get on the drug. You get past the headaches and the nausea, the muscle tremors are minor, and you accept feeling like you've had five Long Island Ice teas before bed every morning at sunrise. You can do that, because the door has been closed. Your mind is quiet. The self-deprecatory voices have gone into hibernation, the maelstrom of turmoiling horrible feelings has evaporated, thoughts of imminent death will not trigger a hint of anxiety. You are calm, quiet, and composed. You go to work and you get stuff done. You spend the whole day negotiating with other people, and you are not exhausted by the time you pick up the kids; you even have energy for a game of Scrabble after dinner. Your friends and family remark on how much better you are to get along with, how balanced, how happy; you even play with the dog,

and laughter escapes from your chest before you know it.

So, you must be happy, right? But you can't tell. Because, you can't feel. For a couple of weeks, that's great. Like being on a vacation from yourself. Then you start noticing a disconnect. You can't feel other people in the room. You feel a kiss, and arousal in response, but no tingle that spreads from the tip of your tongue to the center of your stomach. You look at the sunset, and it's beautiful, and you recognize that with an abstract sense of being pleased, but the movies don't make you cry, jet skiing doesn't make you scream, because even when you race at breakneck speed, then rip around into a slip turn, over and over, you do not feel the fear and joy that together culminate into orgasmic exhilaration.

Instead, you feel "appreciation".

The last straw is on your way home. You drive along the highway, one of your favorite pieces of music comes on, and you feel--nothing. You dig inside yourself, you search for...something. You hit your thighs, pull your hair, claw at your face until blood runs into your eyes, finally, scream and scream and scream and scream. A wall raises before you. You hit the gas pedal and speed towards it, just to FEEL something.