I pulled a soft blanket over my shoulders, tucked my hands under the pillow and fell asleep. Sometime in the night, I woke up with my right hand and arm numb and hurting like Hades. Curling myself into a ball felt cozy at first but eventually cut enough circulation to my arm that my arm and hand “went to sleep.” Note to self: Don’t stay curled up so long you become numb.
It’s been about two years now, that I’ve lived a mostly secluded life because of health issues. First in LA, where I was pinned inside because air pollution inflamed my lungs and put my life at risk. then in Seattle, where it’s taken a year for my body to recover from the injury I did to it in LA with years of pollution. My world shrank as I curled into a ball to survive.
Safe to say, I’m not the only one who finds it hard to exit the cocoon and come back to life after a time of solitude. Folding in on ourselves is often an essential, life-saving strategy. It conserves our energy, lets our mind and body heal from illness or grief. It keeps us safe.
But staying like that for too long can cut us off, numb us, cause us to feel invisible and useless, and make it hard to re-engage. Butterflies struggle to emerge from their cocoon. My fingers tingle and ache as I wiggle them back to life. We hesitate to reach out friends, search for a new job, adapt to new circumstances, resume hobbies we used to enjoy.
I slept through my hand and arm going numb until it became too much to bear. I only acted when the pain awakened me. Then I rotated my shoulder and dangled my arm. Action, even minor, restored feeling and life.
We emerge slowly. Testing. Pushing through discomfort. Pausing. Starting again.
Feeling returns. Life flows again in fits and starts. Bit by bit, we wiggle our fingers, dry our wings, and begin to live again.