I recently compared returning from Ghana to the sensation of trying to stand up and walk after both of your feet have fallen asleep. Though I was met with a blank stare, I still stand by my analogy.
I have a tendency to sit in ways which cause my feet to fall asleep. (I blame this on being short and having legs that don’t always touch the ground because the chairs are too tall.) There is always that feeling of numbness that sets in first. Then the realization of what is coming. As soon as I move, my feet will experience pain. Pins-and-needles. Biting ants. Call it what you want. It isn’t pleasant. One solution that I have employed many times is to simply not move. As long as I don’t move, there is no pain. The problem with this solution is it is very temporary. Eventually, I get hungry or someone comes to the door or the phone rings. Something will happen to cause me to need to move. When I move…pain.
For a variety of reasons, while I was in Ghana I realized my emotions in many ways had fallen asleep and a certain numbness had set in. This happened long before I arrived in Ghana. Apparently, it took going to Africa for me to figure it out. (People told me going to Africa would change me. I didn’t count on how much or how quickly.)
When I returned to Japan, I knew I had a choice. I could metaphorically move and wake up my emotions again or I could continue as I was and ignore the numbness.
I have come to realize there are different kinds of pain. Some is destructive and some is healing. The pins-and-needles pain of having blood rush back into your limbs is a healing kind of pain. It is also a very quick pain. Afterward, it means all kinds of benefits associated with mobility. It is so simple, yet I hesitate because I am afraid of the temporary pain.
Shortly after I got back to Japan I made the decision to do whatever it took to start feeling again. Step one was to take post-it notes and write all the different thoughts scattered in my brain and sort them by larger topics. These have stayed on my closet door for the last month. I have prayed. I have cried many of the tears that just didn’t come in the last year. I have been honest about the answers to many of the questions I wrote on those post-it note. It was painful, yes. It was also the healing kind of painful.
It has been four weeks. During this time life is returning to my heart. Joy and passion are growing. I am able to start thinking about the future. I have by no means answered all of my questions, but something in me has changed. I am no longer sitting immobilized both by the numbness and fear of pain. The benefits of this mobility are even stronger than those of physical mobility. This also was ultimately simple, it just took enough courage to face the temporary pain.