Ignorance and Bliss

by Rebecca A. Watson on November 9, 2013

in habits, life, Recovery

About five years ago I was living alone in an apartment in downtown Minneapolis. I loved this place…it had such great energy and light. I had a cat.

Back then, when I was having a tough day I would grab a bottle (or two) of wine, a pack of smokes and a frozen pizza. I’d head home and watch a movie or stream countless episodes of Lost.

This was my version of comfort. No one would knock on my door. Dinner could be ready whenever I decided it was time. I could drink an entire bottle and break into the next one if I wanted. The pizza would last me for at least a day. I could light one cigarette with another; no one could judge me in my space.

Lately, for whatever reason, I have been looking back at these nights with a bit of longing. When I break it down, it isn’t so much that I want any of those things super badly. I never did like the feeling of being drunk, and smoking cigarrettes doesn’t appeal to me either. Although to be honest, I would eat a frozen pizza if I could get away with it.

frozen pizza

OMG seriously! Why do I love this stuff so much?

So what is it I want? I think it’s the feeling: the isolated cocoon I created for myself that made it easy to do what I wanted without worrying about anything. What I’m craving isΒ numbness.Β 

Since the age of 27 I promised myself that I would become the best person I could possibly be. Because of that promise I’ve done all sorts of awesome things, like moving across a continent with only a dream, running a 10k in Germany and drinking non-alcoholic beverages in France.

I really have worked my ass off to become a more enlightened human being. And that’s all well and good, until it’s not. With this sort of growth, you suddenly understand the meaning of ignorance is bliss.

It’s sort of like when a friend of ours sent us a disturbing video we didn’t see coming. We can’t un-see it. When you evolve into a more conscious person, it’s pretty tough to un-be that.

There is virtually nothing to complain about in my life. I am blessed in so many amazing ways. But that doesn’t mean that sometimes this world doesn’t come off as pretty raw. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to hide under the blankets until the unicorns come back.


The problem I have now is that I have all but eliminated (in my mind) any way to achieve that numbness, that cocoon of safety. I tell myself that cookies and running 5k will do it, but I know that it will never do the trick like a bottle of wine did. But I also know that the bottle of wine comes with icky side effects whereas the cookies can only do so much damage, especially when combined with a run.

Building a life on integrity and harmony is not as difficult as I thought it would be. It’s actually been really kinda fun and exciting: What could possibly happen next? I often wonder.

What has been hard for me are those moments when I pine for the days of clubbing until 2 a.m. with people I barely knew. Why on earth would I miss these self-destructive patterns?

And that’s just it. They are patterns, habits I have built my entire life. No, I wasn’t partying when I was eight-years-old, but I was seeking out attention from men even then. And while I didn’t start smoking until I was 16, I pretended I did when the air got cold enough for me to see my breath. I think the first time I did that was around 6.

So the question then becomes: Do I really want what I’ve been craving? If I found that feeling, or more accurately that unfeeling, would I really be happy? How could I if I’m feeling nothing? If I’m numb?

These new patterns are pushing me toward something better, greater: a place of freedom I have never experienced before. I know because I catch glimpses of it once in a while.

Suddenly a lamp post will be the most beautiful thing in the world. I’ll be riding my bike in town and be hit by a wave of gratitude so huge my eyes well with tears. These peaks into that new space? These feel like bliss. Like the way Vivaldi’s Summer Third Movement would taste if you made ice cream out of it.

ice cream fondue

Would I know that lamp post so intimately if I was cocooned in my Minneapolis brownstone, exhaling little wafts of death? Could I even begin to surf the invisible waves in life with a bottle of wine in my hand? The answer (duh) is no.

So I’m starting to think that the phrase needs to be updated. Consciousness is bliss? Evolution is bliss? Nah, not quite. Oh wait, I got it! This. This is bliss.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Elsa November 9, 2013 at 9:20 am

Chica- your journey is THIS. Let the new presence of gratitude envelope you any moment you find it. Life, and feeling even the darkest of our shadowed feelings…is good food for the soul.


Ms. Becca November 9, 2013 at 9:30 am

Thanks so much Elsa πŸ™‚ I’ll take any food for my soul…I just gotta remember that’s what it is when I’m going through it.


Lilly November 9, 2013 at 8:21 pm

My dear friend, you are doing so wonderfully and these questionings are quite normal. I think we can all relate to the desire sometimes to just numb the fuck out – to hide, to avoid. That is human and if you have, like we have, in the past leaned on drugs and alcohol (or food or sex or whatever) well, those are deeply ingrained patterns that are hard to change and of course those urges are going to pop up from time to time.

BUT, here’s the really cool thing. You aren’t doing that and just hiding. You aren’t just numbing out and not even questioning why you’re doing that (as I did for many years). You are changing and growing and challenging yourself and that’s just freaking awesome. That makes YOU freaking awesome. Even on those days that bliss eludes you. xoxo


Ms. Becca November 17, 2013 at 8:04 am

Lilly, you are so rad for your super nice comment πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for that! Hope all is well and guess what? YOU are freaking awesome πŸ˜‰


Nameless Here January 27, 2014 at 9:32 am

You describe that cocooning so well. That is my own issue. I love beer and ciggies and movies and no one to tell me I shouldn’t. It calls to me almost every night and it is a battle at times. I am glad for you that you are sober and happy. πŸ™‚


Rebecca A. Watson January 28, 2014 at 2:22 am

Mmmmmmm cocooning … it does seem to feel so good really. But honestly it just hides you from yourself and the stuff that’s in the way of making your life really good. But I still miss it sometimes. I guess that’s why once in a blue moon I’ll take a gluten and dairy enzyme and eat a frozen pizza with a coke πŸ™‚ Thanks for your compliments!!


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