Consumption is my go-to reaction to alleviate pain promptly. Eating, shopping, and talking, top the charts for numbing my discomfort. Whether I chomp on pretzels, purchase clothes online, or entertain the gift of gab, each act as refrains, helpful distractions from pain. Today I reached day’s end suddenly aware of the ache that existed during its duration. I leaned into the discomfort, surrendering to it as the sun set; it bowled me over into the fetal position. Crouched upon my bedroom floor, I recognized and reviewed the no-good, very bad day, and the weakness in me that neglected awareness sooner. Like a reel-to-reel, I relive the past day, as if observing it for the first time.

With subpar awareness, my fingers befriend Ben and Jerry, type the credit card number for purchase, click the Submit Order Button, and dial a friend’s phone number. Numbing discomfort by sugar cookies, sweet red grapes, and the taste of a tootsie roll banishes my distress for the short moments while the sugar rolls down my throat. Although I savor the taste, my immediate pain returns in short order searching for additional relief; alternative numbing agents do not deny my request. Finding the perfect, comfortable jeans and top alleviate my pain, as does a conversation with a friend. A spoonful of sugar is the medicine that goes down, churning out endorphins in mass quantities, that is, until a different feeling replaces the last morsel of food, spending, or word. Shame retaliates with feelings of not being strong enough to keep the pain at bay.

Consciousness arises, aware that self-destructive behavior overtook my senses, and negative consequences result for payment. My body desired equilibrium, escaping pain through modes that transfer pain to manageable acceptance. Throughout the day my arms flailed in the direction of the pantry, outstretched for foolish, unhealthy choices, an online clothing sale met my euphoric senses, and sharing in a friend’s drama removed my aches long enough for surviving awakened hours.

Unfortunately, desensitized moments of escape hardly constitute mindful, awakened moments. Instead, negative, numbing agents acted on my behalf as survivable mechanisms. Within this darkness, these old habits reduce discomfort, feel especially strong, comfortable, and friendly sorts aiding and abetting in mass consumption, band aiding, and icing a bruised body part. Aches suddenly pale in comparison and their strength accentuates the weakness in me. Yet are they so strong and I so weak? Altering our senses to awaken in the pain long before destructive behavior infiltrates and devours mindfulness is possible.

The pause between breaths enables me to feel the discomfort and make a new choice. Should the arm outstretched with a cookie in hand have clued me into my destructive descent? Might the clicking of the keyboard of my credit card number have jarred my awareness of alleviating pain? As I dialed a friend to escape my woes, did an animated bubble of my psyche appear in the ether stating, “Pain is the reason for this conversation. Feel it, breathe it, you are escaping your present reality.” Bringing awareness to the senses requires a pause long enough to analyze our actions to alter them. Without mindfulness, we cycle our way to the madness of escape, numbing the pain while our actions tear at our self-respect, our self-love, and eventual outcome.