Stepping out of Numbness

This is it! No way he’ll miss. Chelsea’s captain. I don’t like him which means he’s even more likely to score. Aw well! It’s been a good night’s crack. There’s more to life… Always next year… At least we won the league again this year…


Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatttttttttttt!!!! He’s slipped! Oh my goodness he’s slipped and hit the post. No freaking way!!!!!!! Did that seriously just happen? This isn’t over yet.

My memory of that night as a 15 year old in ‘JIMS’ youth centre watching the final on a big screen are a little patchy. I don’t remember Ronaldo’s goal, Lampard’s equaliser or Drogba’s red card. But I remember that slip. I remember going absolutely nuts! Never before had the difference between a step and a slip been so pronounced.


No doubt his heart was pounding and the adrenaline was coursing through his veins. Yet John Terry was able to complete each step from his team on the half way line to the penalty spot. He placed the ball. Took a few steps backwards. Then he composed himself. Completed the steps of his run up. Yet the final most crucial step was not a step. It became a slip. And that is all that history will remember. Terry was in control of each step. But not that one slip.


Call me pedantic but words matter to me. I attach particular words and phrases to significant parts of my life. Being able to verbalize and accurately communicate is a significant part of me feeling like me. Which is why “slipping into numbness” is followed by “stepping out from numbness.” It didn’t feel like I consciously stepped into numbness – I slipped as a safety mechanism. It also doesn’t feel like I slipped out of numbness. That had to be a conscious step!


SLIP IN     >>>>>    NUMBNESS     >>>>>     STEP OUT



Ask anyone who’s ever fallen on a set of stairs the difference between a slip and a step. Simple. Control. To take steps is to be in control. You are dictating your path, one foot in front of the other. Everything’s tickety – boo, you’re smelling roses and you’re sucking diesel. (perhaps google if you’re not Irish) Chances are you’ve forgotten you’re even taking steps. Then it happens. The slip, the fall, the shock, the panic, the quick scan of the room, the “oh my goodness did that guy over there see my underwear?” Then the questions… How did that happen? Was the floor wet? Was I tripped by an army of ants? “Ah guys, guys oh my gaaaash, it’s the shoes, I’m still breaking them in…”


Often times though you don’t get the concise answer you want. There is no simple explanation. It kinda just happened. I mean John Terry took the same run up as the nine previous guys. Same grass, same nets, same ball. A unique slip.


The most important part of a person’s slip however is not the floor surface, the shame or the shock but it’s the subsequent steps. It’s the process of getting up off the floor, literally or figuratively, and taking that first step again. You are not defined by your greatest slip or your biggest mistake.

And neither am I.

Hear that Darren?

You are not defined by your greatest slip!

Get off the floor,

Step out of numbness

And live your damn life.



OK, that’s cool… Eureka moment. I’m in this state of numbness. Now all I have do is step out of it. Genius! I should write a book.


That was sarcasm. Hopefully you sensed the tone. You see for me stepping out of something I slipped into has been a tricky process. I haven’t quite got the 4 step manual nailed down or the “ripped in six weeks” transformation guide sussed.  So read this list as a collection of things I’ve done or am doing or want to do or need to do more or struggle to do sometimes or desire to do or know I should do. In lay mans terms they’ve helped me. They might help you. They might not.



> See the Dick


So sometimes you just have to use the most appropriate word. This is one of those times. You see in becoming numb I turned into a cynic.  Didn’t accept praise, didn’t see the good in people, judged everyone, hosted regular pity parties for myself, didn’t help people. Just general dick like behaviour. First step out of numbness was looking in the mirror and seeing the biggest dick in the reflection was me. And saying “Frig this, time to step!”


> Eat Stuff


Anyone who has ever made any kind of progress with an eating disorder (no matter how small) will appreciate this. Eating stuff helps. Apparently when you keep food down consistently that equals energy which then equals the ability to think clearer and do stuff. Game changer. Food helps! Who knew?


> Listen to Stuff


I love music. I listen to it more now. It helps me. That’s basically it.


> Be a now kind of person


Challenge for tomorrow. Analyse the conversations you have with people and see how many people are now kind of people. My guess – not many. Everything is geared towards the past or the future. The past can hold shame, regrets and paralyzing mistakes that can prevent us having joy in the now. The future is all about the next deadline, the next meeting, the next Facebook update. Things like engaging a stranger in conversation, listening to nature or meditating seem unachievable.


I struggle to be a now person. I wrestle with shame about past mistakes. I ruminate and ruminate about who I am, what I believe and where I’ll be in the future. All of these combined have prevented my from being present. But you see these are thoughts. Doubts about God don’t prevent me being kind to another person. Making a hash brown of university (despite being academic) doesn’t stop me making a kid laugh. I wanna live presently. Enjoy moments for what they are. Feel pain for what it is when it comes. Not just construct it in my mind.


> Be spontaneous, ridiculous and impulsive!


Here see that thing that you always put off or you’re too scared to do. What if you did it? What if you booked that flight? Kissed that girl or guy? Booked that course? Joined that gym? Gave away that money on a whim? Spoke up for what was right? Squeezed that spot? What if you took that step? Sure if that step becomes a slip, you could always get up again and take another step. I’ve heard there’s no limit to the mistakes you can step out from. Try it.


I wanna smash numbness

I wanna feel alive

That’s it.


Darren Shields

Healing through Honesty

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