Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Living with Intensity

This post is brought to you by serendipity. This weekend I have been thinking about the potential value in living an intentionally dialectic/bipolar life as well as questioning how to give the guys I work with an intense physical outlet for intense emotions. These thoughts are coming together based on a series of conversations, emotions and events.

The past week at work included hearing some tough stories and playing a role in some tough decisions as well as a boost in awareness of the seriousness of my job. While being a kind of "holder of horrors" is by no means boring, it's also not really all that pleasant. By Friday last week, I was toast: burned and a little sad.

Coincidentally, I had an amazing weekend planned that happened to be far outside my normal methods of blowing off steam: pure physicality, adrenaline and a hefty dose of absolute terror. First, I did this...

video
My First Trapeze Lesson

I was shocked when I saw this video, because this didn't feel like it looks at all. It felt a little awkward and very scary. I shook. I felt dizzy. I thought I might throw up and it was all amazing. I dropped every other stressor I have ever had. There was nothing else in the universe but my body, fear and the rush of pushing through extremes. 

On Sunday I trained with the local roller derby team. The last time I wore quad skates, they had Cabbage Patch Dolls on the sides, so again I was awkward, a little scared and forced to focus on nothing but my body and not smashing my teeth in. It was awesome. I don't actually do roller derby, but what I think is great about it is the release of an alter-ego. One can do her yoga, her human-services job or volunteer during the day, be of a gentle-mind and carry the weight of others' trauma then come derby time become someone named Sadie Masochist, wear a helmet with skulls and blood, elbow other women in the ribs while moving at high speeds, laugh and compare bruises later. We don't get a lot of appropriate outlets for rage and the giant emotions in our culture. Maybe we should... Maybe intense emotions call for intense sensations and it's just a matter of finding something that allows a release without making things worse. Intensity can be a good thing.

Therapy-wise, I have been trying to notice when my guys have the roughest times as well as noticing the intensity of coping tools don't usually match the intensity of an emotion or behavior and therefore really take a whole lot of self-awareness and control, which my guys don't often have, to work. I'm wondering about finding activities, artistic and otherwise, that lend themselves to huge feelings. Something that is safe and doable but big.