I was speaking to another circus mom the other day and she mentioned enjoying flying trapeze because of the adrenalin rush. I was shocked. “Oh man! Adrenalin rush – GAH! I do NOT have an enjoyable relationship with adrenalin!”
The exchange sent me reeling. As I felt into my obviously-triggered response, I remembered my 18-year-old self, a girl who traversed an ocean and a continent to attend college in NYC. I was SO excited! I saw myself roller blading in the streets of NYC every day for years. I LOVED IT! I remembered an even younger version of myself hopping right up on stage in front of hundreds of people to perform. I only felt thrill….no fear! “What happened to THAT girl?” I asked myself.
The answer came quickly, “September 11th happened to that girl.” And the release began with this awareness. I felt the tears flow as I allowed my psyche to travel into yet another pocket of grief. “Who would she have become? What would my life have been had that day never happened? Fucking Saudis ruined my life! Why is there so much hate in this world!?” The familiar puking up of thoughts was right there. As I have done so many times along my road of recovery, I let it all come. “The release is here Nekole, we may as well milk it for all it’s worth!”
I allowed the thoughts to pass through my mind the same way I was taught to do in meditation practice growing up. Ah ok—there is my body. The nausea in my tummy, the tension in my head, and the fog in my brain took my attention next. “Relax into it Nekole—the same way you do when getting a massage or stretching. Just let it all pass through and find a deeper sense of relaxation.” Ahhhh….yes….ok….. It was over within seconds. And the floodgates of gratitude opened. I felt my deeper sense of calm and beauty. I had just received another piece of myself from the abyss of trauma. Delicious.
As I sat there feeling into my newfound bliss, I had a deeper understanding of the fears I have been grappling with in my tumbling practice. Tumbling has been restoring my joy of adrenalin all along and I had no idea. My attraction to tumbling was as much a part of my recovery as knitting had been during the acute stages of my PTSD. Again, my body and my desires had taken me toward something my cerebral cortex hadn’t pieced together: tumbling. Who knew this would allow me to work yet another edge of my recovery?
Over and over again as my coaches have pushed me, I have felt those moments of frozen fear that force me to choose between action and no action; that’s the edge work. There is an amount of fear I allow only coaches to push me toward because coaches break my sense of isolation and allow me to see that my fear is not real. When I repeatedly practice a skill I am terrified of until I enjoy it, I am allowing myself to rewire both my brain and my relationship to the experience—I am recovering joy. And it’s working. Two weeks ago, I did three runs of round-off → back handspring → back tucks. There was barely any fear that day; I felt joy and elation, and could not wait to do them again. THIS is recovery!
It is 2015. We are approaching on the 14th anniversary of September 11th, 2001 and I am still recovering. My skills and practices keep me from the level of dysfunction I entered that beautiful fall morning when the sky was aflame and a mountain of steel and concrete threatened to topple me. My recovery is still a day-to-day practice that continues to bring me amazing gifts. Today, it appears that tumbling is helping me rediscover my joy in the adrenalin rush. How thrilling and as recovery always is – humbling!