In adrenaline, I thrive. I am addicted to it. I appreciate it. The beating in my chest, the sweating of my palms, the racing of my thoughts, the thrill of risk and chance, all remind me that I am alive. If my brain is connecting solutions, thoughts, movements and my senses are simultaneously stimulated, only then do I know that I am fully functioning, fully living. Adrenaline, in the sense of adventure-diving, bungee jumping, zip lining, cliff jumping-offers experiences on the opposite side of the pangolin from every day life. So, sign me up because I get bored with life, with routine, with the “grey” area. I love the activities that people around might shrug away from and precisely for that reason. I love proving to myself that I can experience these extremes, that I can feel fear and excitement, uncertainly and overwhelming joy all at the same. That I can do what scares me and enjoy it, love it actually. This rings true for many of my behaviors as well. Cutting, running for miles with numbed legs, purging despite chest pains, all bring that feeling of stimulation. They are behaviors that people may associate fear with, that I associate fear with. And it is in that element of fear that I find them painfully alluring. I know fear. I understand fear. I grew up with circumstances that forced you to learn to welcome fear. To sit with it. To hold it. To smell it. Perhaps my fascination with fear derives from my personal opinions and the idea that in doing such things I am, in fact, announcing to everyone that “those situations did not hurt me.” I liked them. I held them. I thrived on them because I thrive on adrenaline. My past and my behaviors are just like the sports I love. Just like diving with sharks and zip lining in the mountains and bungee jumping in Peru and cliff jumping into a rapid river, they offer an extreme experience. A stream of sweats and heart palpitations and dizzy thoughts. An adrenaline rush.
In chaos, I live. No problem. Doesn’t faze me. Routine, normalcy for all I am concerned. But that is just outwardly. My insides, on the other hand, get pretty affected. I can feel my chest tighten and my heart start to race. Then when my emotions rise and I work to suppress/ignore them, the shaking internally ensues and now this internal shakiness translates externally as well. (Meaning my legs shake a lot and I can’t control them.)
Chaos, this I have learned to welcome it into my life, to make room for it, to change what I need/want/feel in order to allow for it to rest beside me. In the same way that fear was forcibly present in my life, chaos made a permanent residency. Chaos was, in fact, the foundation for the fear, the platform on which it rested. It is in the crashing waves caused by the initial eruption that the fear became a tangible force in the equation. Something I could touch and hold and, yes, smell.
But what if these two dominant factors of my life were to dissipate? What if chaos and fear took a back seat to, say, stability? What kind of a person would I be if my environment were no longer dictated by the dysfunction of my extended family or the fear instilled in my mind? What would my life look like? What would I look like?
In stability, I thrive. Initially I laughed at myself for even writing this. Stability sounds like such a dull and boring state of being- nothing rapidly changing, no risk, no fear, just allowing things to be. But, also somewhere deep down inside of me, I found a rush of peace flood my mind as I thought of being stable. So much could be achieved if the ground on which I walked wasn’t constantly shifting. I would know where I was going and have control of what I did. My body. Yes, my body. It wouldn’t be changing all the time. I would have time to see it, listen to it, and get to know it. What a terrifying thought! Getting to know my body. Without the constant rise and fall of my weight there are no medical concerns or distracting behaviors to hide the shame I feel inside. It is there. The hurt my body has experienced is out and raw and not protected by fear or adrenaline or chaos or anything else. If I were to rest in a place of stability then my body would as well. And if my body were to rest there, then I would have to confront the pain that comes with being in my body and why it disgusts me so much. I would have to enter into the headspace that sends me spiraling downward. I would have to confront the truth about my weight. That it is what it is and I cannot/should not do anything to change it. Every time I have had a conversation around my weight with anyone, especially my treatment team, it nearly always brings me to tears. Nothing else has quite the effect that the idea of weight and stability do to my thoughts. Something deep inside my gut leaps into my throat and says no no no no. We cannot stay here. We cannot stay in this body. Help! Let me out! I am scared.
And there it is again, this topic of fear. Could it be that I am fearful of stability or am I fearful of what I do not know? Because it is true, I don’t know what stability looks like. Every time I have gotten near to a place of stability I have run as fast as I could in the other direction. Stay here? No thanks, not a chance. And why is it that I don’t wish to stay in that place? I don’t know that I have a clear answer. After all, I feel like I am in that place again. Where I am getting fearful of staying, where I am thinking of leaving the nearly, but not entirely, solid ground on which I am standing. And my intention right now for even inviting in that possibility of fleeing is to comfort myself in knowing there are other options, that if it gets too unbearable I can choose chaos and adrenaline again. I can choose to push my weight around. I can do all those things, yet I know where they end up. This path, this path of supposed stability is the only one I have not found the courage to keep walking down. I have walked by it. I have thought about it. But never, until now, began down it.
To me this path of stability means monotone. It means blasé. It means nothing exciting will happen this way. I will be alone in my body and my thoughts. I found some sense of comfort in the fear of my mind. An adrenaline rush in the chaos. That felt good. It felt like home. Then, I translated that chaos into my own body with behaviors and self-destruction because I felt familiar with the idea of erupting volcanoes and dangerous situations more so than contentment and consistency. Abuse was reflected in my health. My unworthiness was reflected in my size. All these factors made sense. They all served me in some way.
How then can stability serve me? It can in ways of knowing. Knowing I have choice about when I get up, what classes I choose, who I see and who I don’t, what I eat, what I wear, what I say or don’t. Knowing that my body is okay, that I am not shrinking or expanding, that I am going to eat today despite emotions or my overwhelming sense of unworthiness, that I won’t work my body too hard or neglect to work it at all, understanding the body in which I live. Know, also, that my environment is subject to shifts. That meetings may change, that classes may be cancelled, that groups will gradually decrease and that those changes are okay. They are not grounded in fear, but grounded in contentment. Content with myself and how I will react. Stability does not mean I have to become monotone or unexciting. It does not mean that I can’t also thrive on adrenaline. For, adrenaline and adventure can be a part of a stable life. But in a stable state of being, self-destruction will no longer be a factor of adrenaline. Rather, it will solely consist of extreme sports and activities that allow what I call body awakenings (The fleeting moments, in which I connect with my mind, body, and spirit.) to happen. After all, in awakening my body and knowing my body perhaps I can continue on this path of stability that I have previously found little strength to venture down.