Confusing Intensity with Aliveness
There is a strange beauty and joy resulting from uncovering my avoidance strategies and allowing myself to feel the feelings behind them more fully.
As I elaborated on in an earlier post I can trace back quite a lot of symptoms and tensions in my current reality back to my youth where I had a less than optimal relationship with my peers. I often felt alone, guilty and carried a sense of wrongness and inadequacy. While my deepest longing was to be seen and appreciated I was too ashamed to show myself and and afraid of being the target of hostility even more. So I was hiding as much as possible and in turn reduced my outward expression and aliveness to a minimum. Inwardly this resulted in a state of disembodied numbness. And yet I yearned for feeling alive and expressing my energy.
In my early twenties I discovered the strategy (and only now identified it as such) that I can create a sense of aliveness through generating intensity in my life. Looking back I sense the deep longing for being more fully alive that opened me up to substances, ecstatic parties, sexual and polyamorous experiments, spiritual highs and other peak experiences.
While the intensity sure did give me a sense of aliveness in these moments it ultimately always led to a crash afterwards and therefore created a pattern of emotional peaks and valleys that was exhausting to say the least on the long haul. I had mistakenly equated intensity with aliveness. But since you can never get enough of what you don’t really need, this strategy requires constant repetition, ever greater highs and peaks to be still effective, leading to a longing, reaching ever beyond. My tendency to go beyond limits, long for transcendence and limitlessness turns out to not be just my soul striving for expansion but also my coping mechanism running away from what is right now.
It has been this sense of exhaustion and constant seeking that eventually drove me to the exploration of the aliveness in the mundane and everyday experiences of life. I found out that is just as lush and rich as the soaring flights into limitlessness and transcendence. However, this aliveness may be very different than what I’d expect or even want it to be. I find it in my body as whatever is present now – and that can be any of the emotions that want to be experienced. There is an aliveness in sadness, anger and fear as well and I had to let go my idea of happiness being numb to these sensations.
Giving up my attachment to intensity confronted me with a deep fear. It felt like jumping into an abyss and opening up to whatever may surface once I refrain from using the intensity-strategy to fully experience my feelings. I put myself on a diet of balance: no flirting outside my committed relationship, no substances, no porn, strictly reduced use of social media… and instead a diligently healthy nutrition, yoga, self-care and other grounding routines to generate structure and stability.
Sadness, fear and pain arose and I held myself through it, shared my experience with close friends and received a lot of emotional support and empathy.
And more and more I discovered a self-love, a care and an aliveness in my body. A tingling sensation, a vibrant flow of energy, ever present and available to my conscious awareness. An intensity in the stillness, a rich multi-layered ecosystem of emotions and sensations. At times I feel it like roots grounding me deep into the earth and branches reaching up into the sky.
Balancing the intensity of outer experiences opens me up more to the emotional intensity and invites me to embody deeper sources of experience. And I sense the freedom to engage with the outside manifestation in a new way: Coming from a place of already having enough opens me up to enjoy the beauty and intensity of the worldly matters even more and in an unattached way. I move more to a place of giving than searching, creating more than wanting and trusting more than fearing.