When faced with difficulty, many people in treatment find themselves holding on too tightly to the things that seem to be bringing them the most comfort; however, in all actuality, all they are doing is holding themselves back from the great possibilities that may lie ahead.
Often times, fear can have such a paralyzing effect that it prevents us from moving forward – from trying new things and stepping outside our comfort zones. At Sober College, clients are encouraged to try trapeze as an Emotional Intelligence (EIQ) activity… One designed to teach them to face their fears and to learn to let go.
Most recently, Sober College’s Women’s Program was invited to try the trapeze and found it to be just as fun and exciting as they expected. Standing 30-feet above ground on a narrow wooden plank, one client was able to face her extreme fear of heights. Though she was afraid to make the jump, her fellow peers and treatment team cheered her on and encouraged her to take flight. As she took the leap into uncertainty, her expression changed from one full of fear to one full of smiles and exhilaration. Met with cheers and encouraging words, this young girl felt pride and accomplishment at having finally faced one of her greatest fears.
For another client, climbing up the shaky ladder was the toughest part. “Once I got to the top, I knew there was no turning back and the best was yet to come!” Her excitement was obvious – and contagious – as she gripped the first bar tightly. When the teacher yelled, “GO!” she flew through the air and made the transition into the hands of the trained trapeze artist hanging upside down. As she swung with him, the difficult task of transitioning back to the bar she had just let go of lay ahead. She was able to trust in his experience and let go of his hands when she was told to, spinning herself around to catch the approaching bar with grace. As she caught the bar, she screamed with excitement and returned to the ground to cheers and kind words from her housemates.
One client spoke of how time seemed to slow down as she was flying from one bar to the next; how she became hyperaware of what was happening, what she needed to do and the upcoming transition into the hands of the trapeze artist swinging towards her on the other bar.
It is in these moments of transition, that we find a change in our perspectives. Fear is no longer present, and what were initial, paralyzing feelings are replaced by a new synchronicity with the task at hand and the goal in mind.
Trapeze helps clients come face-to-face with some of their fears, while also allowing them to experience emotions they may not have felt throughout their active addictions. They are filled with the innocence and wonder they seemed to have lost touch with since they were children. Additionally, clients are taught – in an exciting way – that sometimes in life, they must “let go of the bar” and trust in someone who may have more experience than them.
In trapeze, a transition occurs when the trapeze artist hurls him or herself from one bar to the next. In life, we possess the potential for the most growth when we learn to let go of the old and to grab onto something new. Sometimes, we must hurtle ourselves across some brief span of space or time until we find the next metaphorical bar … But when we do find it, we open our worlds to an entirely new realm of possibilities. In the words of the author André Gide, “We cannot discover new oceans unless we have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
Written by: Jeremy is Sober College’s Marketing Intern and currently a resident in our sober living program.