Saturday, October 22, 2011

role playing

Photo image from

"For the traumatized child, life becomes a long, drawn-out crisis. In a psychological phenomenon called hypervigilance, the traumatized child spends most of her time on the lookout for trouble, and as a result, will easily be triggered into fear, anxiety, and depression. Fear increases the level of cortisol, causing chronic tension and anxiety; it can become a frightening, out-of-control vicious cycle." -- Lisa J. Lehr

The big day had arrived.  I had been interviewed as a volunteer counsellor and had been accepted. Finally, the day of the workshop came, the kind where you don’t know you collapse until it’s all over.  When I least expected it, I suffered one of those notable attacks of anxiety, before a group of total strangers.  It happened during an innocent role playing activity, the kind I sought so hard to avoid. What everyone else saw as a mere exercise, loomed large as a life-threatening situation.

I had the misfortune of playing the role of a supposed "wise and experienced" counselor while applying some newly learned therapeutic techniques. I felt like an oxymoron.  As was my custom -- when it came to dramatization -- I went into a tail spin and crashed. My mind went foggy. I felt rigidly self-conscious, insecure and defeated even before I began. It was altogether disorienting.

Nevertheless, when leaving the workshop, I sensed a strange combination of relief and exhaustion. Although my temples pulsated with a dull ache, what surprised me was my ability to reframe the event. I became acutely aware how altered I felt. Before I would feel the urgent need to defend my blundering performance; write the supervisor a long e-mail to apologize and all sorts of other gymnastics, but this time I felt an inexplicable calm. This time I accepted my actions knowing I had done my best in spite of torped fits of momentary panic.
-- intuitivefeeling

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