This is a story of a seemingly normal woman (me) who discovered she was an adrenaline junkie.
Maybe you are one too. Maybe, like me, it can save your sanity in tough times and lead to the blossoming of creativity.
You likely aren’t a bungee jumper or skydiver. I certainly am not one.
Most adrenaline seekers probably are not seen as the stereotypical, death-defying risk taker.
Yet, ask yourself this. Is it possible you feel more aware and alive when facing drama and stress or intense experiences?
You heart might pound a little harder and you might smile when faced with
You might feel curious or shyly eager when you visit
Cultures different than your own
Places that are visually interesting.
You might feel nervously gung-ho when
Learning a new skill
Facing a challenge.
You might find energy and importance in
Doing something with social value
Listening to other people’s problems
Remembering intense experiences
AM I REALLY AN ADRENALINE SEEKER?
Are you still wondering if you seek adrenaline-filled situations?
I was asked these additional questions when I wasn’t sure.
Is boredom to you possibly the absence of intense experiences or challenges?
Do you sometimes mistake being relaxed as being exhausted or unmotivated?
Do you banish sadness with action?
Do you shut down other tough emotions by tackling other people’s needs or watching high action films?
Or buying clothes? Or rearranging your house? Or eating spicy foods? Or running or painting or passion? Or dying your hair?
Being this way is not bad or good…. It just is.
CAN SEEKING ADRENALINE-FILLED EXPERIENCES BE HELPFUL?
The questions I came to face were two fold. Was being an adrenaline junkie effective? Did it enhance my life?
Yes it can be effective and absolutely it adds to the quality of my life.
Not right away of course. I learned some valuable lessons during tragic times in my life.
I learned how to use intense experiences to add to the quality of my life.
I learned how to not use intense experiences to avoid the tough emotions and losses of life.
THE TRAGIC TIMES AND THE AWAKENING
My home burned down and my first husband was diagnosed with and died of a brain tumor all within a 15 month period.
I remembering thinking after our home burned down that at least we were all healthy and well. Five months after the house fire we faced the realization that Bruce was terminally ill.
It was definitely an intense, adrenaline-filled time.
We were living in a tent while we built a structure for Bruce to spend his last days. We dealt with buying plates and beds, roofing, doctors, medications, bills and eventually hospice.
I could have become lost in the storm of things to do, the intensity numbing me to the loss that was surrounding me.
My sons and several friends taught me to find balance.
I needed to deal with the issues at hand, they said. Doing SOMETHING made me feel energized and functional.
The adrenaline from dealing with crises had a side benefit. It gave me a dose of needed numbness now and then.
They reminded me, though, to also seek the intensity of life.
That would help me feel alive and capable over time … and allow me to not live in numbness forever, they said.
Focus on the color and beauty of planting flowers, my son Adam said.
Take a lesson from your grandchildren and play on the swing in the old tree, my son Ryan said.
“Come on, let’s go to the ocean,” my sons Robin and Toby said.” It will feel good to see the waves and the seagulls.”
EMBRACING BOTH THE PEAKS AND VALLEYS OF LIFE
I thought about what they said as the days passed and Bruce’s time here was drawing to a close.
I found that every time we made a point of deliberately creating intense, life-affirming experiences we also created joy.
We went to Crater Lake, we planted flowers, we played in the snow.
Our new house was the barest of covering but we made a point of stopping to play music and hug our grandchildren.
We laughed at the songs and the food cooked on a camp stove.
Even Bruce wanted me to live fully and share beauty with him.
“Paint pictures,” Bruce said over and over. “I like to watch you paint.”
LIVING FULLY IN THE NEW NORMAL Looking back at that time as Bruce was dying I realize that I learned to balance the intensity of things that were pressing (medical, house building) with the intensity of life-affirming experiences.
Twelve years, twelve full years, have passed since Bruce died. The gifts of that time have transformed me and my world.
I understand now that adrenaline seeking works for me, as long as it is for enhancing life, not avoiding. It has fostered my creativity, adventure and laughter.
It has helped me deal with the death of my son Robin, two major surgeries, a landslide, a forest fire, my new husband’s serious medical crisis ( he is healing well), and the joys of a growing and traveling family.
I am fully alive, tears and all.