Updated: Aug 23
I have been stuck in a bit of a rut recently. Taking life very seriously. Consumed by work. The pressures of being a mum. My commitment to my clients, colleagues and so many new projects on the horizon.
‘be more playful’. My coach herself even as a home assignment gave me the task of being more playful and taking a break from all the seriousness of life.
I went trampolining with a friend and had some adventures zip lining on my recent trip to Costa Rica (where I had further training in in-person space holding)… all very worthwhile and supportive to me connecting to the fun and childlike part of myself.
However, when a colleague, Roy, said he would come and speak at The Sex Lectures and would like to run a Playfighting workshop I jumped at the chance to assist him. Roy and I have been looking for ways to collaborate and this was the perfect opportunity to see how we work together.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect if I’m honest. When we arrived I wasn’t even sure if I was going to participate in the play fighting. I was on my period, feeling very tender and my partner and I were going through a difficult time, so I felt quite vulnerable and not very in the place to be wrestling people.
As we got started though and listening to the apprehensive shares in the opening circle, it gave me comfort knowing that not everyone necessarily felt ‘prepared’ for the evening or even sure of what might happen. Sometimes stepping out of our comfort zone can bring really huge benefits.
Roy and another assistant demonstrated the rules. Boundaries, consent and communication are an important part of the practice, especially as many of us when it comes to being in close proximity to another human being never communicate our wants or boundaries. It was an excellent opportunity to get really clear on what felt comfortable, and what didn’t.
The fights were various from competitive wrestling to hilarious tickle fights, from sensual and erotic tussles to primal feline-inspired battles.
I had 2 fights. Both with very different flavours. As I stepped into the circle of people creating the human boundary I named my request, ‘I would like a non-competitive fight which takes me into my 5 year old self. I want to bring out my inner-child to play, get silly and giddy and laugh a lot’. A male-bodied person stepped into the ring and what a laugh. His silliness and willingness to lose his inhibitions supported my in also connecting to that part of myself. 5 year olds tend not to concern themselves too much about what others think, they follow their impulses what is deemed appropriate or not socially does not really come into their head. So the way we fought was more silliness, moves which to those holding the boundary were comical and entertaining as we found new ways to interact with giddiness with each other’s bodies. It was fun and I laughed a lot - my coach would be proud!
The second flavour… Through my own journey recently I have come to notice that in situations where other people display anger and maybe raise their voices, I tend to go quiet, or, I tend to fawn. Fawning is where you try to ‘make friends’ with the ‘potential threat’ by appeasing them so that you don’t get harmed. Although in reality the people getting angry would absolutely not harm me, this nervous system response that I had developed is a pattern that has been there since childhood when standing up for myself wasn’t really safe. It was safer to become the victim and make myself small. I have also over the last few months noticed my relationship to anger, which I’ve explored before. This time uncovering another layer. Since childhood when I have felt frustrated which has escalated to anger, instead of defending myself and standing up for myself in sympathetic fight response, again, my nervous system gets overwhelmed, flooded and I burst into tears. The tears aren’t sadness. They are unexpressed anger or rage that has felt safe enough to only be expressed through crying. I wanted to harness the power of my anger. To connect to it. Healthy uses of anger allow us to stand up for ourselves and place boundaries. Our anger allows us to stand up for others. It gives us the confidence for us to ask for what we want. Healthy anger is essential to mobilise us into action. I decided I wanted to fully experience not just my anger, but my rage.
So I stepped into the circle a second time. ‘I would like a male-bodied person to hold my rage. I want to express my anger and the other person not to fight back, but instead to contain it so I can fully let go.’ So a male-bodied person stepped in. We discussed our boundaries around how this would look. For me it was important that I could push away with my hands and my feet, I wanted to feel the resistance of the person containing me so I could allow my full body to really go all out in expression. The man agreed.
And so I tapped into it. I connected to the anger and allowed myself to push out, to growl, scream. I left all my inhibitions and connected to the wounded parts of me that had never felt fully seen or accepted and allowed them to come fully out in all their glory. Initially I had full encouragement from the circle of people, which then turned into silence. My brain came in with fears of ‘they are judging me’ and ‘my anger is too much’. I then flipped those stories on their head and thought to myself, ‘if they are judging me, how dare they’ and with that I connected even deeper into my belly and womb space for the rage to be unlocked.
After my ‘fight’ my fighting partner and I hugged - which felt reassuring, comforting and supportive. My sight was blurry and the saying ‘blind with anger’ felt so fitting. It took me sometime for my heartbeat to return to normal.
There were parts of me still in my head about it possibly being too much. Would I still be respected? What will people think of me? However, once the workshop ended, various female-bodied people approached me saying how beautiful it was to see me fully let go. How much they admired my ability to really be with rage without holding back. How they wished they could experience something similar. How they saw beauty in my authentic expression.
The shares were healing and comforting.
My inner-child in all her silliness, giddiness and socially inappropriate way of play was loved and accepted for exactly who she was.
My suppressed rage was welcomed and celebrated with admiration and awe.
I felt that the parts of me I had learnt to reject, to disconnect from, to feel uncomfortable expressing in front of others were in fact totally loved on.
I had set the intention for my fights and I had met myself lovingly there in a room full of people who held me so beautifully.
Who would have thought what a healing journey such a simple act of play could have brought to me.
I felt seen and fully accepted.
Check if there are already dates planned for Playfighting where you are, at this link here.
Playfighting is on tour! Register your details here to be updated with where and when we'll the touring the UK with this fun workshop!
Do you have a group of friends that would love this experience? Do you have a venue in mind? Reach out to me at email@example.com with your location and how many would like to join for a bespoke offering.
Carla Crivaro is a trauma-informed and certified Sex, Love & Relationship Coach, she works with men and women internationally to reach their goals in delicious sex, profound love and authentic relationships. Carla helps men and women understand themselves and each other, sexually and relationally, in and out of the bedroom. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other resources which are supportive around this topic are: