When too much is 

never enough,
everything in moderation

becomes excessive.

If a behavior or a substance elicits a dopaminergic response, too much is never enough and one’s long-term health is or simply cannot. They numb injuries they can neither name nor remember.

Experiencing pain in a lost limb is common, and long thought to be an imaginary sensation. But the nerves continue to carry signals to a phantom appendage. The nervous system is not aware the limb is missing. This is analogous for those who experienced developmental trauma. 

Damage to parts of our psyches caused emotional knee-jerk responses to triggers that leave many bewildered, including the subject. As a result, many unwittingly seek acceptable social contexts to express impulses or proclivities all ian effort to feel the sense of belongingWhile this simple concept may appear fundamental to most, this drive can also be forceful, nuanced, and unconscious - all at the same time.  

This is the undiagnosed world of those who self-medicated pains they never allowed themselves to feel. 

This often sub-conscious human need to have our realities validated in community has such a strong gravitational pull, that picking up on another's "vibe", for better or worse, needs no explanation. It is best expressed in the simple phrase, Sub-Cultural Competence. 


At 18, I started boxing. The logical approach to learning the sweet science would be to join a legit boxing gym and begin by working “off the floor” with the trainer.

The ‘floor’, namely the canvas, meant one learned out of the ring first. This is where basic defensive skills are established before the head is subject to blows. In a reasonable world that is the prudent approach.

But 'safe' contains no adrenal rush for someone craving mood altering experiences. So I strolled unannounced into a boxing facility and told the octogenarian trainer I wanted to spar. In a dismissive tone befitting his role, he growled, “You don’t just walk into a gym for the first time and start sparring, kid.” I replied with an edgy, “Why not?”, as if he owed me the courtesy. He said, “Okay”, and answered my, ”Why not?” by gleefully affording me a sparring ‘partner’ who slipped on worn out 12 oz. gloves. With little padding left over the fists, they were likely used for bag gloves*…and that was how I preferred it. Immersion.

After all, I deserved 'it' for sassing the gym Patriarch. Yet, a sense of accomplishment came in taking punches delivered with intent to teach me a lesson. I felt a calmness from the conflict in that scenario, more like an inverted sense of belonging.


In combat sports, a strange paradox exists where giving and receiving punishment evoke warm feelings of connection and brotherhood. An inverted family dynamic where love and scorn can arrive in the same vehicle.

* I visited that gym 10 years later and the same pad-less gloves were still in use.

Like any sub-culture, there is sub-text...