Fight, Flight or Freeze
It's hard to pinpoint exactly when I lost myself, but I'm pretty sure I know how I lost myself and I feel like knowing how we got to a place is the most vital thing if we want to know how to get back home. So that's where I begin.
I remember a few years ago when I was about two months pregnant with Ares and Tristan was turning 30. I had planned an elaborate birthday celebration for him and his best guys. One of his brothers had flown in from Chicago, I had booked them a hotel out by the race tracks about forty five minutes from our house. It was to be something of a "staycation".
Armed with a box of his favorite cupcakes and whiskey, they set out for a weekend of gaming, go carts, super hero movies, shooting ranges, paintball and all things man. Listen, I love to celebrate people and also I was very intentional about trying to "out-gift" his mistress. I mean her birthday gift to him couldn't be better than mine! Because that's a logical, healthy thought that every wife should have right? HA! *face-palm
Anyway...They left for their man weekend and I had a dance competition so I got home late and went straight to bed, my fifty pound pit bull snoring right next to me. What seemed like a minute later I
awoke to him barking, which was not abnormal in and of itself, but this bark was different. He was standing over me barking with a fury that I was sure was saying, "Mom I will save you! This is not a drill! There IS an INTRUDER!!!!!!!" They say that there's the instinct of fight, flight or freeze in situations such as these. Well, let me tell you...I FROZE! I mean curled in a ball, covering my eyes and holding my breath. When I got the courage to open an eye, I saw the shadow of a man standing in my bedroom doorway. I retreated back into the fetal position and now started screaming and screaming with my eyes closed. I was so busy screaming and coming to terms with what I was certain was my own impending death that I didn't realize that my dog had stopped barking. He wasn't barking anymore because the shadow of a man sent to kill me was actually my husband who had come home because he didn't want to sleep at the hotel and didn't let me know because he broke his phone. He proceeded to lecture me on my response. I think he was a little in shock at my reaction. "That's how you would act if there was actually an intruder? You'd be dead!" Yep...probably, but my eyes would have been closed so at least I wouldn't have seen it coming!
Why in God's name did I react like that? I mean...that was my instinctual reaction. It's not until a few years later that I have realized: that's exactly how I was responding to the adversity in my life. I was assuming the fetal position, closing my eyes and hoping it would just go away. I knew if I really opened my eyes, or heaven forbid, turned on the light, I would see things clearly and have to choose fight or flight, and both of those options terrified me to my core. What's so crazy is that, just how being clenched in the fetal position, alternating between holding your breath and screaming will wear you out. Being in denial and staying "frozen" in my life was draining me of all my energy. Paralyzed by fear, I thought I didn't have enough energy to deal with the truth and face the scary reality. Boy was I wrong! In fact...what I have found to be true for me is that facing reality and owning my truth, even though it's hard work and can, at times, be incredibly painful, is NOTHING compared to the agony of being "frozen" with no end in sight.
So I ask you: Are you "frozen"? Afraid to open your eyes because you're absolutely sure of the impending doom that awaits you? I challenge you to open an eye, maybe both eyes. Release the tension. Release your breath. Stop screaming and really just be with your reality. You may find, like I did, that what you thought was gonna kill you isn't actually the scary thing you thought it was after all. Or maybe it is. But then you get to choose fight or flight and have some say in your own destiny. Because you may not be able to control whether or not scary, painful things come into your life, but you have complete control of how you react to them and THAT is what makes all the difference.