I believe that fight and flight also governs our response to strong emotions. Some people come back at the person/ situation enraged; words or fists flying. Others don’t.
Are you someone who simply runs away? For me it’s easier. Either physically creating distance, emotionally by shutting down or psychologically dulling reality. I’d like to share my discovery of running away.
In the house where I grew up there were rules.
Rule 1: Don’t make a mess.
Rule 2: Be a good girl ( an extension of rule 1)
I learnt from an early age to be a good girl. So:
- I did as I was told
- I studied hard
- I listened
- I asked rather than assumed
- I acquiesced
As a child, I didn’t understand that was giving away my power. I grew up matriculated, got my degree and began working in health helping people. On the surface I appeared happy and successful. Once the shadow of anorexia paled another came in its place.
It was always there, a gentle breeze of unease blowing in the background. Most of the time I wasn’t even aware of it. In my early forties, I began to feel the discontent, a vague colouring of my lens. It came with a palpable unease, a feeling like I was always running.
My life continued to be a tidy package, a mother, a wife, a gardener, a daughter, a physiotherapist, a friend. With a cat, a dog, a lovely home, a car, interests. The running made itself known. I kept busy, exercised, kept my weight under control, immersed myself in motherhood and the ICU.
The running escalated. Never a big drinker, I found that I used alcohol for the wrong reasons. What once was a relaxed experience, sharing a bottle of red with my husband became something else. The amount didn’t change but the intent did and with it the outcome. Where had the fun gone?
I kept busy: very busy.
A friend introduced me to meditation. Although interested, I struggled with just sitting still let alone stilling the mind. My mind ran faster than my life. An unbridled horse it carried me here and there on a whim of its own.
It was then that I pinned down the feeling, the thing that made me so tired: running. Most of my moments of epiphany occur in the shower. I finally named the unease realising that for some reason, I was running; not just running but running away from something.
I stood there naked and dripping, Pandora’s box visible in front of me. I looked in the mirror, seeing myself, the fatigue, the fear and the lifetime of repressed emotions. And I wondered how I got to here. Standing again at a ‘T intersection,’ I had a choice open the box or run away?
But I was tired. I’d gained insight into myself and couldn’t go back to pretending it didn’t exist.