Friday, February 17, 2012

Fight or Flight? Moth or Butterfly

     I knew she would launch her diatribe against him the moment she had the chance. I tried to prepare myself for it.  After all she always does it.  Under normal circumstances, I would have politely listened, considered the source and if trying to change the subject didn't work, then I would let it one ear and out the other.
     What triggered my severe reaction?  Was it the increased volume of her voice?  Or was it what she was saying?   Perhaps it was a combination of the two.  I have memories of reacting this way at other times in my life.  When I think back to those times, I realize that I have experienced this type of  reaction during extraordinarily stressful times in my life.
     I understand the flight or fight concept.  In this case, my body was obviously preparing for flight.  My heart was pounding.  My insides were shaking.  My stomach was getting upset.  My hands and feet were cold. The escalation of the symptoms were so rapid that my efforts to relax did not work.  I tried to slow my breathing down.  Inhale, hold the breath, exhale slowly.   I tried to convince my body that it was not in danger.  "You are safe," I told myself.   But nothing worked. I excused myself...well not exactly, I kind of just left the room.  I guess Ross must have made excuses for me.  I am sure he tried to explain that I have been having a hard time lately.
     I wrap up in my warm flannel robe.   I put my earbuds in and begin to listen to a book.  The narrator speaks with a soothing English accent and it begins to have an effect.  My hands and feet start to feel warmer.  My heart begins to beat normally.  My eyes get heavy.  I begin to doze.
     I must add, though, in addition to my warm robe and Robin Bailey's wonderful narration style, I did have a little medicinal help.  The medicine is a tranquilizer, which I use as an absolute last resort.
     This incident has taught me that I must start paying attention to the signals that my body is sending.
     On the outside I appear to be handling my grief and stress quite well.  On the inside, though, as evidenced by my writing and my blog,  I know that I am not coping very well at all.  It's time to reach out.  It's time to admit that I need help before I curl up, shutdown and go into hibernation inside my cocoon.
 I can't let that happen, after all spring is coming.

Here is today's entry from Anna's Diary:
Sunday February 17, 1929
Church.  See Grandma M. Cooked dinner, ate, cleaned up. Read papers.  Junior tired.  Left for 360. Put baby to bed.  Fever but no cold.  Home early put baby to bed.  Up late reading "Strange Interlude."

[Strange Interlude, a play by Eugene O'Neil]    


  1. Lynda, in your circumstances, what exactly is 'coping?'  You have been unimaginably brave and if it's time to get some support, then you deserve it.  You have had so much sorrow, but one day, when it's right  for you, you will be able to allow yourself some little joy and peace.  Meantime take all the help you can to get you there.

  2. Lynda, yes, listen to the body.  I journeyed every step of this post, many times, ending up in bed, with pillows over my head.  Convention [I suppose] requires certain social obligations, but it does not condone torture.

  3. I think knowing when to ask for help is a key ingredient in "coping." You have been through tremendous loss and change--it's only natural to need help sorting things out a bit.