Butterfly

It feels like a lot has changed since my last post even though it’s only been a few days. The fact that Im talking to the dragon went public and the fallout from that was even more extreme than I expected. I crashed pretty hard as that social circle was torn apart again and sides were chosen and people I thought were solid flaked out like bad dandruff. All totally unnecessarily and like a rehash of some bad high school sitcom. Then I stepped back and realized none of that even matters. None of these half ass friends matter. None of this drama and part time life matter.

This isn’t my end game.

I had a bit of a breakdown on the dragon recently, as an extended manifestation the self worth nose dive from of losing a pile of friends suddenly, lamenting the waste of an IQ that could have accomplished so much. Maybe it could have even changed the world but instead is popping tops off beer and serving food to random strangers. His response stopped me dead in my tracks: “You are changing the world. You changed the world the day you called out of nowhere and stopped me from killing that bitch. I was on my way to kill her, I was on the road, and you stopped it so you never know. You are changing the world”

Whoa.
Wait a second…

Maybe it’s the little kindnesses that really do change things even if we don’t realize it’s happening. Those small butterfly wing flaps that turn into hurricane winds and change the world. He derailed my whole pity party internal dialogue. Days later Im still processing the scope of what he said.

I am changing the world. One small kindness at a time. And the best part? I dont even have to do anything unusual. This is just who I am.

And I can change things just being me.

Fight, Flight or Freeze

According to all the literature there are three basic responses to trauma, all of which remain responses until they’re trained out of you. If you believe in the NARM and think you can retrain yourself. If you follow the Dr’s that subscribe to the brain damage models I suppose you’re screwed.

I choose to believe I can overcome anything. I just need to learn to recognize my own triggers and responses and find the tools to help me do it.

**Excerpt from “Healing Developmental Trauma” By Laurence Heller PhD and Aline LaPierre PsyD. Published 2012. Page 116-117*

The Fight-Flight-Freeze Response

Essentially, the goal of the fight-freeze-flight response is to prepare us to defend ourselves in a situation of threat or to run away if we cannot defend ourselves. The fight-flight response is mediated by high arousal in the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system as it prepares the body for self protection and survival. The freeze response is mediated by the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system. There are two aspects to the freeze response:(1) freeze as a highly charged but immobile defensive maneuver and protection reaction, which is used by all animals, including humans, to avoid being noticed by a predator and (2) freeze as a collapsed fallback position when fight-flight is not possible.
A common metaphor used to explain fight-flight is to compare the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system to the gas pedal and the parasympathetic to the brakes, In trauma, the sympathetic branch is fully engaged (that is, our foot is pressing the gas pedal to the floor) to mobilize massive amounts of fight-flight survival energy. At the same time, the parasympathetic branch is applying the brakes in an attempt to modulate the dangerously high sympathetic arousal. In essence, both the gas pedal and the brakes are simultaneously pressed to the floor. The result is high tonus in both branches of the autonomic nervous system: the engine is turning at high speed but the brakes are fully engaged leaving the car at a standstill. This standstill involving high tonus in both branches of the autonomic nervous system is a particular type of freeze response called tonic immobility. The state of tonic immobility should not be confused with the collapse response, which is a type of freeze in which the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system is dominant.**

Ive always considered myself a fighter but Im not. Not really. Not according to all these multitudes of psych texts. Im not even fully a runner, or a freezer. Whenever things get too hard, too emotional or too scary I shut down completely. But first I get mad about it. Or mad at myself for being so out of control emotionally. And then I either try to run or fall apart and shut down. Im not talking about a bad day at work, Im talking about extreme events. At least to me they’re extreme.

That being said apparently Im pretty much hardwired to think most situations are extreme. I dont really have a scale. It’s bloody awful or it’s nothing at all. There‚Äôs no real middle ground.

I tried to role play a rape once with my Dom while I was in training. All he did was grab me and throw me down and I totally shut off. No reaction, no noise, just a silent, limp body. I didnt even know I’d done it until he told me. I wish I’d processed it when it happened but I was embarrassed that I’d failed at the task he’d set me to do. I dont like to fail. I dont know how to over come that reaction if I dont even know Im doing it. I feel like a fainting goat, just easy prey for anyone. I wish I thought that was as funny as it sounds.

I dont know why Ive been thinking about that a lot recently.

My ability to tuck tail and run is legendary and well documented but I think Ive almost got a handle on that response.

I feel like my fight always shows up late to the party. After I needed the muscle when there’s nothing left but pools of blood and pieces on the ground Fight saunters in and tells me how I should have handled it and what I should definitely do next time.

I feel like Flight is the only one that’s never let me down. And that’s saying something. Everyone lets me down. Everyone. Ironically it’s also the only one I can half ass control. Funny how that works.

Humpty Dumpty

I watched a documentary the other day about broken children. I think it was actually called “Broken Child” and it’s gotten me thinking, stewing really, as I tend to do whenever I cant figure something out. Why arent I much more screwed up than I actually am? Or at least than I appear to be?

By all accounts, according to that documentary, I should be a drug addict or in jail, or homeless. Thus far Ive managed to become none of these things.

Thus far.

Ive been to jail, sort of, on a traffic issue, so I dont think that counts.

Ive dabbled in the drug thing but Im too control freaky to let it consume me. Im also kind of poor and have responsibilities that just arent very drug friendly.

I live in an RV. By choice. Not sure if that qualifies as homeless or not. I think Im probably closer to this qualification than any of the others. Ive never been one to put down roots, I have no intention of ever owning a house and tend to freak out if I get trapped in any sort of seemingly permanent situation.

That extends to living situations, relationships and jobs. The second I feel locked into anything I get very antsy and it takes every bit of control I can muster not to literally tuck tail and bolt. No particular destination, I never really have a plan but I bolt all the same as fast I can manage it.

Still Im a little perturbed as to why Im not a whole lot more screwed up. The fight or flight thing seems pretty minor in the grand scheme of all the stuff that could go wrong.

As usual Ive put far more thought into this than a normal human being probably would.

This is what Ive come up with:

Ive never been a victim. I always refused to acknowledge that part of my history, or rather Ive never accepted the victim role as being my defining characteristic. For the most part Ive tended to move on with life and forget things, repress them I guess. It works, mostly. I think because of that Ive never really felt like I was damaged. I know I am damaged, pretty heavily, but it doesnt seem to impact my ability to function.

It comes back to “if you never tell a child they’re screwed up are they actually screwed up?” question that I asked in an earlier post.

I was told I was screwed up. A lot. That I was damaged, broken, unloved, unwanted. That I would never be loved or wanted. That I was so horribly broken that I debated even continuing my existence a couple of times as a teen. My foster care file is riddled with those terms and all the examples that go with them.
The same things that got me labelled as ‘broken’ are the very same things I now view as strength. I was rebellious. Not in a teen partier sort of a way, but somewhere a long the line in my pre-teens someone told me I was smart and had me IQ tested. Twice. I took that one good thing and ran with it, clung to it as though it was the only thing keeping me alive and armored myself against the world with it. That became who I was. I wasnt a victim I was the smart kid. I buried myself in academics, joined (was invited into) Mensa, and devoured books on any subject I could get my hands on. The adults that labelled me as broken were viewed with contempt and only useful in that they kept me fed and housed.
The best way to get me to do something is still to tell me I cant. Tell me I’ll never be worth anything and I will spend my life trying to prove you wrong. I might not succeed but I’ll die trying.
As a smaller child, when the opinions of adults mattered, I still tried to prove them wrong. They wanted a broken little mouse, scared of the world, of grown men and unable to interact normally. I was outgoing bordering on obnoxious and not even aware I was supposed to be scared of men until I was told by a camp counsellor when I was 14.
I spent five years of my life labelled as ‘terrified of men.’ I had no idea and, as far as my memory serves, had no issue with them.

Someone had forgotten to give me the memo.
That seems to be a common theme in my life.

The strangest part about being ‘broken’ is all the people determined to fix you.
Even now, as an adult, I find people fall into three distinct camps. They avoid you as though they’ll catch it or you’ll rob them blind, they pity you and want to fix you and baby you like some bird with a broken wing or they dont seem to know exactly how you’re broken either so ignore it and carry on like normal. The last is the rarest and Im fortunate to have managed to surround myself with that group at this stage in my life.
They dont want to fix me. They like me fine just the way I am.
Scars and all.