Fight or Flight?


Growing up I was very quiet and very subdued.  My mother was strict to the point of near abuse.  It always felt like she had a vendetta against me.  It caused me to have a stronger flight than fight reaction to fear.  As I got older and took control of my life my fight syndrome took a stronger hold.  It started when I was 17 almost 18.  My mother came at me and I punched her.  The fear I had of her retribution caused me to back down before I got very far.  I knew I was moving out soon, so the fight was not worth the retribution I would receive.  Around the same time I nearly beat my tormentor in school.  He stuck a fire extinguisher in my locker and after four years of sexual harassment, I had enough.  I grabbed the extinguisher and ran after him.  He asked me about it years later, I told him he was lucky he could run faster than me, if I would have caught him I would have bludgeoned him to unconsciousness.  I may have had some repressed anger issues.

As an adult my husband was somewhat of a bully.  Everything we did was based on his desires.  We lived so far out of our means that I was struck with fear, again.  I live simply, and I would have been happy with the simple things, if he would not have pushed to have bigger and better.  When my daughter was born my schedule at work was jacked.  I was so pissed that I did the one thing in my life that my husband basically forbid me to do.  I started college.  This move caused great stress in our marriage and pushed my fear even closer to the surface.  After I graduated things did not get better.  He was still bullying me, he will tell you that I bullied to get my way, but ultimately he had control over all financial matters.  This is why I still owe for my undergrad degree.  He made me defer it to the point that it accrued at least an extra $15000.  I have the degree, I will pay, but I do feel that if he had pared down we could have made a few payments during the last few years of our marriage.  It had been 17 years since I graduated, that debt should be paid off by now.

After we separated I fought hard to buy a new home.  This decision was based on a dream that he pushed onto me.  The idea that I walked away from our home and needed a home for the kids and the pets that we had, was mine.  Needing to buy a house was his family’s idea.  I wanted a bigger apartment, but a house was a nice idea.  The moment we bought the house we were always stressing about bills.  I never knew if I would have money for formula and diapers.  My husband kept me on such a tight budget, well not even a budget.  We ate at his parents often.  We also ate at his work place, but then he acted like it was an issue.  He should have either gave me a bit of money to feed the family or he should have found a way to help provide.  No matter what the money issues had nothing to do with my going to school, we were not paying the loans at that time.  Yes I am still angry about these things.  I am also frustrated by my falling into the home ownership trap a second time.  I answered an ad in the rental section, next thing you know I am applying for a loan.  I gave the deposit money, not fully understanding what I was getting into.  Ultimately I lost the home and my job, but before that I went to jail.  In the chaos of buying this place, which I could not back out of, or I would lose my deposit.  I had no money for starting over so losing it was terrifying.  My ex decided to file documents against me at this time.

I had left my children with him for a couple of weeks while I was supposed to be moving and finishing up the paperwork.  In the midst of this, he threatened me and I had a fight reaction.  I stood my ground as he swung a cell phone at my face, I managed to duck and slapped him across the face.  I spent the night in jail.  I tend to fear my fight syndrome a bit.

When I moved to Seattle, I moved there with a boyfriend.  This man was like a stick of dynamite.  I was always fearing setting him off.  In my mind staying with abusive men is beyond my capacity to understand.  Having lived with this man, I now understand why women stay with abusers.  When they threaten to burn the house down with everyone inside if you leave them.  If you call the police on them their family will execute you.  Seriously you get such a mindfuck, you have no idea what the truth is.  Eventually you just accept everything, just to keep the peace.  At some point he pushed me too far.  I gave him the most glorious black eye, twice in the same hour!  It felt good to step up and defend myself.  Eventually I gained my confidence to trust my fight syndrome and I fought back, this time with the cops on my side.

As I face my current fear, my flight syndrome is what I am following.  This is more because I am fearful of my fight syndrome.  The guy downstairs elevates my stimuli so much that I may not be able to just stand with a verbal altercation.  I fear my fight syndrome. I know what I am capable of, and in an area I am not ground in, allowing my fight syndrome to be released could ultimately have dire effects.  Worse than when I assaulted my husband, worse than when I assaulted my ex-boyfriend. I have too much to lose now, before I had nothing left to lose.  I need to keep my fight syndrome in check for a few more weeks and follow my flight and avoidance instincts.  This does not make me a coward, this makes me educated and in control of my emotions.  It has taken me a very long time to get to this point, and I do feel very cowardly, but I realize that I need to remain in control or I may end any possibility of serving in the Peace Corps, and ultimately that is more important than looking like a coward.

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