Fight or Flight

“The fight-or-flight response is a biological response of animals to acute stress.”

I am a worry-wart as a mother. I am constantly feeling that “fight or flight response” when watching my children play. They are boys and they do things that scare the crap out of me, even as I am yelling at them to stop (or jumping and running to fix whatever may have gotten hurt). I am used to dealing with this physiological response and all that it entails – because I am a mother. The ability to think quickly and react even faster is what keeps our children alive and healthy until they reach adulthood. God gave us this, knowing we would use it time and again, throughout the lives of our children.

I make ever effort to subdue the scared part of me and let my boys be boys. I taught them that, “God’s rule for moms is to get the babies to 18 without losing body parts. That’s why I ask you not to do this.” I’ve loosened up a little, to let them grow, but I still fear for them constantly. But that’s not the point of this post.

How many of you have seen someone after a period of time and had your heart skip a beat, your breath start coming quick?

The coffee I drank this morning suddenly gave me an acid-filled stomach, my hands started moving in short, jerky motions, causing me to nearly stall the car (a stick shift) and I couldn’t tell you what was playing on the radio or what my boys were talking about in the back seat. Up until that moment, I could have described everything in the clearest detail, missing nothing. After seeing that person, it was all I could do to remain calm as I delivered my babies to their classrooms.

Was I scared? No. Not at all! It was a shock seeing that person, is all. I knew that it would happen eventually, but I wasn’t prepared for it. Are we ever? Would I ever be?

In the moments afterwards, when my heart resumed its job, my lungs returned to their task of pushing my chest in and out to sustain life and my small car moved forward, a thousand thoughts ran through my head, none of them nearing completion but skipping over one to another to another. I am still consumed by the thoughts. They skip around in my head, distracting me from trying to write them down in a coherent fashion.

I know they saw me, they turned their head to stare. I wonder what they think about, after seeing me. I miss them, sometimes. Occasionally, I miss them so much it hurts. I can’t miss them, it isn’t right. I want to reach out, make contact. I want to fix, I want to resume the life that we were working towards. And then, the memories start. Memories of being with that person. The touch of hair and face. The hope of the future. The love. The cuddles and the love-making. The stupid arguments and the serious ones.

And then, recognizing the manipulation. Remembering the day it finally dawned, clear as a bell, and made me question every little thing. Thinking back to the tears of pain as hearts broke and lives separated after a damned night in front of my boys. Remembering the fear in those small eyes staring up at me and knowing I could never let that happen again. Yet, still wanting to make it right and not seeing a clear path to do so. Wishing to God above that He could wave a wand and repair it. Knowing He couldn’t.

Thinking back on mistakes, paths chosen wrong. Words said and deeds done. And then the heart that returned to its task starts to falter again, stuttering and threatening to stop. The chest swells and the throat closes up. Taking deep breaths to try and relax the body’s natural response to pain.

Must deliver children to school. Must keep moving forward and taking care of business. Must not falter, must not fail. Rebuild the life, redouble the efforts to be seen as someone who’s doing good and not in pain. Every minute of every day. Not showing anyone around that you hurt so terribly and things aren’t always as happy as they seem.

Being a mother, falling back on that. It’s safe. It’s secure. Know your place and get it done, as you’ve always done. Set this aside (again) and move forward. Pretend it never happened and don’t speak of it.

Thank you for listening,


Categories: Other Stuff | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Fight or Flight

  1. Sometimes that’s all you can do. It will fade with time.. I read a saying once, He lived before my knowing, he can live after it too. Attachment and habit are so hard to break, then of course there is love the hardest of all.

  2. It sounds like you’re doing a wonderful job repairing and rebuilding your life after such a traumatic event. I hope it continues to get better for you and eventually easier.

  3. Elaine

    My heart hurts for you. But through the pain you kept going, and I applaud you for that. I am praying for a complete healing for your broken heart.

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