Last week we talked about how important it is to recognize when a past trauma has triggered a current emotional response. We must know what triggers us in order for us to gain some type of control over it.
A flight response is characterized by the desire to escape or deny pain, emotional turmoil, and other distress.
Have you ever been in a situation where you just wanted to teleport away to a safe place?
Have you ever been in a situation where you were physically in a room but mentally you were totally checked out?
Do uncomfortable situations make you want to exit stage left instead of dealing with the issue?
These are all examples of the flight trauma response. There are many more identifying factors but if any of these caused you to take a pause, keep reading.
Sometimes flight is necessary. God, in his infinite wisdom, created us with self defense mechanisms that help protect us from situations that will break our psyche. We do eventually have to deal with the trauma to move forward but sometimes it's necessary to escape until we are able to do so safely.
I didn't realize until recently that my trauma response was flight. I have never been a confrontational person. I have always been the person to find reason in the most unreasonable situations. I had never been in a situation that caused me to completely shut down. When this happened I didn't initially realize that a trauma had been triggered. All I knew was that I didn't recognize myself but I also couldn't move. I couldn't make myself do what I had always done, get up and keep it moving. I had been completely and utterly zapped of any ability to do anything other than disappear.
I decided to go to therapy because something was wrong and I needed to figure it out so I could shake this off. I needed to get back to being who I had always been, that reliable/dependable person that was always there for everyone and was always where I needed to be. What therapy revealed was this trauma was much deeper than I realized and a quick fix was not an option.
Because I didn't recognize what was happening, I also didn't realize what my response actually looked like from the outside. I had been abandoned and it resulted in the people I loved also feeling like I abandoned them. I couldn't see it at the time it was happening because I was just trying to figure out how to keep breathing in the midst of me dying.
So maybe you believed you responded accordingly to the situation but now you realize the thing you are hiding is the thing that is actually controlling your life. If we don't recognize what is happening we can get stuck in a 'trauma response.' There are a few things we can do to begin to move forward.
1- Recognize: We must first recognize and admit there is a problem. Even if you feel like you can't tell anyone what you are feeling, you must be honest with yourself.
- Commit: You must be willing to make a commitment to DO THE WORK. Recognition and acknowledgement is one thing but actually doing the work involves being subjective to being very uncomfortable.
- Take Action: We need each other to survive. Someone sitting next to us may have the very thing we need at a specific moment in life but we miss opportunities because of our culture. Because in our culture (African Americans) we were trained early that what happens in the house stays in the house. POINT BLANK. PERIOD. - - END OF STORY.
There was no such thing as having a friend and being able to get things off our chest. There was no such thing as going to a therapist to talk about what might be triggering our actions. It was all about keeping our mouth shut and figuring how to keep living like everything was ok. This caused us to be be crippled emotionally and stunted in our communication. We have to break these cycles. We need professional help and we need to make a decision to go get the help we need.
I encourage you today to break a cycle, get help, get healed and then go help someone else. YOU ARE VALUABLE, YOU ARE NECESSARY, YOU ARE NEEDED.