Fight, Flee, Freeze… and Tenderness

* You can find more information on the following holidays at:

Walpurgisnacht/May Eve: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/walpurgisnacht
Beltane: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/beltane/
Mothers’ Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/04/26/mothers-day/
Summer Solstice (corrected text): https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/well-this-is-embarrassing/
Lammas: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/category/lamas/
August Ritual Dates: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/august-ritual-dates/
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 1: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/08/31/the-feast-of-the-beast/
Feast of the Beast/Bride of Satan: Part 2: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2017/03/20/feast-of-the-beast-part-ii/
Fall Equinox: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/the-fall-equinox/
Halloween (personal): https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/halloween/
Halloween (background): https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2011/10/02/samhainhalloween/
Thanksgiving: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/thanksgiving/
Yule/Winter Solstice: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/yulewinter-solstice/
Candlemas: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/candlemas/
Valentine’s Day: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/valentines-day/
Spring Equinox: https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/the-spring-equinox/
Easter: (personal): (for background, see Spring Equinox) https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2014/04/21/easter-blues/

* Walpurgisnacht, Beltane

Well, tonight is Walpurgisnacht, or as we called it, May Eve. For us (my cult folk), holidays always started at midnight and, while we were waiting around with nothing to do, we often celebrated the eve of the holiday, starting whenever we felt like it. Some eves, like Christmas Eve, had prescribed rituals. They were more formal but not necessarily more brutal.

I’m anticipating having minimum reactions to these days and the coming weekend, partly because that’s how I have reacted to cult holidays for a good year now, partly because the depression numbs things out, even flashbacks. A good use for a depression! Fancy that.

~~~~~~~~

I remember, years ago, coming across a book about how people react to life-threatening emergencies. It focused on car crashes, but everything obviously applied to trauma, to child abuse. I learned a lot about fight, flight, and freeze and the physiological manifestations of each state. It also talked about how animals deal with the aftermath of each reaction. Fascinating!

Darn! I wish I could remember the name of the author.

Anyway, last week, a friend of mine who is a life coach wrote an article about these reactions to serious danger. Her style is very different from mine, much more exuberant. (There’s nothing wrong with my style, it’s just different.) Although I have written about this before, I thought I would share some of what she wrote.

I had to edit it down to only a third of her piece because of Internet technicalities. Lots of the good stuff got left out, but you can still get a sense of what she was saying.

If you want to read the whole thing – and I recommend you do so because there is much more, and it is both useful and hilarious – go to https://www.declaredominion.com/2019/02/01/this-will-help-with-adulting/. It’s one of Katherine North’s weekly letters to anybody who is interested. All you have to do is sign up!

~~~~~~

This Will Help with Adulting

When it feels like life is pummeling us, whether it’s body blows or just a dozen tiny paper cuts, most of us have a very natural human response.

We fight, we flee, or we freeze.

This isn’t always a bad thing.

In a bona fide emergency, your healthy “fight” response kicks in. This is what adrenaline is MADE for– so that you can move fast, you can mobilize, you can set up emergency hospital tents and run from tigers.

Adrenaline is wonderfully helpful in those situations. However, it’s designed to be the exception, not the rule.

Unfortunately, most people right now are on a steady drip of adrenaline.

When you’re living that way, it feels sort of like an ongoing low-level panic attack. It goes like “oh god, what about the – and I almost forgot that we have to – and shit what we will do if -” and so our brain revs and revs, sending little hits of panicky energy into our system but without any accompanying action to make things happen. It’s hard on our bodies to rev like this, and it’s hard on our spirits, too.

Another way some of us react to stress is to just freeze up. While this might be an adaptive response to a poisonous snake slithering through the grass, for most of us it’s LESS than helpful. Sometimes we can end up in a state of perpetual paralysis, where we’re so afraid of doing the WRONG thing that we do….well not much at all, really.

Sometimes we try to protect ourselves from the scariness of adult life not by fighting or freezing, but by attempting to flee. Usually, flight becomes a form of mental escape– scrolling numbly through social media or zoning out to a TV show whose characters you don’t give a fig about.

So whatever is going on, please do NOT do that thing where you’re feeling rolling, wild, nauseating waves of anxiety or paralysis or fear– and also yelling at yourself the whole time.

“Stop it, make a decision, do something, stop being such a wimp, lots of people have it worse than you do….” THAT. Don’t do that.

Because here’s the thing. You would never speak to somebody else like that when they are trapped in a wave of everything-is-too-muchness. I know you wouldn’t.

But you do it to yourself. We all do it because we’re trying to hold ourselves together, with brittleness and a positive attitude GODDAMIT.

Most of us worry that we’ll just end up huddled on the floor in a pool of snot and wailing.

So in this strange way, the mean things you say inside your head to yourself are a misguided-but-sweet attempt to take care of you.

You know what does work?

Tenderness.

It helps more than anything to try speaking to yourself the way you’d speak to a small scared child, because there’s almost certainly one living somewhere inside you.

“Oh sweetheart. This is so much, right now. You’re so scared, huh? It’s ok, kiddo, I’m here. I’ve got you. You’re all right, come let me hold you. You’re safe, little love.”

Tenderness just collapses the brittle revving cycle of adrenaline. It melts the fear. It dissolves the paralysis.

I do not know why this is.

Isn’t life an odd mystery?

~~~~~~~~

Upcoming Holidays

April
4/30 Walpurgisnacht/May Eve
May
5/1 Beltane
5/7 Full moon
5/10 Mothers’ Day
5/12 Armed Forces Day
5/25 Memorial Day
5/31 Pentacost
June
6/5 Full moon
6/5-6 Penumbral lunar eclipse. The moon will turn a shade darker during the maximum phase, visible in Asia, Australia, Europe, and Africa. Most penumbral lunar eclipses cannot be easily distinguished from a usual full moon. See https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/map/2020-june-5
6/19 Summer solstice
6/21 Fathers’ Day
6/21 Annular solar eclipse. Visible from parts of Africa (including the Central African Republic, Congo, and Ethiopia), south of Pakistan, northern India, and China. Partial eclipse is visible in south/east Europe, much of Asia, the north of Australia, and much of Africa, Pacific, Indian Ocean. See https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/map/2020-june-21
6/23 Midsummer’s Eve
6/24 St. John’s Day

Dates Important to Nazi and Neo-Nazi groups
5/8 V-E Day (Victory in Europe, WW2)
6/6 D-Day: invasion of France in WW2
(NOTE: Not all groups meet on Jewish holidays. Some groups also mark Candlemas, Beltane, Lammas, Halloween, the solstices and the equinoxes.)

3 thoughts on “Fight, Flee, Freeze… and Tenderness

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