- wondering when the next blow-up is going to happen or
- what I am going to be falsely accused of next or
- what is being fabricated about me now or
- having my parent(s) confront me with the next "we have to sit down an talk" scenario
I can carry on with life for a year (or more) without any situation causing fight-or-flight. Even as time has passed and even though I am at peace with my past, present, and future, whenever I get a phone call or email from a family member or friend regarding my parents relative to me, my body reacts. With daily life, I am not stressed. I don't have anxiety. I don't panic about situations. I am a very confident, happy, level headed individual. Then, without warning, one of those calls / emails occurs, and I am shaky and nauseated.
Why would my body react in such a way? In short, my body has been conditioned to respond to this specific stimuli due to lack confidence, trust, and unconditional love from my parent. Note that:
- If one has confidence in a relationship, fight-or-flight would not occur with confrontation or contact.
- A relationship based on trust and unconditional love would not elicit the reactions of fight-or-flight when a confrontation arises.
I have had one too many shocking situations with my parents that body's natural reaction to their contacts is fight-or-flight. I don't trust their intentions or even each of them as individuals. Additionally, I don't have confidence that their intentions are unconditional or unselfish. Due to the erosion of this confidence and trust, my body immediately jumps to fight-or-flight with confrontations and simple contacts. For me, the fight-or-flight response resulted from:
- Years of 'deep sixing' what I witnessed and experienced as a child
- Years of emotional and verbal abuse including Parental Alienation Syndrome
- Decades of situations blowing-up in my face at the hands of my parent(s)
- Decades of stepping on land mines and going through traumatic situations with my parent(s)
- Decades of walking on eggshells and trying to keep peace with my parents(s)
Does anyone else have this response? How do you cope when these situations arise?
I don't experience this heightened response often, so training myself to not react is challenging. I practice the following in order to eliminate / reduce the fight-or-flight response:
- Practicing visualization and having my body not react stress-fully to these random contacts about my parent(s)
- Talking out the scenarios with my husband.
- Manipulating my breathing by changing the rate at which I breathe, whether I breathe shallowly or deeply, and whether I breathe through my mouth or nose. By manipulating how I breathe, it is possible to slow down and even reverse the fight-or-flight response.
- Controlling the level of tension in my muscles. For example, by creating a fist, make the muscles in my arms tighter. What is more difficult, but not impossible, is to make my muscles more relaxed. With practice, I relax not only the muscles in my arms, but muscles in my shoulders, back, jaw, face, and other areas.