fight or flight

So interesting is the human reflex when fear kicks in. We call it “fight or flight.” What I really love is the way that you think you should behave is not always how you react.

Exhibit A: I have a friend, we’ll call him Larry, who is a big talker. Nice guy, big talker. Doesn’t seem very threatening, but constantly reminds you that he could beat the shit out of any one who crossed his path. Known to hold a grudge. Anyway, he’s playing basketball and someone “steps up.” Larry…backs down, acts more like a gentleman than a grizzly, and doesn’t fight the guy. Then spends the next six hours telling us he should have “beat the shit out of that guy.”

Larry feels that in a fight or flight situation, he’d surely be the fighter. His body, however, has a different idea of what should happen.

I think my fight or flight mechanism is broken.

Exhibit B: I am at work, and two co-workers go into an office and slam the door to talk. Others start to walk by the door slowly, trying to hear what juicy gossip is going on behind the door. Being the constant fool, I start to make fun of them by pointing out how absurd they are being. I get down on my hands and knees and pretend to be trying to peek under the door to see them, when, what happens? They open the door. I’m on my knees at their feet, ear to the ground. What do I do? Stand up and haul ass down the hallway, popping into the first open door I can find and hide. Now, perhaps I should mention that only nine people work down here in this hallway, and the rest of them are in my office laughing their asses off at me tearing ass down the hall, pigtails flying. It’s pretty obvious who just ran away. No big mystery who just got off the floor and left. The funny thing is, I was only making fun of the eavesdroppers, but now I looked like the leader. I panicked. I didn’t go back to my office for ten minutes, because ten minutes seemed like long enough for everyone to forget the situation ever happened and those that would remember would “just look back on that and laugh.”

They laughed the second I returned to my office. I might as well have taken my own fingerprints and took my own profile shots. I looked caught, and I hadn’t really done anything.

Fight or flight? I probably could have come up with some sort of explanation, but instead I ran. Like a moron, I might add. I made my own guilt. Now, put me back on the above mentioned basketball court, like I was a few months ago, where I saw a fight break out where my boyfriend was and the father of the little girl I had just met…and I just freeze. I don’t talk or move. The more scared I am, the more I don’t move.

Something’s wrong with the fight or flight in me. I’m not sure how to fix it. I run from little things I don’t know how to talk my way out of, and real dangers my feet get nailed to the floor. I think I just can’t believe my eyes when terrible things are happening, and when inconveniences occur, I’d rather dodge them than confront them.

It’s interesting where we are seeing fight or flight today… in the school yard the fight or flight is much more black and white…kids are bringing guns to school and shooting classmates. I think that it is important to note that these situations are happening with boys. They aren’t being taught what’s right or wrong anymore, and are finding permanent ways to vent their rage. Boys are getting their influences from the very grown-up media that we have on television today, and children have that sense of immortality that we all lose as we get older. Why aren’t girls shooting kids? Girls mature faster than boys, there’s that. But girls have a very different sense of fight or flight, and they often take a second before they act…physically, anyway. The second a girl picks up a gun on her fifth grade boyfriend, we’re seeing some definite gun laws.

I just want to have a little more control over when my body flees, and when I just stand still and pee.

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