Fight or Flight?

One day I woke up and decided I wanted to go to law school.  I went through the motions and the excessive amounts of money it takes to even apply to law school and began my journey.  People were confused.  So you want to be a lawyer now?  And I’d say “well I want to create educational policies on a district, state, or federal level.  I don’t need the law degree to do it, but it doesn’t hurt.”  Then, to put my audience at ease I’d say “I don’t know if I’m going to go all the way through to the completion of the degree, maybe just take a few classes and list them as post graduate studies on my resume.”  Then our conversation would turn real 1980’s hip hop and the person would give me that look.  You know the twisted lips followed by “word?”  This person knows I will complete the degree despite what I am saying right now.  Its just not in me to begin something and not complete it.  Even if I decide somewhere in the middle that this is no longer what I want to do, something in my wiring won’t let me abandon mission.  I have to finish what I start.  In the hands of the wrong person, this is a great opportunity for manipulation.

It is both a gift and a curse.  I am a victim of my own optimism.  I’ve found myself waiting for a man to ascend to some level of greatness that he is either incapable of reaching, or simply doesn’t desire to attain.  Holding on to relationships far beyond their expiration date.  I just don’t know when to quit.  In a healthy relationship, this may be a good thing, the dedication and commitment it takes to stay and fight for something you believe in would certainly lower our divorce rates.  In other instances it could be devastating as an individual if you don’t recognize when its time to go.  All relationships take hard work and go through rough patches.  When you have invested time and energy and even money into a relationship, you want it to work out, regardless of how bad things have become.  But often staying, in spite of consistent red flags, triggers a series of more turbulent events.

A Harvard psychologist coined the term “fight or flight response”, it is our body's primitive, automatic, inborn response that prepares the body to "fight" or "flee" from perceived attack, harm or threat to our survival.  Even in no brainer dead in relationships, our fight or flight response is activated, sequences of nerve cell firing occur and chemicals like adrenaline and noradrenaline are released into our bloodstream.  This causes our body to undergo a series of very dramatic changes. The rate of our breathing increases. Blood is detoured from our digestive tract and directed into our muscles and limbs, because they will require the extra energy and fuel for running and fighting. Our pupils dilate. Our awareness intensifies. Our sight sharpens. Our impulses quicken. Our perception of pain diminishes. Our immune system mobilizes with increased activation. We become prepared—physically and psychologically—for fight or flight.  We start framing our argument.  We scan and search our environment, "looking for the enemy."  If you’ve ever gone through your partners phone you know exactly what I’m talking about.  When you get to this point, where your questions are going unanswered and you find yourself searching for confirmation of the truths you already know, take flight.  It will be a great service to your next relationship if you leave now before “fight mode” becomes a habit.

When the respect is gone its time to go.  Whenever someone can blatantly disregard your feelings through their words or actions, when there is no regard for your property, if they will put your safety or health in jeopardy (and this includes the risk of STD’s that comes with infidelity), when there is no conviction for wrong doing, it means somehow one of you has stopped valuing the other person (or each other.)  When you start excepting this behavior, you’ve begin to lose value in yourself.

We all draw a line.  There are things we say we absolutely will not tolerate.  But have you ever found a person crossing that line, and instead of the circumstance instantly putting you in flight mode, you find yourself moving the line back a little bit?  Remember, we teach people how we want to be treated.  And if what you are conveying is that you have a very high tolerance for hurt and pain by excusing the things people have done to you, you will find yourself tolerating more hurt and pain. You will find yourself trying to prop up a drooping relationship, unable to support other aspects or areas of your life because you’ve exerted all of your energy trying to get the relationship to survive. If you bring your feelings to the attention of your partner and they don’t see a problem, you have reached a dead end.  If there is no respect, the greatest amount of love can’t hold the relationship together.

Buckle your seatbelt and prepare for take off.

 

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