Fight or flight, its a natural response to danger. We all tend towards one or the other, I think. We either stand tall and fight or we turn and flee. I finished a fantastic book last night, Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West that really inspires the reader to stand and fight. It'sabout a small town in Montana, which is always cool, and their fight to keep their small basketball team going. I am not a huge basketball fan, but West's writing is absolutely beautiful and I always love a good underdog story. But this entry isn't exactly about that book, although reading it did give me some encouragement regarding unsurmountable odds.
So back to the fighting or fleeing, or in my case, hiding. You see, I've recently realized that when faced with danger, or stress, I don't fight and I don't flee. I stick my head in the sand, ostrich style, and wait for whatever it is to just go away. It reminds me of what kids do when they're scared at night, pulling the covers over their head in protection, because if you can't see the danger than it can't see you, right?
I have probably been reacting to things this way my whole life, but only recently has it become really evident to me. You might recall that this past spring and early summer I was back to working part-time, a two week stint turned into 3 months and I was suddenly and utterly overwhelmed by life and it's increasing demands. I got burned out and I got stressed and I did what I always do when I'm in over my head, I ducked and covered, waiting for the onslaught to end and the dust to settle.
It's now six months later and the dust has settled, but now I can see the casualties very clearly. You see, not dealing with the stress doesn't make it any less damaging, in fact I think it makes it worse. Instead of dealing with it, I shut down, and shut most everyone out of my life. I didn't tell everyone to go away, I didn't cut my ties literally, but I did stop returning calls, I got really selfish with my free time, I stopped really investing myself in my friends and family. I got grumpy and snappy and mean. I got unhappy and unspriritual. Yeah, thats the other tendency I have, instead of relying even heavier on God when things get tough like I should, I pull away from him too and try to protect myself. Take it from me, it doesn't work. So I wasn't close to God and I wasn't close to the friends that could help me, so I just kept my head down, turning it into a vicious cycle.
Now that I've pulled my head back out of the sand I see that life has gone on around me while I was mostly absent. Instead of pulling me out of the sand, people just wondered what in the world was up with me while they just continued on. They knocked on the door a few times, they tried to get me out, but I was holed in deeply and securely, and besides it's not up to them to pull me out, they can only do so much. Close friendships I had before are now only hanging on by a thread and because I was so focused on myself for so long, now its very easy to be critical of folks that I once looked up to. It's hard to get back --I can't just jump right back in where I left off like a paused movie. It's almost like starting over, almost.
Kind of like working out, if you stop for a long time all those muslces lose their shape and they become like you never worked out. Then when you decide to get back into shape again, those muscles hurt and it takes a lot of hard work to be able to do what once seemed so easy. Yet, you can remember what it felt like to be in shape and so you know its worth it.
Some days it feels too hard, and I've felt like withdrawing again instead of engaging. I think it is a a choice I have to make everyday. I wake up and ask myself, am I going be an ostrich or am I going to stand and fight? When it comes down to the end, I don't want to be there with my butt in the air and my head in the sand, so I think I'm going to fight.