Fight, flight, or freeze

I’m relentlessly tossed around in the rush of a wave pool (constructed by my own choices) begging for the machine to turn off.

Lifeguards watch from the sidelines, mistaking my fearful face with a face of adrenaline.

I want to get out.

I can’t gain my footing even though the ground isn’t far from my toes. And I don’t have enough of a break in between waves to fully catch my breath.

So I go numb.

Numb to the exhaustion that my body is experiencing. Numb to the sadness of feeling lost. Numb to the anger and confusion and frustration.

My loved ones watch from solid ground offering opinions and advice, even trying to jump in after me. But I fight them off because while I’m tense, I don’t want comfort. I just want to feel something… anything.

I feel nothing, and I push them away.

Instead I shift into survival mode and my body does what it needs to fight off death.

I’m no longer tense.

I mimic liquid.

The movement of the water contorts my body in ways that allow me to adapt to the element.

Instead of fight, I freeze.

I have no more fight.

And it’s clear I cannot take flight.

Freeze is a new place for me.

I don’t like it.

I’m frozen in a state of numbness when I know I should be feeling a large spectrum of emotions.

Where are they?

Why am I here?

I continue to wear a mask that tells my surrounding peers that “I am okay.”

But it’s a lie.

I exist in a culture that tells us that there’s no other option outside of being okay, so I wear it well. I always have.

My body drifts and rolls and tumbles through the water effortlessly now, as if it’s play.

Truth is… I need help.

I can see the shore and I can mentally map out how to get to land, but I am no longer in charge of my movements.

I am lacking control.

And it appears that the easiest option is for me to give in.

To throw my arms ups and leave it up to hope to see if I sink or if I float.

If I sink, maybe someone will save me.

If I float, maybe the waves will push me to the shore.

But in moment of clarity I remember the saying “when the wave comes, go deep.”

So I dive.

Underneath it all, I experience silence.

My thoughts are hushed, the external voices are gone, I am no longer taking a beating, but I can’t stay here very long.

When I come up, I get pummeled. Yet now I know that place exists.

The stillness hasn’t completely escaped me; I am not entirely lost.

I dive back down to listen again.

I hear nothing and I feel momentarily content.

It’s fleeing but it’s a feeling.

I am not empty.

This time when I come back up to the surface, I have the ability to scream for help as if that one softened moment gave me the ability to recognize that I didn’t want to die.

And as I’m pulled out of the wave pool, my voice gets locked up.

I do not have the ability to convey what it is that I am experiencing or what I just went through.

I am still frozen, only now with hope.

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3 responses to “Fight, flight, or freeze”

  1. This is one of your most powerful pieces yet! I read it 5 times over holding my breath and adrenaline pumping. Wow!!


  2. This struck something deep in me. Every word felt so authentic and relatable. You’re an amazing writer, seriously. Please never stop blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What an amazing and powerful piece of writing. Thank you for sharing this.


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