I want to share two stories with you, stories about how I coped with stressors that activated my fight and flight reactions.
I like to think that I am the fighting kind of person, that whenever I meet a stressor, I run towards it head on, I like to think I’m brave and that I can take on anything, but I most definitely can’t.
At the end of 2013 I was jobless and desperate, my first marriage was failing and I had no idea what to do with my life or how to make anything better. In 2009 I was caught in a flash flood and my car engine drowned. Ever since then I had severe driving anxiety. I could not drive or sit in a car alone. Period. So when December 2013 rolled around and I was faced with multiple emotional stressors, I needed a job and I needed a way out of my bad family situation. I said to myself, “what the hell,” and applied to truck driving school.
Yes, a person with severe driving anxiety wanted to learn how to drive an 18-wheeler. I knew going into school that I was afraid; driving a car terrified me and the thought of driving something as big as an 18-wheeler was beyond my imagination. But I did it. I passed all the tests and I scored high marks in all my classes. I learned how to drive stick shift and how to turn a corner without the back of the trailer swinging into another lane. I drove a 53 foot trailer up Wyoming and down through the canyons of Nevada. My first day out on the road after I finished my training, traffic was stopped by a controlled avalanche (some places set off avalanches and clean up everything so they don’t happen by accident and hurt people).
It was scary, it was fun. I was fighting. I faced my fear of driving and I overcame it. I was very proud of myself.
My career as a truck driver did not last very long (had to quit to take care of family drama) but I learned a lot about myself during that time, that I could take care of myself in the face of adversity.
In contrast, I hate conflict and getting into arguments with people. Especially co-workers. In past jobs, whenever I had a problem with someone or someone had a problem with me I would run very far away. When I was still married to my ex, there was a rumor going around that he was having an affair with one of his co-workers. I didn’t believe it and defended him, saying the co-worker was stirring up drama. Somehow (my ex probably told her) she found out about my dislike for her and confronted me in the office parking lot. Now, there were things I wanted to say to her, witty things, I wanted to meet her attack and make it clear that she needed to stop messing with my ex. I froze up. Everything I wanted to tell her vanished from my mind. All I managed to do was mumble something like “You’re spreading rumors and that’s a problem,” and I ran away.
This was another kind of adversity. And that was how I coped with it. I’m not proud of wanting to increase the drama by fighting this girl and wanting to win, I’m not proud of my inability to say anything profound and clever. But even thought I couldn’t fight in that situation, even though I was afraid of this girl, I survived the encounter unscathed and I didn’t do anything stupid that would have gotten me in trouble. So I’m happy about the outcome despite my now very mild disappointment with my performance. At the time, I was so mad at myself that I didn’t say anything clever.
Two different situations with two different reactions. However, the outcome of both of these stories is: I survived.
As always, thanks for playing and keep on keeping on.
Read and vote for your favorite Week 2 entry here. Polls close Thursday, October 22, at 11:45 p.m. EDT.
Brain candy for Week 3’s prompt, Fight or Flight, is here as an exploration of reactions by Kathy Boles-Turner.
We’ve met your characters, now introduce yourself here with any random fact you’d like to give.