Fight or flight?

Melanie Dione
Apr 9 · 2 min read

Everyone has a story. There are wins and losses. If you’re lucky, the former outweighs the later, but many of us are just praying to break even. The parts of our physical, spiritual, and emotional selves make up a complex body of experience. Some things are strengthened, some things are weak, and of course there are the scars.

Having won and lost a fair bit, I’d say that I’ve managed to break a little more than even. My life, while not charmed, certainly has something special tucked in its back pocket. But there are scars. The most honed instinct I have, is survival. Whatever the circumstance, I can turn on a dime and adapt to the new reality. I’m in a perpetual starting block, and I don’t know what direction I’m running in until the shot is fired. But when the shot goes off, I take flight. I’m already out of sight, holed up in my version of safety before anyone else knows what happened. I don’t think everything sounds like a shot. I just think anything can be a shot. It’s a self-sabotaging act that robs me of my own joy and security and impacts the people in my circle.

I had a long talk with one of my best friends who told me, “If someone says ‘By the way, in case of a fire, here is the exit,’ you hear “FIRE! EXIT!” and that’s no good for anyone. Your survival instinct is in overdrive, because when the bad things happened to you, you think you should have seen it coming, so you overcompensate, and that’s no way to live, honey. You learned what you’ve had to learn from those bad things, and it’s time to let them go.” My friend is smart.

When the host of what we’ll call “the bad things” (itemizing them will depress both of us) upended my life time after time, it felt like the universe whispered to me, “Don’t get comfortable. This can all be gone.” As I’ve lost friends, lovers, and jobs, that sentiment would echo. It can be hard to find comfort in stability when time and again, when you feel stable, life gets uncomfortable.

I won’t rest in broken and say, “This is just me,” because it isn’t. It’s conditioning after bad or sad things — that did not break me, I might add — happened. The bad things will not be my story. They won’t dictate the rest of my life. Especially the wonderful parts of them. So I’m not running. I’m fighting for me and mine. Hard. I’ll get it right eventually.

Melanie Dione

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