The fight-or-flight response (also called the fight, flight, freeze, or fawn response in post-traumatic stress disorder, hyperarousal, or the acute stress response) is a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival.
Few instances in my own life have had me fighting. I tend to be the kind of person who has no problem decking big guys that are picking on other women, and will stick my career-neck under the guillotine over an issue of another’s justice. I will, however, either run away or curl up into fetal position and fall asleep from the stress when it’s me.
My solution to most problems have usually been to move or go away, and we all know how that works, don’t we?! Ha. All problems move with me and it’s amazing how people exactly like the ones I left pop up in a new place. Moving never works. Running away solves nothing.
It still is my modus though, so I was expecting to want to run away from the Lost Coast when Dana was shot. I thought I’d just want to go to. oh, I don’t know, Iceland? Thailand? Some land far, far away, right, that’s good.
But I didn’t.
I went home and was happy to be home. I think this is the first time in my life that I’ve gone home from a massive traumatic event and been happy to be there.
I’m thinking of Dana, you know.
Thinking of his own fight/flight that is happening at this very moment.
Thinking of how shocked and traumatized his body is, how he’s making these choices on fighting or flying.
The day I was sitting there with Mack, picking and eating our grapes from the vineyard, looking out on the Happy Trees in our Bob-Ross-Land, I was flooded with memories with Dana.
Running up the hills around our sheep ranch when we were little kids in Cloverdale, him climbing around some ditch of a creek and wanting me to come in. “It’s FUN, come ON, Meriah!” and I’d be all, “um. no. that’s muddy.” The sandbox, where Dana found a rattlesnake playing with us and had my Dad running out with his rifle. That other rattlesnake that Dana thought was a rope, and caught by the tail and swung it gaily around his head while my parents fainted.
My mom tells us the story of the big wheels – Dana would take me up the hill behind our ranch house and put me in his big wheel and let me FLY!
My mom’s heart would be in her throat and Dana and I would laugh fit to kill.
And then we moved to Fiji – and Dana amped his play game while I all I wanted to do was read till my eyes hurt. He made me get outside though and we’d sit on the beach and play with hermit crabs, comb the reefs for cool stuff, dodge sea urchins, sort of poke slugs and catch little fish.
He’s always had this JOY of being alive, this zest for adventure (and danger) that I have loved to be around. He’s an Aquarius. I’m a Taurus. An energetic wind storm to a plodding cow – that kind of says it all.
I want him to choose fight now.
I want him to choose fight.
I want him to choose FIGHT.
I want him to grow old, see his kids grow up and love his grandson and soon-to-be-born granddaughter as much as they can handle, maybe more. I want him to love and be loved. I want him to rest, have fun, play like he did when we were kids.
I want his bright being to laugh and love his cheesy, awful music. I want to hear him say, ‘phe-nom-enal’ again, I want to hear him begin another story, “Meriah! You will not believe this!”
I want him to talk in his italics. And brag about his quiches or pizzas, “they are the best, and I mean, THE. BEST.”
I want him to FIGHT.
Please keep praying for him. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Meriah Nichols is a counselor. Solo mom to 3 (one with Down syndrome, one on the spectrum). Deaf, and neurodiverse herself, she’s a gardening nerd who loves cats, Star Trek, and takes her coffee hot and black.