Human instincts are a funny thing. If you’re not tuned into your gut, they can be a real mess to identify. Hell, even if you are aware and listen in, does it mean that you have to follow them?
I’ve always had a lot of trouble with my flight or fight responses. Or rather, they’ve given me a lot of trouble in the past. I don’t know if a genetics thing, or a reaction to certain environments, but for a good while there when anything got too much for me to handle my body would kick into emergency mode and switch into autopilot to suit the situation.
That sounds kind of vague, but it’s hard to describe without going into the grimy details and shitty stories – so here’s me trying to simplify it. When things went wrong, I would panic. In a bad situation, 9 times out of 10 I would run – literally. I once spent an entire summer with an emergency backpack packed and glued to me at all times, just in case I needed to escape.
The other 1/10 times – I would fight. It would be messy. I would get angry, punching and kicking things (often alone, and deeply frustrated with not being able to do anything). I had this anger simmering inside of me for so long, eating away at me, feeding off the times I let it free.
I’ve learnt to block things out, things that still make me sad when I’m reminded of them, or bad things that happened that I couldn’t control. I think that’s the worst part of it all – being angry and not being able to do anything. It’s not a good combination, that’s for sure.
Things escalated once I finished school, and I was lost in the turmoil of trying to discover who I was and navigating a relationship that I never should’ve pursued. I let my erratic tendancies get the better of me, and I have never felt shittier in my life. I always heard of people bringing out the best in each other, but never understood what it was like to bring out the worst until that year.
I remember everything feeling so urgent, like it was life or death when it most certainly wasn’t. My reactions were intense and my mind a crumbling mess. I didn’t know what I wanted or how to be happy. I kept landing in bad situations and hanging around because I was naive and didn’t know any better.
Eventually, I learnt. I left. I healed. It took a while, and there was a lot of internal battles in the meantime, but I healed myself, and I’m so proud of that. Well, at least I thought I did.
I was single for a good 8 months when I ran into a boy I once fancied. I tried to be cool and refused to like-like him and act like he wasn’t important to me. But he was. We would fight with silences and I would take everything the wrong way. One wrong move on his end would result in me freaking out and threatening to end it all. It was idiotic, but I was trying to protect us both from breaking each other’s hearts, even though I would immediately regret ever suggesting such a thing.
Everything used to be so final. We would have different views on a topic – maybe we should break up. He didn’t know if he loved me yet – well, there’s no point continuing then. He didn’t like going to gigs – what was the bloody point then?
Bloody hell, I used to be so dramatic.
I say used to because I can wholeheartedly say that’s not me anymore. It took a lot of time and patience (from both of us) to get here, but I have finally learnt to quieten those panicked voices. They’re still there of course, lingering in the back of my head, trying to weave poison into my thoughts. But I can battle them off now, and I do. I cry a lot more now, but I’d rather cry when I’m upset than get angry and break things.
We talk a lot about feelings, even if we both have no fucking clue what we’re feeling. But I think it’s important just to talk, to be there for each other even if we’ve got no words to make things okay. Just knowing that I have someone who understands me has made such a huge difference. But learning to understand myself has been the key to it all.
It’s strange that I’ve never written about this before, but I guess it’s not exactly a quality I like to flaunt. I’m flawed, my brain plays tricks on me, the internal battles still wager on. But I’m getting there. And I hope you are too. <3