I had a realisation in early November that I had spent a lot of my life in survival mode. In fact it has become a recognisable bed I was lying in, but not a very safe one. The last 3-4 years have been particularly bad and my external life had reflected that financially, in my home situation, physically via the cancer and emotionally just feeling numb and being okay about having so little.
Living in survival mode means you are always living in fear: fear of death, fear of destruction, fear that the few things you have in life will crumble away and you will fall into the abyss. That is how I have felt for as long as I can remember. This terrible fear led to becoming a control freak – trying to manage aspects of my life – money, relationships, day to day living, and my son – so as to feel “safe.” Pretending to yourself, “its okay you’ve got it all under control Maxine,” while inside your’re freaking out.
Control does not allow for love to flow and controlling addictively to avoid fear is unloving. Avoiding fear is living in fear and is unloving, restrictive and self-denying as well as unloving to others, because your thoughts and actions are driven but that unhealing emotions. Even people pleasing, which I have done all my life, is about control and avoiding people’s anger, judgement and attack. It is heavily disguised as taking care of others, but in fact it is about taking care of yourself.
Being in survival mode is really bad for your health too. When we are in flight or fright mode we produce adrenalin and cortisol by the pint and all this adrenalin constantly pumping around our system isn’t good. In the end it creates a toxic environment and it is exhausting.
I have become an expert in batting back, ducking, avoiding, distracting myself from feeling fear. In the process I have created a facade that is dull and hard and uncreative. I have lost more and more of myself.
However, there are some deep causal events and emotions that started this whole survival mode. John Bradshaw, in his book Homecoming, says “a witness to violence is a victim to violence.” I had a father who was violent, a step father who was even more so both, physically and mentally to my mother. I sat on the stairs or behind my bedroom door many times listening to the shouting and violence going on near me. I even have a memory of standing in my cot and feeling this big dark red cloud coming into the room. It was rage – I think it was my father’s rage at my mother, I don’t have the details, but I feel panicky, tense and scared at the memory…and there is still much I haven’t remembered yet.
Then there is the other day to day violence, of being shouted at, clipped round the ear, blamed and shamed in one way or another as our parents, unable to cope with their own emotions, send them our way: it is normalised parenting in soceity. As a small child, all these things shake you to the core and it has left me with the constant feeling that my world will end at any moment, that there is no solid foundation to exist from and no unconditional love to be found.
When I hit a metaphorical wall in November, my body aching from doing a job that was too demanding and pushing myself to the limits with it, and only months after major surgery and cancer and then coming home to live in a place I really don’t like, reduced down to living pretty much in one room with no space to get the things I love out – my art materials and writing materials and no money to buy new clothes when I need to or enjoy things I love, counting every penny and struggling to pay off some debts.
So I started to feel some emotions about it – yes mostly effect emotions – sadness, and some frustration, but mostly sadness, at the situation I was in, and created by my unhealed emotions, my choice to keep suppressing them.
In relation to this, for the last 2-3 of years I have also become aware that I have attracted a large group of spirits who do not want what is best for me, but only want to control my life, zap my energy and keep me small and at times completely destroy me. Every time I try to take a step forward I feel they come for me. It has felt like a real battle for my soul and it is. They reflect what I feel at times: small, unimportant and helpless. I am acting as if I have no choice, but I do.
So I have made a few changes, started to look at addictions/facade and done some activities that bring up fear. We have a choice, but to change we have to stop denying what is really going on and what we are really choosing.
I wanted to share this, to help those of you who may be doing the same as I have been. It is so important to be honest with ourselves, to look at our lives and see what it is showing us about our unhealed emotions, our self worth and our denial. We do have the power to change all this and we have much greater power to change all this if we include God in the process.