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don Miguel Ruiz



Musings of an Awakening Spirit

Stories, poetry & general musings of Rebecca Haywood, a modern-day Shaman with a penchant for bringing the divine into the human experience.

Resistance of the Trauma Self: Part 3: The Flight

The flight response presents in the emotional aspect: the energy is flowing but erratic. The frozen self may have thawed enough to move but only laterally— flitting back and forth between emotional coping mechanisms. One might think that this flight is purely based in fear but remember, we are talking about the trauma self’s resistance to being embraced by You, the guardian, and in this case, to being felt. She isn’t just fleeing in fear, she is fleeing from fear itself… and so much more.

The fear that initiated her flight is pure terror. What happened to her was horrendous. No matter the level of physical violence, in her mind, death was imminent. Of course she fled from that terror, and for all that she couldn’t flee physically, she fled emotionally. She disappeared into an illusion that made the horror bearable—a fantasy directed by an emotional experience that felt safe and that kept her ‘secret’ safe from others, from herself, even from You.

It was and is her great escape—she slips the binding knots of fear and dons herself in emotional masks. And it is a magical feat—commendable, resilient, crafty—and an act of power, an act of self-love. As her guardian, we can both honor her for that and help her to see that the only one she is running from now is herself.

“I don’t want to be here.” Those were the words of my 8yr old trauma self as I held her last week. “My heart can’t take anymore. I don’t want to be in this ugly world. I don’t know how.” This was the lift-off moment—the crux of her flight—in which I, the guardian, could let her disappear from me again, or I could show her another way.

I have witnessed trauma clients hovering on this same cliff. Easily misinterpreted as suicidal, they welcomed my intuitive reply, “Of course you don’t want to be here!” The relief would wash over their face with the realization that it was actually a healthy response and that they were closer than ever to healing their trauma self.

Closer because although the trauma self flees from fear, it is so much more than that; she is fleeing her own existence—her gender, her family, her place in a world that feels forever tainted. Despite all of her emotional masks, she still feels ashamed, alone, and vulnerably hopeless against it.

But it is important for her to give up… as long as you are there to catch her. In the giving up, she gives up her masks and gives in, to You. This is your chance to show her that other way, to be the example of the beauty in this world, to take her hand and walk with her emotionally, to face the scary moments with her and show her how brave she is and, when she cowers or seeks out a mask, to be the love that she can cling to instead.

In my cliff moment, I didn’t ask my trauma self to feel any differently than she did; I just held her through the long dark night. I let her hopeless tears, her abandoned fears roll through me and I kissed each one, literally embracing my own body. I showed up for her, right where she was at, and this was exactly the medicine she needed—my presence. By morning she was all mine; she trusted me again and that was enough for her to at least try to walk (not run) in this world… with me as her guardian.

When embracing the trauma self’s flight response, she often shows us the emotional masks before she unveils the hopeless fear. And, if she does get naked in her terror for a moment, she will quickly shroud herself in these emotional deflections. But we do have to lift her masks and touch the racing heart that holds them. For that fear can develop into detrimental emotional patterns and chemical imbalances within the body—ptsd, anxiety, depression, rage—leading to addiction, suicidal thoughts and even personality disorders.

No, we don’t just strip her of her masks; that would be jarring to anyone. Rather, we must meet her emotionally. Before my cliff moment, I walked through several emotional experiences, each matching a different age, phase, or mask of my trauma self. My 8 yr old wept with confusion while my teenager raged and my spiritual warrior bypassed into nirvana.

And the masks switched quickly. It is the trauma self’s fear of being felt, of feeling what she felt all over again. But it is more than that; it is her secret shame. The original emotions reveal her “original sin”. For no matter the age of our trauma self, she casts that stone against herself at least in part—a stone made heavier with the judgments of those who chastised her for these feelings. So the emotions became part of her secret, locked away in the clandestine recesses of her heart and veiled by coping mechanisms.

However your flight arrives, the medicine is to remain present with it and to embrace each emotion. Though it can be tempting to ‘fix’ her—to take her pain away and sweep her up into some other, “better” emotional experience—we the guardian must refrain and instead create the space for her to safely have her process. It is the emotional wound unwinding from the body and so we must allow it to revolve so that it may evolve, without the bypasses of drugs, food, sex, or nirvana (sorry spiritual warrior, even you have become a drug).

Do not swim above it in anyway. Dive deep. Drown if you must. For all of her feelings are valid, and every hue of blue is her song to You— “Show me how to be here.”

Walk thru this process in my video series on Emotional Presence, called “Gifts for the Ghost”:

Resistance of the Trauma Self: Part 2: The Freeze
Resistance of the Trauma Self: Part 4: The Fight

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