Relationships: Fight or Flight?

Fight or Flight by CarmellaP
Fight or Flight by CarmellaP

Not Your Normal Reaction...

This isn't about coming to a point in a relationship where there has been a catastrophic event; betrayal of trust, cheating, lying, your partner has tried to kill you or one of you has landed on the other side of prison bars. Nothing so drastic to justify to the "outsiders" that there is a major flaw in the relationship where it is obvious that you can go screaming from the highest mountaintop and rally your posse of hundreds to stand beside you and give you the strength of steel you need to get through a major life change.

No, this is a quiet internal natural disaster that signals every waking neuron in your mind and body that you are not where you should be. This life that you are living has suddenly taken a turn that you aren't comfortable with. You talk with your significant other, you cry yourself to sleep, you try to come up with resolutions that would work. You are simply getting closer and closer to becoming someone who is not your authentic self and you have two choices. Suppress that part of you and learn to adapt and be happy, that's the fight response - and you have to go into counseling and keep this trauma to yourself because you can't take this out on anyone else in this life. The second decision is to leave, and with what you have left of what was YOU in the WE relationship, you rebuild.This happened to me A Lot in the past. In fact, I can count on one hand, the relationships in which it did not happen.

Lady Lillith - Dante

Time for Me

Why must women/men always feel they need to be in some kind of love relationship to define where they are in life? Does it define their worth? Does it make them feel they are needed? Does it have to do with self-esteem or lack of it?

I don't have the answer. What if we purposely were NOT in a relationship and took time out to "find ourselves". Okay, I admit, its a cheesy phrase people used to use - but really - I don't think most adults from about 30-70 have ever taken time - within or without a relationship - to define what is uniquely them. This generation was still from the old school of emotional dependency, most of them still defining their worth through how much they were needed by others (spouse, children, parents, siblings, etc.)... never taking time to explore avenues of their soul without guilt for taking time away from the relationship or resentment from their partner for attempting it. All misunderstandings of course. And it does seem to be a phenomenon prevalent to the United States, mostly middle class.

What if we took that emotional break and decided we weren't going to re-engage in any relationships until we figure out what it is that we really want out of life; whether its to pursue a dream, a trip, a hobby, change careers, seek an adventure, learn new skills, or decide to make big changes to our life and mindset? What if radical changes were in order to be happy in our lives? How many people in our lives would support our decisions to follow our dreams, ambitions, and soul purpose when we honestly took that look at ourselves? What does it say about them? Have we perpetuated that, passed it on to others, encouraged it? How many of our partners would be willing to take that journey of self-discovery with us or how many would fear change even if it meant staying in place would mean stagnancy?

Do you feel sometimes that people are not "getting" you, or not "seeing" you? Do you sometimes think that people have known you for so long that you've become invisible and that they just think they know what you are going to say - if you say something completely different, they either don't hear it and go on as if you had said what they were thinking or if you did respond differently, thought you were kidding or had been drinking or something?

I think this is sad, as I have seen reflections of it in my own life. And I've never been the predictable type really. I've never really been settled, although I am dependable and loyal.

I've been thinking about this quote a lot lately (refer to my hub "Finally Understanding" and all this is clearer, I think)

“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise, we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” ~Thomas Merton

I really think that this is a major problem of mine. So I need to get a good understanding of who I am, what I want and where I'm going when I am alone. The one good thing is that I know that when I'm alone, I'm not lonely. I'm not dependent on anyone else to tell me what to do or fill up my time. I know how to make every moment count and I don't have to nor do I want to be told what to do. I don't need anyone to tell me what's important in life, I know my priorities - why do I let go of them or why do they take a back seat to everyone else's lives and goals when I am in a relationship? Why do I care more about the other person and their schedule and their happiness than my own? I need to change that by first understanding why I do that.


REALIZATION

I have been reading and re-reading this for a week. I haven't told you how much I would love to be in a loving relationship with a partner of like-minded values.

I know this is a different point of view from most. I wanted to write a summary about how this eventually can lead to a solid, healthy relationship with love and openness. I want to say that eventually someone will come along who really "sees" you as you do them, and understands you in the way you understand them - like no one else can. But I haven't gotten that far yet.

I would love to hear from all of you who have found that love of a lifetime. What do you do when you get to that point when you feel you are losing yourself and how do you balance your needs and those of your partner? Is this an issue for everyone?

Thanks so much for reading and for your comments!

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Comments 12 comments

Kazechan profile image

Kazechan 5 years ago


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

Erin, Most all women are taught that life is not complete unless you're married and have children. Usually any desires or goals are forgotten. After my divorce, i felt alone and felt that i was nothing without a husband. I entered into my second marriage because it was expected. I soon learned that i had made a mistake. He was nothing like me. He was very wealthy and we lived ( The good life ) I was miserable. He had a lady who lived in the Maid's quarters, (Mary) On the second day of my arrival, i invited Mary to sit at the table and have lunch with us, she looked surprised and embarressed but sat down. Afterward my Husband said, " Never invite a Black person to sit at our table " I was shocked. Needless to say, i couldn't live like that. After that, i decided to do what i wanted to do for the first time in my life. I went back to school, became an R.N., found my niche in life. I've finally found that you can be complete outside of marriage. Having a good honest friend, ( Which i have ) is the best for me. I am lucky enough to be independent. I do what i want to do. To me it is a freedom that i never had , and that feeling didn't happen until i began to think, What do you want. Geez, I didn't intend to vent, but i guess i have. Thank you my Dear friend.

Hugs (:D


marellen 5 years ago

Erin....I wanted more than anything to be in a love relationship, tried three times with marriage and of course each time I married the wrong man. I will be 60 in a few months and have in the last two years decided that dating is not for me and if I'm alone then so be it. Your only alone as much as you care to be. I have a wonderful family and good friends that I rely on for all kinds of things and thank goodness they come through for me. I know this: I will never marry again and I don't need a man in my life to make me whole. My heart has been broken to much to allow that to happen again. I find that I can't make commitments for love anymore. I have gone way beyond the call of duty for that.


Erin LeFey profile image

Erin LeFey 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Ruby, thank you so much for sharing! That's exactly the kind of thing I needed to hear. I've been married twice (VERY short marriages) myself too, and it seems the only time that I am happy is when I am not in a relationship. I have wonderful friends, and that fulfills me too - Sister, we have so much in common, more and more all the time it seems. Thanks so much for sharing. hugs :)

Marellen, Thanks so much for sharing your story as well! I feel I go way beyond what I'm expected to and loose myself in a relationship, and I don't know whose fault that is; but regardless, its just not worth it. I've reached that same point you have: my heart has been broken too much to allow it to open up like that again. I'm so glad to hear that you have such a wonderful support network and that you also understand that alone does not mean lonely. We can be whole on our own! Thanks so much for sharing. Brightest Blessings my friend!


babasanju profile image

babasanju 5 years ago from India

Hi @Erin I just love reading your post and this time I liked the issue more as I am going to get into a married life.

As for as my understanding is, I think its just the lack of patience and sacrifice due to the perpetual change happening in the life style of the people world wide. World is copying US I am afraid that this problem seems to be spreading across the oceans. Though even as of now 99% Indians get married only once in a life time and as the days pass they become much more lovable and faithful to each other.

So I expect even though I am going to get married to an unknown girl but I've created a sense of belongingness in my heart and I know it would be quite tough but I close all the other options but going to live forever God has made her for me and I can't deny His order.

Wish me Luck.. Love you.


Erin LeFey profile image

Erin LeFey 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Babasanju,

you know I wish you blessings and every happiness in the world. Perhaps you are onto something there in your great country of India. The culture is so different and deeply spiritual - and so compassionate when it comes to other people, even strangers. These cultural differences are what sets us all apart from each other - and brings us together to learn from each other as well. When is the wedding? I want to hear all about it, you can email me if you want to from my profile page. Brightest Blessings, Erin


thougtforce profile image

thougtforce 5 years ago from Sweden

Erin, this is a great article and I can relate to what you say here. I am a person who is constantly searching and are on my way to something, to what I do not know! When I was younger I thought that I would find "that" in a relationship and because of it I have had several relationships that didn't´work. Now I am happily married for 25 years because I have learned that this burden can not be added to another person! That is a terrible load to put on a partner and it isn't fair either. We all get lost now and then and becomes brooding about our life and where we are going. And then a partner must be there to support or be patient and wait. Offer security or excitement or whatever is needed. We cant feel happy all the time and the times still comes when I wonder what I am doing in this relationship. But the down periods now comes more seldom and we sort of life with the knowledge that this is how it is. This is the way to live in a marriage for a long time but it takes constant nurturing and a lot of self scrutinizing!

I now feel content in this relation even though I am constantly searching for other things besides a new partner! I guess I will always be looking and be on my way to "something". When writing this I realize that my partner is the same, maybe that is the secret:)

Thanks for a great read!

Tina


Erin LeFey profile image

Erin LeFey 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Tina, Thanks so much for all you have written! I think I know what you mean, but you are right, it takes a lot of self-scrutinizing. And its not fair to put that on someone else and expect them to fill the space that is within you, you have to be whole yourself.

I just wish it was easier...but nothing worth having is easy in life, is it? :)I know what you mean about always feeling like you are on your way to "something".

I am so happy to hear of your successful 25 year relationship (happy silver anniversary!)

brightest blessings.


Fennelseed profile image

Fennelseed 5 years ago from Australia

I also can relate to your hub. I think there is an expectation that as women, and as traditional nurturers we will look after the needs of others, namely our spouses and children. It’s what we do. However, in taking on that role, we lose the opportunity to develop as people in our own right. I guess this is my own experience through 22 years of marriage. Though it was a rewarding time as far as being a mother to my children, my needs and desires were always put to one side. It has been difficult, in subsequent relationships since my marriage broke down 11 years ago, to move into a mindset that I am wholly and solely me. It appears to me that this is the nature of relationships, though I doubt that men feel this also.

Thank you for this insightful hub.


Erin LeFey profile image

Erin LeFey 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Fennelseed,

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I believe that happens to us so often. You are absolutely right, we are the nurturers and I also carried most of the compassion in my relationships - when I needed it most, that's when they broke down. I could be my own comfort and find my own peace better if I was without my partner...therefore, we know what happened to the relationships; they just crumbled. Well, here's to us finding the time now to develop in our own right. Brightest Blessings.


Becky 5 years ago

I decided early in life that I was not going to get married until I was older and knew who I was. I watched all my cousins and then my friends get married and divorced, leaving the women to raise children by themselves. My parents were happily married and I studied that marriage. I learned that they could be totally happy, self-sufficient, and complete by themselves. They had a happiness when they were together that just was not there when alone. They really cared for each other and did not take on the traditional roles of man supporting and woman doing all the taking care of. They both worked and both of them took care of their children, cleaning and cooking. My dad was a talented cook and taught me to cook a lot of things. When they wanted some time alone or with a friend, they just said so and there were no problems with them being their own person.

I finally found a man that I considered to be a good man when I was 27 and we married. We have now been married for 27 years and will be together for the rest of our lives. I realize that all people are not as lucky to find someone as we have been but marriage should be a spiritual support for the couple. We both go to the other when we need a shoulder and he is my best friend. I consider myself lucky but also know that when we got married, I told him I did not do divorce and if we had a problem, we would just have to fix it because it would not just go away. Many times in the first few years, we got into arguments about something that one of us perceived as wrong and a few times we went to friends from our church who had a good marriage to get help working through a problem. This really helps and remember NOT to involve family in your arguments. It will make them defensive of their baby and ruin their relationship with your spouse.


Erin LeFey profile image

Erin LeFey 5 years ago from Maryland Author

Becky,

thanks so much for writing. I do believe that it is better to wait and learn all you can before jumping in. I didn't - I got married when I was 19 and with little surprise, it ended in divorce at 21, I had only known him for 9 months prior though.

If I had it to do all over again, I would take the route you did and study relationships - concentrate on my education and get to know myself a lot better before taking that step. Congratulations on that 27 years - I wish you all the love and happiness in the world! You are so lucky to have found that - but I also know it takes hard work, a lot of patience and a lot of love to go through all those years - it takes true partnership. Thank you again for sharing your story - Brightest Blessings!

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