Friday, February 11, 2011

Shinning a light in the dark

I mentioned a couple posts/weeks ago that I have been trying to get through my book list more quickly...well the mid week switch up is working. I finished "Waking the Tiger" and it has really had a very spiritual, profound effect on me. It's a pretty technical book, lots of psychology about trauma and recovery and on and on - to spare you, I will mention a couple things that really stuck with me...

Animals have a few possible responses to danger/threat - the obvious ones that we hear all the time are flight or fight, but there is also freeze. While it seems like a weak response because sometimes freezing has less than favorable results (ie the deer in the headlights) but there are some animals that benefit from it. Remember in Dinner for Schmucks how Steve Carrell would just freeze and play dead when people attacked him? And then they would leave him alone because it's not much fun to beat up on something dead - well turns out this totally works for small animals. Doves for example, if grabbed from behind will freeze up, and if you turn them upside down they will remain frozen, feet sticking upward and not move for several minutes. When you set them back down, the will unfreeze and continue on as if nothing had happened. What could this possibly have to do with me you's my new personal coping mechanism - well it has been for a long time but now it has a name. Levine says that it is totally possible for people to experience trauma or loss or threat and to freeze - freeze their emotions, freeze their reactions, etc. and to continue on with life until they are ready to revisit and deal with it. So when I am asked why it is so hard to go visit my grandparents, or to talk about my trauma, or abandonment issues, and I say I just don't want to - it's because I am freezing it for right now and when I am capable I will revisit.

Another tidbit I really liked from the book was a line where Levine says, "Success doesn't mean winning, it means simply surviving and being alive," this means so much to me in the midst of all the chaos of my life. By no means am I winning the rat race, but I am surviving, what's more I am alive and while I struggle everyday to be a good mom, finish school, earn enough money at work, give Steve a meaningful relationship - I am striving in the midst of all of it. And just to prove to Levine that I was listening - I realize now what my Dad meant when he said "You've been through a lot and you don't deserve any of it" and I appreciate his sentiment - but now I also know what to respond (months later). I know, because of the strength of my faith, that God did not decide one day to smite me. I know that I have an immune deficiency because of complicated genetic factors and environmental enfluences. I know that people die because it is the circle of life. And I know that there is no one out there who decided to maliciously hurt me when they woke up one morning. Life is a series of decisons made by people whose actions we can't control and it is also a matter of living with the consequences of those decisions knowing they can't be changed but by simply surviving them.

One last thought - Levine also says that when something bad happens and we ask ourselves why, we are trying to apply meaning to it. All we need in moments of fear is awareness - to be aware of our surroundings, our feelings, our safety and that which threatens it. There is not necessarily meaning in a lot of things, but by simply being aware, we are giving ourselves all the tools we need to survive it.

Anyway, I loved this book, it really broadened my horizons and if you need to get your thinker a thinkin' its worth a read. Waking the Tiger by Peter Levine.

Since I am sure this is all really only interesting to me now that I have finished, here is a special treat for making it through the jibber jabber - a special some one lighting up the dark in his own way...



Constant Writer said...

That book does sound interesting. But I haven't created a book portion of my budget yet, so it'll have to wait until then. I also need to delegate time in my schedule so that I have time to read stuff I WANT to read as well as the stuff I HAVE TO read.
PS: Pretty neat trick with the flashlight too ;)

Outnumbered said...

I did used to have a book budget, until i discovered used books for a penny a piece on Amazon...I have officially boycotted B&N and Borders...Yeah it's been a real struggle to get done the reading that I want to, but I find that I'd rather read something enjoyable than sleep an extra hour a night lol.

The flashlight was so funny, he picked it up this mornign and tried blowing on it for sooooo long and he go so mad that nothing happened he threw it on the floor lol

Constant Writer said...

that's awesome. I really need to set up a paypal or something so i can shop online. I don't shop at B&N or Borders much either--i've been haunting the used book stores like mad for over a couple years. Sometimes it takes time because I want newer stuff that hasn't been sold back yet, lol, but i have so many to read that it doesn't matter if I have to wait. I have other things in the meantime.

Outnumbered said...

OMG don't do it! Stay away from paypal at all costs - they have so many problems with people's bank accounts getting broken into and card numbers being used illegally! If you shop on amazon you almost never need paypal - they just take credit cards and debit cards and their site is much more secure than ebay