For years I took it as a truism that the 2 responses to trauma were “fight or flight” — it was almost a cliche. Then some time in the past few years I started hearing about the 3rd choice, the Freeze Response. More accurately, the responses to trauma are Fight, Flight, or Freeze. Animals in the wild can choose to play dead when faced with a predator. Then after the predator leaves, the animal who has survived will literally shake, releasing the trauma from his body, before continuing with his life. As humans we’re discouraged from doing this, so the trauma stays stuck in our tissues, often to manifest as disease much later. Once in my 40s on a rare visit to my mother, she reached to hug me. I braced myself slightly, and we were both surprised when my body started shaking uncontrollably as soon as she touched me — some part of me knew she wasn’t safe. She backed away and we never discussed it. I had learned to trust my body and its reactions by then, and I silently thanked it for protecting me.
As I continue my studies in energy medicine and vision improvement, and my self-awareness increases, I am noticing how familiar it is for me to not feel safe — it seems to be my default, I hate to say. Rather than being upset about this or seeing myself as “broken”, I’m seeing it as good information to have, just like if I never took off my strong contact lenses and faced how deep my blur was, I’d never have done anything about it. For the “little t traumas”, as the EFT teachers refer to them (like a friend canceling on me when I was counting on spending time with her), I can tap in the moment or journal about it, rather than telling myself I’m fine when I’m not. For the bigger stuff, like a memory of a big T trauma (often from childhood) which can rise up unexpectedly and grab me, I may need to take more time, or get some help to work through it from my growing network of co-practitioners. One is waiting to be worked on later today: I just looked up a recommended book on trauma on Amazon, and they suggested a few related books, one called “Too Scared To Cry”. ACK! That was me, most of my childhood, and my only coping mechanism then was to hide with a book for company, a perfect example of the Freeze Response.
OK, so what does this have to do with vision? For me, everything — some other child might have become a sugar addict or a bully, but I froze my vision. Yesterday I did a lot of driving in foggy gray weather, dim lighting in midday, so had plenty of chance to observe myself coping with not feeling safe. (Be careful what you ask for!) I tapped with my free hand while I reminded myself I could see well enough, that the other drivers had to deal with the fog too, that I could put my glasses on if I really felt the need (I never did), that I could pull over and rest my eyes and palm, etc. Just reminding myself that I have choices calms me, and remembering to look at small points gives me more clarity, which of course makes me feel safer. I feel like the increasing spiral when I was younger was stronger and stronger glasses and feeling less and less safe, and now I’m unwinding this. I’m addressing it from both ends, looking with healthy vision habits to see more clearly, while I also do things to increase my feelings of safety (like meditation, or maintaining my awareness rather than spacing out). My clear vision is growing every day, and I am feeling safer — they support each other.