The second response needed to free ourselves from past trauma, abuse and age regression is re-enabling our flight response. Often when we are abused or shamed we can also be pinned down in some way, prevented from making an escape when to do so would mean we could escape from danger or at least get away from the wounding individual in our home. As a young child we cannot leave a destructive family environment. At a young age we don’t have the skill and ego development to know that what is happening around us has nothing to do with us, we may be told that it does.
We are also desperate to win our parent’s love and if we have a parent who does not really know how to love and connected intimately and deeply we are stuck in a no win situation and can get set up for double binds, learning to act in certain ways to get the necessary attention, even if it is negative attention. For example if our parent’s don’t have much time for us or are depressed, grieving, or in other ways emotionally unavailable we may begin to get ill or have accidents in order to get their attention. We may even carry the parent’s pain ourselves if we are especially sensitive.
In this case, healing for many of us means coming to know that we can leave when things are abusive or difficult. I certainly relate to the feeling of being stuck or pinned in some way. It is interesting to me, now that I am writing this, to realise that when I had the major car accident at age 17, I was literally pinned to my bed in skeletal traction. I had shattered the femur (thigh bone) badly and to heal it, they placed a metal rod through the top of the bone in my lower leg and attached a metal bracket around it, which was then weighted with sand bags. I literally could not leave my bed for over 3 months. This imprint of being pinned in difficult situations had dogged me for most of my life. I look back and see times I was being attacked emotionally when it would have been better not to seek resolution, but rather just walk away.
Disabling of our gut impulses to take action and see what we see, know what we know and feel what we feel is a major part of invalidation abuse and leaves us with a huge trauma legacy. We may sense the truth but doubt ourselves. We may hover on the edge of taking what could be positive action due to fear. The fear may be an old fear, something bad may actually have happened to us when we did try to leave.
This flight response also speaks to me of boundary setting, knowing when it is time to shut the door or separate from someone or something that isn’t good for us. Of course there are times when we should not run as we need to face up to things, but in initial stages of recovery we may need to get away for a time to make sense of things outside of the damaging environment and later, if necessary we can go back in, strong in our power and able to stand for our own truth.
To be actively stopped by someone from leaving a damaging situation is also something we may have to face in recovery. Scapegoaters who have an investment us not separating and owning our own power may try to shame us for leaving or taking flight. I have experienced this a lot.
In his book Homecoming, John Bradshaw provides an exercise in which we can visualise our inner child packing his bags and leaving the abusive home or dysfunctional environment hand in hand with our adult self. The point here which is re-iterated by John Lee on healing age regression is that as adults we can take steps to leave, when stuck in our age regressed, damaged, traumatised and wounded inner child we lack this power. Knowing that we are no longer trapped there and do have an adult self who can speak up for us and help us to own our own power is the key aspect to putting our trauma history in the past and taking action to take care of ourselves in present time. It is an essential key in recovering from being trapped endlessly in repeated abuse and age regression.