30,000-39,999 SparkPoints 32,430

fight or flight

Monday, May 23, 2011

I recently had an encounter at an end-of-year picnic that my youngest son and I attended to mark the end (yippee) of one of his sports. There were a number of families there that I had never met because this is a sport (rugby) that has a number of teams of all different age groups. We had no sooner arrived than I practically bumped into a man who was screaming obscenities in the face of his young son, who looked to be about 11 years old. My own 7 y.o. happily ran off to play with some teammates and was oblivious to the ugly encounter, but I stood frozen for a second, shocked at what I was witnessing. The father was a burly guy with a shaved head and a beard - he had a menacing look but that could have been because he was enraged. Most people look a bit intimidating (and, honestly, often foolish) when they are engulfed in anger. The child's crime? He was not participating in a skills drill. I will be the first to admit, I get frustrated with my children on a daily basis. I have sworn around my children. I have spoken to them harshly, and thusly, have apologized many times when I have let my temper and impatience get the better of me. I have great empathy for parents who are having a bad day with their kids and I have reminded myself, at times, when I am tempted to judge someone for speaking harshly to a a child, "I have no idea what they have been going through". This was beyond frustration. This was bullying, plain and simple. I very quietly, so the child, whose back was to me, would not hear, said to the father "please stop that". He immediately turned on me, which enabled his son to make a quick getaway which was the whole point of me butting into the tirade. He screamed at me to mind my own business (a valid point) to which I reminded him that it became my business when it occurred inches from me. It isn't as if I broke down their door (though, if I had heard what he was screaming coming from behind closed doors, it would have been tempting to do something, anything - it was awful). He told me "I say whatever I want" to which I replied "well, clearly, you do" and, as you can tell, this was not a confrontation that would turn into a useful conversation, and so, it ended - him glaring at me, me glaring back - but no more words exchanged. Believe me, it occurs to me that he may have then taken it out on his wife (who was there but showed no sign of responding) or the son, but I have no control over that and bullies count on people remaining too fearful to act. I pray it never goes beyond screaming, and that they seek help, especially for the children so they know that it is not normal be treated like that. I have no idea what others' were thinking, or observing. For that one awful moment it was just he and I and, for a split second I braced myself for a blow because he was furious and I was now the object of his fury and I was within striking distance. I escaped an abusive marriage when I was a teenager. It was long ago, long forgiven, and taught me many useful lessons, once I had some safe distance. It was interesting to me that such a long forgotten response would come roaring back inside my body. He knew, though, that hitting me would be an instant "do not pass go, proceed straight to jail" card for him. Not too much time passed (with us at opposite ends of the picnic grounds) that I was in front of the buffet table. I chose spinach salad, no chips, no brats, and three tiny desserts. I was aware, when I was eating those petite little sugar-bombs, that I was taking them in much like, many years ago, I would inhale deeply from a cigarette, or take a pull off a bottle of liquor. They offered momentary pleasure, and then, minutes later, I felt like Dorothy in the poppy field on her way to OZ - I was so tired, I just wanted to lie down and sleep. I spoke to a friend later in the day, about what had gone on earlier. She (who is far smarter and better educated than I) said "oh, of course - you had a fight or flight response, and when the body has an acute episode of this the liver dumps glucose and goes looking for more, so the sugar is exactly what your body and brain were searching for". Well, hello, you just described much of my life, especially the past few years. I have had a lot of "fight or flight" for reasons I won't go into here (though I have touched on some of it in previous blogs). My liver has been on a glucose dumping mission for many years and I have accomodated it by being a very accomplished glucose replenisher. This was a lightbulb moment for me. I had known this to some degree, but the incident yesterday put it in stark relief. In order to truly overhaul my eating habits, and restore my body to it's God-intended size, I have to be diligent about examining and treating stressors, both small and large. This has never been more obvious to me. I have some tools that are very useful - prayer, exercise, reading, more exercise, friends, Sparkfriends, blogging, tv (a great diversion if not overused), family (when they aren't providing me new sources of stress, that is). However, I am always looking for new suggestions and willing to learn lessons from my wise Sparklers: what is your most helpful tool for reducing stress? Please share it with me - I will be grateful to lean on your experience and wisdom. Bless you.
Share This Post With Others
Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Wow! Thank you for stepping in and sparing that poor child from his verbal thrashing. It makes me sad to think that he will probably continue this pattern with his kids, and it makes me even more sad to think that his father probably endured the same thing. What a tragic cycle!

    I, too, think I am a glucose dumper/replenisher. I've noticed a pattern after my husband and I have arguments: I am ravenously hungry after the vast majority of them. The reason for this probably varies; I'm sure that sometimes I'm eating out of spite (especially if the argument involves my weight), but I experienced this very reaction after we resolved an argument last night. I felt a lot better about the fight that occurred a few days ago, but I then felt like I was starving (despite the fact that I had eaten a generous dinner). Perhaps your friend is right - I will keep this in mind the next time I have a reaction like this!!

    Great blog! Thanks for sharing your story!! Hope you have a wonderful day!
    ~ Kayli
    2524 days ago
  • TK421BETH
    Cannie! Wow-that took a lot, confronting that dude. You have to remember to be careful, though...there are a lot of crazy people out there! Then again, you weren't alone.

    I'm proud of you with your food choices at the buffet table. Keep up the good work! emoticon

    I eat when I'm: stressed, happy, sad, excited, etc... LoL!
    2524 days ago
    GOOD for you for intervening in this mans tirade on his child. Physical wounds heal much faster than the emotional abuse he was dishing out. Emotional abuse is something he very well may be trying to overcome his whole life. I am non confrontational by nature but can not stand to see a child abused in any manner. Unfortunately it is impossible to have a constructive dialogue with this type of individual.
    Wish I could say I have a useful mechanism for dealing with stress....eating hasn't worked so well for me! emoticon
    2524 days ago
    THANK YOU for speaking up! emoticon
    This kind of child abuse just kills me. I know you well enough to know you would not be able to NOT say something in the face of something like this. (Ok that was not a great sentence but you know what I mean.) Very good insight from your friend re: the Fight or Flight response! Some of my favorite relaxation go-to's are relaxing music, scented candles (not food scents though, for obvious reasons) and playing with the dog. Oh, and the ocean! That's number one, though I don't get to see it often enough.

    2524 days ago
    It has always amazed me to see these Dads at sporting events. Normally level-headed individuals totally losing their sh*t over a "bad" call or perceived imperfection by their kids. I'm glad you spoke up. I don't think I'd have the guts. As far as stress relief goes, sunny days are great for me. I love to sit outside and smell the grass and listen to the trees. That gets rid of about a year's worth of stress for me. We don't get enough of those out here... *sigh*
    2525 days ago
    You really put yourself out there, and I am sure that will be keeping this dad awake and/or give him a HUGE reality check (let's hope!). I'll bet you anything that his wife is thankful for your actions as well. Maybe she can pull some strength from you. I am sure she knew where your heart was.
    You're my hero!
    2525 days ago
    The father was being verbally abusive to his child and when you spoke up, you were that small child's champion. Bravo. emoticon
    2525 days ago
    Your response to that father was so magnificent! You are very brave! As a teacher, I take my hat off to you for standing up to him and giving the child a chance to get away from his tirade. Believe me, the little ones remember when people do such actions for them...I hear about stories like that at work from the children and it makes a positive impact. I applaud you and your courage! I never thought about the body's fight or flight reponses like that...makes sense and worth keeping in mind with stress. As far as stress relief goes, I am such a radio channel surfer, esp. on my way to and from work. Also, set up a little safe "haven" for yourself at home. I have a recliner chair, from it I can see a little decorative table upon which I rotate my favorite decoration--stained glass vases, angle figurines, candles, etc. I also have an end table next to the recliner with scented candles etc. and scrapbooks handy of fun family events. Hate to admit it, but I can see the TV from there also. (reality tv destresses) I top it off with a certain favorite blanet that is incredibly soft! It's all sensory comforting--the rest to the room may have load of laundry, need to be vacuumed etc. but I have a little haven that is peaceful!Good luck!
    2525 days ago
    That totally explains why I am always craving sugary foods!! I am constantly in fight or flight mode at work! I am an auditor and the managers don't like being told that they are doing things wrong so there are usually always arguments of some sort (or they are just plain annoying and driving me insane). Figuring out a different way to deal with this stress on my body sounds like something I need to work on...

    You're the best!!

    2525 days ago
    Wow, that poor little boy. So glad you were able to divert the attention from him, at least for a little while. What a brave thing for you to do. I'm glad he did not get violent in the physical sense (be safe!). It's interesting what you said about the liver/glucose thing. I will have to keep this in mind the next time I am stressed out. I never thought one way or the other how food plays into this. As far as stress relief, I think this varies greatly from person to person. Maybe make a list of the things that calms you down and relaxes you? Then you can refer to this anytime instead of trying to think of something on the spot.
    2525 days ago
  • DAISY443
    Stress relief??? Being retired, having a feisty little dog, single, my children safely miles away so that visits are relaxing, let me count the ways! BUT I honestly believe that I created stress in my life for the adrenaline rush it gave me in the past. Now the things that stress me are, for the most part, inept customer service people on the phone! I admire that you took the part of the bullied child. I don't believe I could have been so brave. How sad that that child will probably grow up to bully his children. And on it goes!
    2525 days ago
    I'm so proud of you for speaking up! How many other people, just ignored what that man was doing? Crazy! I would have butt in too, but I would not have done with as much grace as you did. I wish I had a trick to dealing with stress. Sadly, I'm still searching. Pulling a blanket over my head and screaming really hasn't done much good. emoticon
    2525 days ago
  • Add Your Comment to the Blog Post

    Log in to post a comment

    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

More Blogs by CANNIE50