I used to say that I suffered from a stunted Fight-or-Flight instinct. I’d get into a situation where my anxiety would peak and couldn’t fight (as it’s generally not the right solution) or flee (there usually being nowhere to flee to or doing so would cause a fight); I would freeze. I’d just stand in place as the actions triggering my anxiety roiled around me. I thought this was a short circuit for years.
I was working on this when I was informed that my understanding of the mechanism was incomplete. The full mechanism being Fight-Flight-OR-Freeze. It wasn’t a short circuit; it was the third option that I never knew existed. This gave me new things to work on and it actually helped. Knowing that the reaction wasn’t the issue gave me more clarity and better ability to work on the real issues.
Today I’ve had another epiphany about my anxiety.
I will sometimes get agitated or angry in a conversation. This will involve stating my stance over and over because I “don’t feel heard”. While this is sometimes true, I think many more times it’s because I’m not actually expressing what I’m trying to say. I present my argument as a personal fact that I want someone else to agree with. In reality, this a cover-up for fear that I’m unwilling to admit or face.
It came up today regarding employment and corporate culture. I was presented with a scenario to explore and I was pushing back on it saying “I have never seen this in my experience”, “No company I have ever worked with has done this” and similar arguments. This was all done under the guise of “not being heard”.
In reality, what I was trying to convey is that I am afraid to explore this. If I do it will expose me to my employers as being gay. If they know I’m gay they will fire me faster than it took them to hire me.
In the conversation, I was being heard. I just wasn’t saying what I needed to really say. I need to learn not to fear expressing my fear.