Categories
Life mental health Uncategorized

My Therapist Says I Need An Imaginary Friend

According to Wikipedia: Self-compassion is extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering.

It’s a warm and sunny afternoon this Wednesday. The birds are chirping, the house is quiet and I have been enjoying some delicious and much needed coffee.

I started my morning off with getting the kids up and ready for school, letting one stay in bed because she had a doctor appointment today. The boys headed off for school and I quickly got myself ready for my morning appointment which would be done by phone today. I poured myself a warm cup and got my daughter settled in her room so I could take my call with some privacy.

Today was supposed to be concentrated on some grief work but turned into self-compassion and anxiety with some talk on trauma and trauma responses.

She used the terms Fight, Flight, Freeze and Appease and I have never heard of this last one. I have no trouble checking off all in Flight, Freeze and Fawn with a couple in Fight. The conversation today had me scribbling away on my paper as we discussed different things. I was noticing feelings and thoughts that I used to feel shame towards but now I recognize as normal responses to my traumas. I found it interesting how my feelings have changed throughout the years while I’ve been working through my childhood.

As for needing an imaginary friend…That’s not exactly what she said but that’s what I took away from the conversation 😀 She said that for many of us who do not have a mother or a trusted person that we can turn to, it can be extra hard to have or to even learn compassion. I didn’t grow up learning compassion and so it took me a long time to learn what that was all about. She asked me if I could have anyone to be the person I turn to for advice or coaching or just to talk about my feelings with, what kind of qualities would they have?

So what if I could create my very own personal Imaginary Guru? What kinds of qualities would I choose? What’s important to me? My mind whirled in all directions. I took parts of different people from my life, all of whom I knew/know and admire for different things.

I find it odd that I pictured my Guru as a male resembling the Ghost Of Christmas Present in Mickey’s Christmas Carol. (The Ghost of Christmas Present represents generosity and good will. He shows Scrooge scenes of people sharing what they have with each other, even if they have very little). And all the many traits I picked for him were also from various male family members, friends and co-workers. Not a single female.

My list consists of the following:

  • Calming voice
  • Calming energy
  • Calming scent
  • Kind eyes
  • Sense of humor
  • Non-judgmental
  • Great integrity, honesty

What types of trauma cause the fawn response? The fawn response is most commonly associated with childhood trauma and complex trauma — types of trauma that arise from repeat events, such as abuse or childhood neglect — rather than single-event trauma, such as an accident.

I found a little breakdown of each at Simply Psychology.

Fight

When you feel in danger and believe you can overpower the threat, you are in fight mode. Your brain sends signals throughout your body to rapidly prepare for the physical demands of fighting.

Most signs to tell you are in fight response include:

  • Tight jaw or grinding of the teeth
  • Urge to punch someone or something
  • Feeling intense anger or killing someone, even yourself
  • Desire to stomp or kick
  • Crying
  • Glaring at people, conserving angrily
  • Upset stomach, feels like knots or burning
  • Attacking the source of the danger

Flight

This is believing you can defeat the danger by running away. In some cases, running away is the best decision. Take a burning building as an example. Unless you are a firefighter, it is best to get out of there as fast as you can.

These emotional and physical responses signify you are in flight mode:

  • Excessively exercising
  • Feeling fidgety or tense or trapped
  • Constantly moving legs, feet, and arms
  • Restless body that will not stop moving
  • Sensation of numbness in extremities
  • Dilated eyes, darting eyes

Freeze

When one feels neither like fighting nor flighting, freezing is an option. This list of responses let you know you are in freeze mode:

  • Pale skin
  • Sense of dread
  • Feeling stiff, heavy, cold, numb
  • Loud, pounding heart
  • Decreasing of heart rate
  • Sensing tolerated stress

Fawn

One may use the fawn response after unsuccessfully trying fight, flight, and freeze. The fawn response is typically prominent in people who grew up in abusive families or situations.

If you are an abused child with narcissistic parents, the only hope of survival would probably be agreement and helpfulness.

Over time, you can recognize this by realizing that regardless of how poorly a person treats you, you are more concerned with making them happy than taking care of yourself.

I learned a little about myself today that I will be able to use in my healing journey 🙂

I hope you’re having a great week!

-Ang

3 replies on “My Therapist Says I Need An Imaginary Friend”

Wow, I really enjoyed reading this post. It has actually made me think so much about my own life; my present, past and how I handle life now. (I probably need to have a therapist who calls me up too, hehe.)

Thanks Ang, for conveying this so clearly and helpfully. You’re a sweetheart.

I find that I have been in Freeze mode for too long. I don’t know if I ever spent much time in Fight or Flight mode. I know I’ve done Fawn because of my abusive childhood. But right now, I’ve just been frozen in place.

Imaginary friend is interesting. I’m thinking over who my imaginary friend would be, and what type of character that friend would have. Interesting. 🙂

This leaves me with a lot to think about. I truly hope you and your family are doing well. Take it easy and have a blessed day. 😀

Like

Good post Angie. We all need someone to “hear” us from time to time. As to Appease, I had not hear that one, but I recognize it from the trauma the kids in my wife’s family have been and are still going through with an abusive parent. Hang in there and your perfect confidant will emerge. Allan

Like

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.