Thursday, April 14, 2011

Freezing on the spot

When we freeze it can feel like we're helpless to say or do anything to help our self. Many of us can feel like we were weak for having frozen and it can be really hard to accept that we didn't do or say anything to help our self. We may feel that we could have prevented whatever from happening if only we had fought back or been able to escape.

It is crucial to know that the freeze response is involuntary, you do not have any voluntary control over it. Depending on the threat that your system detects, it will decide whether to freeze or not. Your ability to physically move or call out will be prevented so that no more harm (for example, death) will come to you. Therefore your ability to fight back or put up a struggle is not under your control. It is crucial for anyone dealing with sexual abuse (among other abuses and neglect) to be trauma-informed so that the victim is not blamed. It is also important to note that we will freeze according to our stage of development and any resources available to us, therefore the younger we are, the bigger our propensity to freeze.

The ability to freeze an experience is a great survival mechanism that serves us really well in situations where we don't have the resources to deal with it in that moment. As Ivor Browne states ~ Whenever we are faced with an overwhelming experience that we sense as potentially disintegrating, we have the ability to suspend it and "freeze" it in an unassimilated, inchoate form and maintain it in that state indefinitely, or for as long as necessary.

Top of head: I froze
Eyebrow: I should have fought back
Side of eye: It's all my fault
Under eye: I'm weak
Under nose: I felt helpless
Under chin: And powerless
Collar bone: To do anything
Under arm: And I can't accept myself for having done nothing

Top of head: I should have done something!!
Eyebrow: But I froze
Side of eye: I wanted to survive
Under eye: I was weak
Under nose: At least it felt that way
Under chin: Why didn't I do something?!
Collar bone: I could have prevented ...
Under arm: It's really hard to accept that I did nothing

Top of head: I did my best
Eyebrow: What??
Side of eye: No I didn't
Under eye: Yes, I did
Under nose: I could have done more
Under chin: I wish I had done more
Collar bone: I wish I had spoken up
Under arm: For myself

Top of head: I accept myself anyway
Eyebrow: I really did do the best I could at the time
Side of eye: I really did
Under eye: My need to survive was strong
Under nose: Stronger than the urge to fight or run
Under chin: And that's ok
Collar bone: That doesn't make me weak
Under arm: It makes me strong

Our strength grows out of our weaknesses ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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