Danger Mode. We see it in lizards around our yard in Florida all the time. The little critters scramble across the deck, stopping every few feet, raising their heads and looking around before scrambling a few more feet toward the grass.
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Danger mode is as common for women living in abuse as it is with our little lizard friends. Very little forward motion is taken without stopping to raise our head, send out our alert sensitive vibes, before moving forward again. Is there a danger in the air? Is he in a good, kind mood today or is this a day to lay low, guard every action and control every word?
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
Sometimes I referred to “danger mode” as walking on egg shells. Every fiber of my being was on alert….24/7/365. It’s exhausting.
In the beginning, the signs of abuse were controlled. I didn’t recognize them as abuse until I realized I had lost my ability to live my life on my terms. Somehow, that didn’t register as abuse either. Many years before I was bruised for the first time I had begun the eggshell walk…I morphed into living in high alert, danger mode.
When the mind games began, my feelings of lack of control of my own life dramatically increased. It seemed like suddenly everything was my fault. Things that didn’t go well in our business, slower days and seasons, the even rain became my fault. If the car broke down, it was my fault for not realizing it needed to go to the mechanic. If the weather wasn’t ideal when we took a long weekend, it was my fault that I hadn’t checked the long-range forecast. I was on high alert, careful to be prepared, to foresee and predict the future.
Our accountant went over our books quarterly. Upon review of the previous few months, it was apparent revenue was down and expenses were a little higher than preferred. As the accountant talked about what he was seeing, I burst into tears and sobbed “it’s not my fault. I couldn’t control the rain!”
Oh, my! That memory isn’t an easy one to reconcile today. It’s embarrassing to even to recall, and difficult to put out here for everyone to see. It’s a true story, though. It’s an ideal example of danger mode. The accountant looked at me with a puzzled query. You see, he lived in a different world than I did. He knew he couldn’t control, and was not responsible for, the weather.
If you recognize any tiny part of this description, if you resonate with feeling controlled by anyone, open your eyes. Open your mind. You most likely are living in an abusive situation. It usually begins fairly innocently, with games (control games) and with jokes about your behavior, or your choice of clothes that day, or how you voice your opinion.
“He’s just joking, right? So why do I feel attacked?”, you wonder. Pay attention to the questions you ask yourself, the instructions you give yourself about avoiding situations, comments or opinions that start the joking. It’s not funny, it’s abuse.
Pay attention if you “get” the concept and reality of walking on egg shells. Of bearing the brunt of hurtful jokes.
You may already be living in Danger Mode. It’s not a fun place to be. It’s not healthy.
It’s time to pay closer attention and begin making plans for a safer, happier, healthier life for yourself. Decide to no longer live in Danger Mode. You can do it.
I invite you to spend a few minutes with me right here on Facebook for “Wednesday Night with Mickie” at 7:30 Eastern Time. More blog posts and quite a few podcast episodes are available on my webpage, too. Check it out at www.FiguringItOutAfter50.com