Self-protection is our strongest reaction pattern — it seems to be programmed into every cell of a living being in order to maintain, defend, and perpetuate itself. It is the essence of the life program and is also functioning within our elaborate me-structure. The entire me-structure demands to be protected and perpetuated as though it were a living being. The moment somebody says something critical about me, the instant reflex of preservation, defense, and aggression springs into action. ~Toni Packer, The Wonder of Presence
When we are aware of this instant reflex, we are better able to slow down or halt the defensive measures we take for self-protection. Spend some time being aware of your feelings and your reactions to certain situations, personal or otherwise. When you are aware of your inner reactions, how does your “public” response change? What if you prepared yourself before probable confrontational situations. What would those preparations look like, and how might that bring about a different outcome?
I learned at a very young age that either I took care of me or I would be food for the carnivores. My fight or flight response is super sensitive and kicks in without me even being aware of it at times. While I am accutely aware of preserving my self, I am extremely unselfish. I do not take more than is my fair share and in most cases, I actually take a lot less. However, I give multitudes more than I take. Having said that though, I am always aware that if I do not look out for my self then no one will. I must always be on guard. Always in protective mode. Always on the look out for dangers to the self. The self must be protected, guarded at all costs.
This feeling of self preservation keeps me at arm's length from people. I cannot fully trust anyone because of the fear they may harm the self. I cannot allow anyone to get close because if I do then they may hurt the self. They may take from the self leaving it with nothing and alone. Scared. Frightened. Protect the self at all costs.
This is my mantra. My manifesto. My singular purpose in life. Simply to survive. Not live. Not even exist. Just survive. At times I feel like I am in a war zone. Constantly fighting an unseen, unknown enemy. Anyone and everyone could potentially be a danger. Even those I do allow close to me, there are times where I see their words and I wonder "is there some hidden threat behind what they are saying"? I will distance myself from them until I am certain that the threat to the self has passed.
This type of survival is exhausting. It is why I prefer being alone. When I am alone I don't have to worry about hidden dangers. I don't have to worry about people taking from me. Leaving me with nothing. Abandoning me. I don't have to fight for basic necessities.
I do this. I hide food. I gather things and save them. Just in case. In case I have no food. In case I have no shelter. Just in case. I have done this for as long as I can remember because since I was little my life has always been uncertain. I never knew where I would be living the next day. If I would have a place to live. From as far back as I can remember these fears have been with me and the more my illness grows, the more they grow. There are times where I am not hungry but if I am served food I will eat it. Every last bite. Until I am about to vomit. Until I can feel it sitting in my throat simply because it may be the last time I eat. I don't know when or if I will eat again.
Now these fears, in my current situation, are groundless. I have a home, food. I don't need to worry about these things. We don't have much, but we have. We always manage. There is always something. Even if it's a little, but I cannot let go of this preservation of self. Sometimes when I am eating even though I am not hungry and these thoughts are rolling through my mind, I realize how ridiculous and irrational it is, but even though I recognize the irrationality of it. I cannot stop myself. Just in case.
Preservation of self at all costs. Even from the imaginary ones.