I didn't freeze.

Jun 01, 2024

Happy Saturday friends!

When I hear fight, flight, freeze, fawn (there are others too) I see myself so strongly in the freeze response. The year my daughter left home to go to a residential program for Reactive Attachment Disorder (you can read a post about RAD here) I was a mess, a shell of myself—ManChild was the same. I have looked back on that last year in particular (2015) and I’ve always told myself that I was frozen. There was no going forward with life the way it had been and there was no way to build a new life while she was in our home. It was hellacious. A hellacious life, a hellacious decision to have to make.

That time has colored all other traumas in my life. An abusive first marriage. Various events in my childhood. Deaths. Because of 2015 (and the 6 years before that while our daughter was in our house) I somehow thought that my response to trauma has only been to freeze.

I woke up Wednesday morning and was allowing my mind to wander. I was thinking about what to write this week and a special bracelet popped into my head. I don’t wear it anymore because the jump rings became so worn that it was on the edge of breaking. I had it made for myself in 1997 and I never took it off until I noticed the wear. It has words etched into the underside of it, words from a prophetic dream I had in the 1990s. The silver came from old necklaces that Mom and I had. I haven’t worn it in probably 20 years, always intending to get it fixed and another set of rectangular links added to it.

Through the years of wearing it, I would occasionally go and have a word or two from an important life lesson etched on one of the rectangles, along with the date. This morning I was thinking about what I’d have etched on it now, 20 years later.

I thought I’d like to have the date of my marriage to B-Rad on one. The day we first held ManChild in our arms in Ethiopia when he was 7 months old. Rayn’s birthday...but what lessons...?

And suddenly, a download of info that completely changed my outlook of my years with my daughter:

What happened during 2015 was not me freezing in fear, not knowing which way to go, what to do. What happened was me fighting. I was fighting for the best thing for all of us, a way for all of us to survive. I didn’t give up. I fought. I somehow always thought it was me freezing in terror. It is so very strange the tricks our minds can play. I felt stuck. I was scared that Brad wouldn’t be able to see the truth of what was happening. Our daughter was triangulating so fiercely that he, for the most part, only saw what she wanted him to see. Would he be able to see the truth? And if he couldn’t and chose to believe the lie, then what? My only other option to save ManChild and myself, was to take our son and leave. The thought of leaving the love of my life was torture. What a nightmare. You wouldn’t think a child would be able to wreak that much havoc until you live it.

For the first time in our 14 years of being together, Brad and I fought (verbally!) We tend to talk things out when either of us are upset and we don’t yell at each other. We both have lived lives previously, where other people screaming was the norm and we had made decisions to not do that. But during that time, while the kids were in school, there was a lot of screaming and a lot of tears. He was fighting for our daughter to be able to stay, I was fighting for her to go to a residential program to get help, so we could all survive. I wasn't even concerned about "thriving"—I was just looking for survival at that point.

I fought.

But somehow, I had internalized that I was frozen in fear, that I had no say in the matter, that ManChild and I would just die from the day in and day out abuse and trauma we were experiencing. I thought I was weak. I thought I wasn’t worthy (years of abuse will do that to you). I thought I wasn’t capable. I still thought the way she was treating us was my fault. My only fault was loving her and trying to love her into mental health.

So, with that download of info, that I didn’t freeze, and that I fought, I started writing about it and in a stream of consciousness I wrote:

"I always thought it was me freezing in terror. OMG! It was me FIGHTING. I fought for our lives! I fought BRAD, the love of my life, for the right to live. I didn’t freeze, I fought. I was going to have to leave to survive. I didn’t freeze, I fought! And I didn’t know this until just now. I thought I gave up. I thought I was weak. I thought I wasn’t worthy. I thought I wasn’t capable. But no. I FOUGHT. I’ve never fought before.

Holy shit. I just said,  'I’ve never fought before.' That’s not true either. FREEZE isn’t in me, FIGHT is. How did I not know this about myself?"

How in the world does the truth of our power get so hidden from ourselves? When I was in my abusive first marriage, I absolutely spent quite a bit of time in depression but that last year was when I started asking for help from the universe. That’s when I found whitewater kayaking, I found supportive friends, I found a life, I found a way out. Even among the verbal abuse, I fought my way out, step by step.

With my daughter, I fought every single day of the six years she was with us. (And I knew that! And yet, somehow the story that I was worthless and frozen in fear at the end is the one that became truth.) I fought for her mental health, my son’s, mine. I fought by researching trauma and RAD and learning new ways every day. I fought by telling Brad exactly what was going on, every day. I fought by telling friends and family. I fought by writing publicly about what was happening in our lives. I never gave up. I learned and learned and learned. Until the final thing I learned in the summer of 2015: She was never going to get better with me in the picture. Love from the “primary caregiver” was the love that was triggering her to abuse. Good God. That was so hard to swallow but I finally saw the truth of that. The only way to save us all, was for her to be out of the house, getting the help she needed. (By the way, that help never “fixed” her, but she did stop abusing people when she was in the right, highly structured, “eyes on" environment.)

My love triggered her to hurt us.

So I took the bracelet out. I had forgotten the feeling it had. It emanates power. It's at the jeweler being fixed. I will add new words, new dates, new power. I’ll never take it off so I remember always:

I am a fighter.

I am powerful.

What stories are you telling yourself that aren't actually true?


First off! It was Rayn's 17th birthday last week! I wrote a separate post celebrating my girl, you can see that here!

We had some rain this week and the Polar Bear, in true Bear fashion, didn't bat an eye and just laid out in the mud and rain:

She is supposed to come in during the day but even after this:

She still smelled like a barn and had to stay out until she air dried!


Waiting at the breakfast bar:


I came into the girl's barn the other day and found Dancer (left) and her mom Alaska cuddled together. Dancer has been separated at night with her babies because she has free choice food—the other goats would just eat it all gone—so she doesn't get to be with her mom. They obviously miss each other!

The babies are 6 weeks old now so soon they will join the herd in the evening too, not just the day time! I always like to make sure the babies are well acclimated to the Polar Bear before they spend all night together. When they were first together, Parsley and Rosemary would leap onto the Polar Bear who is ten years old and not up for those pokey feet on her body. Twice she snarled and snapped but the babies were never hurt. They seemed to have learned their lesson though, I've not seen them try to leap on her since. So, maybe it's about time to fully integrate!


B-Rad found that the unmarked trail that borders our property got an upgrade and now has trail markers! How cool is that! We walked a section of it this week to see where it went before I realized I should not be hiking without an epi pen. Whoops. We'll head out and try it again soon. Fun to have something new to explore right in our backyard! We've walked little bits of it but weren't sure if we were allowed in certain areas because it borders some yards—now we know! We saw some interesting mushrooms:

And this little glade full of sun dappled ferns:


1. An immersive, all inclusive, Women's Day Retreat at the ranch!

Sunday, June 23rd
I will have all supplies needed, just bring your sweet self!

You'll enjoy a guided group experience with the horses, mini donkeys, goats (and the two new baby goats!), a lavish homemade brunch, and time spent creating a piece of meaningful artwork (think art therapy principles, not fine art)—zero art experience needed! Email me if this sounds intriguing!

2. I have 4 women interested in an online Women's Circle so far, looking for more! Guided group experience and fun artwork (think art therapy principles, not fine art.) If you are thinking that might be fun, send me an email!


Two? Just two? No, of course not. I come with a horse, a donkey, a goat, a pen to write with, and a paint brush. At a bare minimum ;-)



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