Freeze Leads to Survival

Over the last 12 years, billions of cells have cycled through my body – created, utilized and disintegrated – without any of my own intentional efforts. Most of my life I took these processes for granted. Yet, after I was raped, the mystery of this constant, internal process of birthing and dying happening inside my body became a fascination. It was a useful touchstone reminding me that on a cellular level, my body was shedding the residue of my perpetrator from the inside out. In a terrifying and also transcendent way, trauma ushered in a radical awakening to the brilliance of the human organism and its relentless pursuit to fulfill a single purpose: staying alive.

When my life was threatened, in an instant, all of my survival mechanisms came online. The shock of what was happening to me physically, mentally, and spiritually, drove me out of my own shape. I floated in a slow motion dream: sensations increasingly numb, language escaping my mouth with no thought, movements and gestures coming through my body with no control. If I was lucky, I would only be assaulted while stranded in the largest public park on the continent of South America. However, the anger from my attacker communicated something far more insidious. If I could survive this, what would he do next?

Unconditioned by ego, the primal responses of my body immediately conspired for my survival: I froze. My spirit exited my body. I watched my own undoing looking down from tree tops. Yet, a part of me was still trapped inside my shape. My body went numb. I don’t remember breathing. My tears stifled along the corners of my eyes. Everything was silent and slow, like a movie with no sound. My brain, though, picked up every detail of the forest, archiving this information for the future. The instinct of my nervous system memorizing all the ways I landed here so that it could attempt to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Meanwhile, this man is crushing every part of me – my body, mind and soul, with his violence. I am unbearably present though moving in and out of body. I remain frozen.

Suddenly, a stick breaking in the woods is enough to startle him. This attack will not end with death. Rather, this is the painful, yet precious re-birth into a post-rape reality where I escape. The story is just beginning.

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