I Feel Like I’m Going To Die Without Him

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The Three of Swords is indicative of painful separation and heartbreak, and if you’ve ever been through a devastating breakup, I’m sure you’ve experienced the physical responses that feel like you’re going to die.

Well, interestingly enough, I learned today that the love responses that we feel are actually from opioid receptors in our brain. So when we feel abandoned by our person, we actually go through physical withdrawal. This explains the loss of appetite, depression, and even flu like symptoms.

In a post titled Shock, Trauma, and the Awesome Feeling of Acceptance, I touched on the physiological response of seeing my ex on the street. There was a moment of shame, where I was beating myself up for not being over it and walking away like nothing happened, and then I accepted it and forgave myself.

So basically what happened here is that the bond of pain from my ex, what I was used to, made a unique and important impression on an opioid receptor that lives in the Amygdala, or the part of the brain that experiences emotions. Working in tandem with the mammalian brain that protects us from danger, we get these boosts of anxiety that tell us “fight or flight.” While the mammalian brain only knows survival or death, and thinks in extremes, the Amygdala associates the past pains and ramps up all of these emotions in an all too familiar whirlwind of trauma. As a functioning part of our human body that is built to keep us alive and out of danger, it gives us these responses that we find hard to rationalize.

Even further, when going through a toxic relationship or breakup, your opioid receptors will try to ease your pain by pumping out a chemical to nurse you, and in return, you can become so accustomed to this feeling that you rationalize it to normalcy or even get addicted to it (i.e. codependency.)

And so now you’re thinking, OK great, so WTF do I do to prevent that from happening? Or am I a slave to these auto-responses every time I get faced with something unsavory?

Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Your mammalian brain is doing it’s job by sensing danger and telling you when to get the fuck out, but humans have evolved to have that emotional Amygdala that fights back and forth with it and confuses us behind the scenes. The good news is, however, that we have also evolved our frontal lobe, where problem solving, judgement, and awareness live, and we can train that part of the brain to be stronger and smarter than these other two guys.

Using tools like therapy, self help, group meetings, and communicating with your coven can all increase self awareness and over time, help you to distinguish fight or flight from an actual emotional connection within you. Your brain is powerful, but it is only one component of your being. And while I know this post was really sciency, I think it helps to understand what goes on up there so we don’t shame ourselves for what our body was built to do. So exercise your frontal lobe, understand your cerebellum, and stay witchy ( *)

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