En Garde: First Position Re-Posited




The Wine: 2018 Petaluma Gap Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

The Winery: En Garde Winery, Kenwood, CA

The W(H)ine: En Garde, First Position Re-Posited

Writing is what I do when no one is looking. Blogging for the supposed masses, baring my soul for the beckoning diary, and beleaguering some who I believe step out of line for sake of justice. In the latter vein, I have longed to write a letter to the Editor; of Life. I wonder, if somewhere along the Way, I missed a memo.


The one that says, Girl, shit happens, you will undoubtedly get caught in the crossfire, and in a few decades or so (five), some of the shitstorm may make sense, or at least you will be able to conjure up reasons why some stuff happened, and possibly, just maybe, make meaningful the internal mechanisms resulting from former intrusions.


In my previous career as a court services child welfare social worker, most of my submissions to the higher power (no capitalization here) found substantiation after I wrote, “as evidenced by…” My role had me examining and evaluating the various and sundry supposed reasons why families ought to be held liable for remediation services in order to retain or have returned their babies. Without delving into any sordid detail of the daily, deleterious trauma toll on my soul, I will say rarely did I evacuate the office feeling better than when I arrived.


My work profoundly affected my private life, unfortunately. I found no sufficient boundary to sequester the salacious, sadist stories of my sad-as-fuck caseload from triggering trauma response. Two terms to tell you about: Secondary traumatic stress (STS) and vicarious trauma (VT), similar but unique experiences related to the impact of indirect trauma on one’s being. Those of us who devoted time, energy and senses to other’s trauma oft pay a precarious price, if without sufficient self-awareness, self-care, and self-removal. For those of us with direct trauma histories, hopefully we do not enter this fray without our own bonafide healing. However, those lines can and do become blindingly blurry, especially when one needs a paycheck.

Primal portfolios lead interactive exchanges when we unwittingly encounter unwelcome advances against our serenity, our souls and our sovereignty. Our brains become beasts believing nothing but backlash behooves our reaction.


We. Cannot. Help. Ourselves.


Until. We. Can.


Our flight, fight and freeze neurological reactions direct our communication (or profound lack thereof). It is what Happened to Us that informs How we Understand what’s Happening. How can we Know what we do not Know. How can we Be until we Unlearn how we have Been? And, to what End? Why bother transforming our impulsive reactions? Do the perpetrators of trauma deserve such????? No. But We Do.

Shit happens, indeed. I finally got the Memo.


In their masterful work, Boundaries For Your Soul, authors Alison Cook, PhD and Kimberly Miller, MTh LMFT, call this awareness a differentiation of the “emotional” brain from the “thinking brain,” and while prior psychologists have posited the thinking brain ought to have dominance of basic emotions, what we know now from neuroscience is that “emotions play a valuable role in processing any situation” (2018, p. 203). We ought not to discredit our feelings, but unless we want to be the star in every drama-driven reality show, we must find our Way to a higher self, a higher road, a high of some kind that keeps us from bottoming out time and again.


Or we can stay En Garde. Defending. Protecting. Arguing. Faking. Lying. Languishing. Blaming. Shaming. We can continue (and we have every right) to Guard Our Mortal Wounded Soul. We surely can.


We can remain in our own effing emotions, and allow the waterfall to swallow whole. Or tread long enough to grab hold of the lifeline, or crawl ashore, or simply float, and in so doing, find some form of expression, experience and empathy to incorporate into our Continued Existence. Truth be told, ‘En Garde’ is the French term used by referees before the start of a fencing bout, reminding contenders to take a set position. One sets oneself before the match even begins. Think about that.


The counter-action to re-action is pre-action.

Put that in your psychological pipe and smoke it. Shit happens. Why not prepare ourselves mentally, and physically and spiritually every single blessed day for the Fray we inevitably enter, rather than wait for the fraught that fight, freeze, flight (I have others, but that’s another blog…) reactions render.


En Garde, the starting position, turns out is not a reactive position. If we so choose, we can set ourselves up on the front end, rather than react perpetually on the back end of what we know is a world wrought with heartache, headache and hurt. We can take first position, employ En Garde, and choose to remain in a position of proactive power, productivity and prowess, no matter the adversity we inevitably face.


If I hold En Garde for only one reason, to bait or to beat, then I miss grandiose opportunity the Universe provides for my own good. Instead, I can utilize the initial reaction to defend and transform to a position of power, one that makes immortal from mortal; one that invites understanding rather than crushing; one that engenders empathy instead of judgement. We have heard it said, the best defense is a good offense. What if they are one and the same? What if we can transform our innate defending mechanisms in a moment’s awareness? This shitstorm can change the world.


When instincts tell us to fight, flee or freeze, what if instead we breathe, finding freedom for another path entirely?


En Garde.

Take it. And Transform It.

19 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All