Do you recognize that? That when you meet people you had intense and complex relationships or experiences with, your body still responds in an emotional way?
I do. Sometimes it’s someone I had a short but intense uncomfortable experience with. Sometimes an ex-partner. Even though the situation changed, the body still responds as if it’s right in it.
I guess it’s partly the parts of us that do not know time. We respond to what we perceive as danger, even though the danger might not be here now.
And I guess there’s the part of our nervous system that’s always checking our surroundings for cues of unsafety. When we conclude we are safe, we can play, relax, etc. When we conclude we aren’t safe, our fight/flight system switches on.
And I guess that’s exactly what happens when I’m confronted with a person like that. My nervous system tells me there’s danger. My brain assumes the danger is right here and now.
Emotions turn up, defences are activated. And it can be really hard to have a relaxed, adult interaction when all that is alive. The slightest spark of miscommunication, disagreement or emotion can light up a wildfire.