The Lizard That Triggered My Reptilian Brain

» Posted by on Aug 19, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

The Lizard That Triggered My Reptilian Brain

I recently took a sunset bike ride at the Santa Monica beach with 2 girlfriends. After a great ride, we enjoyed a scrumptious dinner on the beach. What a lovely summer evening! 

The next day I was on the phone with my doctor’s office. The person I was speaking with needed my insurance information. I asked her to hold on so that I could grab my wallet out of my purse and give her the information she needed. As soon as I took out the wallet, a seven-inch lizard came out with it! It was lying on my bedroom floor – it must have slithered into my bag during dinner. Why else would a lizard take up residence in my purse?

I screamed! I had no clue what to do, and to make matters worse I was completely alone — I mean really alone — my family was thousands of miles away in Israel for one month. I ran back to the phone and explained the situation. The woman asked if I could answer some questions, so I attempted to maintain my professional mask and continue the conversation. After about the fifth question, I blurted out “I need to get off the phone and deal with this lizard!!” I hung up the phone and the panic set in.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am not really into creepy crawly things and the lizard was not exactly making me comfortable. How could this little creature wreak such havoc in my bedroom? And to make matters worse, I needed to meet a client in 40 minutes! The lizard had now moved under my night table. My first instinct was to grab a broom and dustpan. I tried sweeping the lizard into the pan  — it started bolting. Obviously, this approach wasn’t going to work.

Funny thing is, that just a few days ago, I was talking to my friend Maria about a similar situation that happened to her. Her cat brought a rat into her kitchen and later killed it. She said she lifted the rat by the tail and threw it in the trash. I was completely disgusted – I would have died! Now, suddenly there was a lizard in my bedroom, I was completely alone and didn’t know what to do. This was no coincidence. So, I called Maria who thankfully answered.

After laughing hysterically, she instructed me to pick up the lizard by the tail and walk it to my porch and throw it out. “Pick up the lizard?!” How the hell was I going to do that? My porch was on the polar opposite side of my 2,000 square foot condo – was she mad?!

I considered leaving the lizard in the house and then quickly remembered that I would be leading a global online webinar that evening from my computer. What if the lizard decided to show up during my presentation? Screaming at the top of my lungs during a webinar didn’t seem like a very good idea. No – I could not avoid dealing with this situation. I needed to act quickly as I had to leave – and the clock was ticking…

I grabbed a couple of rags and attempted to pick up the lizard by the tail with one hand while still holding the phone with the other hand. Each time I attempted to pick it up, I screamed at the top of my lungs. I truly was petrified of picking up the lizard by the tail and didn’t want to touch him. He started running all over the place. Sweat started pouring down my neck and the little guy ran in my closet. I followed him in. I kept trying to move him out of the closet when he darted into a pile of books and purses. I couldn’t see him. I started lifting things out of the piles and shaking items to see if he would come out. My hands were trembling and I was hyperventilating. The clock was continuing to tick — I had about 20 minutes left until I had to leave. I hung up the phone with Maria in frustration.

I walked out of the closet, freaking out. “What was I going to do?!” I couldn’t leave and get back to this. How can I get rid of this lizard in time without harming him?! About five minutes later he reappeared in my closet. Suddenly, this idea popped in my head…

“I’ll sweep him from my closet to the porch using my broom!” I started sweeping and he was out of the closet and back in my bedroom. “Hmmm, could this work??” I continued sweeping…. past my son’s room. Of course the stubborn lizard wasn’t making this easy – and he attempted to run into the room. But I acted quickly, and blocked the open door with the broom.

I continued sweeping down the long hallway where he managed to wedge himself between the closet door and the corner of the hallway. I managed to divert him to our entryway. All the while, I was screaming, practically crying. At this point, I was dripping wet! As I got him to the entryway, he ran into the closet and buried himself under a pile of items. Shit! I had no way of finding him. I stepped away from the closet and wondered if he would re-appear. I screamed “I am trying to help you survive! Please come out of the closet.”

About 5 minutes later, I glanced into the closet and he had reappeared. I continued sweeping him into our living room. “Could this crazy idea work?” The porch was in view…As soon as we entered the living room, he immediately hid under our giant recliner. With a huge surge of adrenaline, I lifted the chair and I spotted him once again. I continued my effort to sweep him to the porch. We were soooo close. I kept inching him to the porch, while trying not to harm him. I quickly pulled open the screen door leading to the porch and then in one fell swoop – I got him onto the porch and quickly shut the door – hallelujah – he was out! And I had 10 minutes to spare!

I was literally dripping wet. My heart was pumping like I had just run a marathon! I ripped off my shirt and collapsed on the recliner. How could such a little creature make me so crazy?!

I wound up making it to my client on time. She made me feel better by telling me she would have wigged out if the same thing had happened to her. I had flashbacks for a few days imagining the lizard was still in my room. I didn’t step on to the porch for about 3 days.

As I reflect on this incredible experience, I believe I was being tested. Although, I freaked out, I was pleasantly surprised that somehow I found a solution, on my own. I often teach about the amygdala – the part of our brain that controls our fight or flight response. This is the most primitive part of our brain. Ironically, some refer to it as our “reptilian” brain. When we are triggered, this part of our brain kicks in much quicker than our neo-cortex – our thinking brain. In looking back at my own reptilian reaction, I noticed that my initial response was an “amygdala hijack,” but I then found a way to engage my thinking brain to help me solve the problem.

The time away from my family brought about a rollercoaster of emotions ranging from emancipation to loneliness. I learned that I know how to take care of myself and can fend for myself. I also gained an added appreciation and gratitude for my loving family whom I cherish deeply.

When was the last time your “reptilian” brain was triggered? How did you handle it? How did you re-engage your thinking brain? What lessons did you learn from the experience? Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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