Recently I had an irrational and very abrupt, angry reaction to something that my daughter was doing.
She was getting dressed, and as I came in the door, the window was open and I realized that anyone could see into her room.
Well, needless to say it wasn't a very pretty moment. I didn't say anything horrible but the way that I said it was unattractive and extremely over reactive.
I pondered it the next morning because that's not my normal behavior. Yes, I was overworked at the time, moving a home of 12 years it's a lot. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. But even at that, I normally wouldn't have such a strong reaction.
Then, the realization came to me in such a rush... when I was her age I had a few situations that really terrified me, and seeing her in that state brought back all those unconscious feelings.
I'd like to share with you this one particular situation, to explain exactly what I'm talking about.
I was around 12 years old, after taking up all my clothes I had just gotten into bed. I reached over to turn out the light, and I heard something at the window, there was a man... staring at me.
I could barely get the scream out, he scared me so much! Finally after a few attempts I was able to make enough noise so that my stepfather could hear me and I babbled to explain what was happening. He immediately grabbed his shotgun and went running out to look for him in the yard. He didn't find him, but he did find the brick that the man put underneath my window so that he could stand on it to watch me.
It's amazing that I forgot about that night and that feeling of being so vulnerable, violated, and afraid. On one level our brain protects us from the trauma of our childhood, and on another level that trauma is unconsciously there, ruling our lives.
The terror that I felt came rushing back in that moment with my daughter. Because I was able to recognize that my behavior was not normal for me, the experience gave me an opportunity to recognize the unconscious memory, work through the trauma and finally let it go.
Looking back on it now I'm grateful that my step father did not come across him, and thankful that he protected me like that.
To all parents out there, protect your kids by informing them, watching out for them, loving them silly, and letting them know to shut their windows while changing.