I have a vivid memory of when my siblings and I were at home and we heard the doorbell ring; we immediately left the living room and hid. My mom would then go see who was at the door; we wouldn’t leave our spot until it was ‘safe’ to come out.
As I reflect back on this old memory, I’ve come to realize that I was taught to fear humans. At the root of this behavior was pain, because anything that causes separation-rather than union-is based out of pain, or fear. My mother had a challenging time keeping friendships; she would end up getting into an argument with people and then stopped talking to them. This went beyond just friends, sometimes she would even stop talking to her family. It even got to the point where my father’s family was no longer welcome at home.
By that point we were like a recluse family, we didn’t have friends or family come over for visits-we basically didn’t have a social life outside of school. The television was my portal to the outside world beyond those four walls. It also didn’t help that I didn’t talk to anyone at school, so having telephone conversations was out of the question.
What would cause a woman to push the world away? Unhealed trauma. When my sister and I were taken away by child services at a young age, I believe this caused my mother to not trust anyone anymore, and so she pushed the world away. This coupled with the fact that she had experienced rape-another unhealed wound among others-would reinforce her aloof behavior to people. “People are bad,” “Men are bad,” these are the words I remember her telling my siblings and I.
As I sit and write, it dawns upon me that my own trauma of early events also caused me to not trust the adults in my life. They were not a safe ‘go-to,’ option for me, they could not be ‘trusted.’ I would observe the behavior of my parents and listen to them lecture me, yet what they said and what they did were not the same thing, because of that and many other things, I knew not to trust them. The other adults in my life were not a welcoming option either.
This was the foundation of my life, it is also one of the challenges that I have had to, and continue to, overcome-to learn to not only ‘trust’ but to also learn how to be among others.