Why we leave
Updated: Apr 11, 2020
We made it for 10 minutes this time.
And we won't be going back. At least not for a while.
Too many triggers.
Sometimes we have to leave places early. Last week when leaving church the minister held his hand out to shake mine and I blew past him yelling "Sorry! Can't!" chasing my child who was making a bee-line for the exit, in the process of melting down like an candle in a microwave.
There are some stores we don't go into.
There are some streets we don't drive down.
Some foods we don't make.
Each of these discoveries were made the hard way. Like tripping over a hidden trap wire..suddenly I'm hanging 30 feet above the ground upside down in a net, getting poison darts blown at me like a scene from Indiana Jones. We go from singing and dancing in the kitchen making cookies, to them storming off in a huff because my breathing is too loud. We go from chatting happily while walking the dog, to them walking 15 feet behind me complaining that the sound of my coat is infuriating. We will be driving down the road singing to Queen when suddenly they have to unroll the window and stick their head outside (in -13) because the sound my hands made on the steering wheel was irritating them.
Its not their fault.
They didn't know the trap wire was there either.
They just know they feel "off" or "upset" and can't pin point why.
And I'm the closest target.
Its like a game of clue. I, after picking myself up off the floor, back track and try to put the clues together to see what set them off.
Its hard not to take it personally. I'll be left there stunned, wondering if it was the Eggs Benedict I made for breakfast that made them hate me so much.
I cry over a Costco hotdog, call a friend or two, pull myself together and keep on trekking.
Its usually a day or two later that I get an apology. And sometimes, on the rare occasion, an explanation. "Your curly hair reminded me of _________. And I got upset. I'm sorry. Its not your fault." Sometimes. Other times they don't know what set off the trap wire, and neither do I.
The temptation is to stop trekking in the woods. Avoid time together, get a buffer (We ate in front of the TV for a good week once because she couldn't stand the sound of me eating, and I was tired and couldn't handle being glared at every meal.) and stop trying new things. Its tempting to play it safe. Insulate them against potentially triggering stimuli, and protect myself.
But that's the cowards way out.
I'm not allowed that luxury.
This is about redeeming childhoods, not about protecting my adulthood.
So we sing. We dance. We eat new things. And when the trigger is activated, and I'm left hanging upside down in a net, sacrificed to the ghosts of traumas past....I take a breathe, put together the clues, hold my kids hands tightly and keep on trekking.