Today I took a shower. There are a few reasons that this is significant.
- I have trouble getting in the shower. I want to shower; I want to be clean; in fact, I love water. But. I just have trouble executing the task. I’ve realized recently that I’ve been scared of bathrooms since I was little.
- I can’t remember a time when I liked bathtubs. Maybe when I was teeny tiny. But I do remember being inexplicably frightened of them and slightly releived when I could shower instead. And even more relieved when the bathroom has no tub, only a shower.
- I can’t remember a time when I’ve showered without compulsively checking for the door and that the room is empty. Even when I’m alone in an empty house. Even when I can see that the room is clear, as soon as I close my eyes I am beset by fear of someone sneaking up on me. For some reason, my brain has composited a version of Gollum that I picture in these particular day-terrors.
- Today I didn’t think of being attacked or someone sneaking up on me until I was about half done! Victory.
The bathroom in the house I grew up in had an extra sliding door between the bathroom and my parents bedroom besides the main door to the hallway. I remember checking the locks many times and the sliding door was never quite secure. I remember that one of my parents hated locked doors and would disable locks whenever they could. I was in pretty constant fear, looking for a way to be secure in my own space somewhere in the house but being too little to realize what I needed and too powerless to get it for myself.
A piece of me still hates myself for not being able to protect myself. For not knowing and doing better. For being so reliant on my parents. For loving them and wanting to please them more than anything else in the whole world. For not fixing myself sooner. For not shielding my siblings more completely from harm. For not being perfect.
It feels like a fist squeezing my heart saying “Do Better! DO BETTER! DO BETTER!”
But these days it is a much less shame-full thing to feel because I am better at recognizing and looking at my own thoughts and feelings. And that’s exactly the kind of thing I wasn’t as capable at when I was little. All these horrible things have warped my thinking. Learning to have compassion on myself has been an ordeal.