When I was growing up, stomping and slammed doors were exclamation points in parental outbursts. I carried that on into my marriage (decades ago) and whenever I would get mad, I would explode, stomp loudly out of the room, and *slam!* doors as hard as I could to make sure there were a gazillion exclamation points on the end of whatever declaration I had just shouted.
Several years ago, I made a concerted effort to reprogram my instantaneous response of frustration. More importantly, I made a very conscious choice to create relationships that were honoring of myself and others, which has lessened the need to be explosive. I’m hearing myself and I’m hearing others and this is being reflected back to me, so the need for exclamation points has sorta dissipated by choosing consciousness.
Where I live, the upstairs floors are all hardwood and if people are unaware of their cadence or the heaviness of the footsteps, from the basement it sounds like an elephant just stomped through the upper level of the house. Rushing through the house creates the energy of an earthquake that vibrates down through the floor. Add any emotional energy to that – even exuberant happiness – it translates through the ceiling as a distracting threat.
Also, the doors are very light. Unless people choose to consciously close doors by holding the handle and purposely shutting it – which causes barely any sound at all – it takes quite a lot of *oompf!* to shut it. I’ve tried to just fling the bathroom door shut as I run frantically through the house to make it to the toilet in time, but it never works because it is just too light. It will eventually and weakly stop, a few inches short of actually closing, leaving me exposed to whomever may walk through the hallway. So, for people to shut these doors and produce sound, they’ve really got to put some unconscious muscle in it, somehow, which causes a resounding slam that echoes through the house. Add any emotion to that and it vibrates the ceiling.
What I’m noticing is my ongoing experience of PTSD symptoms as people move about upstairs. It is interesting that my first thought is, “Uh-oh. Someone’s mad,” and I actually scrunch my shoulders up to my ears and duck. I’ve spent so much of my time here thinking that my roommate is pissed off and worried that it is something that I’ve done (my usual jump to response.) When I’ve found the courage to venture upstairs and check in – certain I was going to be met with a raging beast who was pissed off at me most of all – there has been no pissed-offness in existence, but it is my immediately triggered response.
This response is ingrained from my childhood and is so automatic, I have no idea that there’s a problem until I realize my heart is racing and I’m thinking that I’m going to be in trouble soon. This isn’t about anyone else that lives in this house; it is about me and my reflex to fight back or cower in response to their standard mode of operating. So, I get to be conscious of my discomfort and do some clearing work on this. What I’m judging to be mad, rude, or unconscious behavior says nothing about them and everything about me.
Clearly, there is work to be done on this.
What sort of situation or behavior triggers your childhood responses so instantaneously that you’re freaking out without really knowing why?