I’m sharing this story because I have recently become aware that it could have something to do with my diagnosis. Whether or not it does, it is still a childhood trauma that I ‘survived’, but not without some lasting effects.
Being home alone at night is one thing when you’re an adult, try it when you’re 4! It was a very cold , dark night back in the winter of 1979. I forget the exact date, sometime in January, I think. My mother had tucked me into bed and kissed me goodnight. A few hours later, about 2-3a.m., I awoke, as usual. This was a common thing for me, I found myself at the foot of my parents bed quite often. But this night was different; my parents weren’t in their bed! I immediately began screaming for my mom. “Mommy, mommy!!” No answer. I was scared out of my wits! I ran around the pitch black house screaming and turning on every lamp and light switch that I could reach. I went to my older brother Greg’s bedroom door and banged and banged on it; no answer! I remember being terrified beyond belief; I was just 4 years old and home alone in the middle of the night!
There was about 6 inches of snow on the ground and more lightly falling, it was probably 20-30 degrees outside, typical of a Michigan winters’ night. I had rationalized in my young mind that my mom must have gone to Hamady’s (out local grocery store). My mother practically lived there. She ran to Hamady’s on a daily basis for bread or milk, and I always went with her. And at that moment I decided that’s where I was going to look for her! I frantically ran to my bedroom to get dressed. I found a pair of cut-off jean shorts and a t-shirt, that I put on backwards. I tried to be brave as I prepared to head out into the cold to walk the 2 mile walk to the grocery store; all the while crying hysterically.
Just as I opened the big, heavy front door, I saw headlights coming up the driveway. My mother flew out of the car and cradled me in her arms. My dad, on the other hand, wanted to kill my brother! He had been given strict orders not to shut his bedroom door just in case I woke up. My mother had gone to the airport to pick my father up from a late night business flight. I sobbed for most of the rest of that night and I don’t think I’ve ever been the same since.
After that incident, I became very attached to my mother; So much so that I was kicked out of preschool, because I cried for her the whole time. When I started kindergarten, I became attached to a playmate of mine, and even though she was in kindergarten also, she was my ‘surrogate’ mom. I used to tell my mom that when she died I’d bury her under the house so I could sleep next to her. Needless to say, my attachment was slightly unhealthy. I wonder if I have suffered permanent damage from that experience. When you read this, it may not seem like a big trauma, but to a 4year old little girl, being home alone was a nightmare!