I am alone.
I am in my room. I am throwing a tantrum. And I am so very terrified of my incarceration. I am three, maybe four years old and this of all things is my earliest and most vivid memory of childhood.
My parents are doing the best they can. I am the oldest child. I am locked in my room on the advice of the family pediatrician. In his infinite wisdom, he has counseled my parents to reverse the door lock on my room (so it locked from the outside) and to put me in that room on “time out” whenever I act out.
I acted out a lot as a child. Thus, I found myself alone a lot. After a while, even at the very early age of three or four, I associated any expression of emotion (other than happiness) with a dreaded “time out.” So, even from that early age, I did what I do best, and overachieved and overcompensated in the form of suppressing and bottling up any and all emotions that could be seen as negative. I went even further to make sure I bottled up the ones that could be mistaken for weakness or sadness or even simple discontent.
It was safer not to be emotional.
This series of events… This connection between emotional outbursts and isolation paved the way for me to become the ultra-rational being I am today. To this day I can rationalize it all. I can rationalize all the feelings away. I can rationalize all disappointment, heartache, sadness, and despair away. I can place them in boxes, compartmentalize, store in dark corners of my mind. Some say to feel is to live. If that’s the case, I may well have died in that room when I was three.
Alright, enough with the dramatics.
The point is, my parents did what they thought was best. They really did. And they did an amazing job raising me. After all, the theory of locking me in the room for bad behavior came on the heels of a CT scan to make sure I didn’t have “brain damage,” which would have been causing my extreme tantrum riddled behavioral issues. Imagine being three years old and being outside an office building. All you remember is grass and trees and the serenity of the setting, in the midst of your mother trying to explain to you that you were about to go through a test to have your head examined to figure out the root cause for why you were so abnormal. Turned out the CT scan showed “normal.” There were no excuses for the way I was, so my behavior had to be “corrected.” And corrected it was.