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Why My Childhood Trauma Made Me Obsessed With Locked Doors

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Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced domestic violence or emotional abuse, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline online by selecting “chat now” or calling 1-800-799-7233. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

My head finally hits the pillow after a long day. The kids are asleep, my husband is at work, and I can finally rest. I pull the covers over me and start becoming drowsy. I hear a random noise and my eyes fly open.

• What is PTSD?

Did I lock the door?

I immediately sit up in bed and look toward the front door. I can’t see if it is locked but I know it is most likely locked. It is always locked … but what if it isn’t this time? I can’t lie back down until I quietly get out of bed and go see for myself that it is indeed locked. Even after I have proof, my heart is still racing as I lie back down.

I haven’t always been like this: obsessed with locked doors. In order to understand why I am the way I am, I have to take you back to me at 14.

My mother just told my father that she doesn’t want to be with him anymore and he has come over in a rage. We thought he wouldn’t be able to get in because all of the doors and windows are locked. But can you guess how he got in? Correct; the back door betrayed us. Because he had access to us, our night was full of terror and tears. We ended up in a hotel that night because I was terrified he would come back. Even weeks later, when my mother had to leave for a few minutes, I sat in front of the door shaking with a knife because I was sure he would bust threw the door as soon as she was gone.

To say that it traumatized me is an understatement. I was left with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from that night and many others related to my father. I stress about doors and windows being locked everywhere I go. It is exhausting to stress that hard about something other people could affect. My husband can accidentally forget to lock a door and I will have a panic attack from it. I can leave the house in a rush and not remember if I locked the house or not, and my entire day will be stressed about the killer that is most likely waiting for me at home.

PTSD can have strange symptoms to outside people. To the one struggling with it, the symptom is very much real and painful. I don’t know if I will always be terrified of unlocked doors but until I heal from it, I will just have to keep checking.

Getty Images photo via David De Lossy

Originally published: July 3, 2020
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