Ever have a situation where you reacted completely irrationally to something seemingly innocuous? This usually seems to come when a current, and sometimes innocent situation triggers feelings you had during a negative childhood experience. I refer to this phenomenon as opening the “crazy closet.”
My belief is that everyone has a “crazy closet” inside their head. What differs is how big is the crazy closet, what key(s) open it, how easily does it open and what comes out of it.
Once upon a time, my crazy closet was expansive and easily opened by unsuspecting boyfriends. It seemed that, despite my real age, it was always occupied by an irrational teenage girl. One minute, I was happy and loving, and then…BAM! My alter ego would take over, and my poor boyfriend would be verbally accosted by the irrational drama queen. Unfortunately, many keys could open it. Perceived criticism, the existence of other females in the world, not enough attention. Not only was it easily opened, but usually, the “evidence” was just the result of my overactive imagination.
But that was a long time ago. In fact, the past few years I prided myself on being “drama-free.” My crazy closet had obviously been turned into additional living space. Success!!
Or…was it? It turns out that it is easy to stay rational when you aren’t in a relationship and don’t have feelings for someone. It is in feeling vulnerable where the real challenges lie, and I, who pride myself on rational and effective communication during disagreements, recently unleashed the dramatic teenage girl from the depths of the seemingly abandoned crazy closet. And the interesting thing is that, despite the years, the feelings that result are exactly the same as they were 10, 15 or even 25 years ago.
So my advice is this: Be aware. Most likely you have some situations that cause you to respond irrationally. Figure out your personal triggers and how to deal with the resulting feelings in a way that isn’t going to damage your self respect or your relationship. If you are in a relationship, it is good to know what your partner’s are as well, so you can be sensitive to them and avoid being unnecessarily hurtful. Single? If you are getting in a relationship, be sure you know the approximate square footage of your potential partner’s crazy closet. You don’t want to find out you are going to be spending the majority of your time there!