I don’t know how old I was, but if I’d found the psychology book my father had been reading at the time, I’m sure I could tell you. I was young enough that I was accustomed to baths with someone watching or showers with my parents. One evening, after a day at the pool, when we all showered before dinner, I grabbed a towel and went to take a shower with my father. He told me to get out. I’m sure he didn’t use those words. Maybe he said, "not a good idea." I don’t remember those words. The ones I remember: "I read in a book that after this age, you really shouldn’t be showering with me." It is my most painful memory.
Of course he meant nothing by it. Of course there comes a time. Of course. Of course. All I knew was that I was no longer allowed. I was rejected. I felt small and alone. I remember running into my room, throwing myself onto my bed, wailing into my pillows until my throat hurt. My mother came in to soothe me, but it was no use. I never showered with him again.
I don’t blame my father for any of this. Our parents always do the best they can. My father is my best friend. Knowing these things, revealing these memories helps me realize why rejection is so hurtful to me today. I can tie the feelings back to as young as baths, but I cannot wash the feelings I experience off. I can understand their strength, how I might be overly upset because of my fear of rejection, so I don’t necessarily have to act on those feelings, but I still have to live with them. Otherwise, I’d spend my life running from them. Avoiding. Kicking everyone who could get close out before they could. But it’s work, not every day, but when the feelings rise up again, it’s work, the kind that leads to showering.