This morning as I was watching the Today Show, the interview of Katie Callaway Hall, who was interviewed by Meredith Vieira, caught my attention. In 1977, Hall was attacked and raped by Phillip Garrido, the same man accused of kidnapping Jaycee Dugard at age 11 in front of her South Lake Tahoe home and holding and raping Dugard for 18 years.
Hall, and her husband, Jim, had made the long drive from Las Vegas, NV to Placerville, CA to attended Garrido’s first court hearing on the Dugard charges. Garrido had been paroled from his 50-year sentence for his rape conviction of Hall after serving only eleven years. He is now accused of abducting Dugard just three years after his release from prison for the Hall rape conviction.
During the Hall trial, Katie Callaway Hall said that she was unable to look Garrido in the eyes. She had made the drive to face her attacker in an effort to find closure (my words). The thing that caught my attention was that Hall said (in speaking of looking Garrido in the face), “It took me by total surprise, my reaction, and I can’t even explain why — except to tell you on some deep, subconscious level, I reacted to this man in a way I didn’t expect to.” [italics mine]
She went on to say, “I thought this chapter was closed. I pretty much closed it and got on with my life. It’s always been just under the surface of my life, and I thought this was in its box and put away. But this Pandora’s box is open for me, and now I’m dealing with it again on a different level, like I’ve been victimized myself.” [italics mine]
Hall was surprised by her reaction. She said, “I just thought I’d look at him in victory: ‘You jerk. I survived. You’re going down.’ But it hit me completely different,” she said. “I almost broke down. I started tearing up. I couldn’t understand why. I couldn’t control it. I hope that that’s not going to happen next time. I hope I got that initial meeting out of the way and now I know what to expect.” [italics mine]
It’s a common saying for us that “time heals all wounds.” But that’s just a fallacy. With time, we learn to bury our hurts and our emotions. We stuff them down and pretend that they’re not there. Most of us don’t know what to do with them. And then when they come to the surface, just as Katie Callaway Hall said in her interview, we’re taken by surprise.
Just because we don’t think about our hurts or our emotional scars on a daily basis doesn’t mean that they’ve been healed! If we haven’t done the work to replace those hurts, they simply simmer below the surface, just waiting for a similar situation, a look, a certain word or tone of voice to present itself before they explode to the surface, surprising even us. In these times, our subconscious minds are simply reacting to the stimuli that remind us of the past hurt. We are not responding to the current situation. If we were, we’d find that we were over-reacting to it. Over-reaction is a big clue that tells us when we’re reacting to something other than the situation at hand.
Another point of interest is that Hall said that she felt like she’d been victimized herself when facing Garrido. Our subconscious minds hold the memories of every single moment in our lives in storage for us. They hold every event, everything said, every smell, every color, every word spoken, and every thought related to each event. And, the subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between real life and a memory. So, when the memory and the emotions of an event are triggered, the subconscious mind brings that memory to the forefront of our minds and it really is like we’re in that event again.
These events do become a part of who we truly are. The Bible reads, that “…out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45, NKJV) When we realize we are not responding to what is before us, but we are reacting to something from our past, that’s a sign that there is something we’ve buried that needs to be healed. Unless we work to heal those wounds from the past, we will never be free of the emotional hurt that we suffered in relation to those wounds.