Embarrassed In Front of Children

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I’m 24, mother of twin 5-year-old girls. I’ve always been outgoing, athletic, intelligent, very pretty, very competent. Never experienced depression. A week ago my husband took our daughters to the zoo while I stayed home to shop and relax. When I returned from shopping I walked in on two men burglarizing our house. I was pretty well trapped and cooperated. They wanted bank and credit cards, pins, and promised not to hurt me but said I’d have to be tied up. I was in no position to escape but figured I could get myself loose in a few minutes or go for help. However I was bound and gagged very tightly and left face down on the sofa hogtied so I couldn’t stand or get to a phone or door. Struggling proved useless, and I had to lie there for almost three hours until my family arrived home. They found me still tightly tied up on the sofa weeping and moaning. Whatever fear I still had was replaced by the terrible embarrassment of having my daughters see me in such a helpless heap. They were very comforting, kissed and caressed me, but I wanted to sink through the floor. When my husband got me untied I tried to put on a strong appearance, making jokes, etc. but I felt so humiliated I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. It’s now been a week and the wave of depression that engulfed me continues. Had I been able to free myself I’d be feeling heroic, but instead I feel worthless. I can’t discuss my ordeal with family or friends because I don’t want them to know how embarrassed I feel about being tied up so I pretty much have tried dealing with the depression by myself. I hope I’ll eventually bounce out of it but I keep reliving those hours bound up on the sofa and feeling I should have been able to free myself before my family came home. My daughters will remember me in that heap forever and I just feel so worthless.

A: What your daughters will remember is an amazingly resilient mother who experienced, most likely, the most traumatic ordeal of her life and yet still had the concern to be mindful of her children’s needs and sensitive to their well-being. As they mature, they’ll understand more about what you endured and the strength with which you responded.

The depression following this trauma is a natural reaction. My strong encouragement would be for you to see a therapist and talk about this event.

You may also want to see if someone in your area does yoga therapy. Research on posttraumatic stress disorder shows that yoga work after a traumatic experience can be very helpful. There is also specialized treatment for trauma known as EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) you may want to check out.

They would most certainly been upset by what they saw, and you may want to give them a chance to work with a child therapist if you have any concerns. But coupled with their concern for you is very likely to be an appreciation. You’re a brave woman, and the courage you have demonstrated to your children will be a source of strength for them in the future.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Mar 2014

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2014). Embarrassed In Front of Children. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/03/16/embarrassed-in-front-of-children/