We may panic that we are about to be humiliated and shamed. There are no particularly strong grounds for this in objective reality, but we are utterly convinced nevertheless, because this is precisely what happened to us when we were tiny and at the hands of a parent. Or we worry intensely that we are about to be abandoned in love not because our partner is in any significant way disloyal, but because someone who once looked after us at a very vulnerable point definitely was.
There is a paradox here: why do we keep expecting something to happen that has already happened? Why don’t we better distinguish past from present? Winnicott’s answer that it’s in the nature of traumatic events from childhood not to be properly processed and as a result, like the dead who have not been adequately buried and mourned, to start to haunt us indiscriminately in adulthood. But they do not make themselves felt in straightforward and transparent ways as laments about the past. They show up perfectly disguised as unfairly intense apprehensions about the future. They convince us that something awful is about to occur; they blind us from seeing that it did so long ago.