No Control

I was deep in thought—it’s first period, and I don’t have class, but everyone else in my staffroom does. I was thinking about mattering to C, and about having my needs considered, because that is what is going on for me: she considers my needs sometimes. She doesn’t sometimes: She behaves like a child, who doesn’t consider the needs of others and just asks for what she wants in hopes that it will be accommodated, and has no choice but to accept the boundaries laid down. Lately, it seems like she is thinking about my needs more. Not necessarily needs I articulate, but the needs she imagines I have. So I was thinking about that, about being considered, and it was hitting a very tender place in me, because I know this is about real connection. She is polite, but not to me. This isn’t politeness.

My eyes suddenly welled up with tears as I thought about it. At that particular moment, the “dry sweeper” came wandering into the staffroom. He just came in. He had nothing to do in there. I covered my face, because I did not have time to wipe away the tears before he walked in. He clumped around the staffroom for a while in his boots, while I tried to pretend there weren’t tears on my face. It seemed he was going to stay for a while, clumping around, so finally I wiped the tears and went to close the blinds, as though the light had been making it hard to see the screen. (It was going to soon—it’s a bright, hot day.)

I asked him if he was looking for something, because he was walking around looking at all of the teacher’s tables. “No.”

“Just bored?”

He didn’t answer, but wandered out again.

Five minutes later, the office secretary wandered in, looked at someone’s table, and also wandered out again—seemingly also without purpose.

It scared me to have someone walk into the room suddenly when I was unexpectedly crying. I felt scared and angry (is there some reason you need to disturb my solitude? No, evidently not.)

I am free in second period also, but the other teachers will be. They might come in the staff room and work diligently. They might stay outside under the metal umbrella outside. They might come inside, turn on all the fans (which gives me a headache because of my shitty sinuses), and shout and terrify me for a period.

I have absolutely no control.

I don’t have control over what people do and I have no control over my delicate nervous system, which is wired to look at every stimulus as a potential life-threatening situations. Everything that happens, I must assess and calm myself down after realizing it is not a threat. I have no control over my nervous system and its automatic reaction to things. I have no control over how other people trigger it or don’t. None whatever. I get to react to life. Constantly.

What is stressful about Country X for me is that everyone else is kind of doing the same thing to some extent. Everyone responds to everything like someone is bleeding to death. There’s a pencil on the floor and it’s like, “Oh, my God! Someone dropped a pencil!” No one ever says calmly, “Excuse me, I think you dropped your pencil.” It’s always, “Pencil!” as though someone has just spotted a king cobra in the class. What is most stressful about teaching here is that people are continually alarmed, and they communicate this alarm to others without really thinking about it. I mean, no one ever takes a breath first. I don’t know why this is or why Americans seem to be able to take a breath first. But I know they seem to be able to cope with this constant reactivity, and I can’t. My nervous system is unable to handle it.

I think I had been fighting this. But this is just how it is.

Protective Streak

They are cutting wood right outside my ears. Not really, but it feels that way. It is outside the staffroom somewhere. I have no idea why they are chopping wood, but they are. With a chain saw. It does seem as though any loud, mechanical device designed for cutting things frightens me. There is no electricity, but they are somehow managing to use a chain saw. I am, as you might imagine, triggered. Very triggered. And I am alternating between having suicidal thoughts and thinking I will die.

The timing is not great, because I was triggered like hell anyway. I don’t really know what happened last night. I went to see C. The night before she had said come back tomorrow, so I came. There was no electricity, and when I went into the hostel room, it was dark. She had already gone up to get dinner—either they let them go early from evening study, or I had come later than usual. She must have decided I wasn’t coming by then. I don’t know. But she did not come into the hostel room for a long time. She ate outside and maybe came in 20 minutes after I arrived.

It was hard to wait there in the dark for her. It seemed someone must have told her I was there. Maybe they hadn’t. But I thought she has to come inside sometime. I just have to cope with my feelings that she is “lost” and I don’t know where she is. That’s all I have to do. Sit here and try to cope.

She eventually came in. It was still dark and I could not really see her expression. She almost immediately said to go. She asked why I came first, as though she had forgotten she asked me to. Maybe she had. Then she began to tell me to leave. It seemed she was afraid of the dark, and so I turned on the flashlight on my phone. It doesn’t give a lot of light, but maybe if you are afraid of the dark, it helps. Most Country Xers are afraid of the dark. College kids will sleep with the lights on, from what I hear. It is kind of insane. She began to tell me about the dog that bit the matron—it bit me last week, but not hard. I mean, if it wanted to bite me, it could have. That was just to let me know how it felt about me, and the next day, I fed it bred. It ate at my feet. I don’t think it will bite me now so long as I don’t startle it. She said it bit one of the captains also. It might have. Anyway, she is worried.

She began to say something about coming Friday. Then she began to say something about there not being classes for a week and she wanted to go to her village. I find it highly unlikely there are no classes for a week. We don’t have classes for three days here because of an “Education Meet.” I don’t think they are also having an “Education Meet” at the high school simultaneously, nor do I think it is for an entire week. It is usually around a weekend—ours is Thursday, Friday and Saturday. But something is up.

I said I would check with her principal. She began to say, “If you don’t want to send me…” I said, “I didn’t say no. I said I would check with your principal.” This is an important distinction I want her to learn. Yes means yes. No means no. Anything else means we are still in the discussion stages, and I am gathering information. You are welcome to provide more information also. She subsided a bit, and again wanted me to go.

The whole interaction felt very distressing to me. She was talking, but it felt sort of Wild Animal the whole time, like she wanted to climb out of her skin. I don’t really know what helps in those situations. I think what might help is if I understood something I don’t understand yet, and could be calm and solid and give validation to something she is not able to say. But I am not there yet. She seemed to slip into a very Detached Mode, but she was still talking to me, she was telling me to leave and about the dog again. She said, “If you don’t listen to me, I won’t listen to you.” I said, “I am worried about you.” She asked why. I said, “Because you are hurting inside.” “I am going to hurt if you don’t leave.”

So it was like that. I didn’t feel I handled it well. I decided to leave shortly after that. Wild Animal State I cannot leave. Detached Mode I trust more. She will take care of C. I have that feeling. She might not be nice to anyone else, but she will take care of C.

Walking down, I got hit really hard with shame. I felt worthless and suicidal. I don’t really know why. There are a million reasons I could have. She was very rejecting, but actually I feel that is not the part that hurts. What is hurting is that she cares, and I hate it. I think I feel more comfortable when she is a little part, and she needs me, and she does not really think that much about my feelings or what is happening for me. She trusts me to be an adult and take care of her, and she is warm as the Vulnerable Child, but not able to really think of me as someone who needs things. I don’t know if that makes sense, but the Vulnerable Child is warm without understanding it takes time to make her pancakes, it takes energy to walk up the hill and meet her, it takes money to buy cake and junk food. Maybe there are gaps in her ability to empathize. Something like that. It’s not that she doesn’t care in these little part states, but it is different. And Angry Child is just full of need—no space at all to think about other people.

This other person she was last night, that person thought about me. She wasn’t thinking about me in ways that I wanted her to, but she was thinking about me. I think it is her schema at work: she is bad and will be punished by having bad things happen to the people she loves. But it’s somehow genuine. It’s also her personality showing through the trauma symptoms. She said, “There is no light. Otherwise, I would keep you here.” “Keep” in Country X has the sense of “to put and to retain there.” It’s a different meaning than it ought to have, because they have borrowed an incorrect usage from other non-native speakers. When I decided to leave her at the high school, I told her, “I will keep you there.” It’s that usage. So, I am someone who can be “kept.” It’s odd.

It’s that odd feeling I have about her.

Me

I wrote about C and the visit with her. I didn’t really write about me. I meant to, but it all gets confused then. Sometimes it feels that life is proceeding on two different tracks, probably because what I am experiencing is sometimes only tangentially related to events. A lot of it is trauma, just as a lot of C’s response to me is trauma based.

I was waiting for her in the hostel, sitting on her bed. I had come early—someone I am not sure I remember correctly gave me a lift up, and I was there maybe ten minutes before they finished evening study. The same man has given me a lift before.

Anyway, I sat on the bed for a while. After a bit, I began to feel something: a calm. It didn’t last that long. When I began to think, “She ought to have come by now,” and she hadn’t, then I lapsed back into paranoia. But there was this while where I sat there, and I had a feeling of calm so strong, it was like I had taken a drug. That is happening to me these days. Not every time I see C, but sometimes. Usually it is after. This time I got it just from sitting there, just from sitting there on her bed. It’s amazing. I sat there with this calm feeling and after a little while I began to feel fear at the same time—calm and fear together. It crossed my mind I feel afraid to feel safe, and I think now that makes sense. Not because the safety doesn’t last, but because safety comes from being with your attachment figure. It comes from the reassurance they give you. I was never allowed to have that. I was never allowed to run to mommy when I felt scared so that I could feel safe again.

It’s tragic. It’s absolutely tragic. I thought of myself at 2 or 3 years old and I thought what would it look it for that to happen? It looks like a parent who is, perhaps, annoyed. Who lacks empathy—for whatever reason, overwhelm with one’s own problems, pure lack of giving a shit. It’s terrible to think about.

I had had that feeling on Saturday, after she left. I don’t know when it hit me exactly, if it was right after she left or some hours after. I felt it again at night on Saturday night. I thought of her having slept in the bed next to me. The beds are against different walls, but the heads meet. A few times, I put my hand on her head when she slept, and it was like being awake. She pushed it away. The last time she slept in my house, I had only one bed. She slept in the bed with me—it’s a narrow bed—and in the night she suddenly moved to put her head on my chest. Now, she has her own bed. Before sleeping, she said, “I will sleep here.” I said, “Yes, it is your bed.” I wonder what she thought about that—if it felt like she had a C-sized space in my life, or if she felt like I had pushed her away. Probably both at the same time.

Anyway, the night after that, I thought of all of this, and I remembered her lying there, and it gave me that calm feeling again.

Sunday was different. Then I missed her. It hurt. It hurt when I woke up again also. She wasn’t there and I missed her.

On Sunday, at the hostel, I got that feeling later. C was sitting on the bed, being Angry Child again, trying to get me to leave and seeming worryingly more agitated as I didn’t. Even five minutes more seemed to be too much to cope with. I did leave because of that—I don’t know if I should have. She wanted so badly for me both to stay and to leave at the same time. It felt that way. But I was sitting there, next to her while she did this, and I had the feeling of being so calm I felt drugged.

This is safe. This is what safe feels like. It’s okay to feel safe.

That is for the little parts, who feel scared to feel safe.

At the moment, writing this, they are vaccinating the kindergartners. The children are silent, but the adults are yelling like someone is bleeding to death. I love Country X. I hate the yelling. It is so hard to cope with all the panic all the time. I don’t know how they cope with their own internal states. Maybe they don’t. Maybe they are all dissociated. I have no idea.

Sunday Night

When C walked into the hostel, she had Angry Child face on. She smiled at me and Angry Child seemed to go away for a while. She was kind of average, adult. She went to get dinner—without saying anything this time, just went. She came running back maybe ten minutes later, grabbed her pillow, and ran out again. I figured someone must have fainted or something. Indeed, someone had. I wandered out of the hostel room and saw her in what I guess is the Class 11 room. Or one of them. I guess there are six rooms. There must be fewer students in Class 11 and 12 because they have to pass an exam in Class 10 to continue. It is not a standardized score they must achieve, but a norm-referenced score of some kind. Only a certain percentage make it.

Anyway, she was there. The young woman in the bed seemed to be unconscious. I touched her face, and she wasn’t feverish. Someone was talking to her and after a minute it seemed she was speaking again.

C led me back to her hostel. I think she had this feeling I had escaped. I was not in the room she had left me in, where she feels I am safe. I was wandering off again, doing things. I could get hurt. I don’t know if she really feels that way, but sometimes I have this sense about her. Sometimes it makes me think this is how abusive relationships develop. The person is frightened their attachment figure is not safe, and they exert control to keep them safe, and they do not have the empathy to realize this is harmful to their attachment figure.

That is an aside, however. She came back with me, ate quickly, and wanted me to leave. She wanted me to come back tomorrow. She had an excuse about wanting to tend to the sick girl and feeling worried about her. I think she did feel worried, but didn’t know what to worry about. The sick girl is what came to mind. She said also the Class 11 girls are “saying things.” I asked what. I imagine she just felt fearful. (She was telling me to leave. When I am leaving, she feels fearful, just as I get paranoid when I am leaving her.) Anyway, she said they are saying she is not giving time to me.

I don’t think they probably are. I don’t think they necessarily notice her enough to say anything much, although they are vaguely curious about me. However, I think that is her own conscience pricking her. I think she feels guilty she takes from me—warmth, connection, money, recharges, food—and then runs away. In my mind, her job is to take from me and to use that to be a good person, to study, and to make good decisions in her own life. I think that is probably a fairly Western attitude about raising kids. We expect our kids to mostly pay forward. I can talk to her about that more, about the idea of paying forward rather than paying back. But I also think this is her issue to wrestle with, and she has to sort it out.

I think she feels guilty she didn’t spend the holiday with me and she didn’t want to spend it with me. All day long, I sent her texts, because on Friday I had spent the evening with her and she had spent the night at my house. I knew the next day, she would be struggling. I just said things like we are still connected. And it is okay you are not with me. Every few hours, I sent one. I sent maybe four or five over the course of the day. She never responded to any of them—she used to never respond to any of them, but now when she is settled, she does respond. So I knew she wasn’t settled. In the evening, she was online. I just said hi to her. She said hi. I asked how her day was. “Nice.” And then she never read anything else. I think she felt so ashamed.

It’s the shame that happens after loss of connection, and it’s also the shame of individuating, but I suppose it’s also her conscience. I think she loves me more than anyone in the world, but she cannot stand to be with me, and she doesn’t understand why she feels that way. She sees herself constantly pushing me away, and she feels guilty about it. It’s easy for me to say be patient with this. It won’t always be like this.

For her, it’s a real issue. It’s a thing. She understands the pushing me away is wrong, and she is feeling less and less entitled to do it. Maybe. It’s something she has to sort out for herself though.

The other, real issue was, I think, that it was Sunday. The weekend is over, and now the routine changes. The routine changes and she doesn’t see me. If she is upset, then I keep coming, but it’s not like the weekend, when she sees me Friday evening and then Sunday afternoon and Saturday she can think I am coming tomorrow. She just has to wait one day. And then if she is not upset, I don’t come at all until Friday. It is five long days without me. I think there is a grief about this, and that’s why she sent me off quickly. She didn’t want the grief of feeling that change. She wants to be grown up and independent, but she also wants me there, and it’s very difficult. She wants my body next to her at dinner time. I think I need to come one other day of the week, so it does not feel there is this long stretch of time without me. I think it is too long. Something in the relationship has changed, and there is more trust, and that means there is more loss, and the feeling of loss is too great.

It’s getting late. I better get to school.

Afterwards

I did not do anything much yesterday. I was so tired. Partly, I hadn’t slept much, but also I just was tired. I had had a lot to process the day before, and I was tired. I think maybe I also felt safer to be tired—I think usually feeling tired is very unsafe for me. There were many situations where I was not allowed to be tired. I could not sleep. I could not do things in a tired, sleepy way. It was night time and I had to be awake and alert and energetic. So, although I take a lot of time to rest, it’s hard for me to cope with the actual feeling of fatigue. It means being tired is usually more tiring for me, because then I have fear to cope with as well.

I took four naps yesterday, and lay in bed most of the time, and I fell asleep without eating dinner at 7:30, with the lights still on and I only woke up after 10, when I turned out the lights and slept until morning. I don’t know when I have felt so tired before.

It gave me some time to think that I think I needed to have. Something got worked out in my mind—a simple thing, but I think it will help later. I just kind of have it worked out how this happened for me, the whole disordered attachment.

We develop a moral sense from being punished, whether the punishment is the naughty chair or a beating or a disapproving look, that’s how we develop a feeling of right and wrong. I was punished for seeking connection. It was never explicitly stated this way—there is no conscious sense that connection is bad. But it happened. There is an implicit sense of it. And so when I want connection I feel afraid, the way one might feel afraid if you want to do something you know is really bad, and when I have had connection I feel ashamed afterwards, and I also have feelings of loss around it. I feel angry at the connection I am not getting, even if I have decided for some logical, rational reason that I ought not to pursue connection in this instance or from that person. I feel sad about not having it. I feel hopeless that I might never get the connection I want and need.

That’s the cycling I do following connection. I am afraid because I had connection I wasn’t supposed to have. I feel angry at the loss of the connection I was getting and then lost. I feel ashamed at having had connection because I have been taught that my need for connection is bad. That’s the core of it. It might manifest itself as any manner of thoughts in my mind, but that is what is really going on inside me.

Miracle

It is six a.m. C is sleeping in the bed next to me. We have a holiday today, and she called me yesterday in the early evening to ask me to get permission to come down. She wanted me to get permission for her friends to come down also, but that didn’t work out. I called the principal and he said students needed to have leave requested by the person they are actually going to stay with. Which made sense to me.

I didn’t tell C this until I got there. Then she began to discuss with her friends. She said to them, “We will say…” And I told her we are not going to lie to your principal. Her cousin appeared then, looking kind of forlorn. I hadn’t thought of her. I had assumed her dad must have arranged for her to come down. I felt very sorry for her in that moment. I can’t remember what I said, but C didn’t want to leave without her. First, I told her cousin to call her dad. Then C said if her dad was free to take them down, she wouldn’t have called me in the first place. I couldn’t really see how a man can be too busy to make a phone call so that his daughter can come home. That was sort of beyond me. But C was angry. Maybe less so at that particular moment, but as soon as I told her we were not going to lie to her principal, I got full-on Angry Child. Very angry child. This time, Angry Child was not that easily consoled. She has been before. Not this time.

I don’t actually know what motivates the different modes she is in, what sparks them. I know she never got a chance to be this child, or to have her angry child self accepted and soothed. Once it happens, I know what she needs, but I don’t really know why it happens. If I needed to rely on words to make the connection, I don’t know what I would do. I try to say understanding things—like that she is disappointed—but I know that is kind of not the main event. The main event is that I sit there, and I am not reactive. I am concerned and interested, and on hand.

Anyway, I told her cousin to stay in my house. This seemed to take some time to convince her of. I don’t know why. They wrote a leave letter then and we went. C was still in a state, but holding it in. We went to her uncle’s house from there. I guess I was there for three hours with her. C spent most of the time in the kitchen. I helped her small cousin with his homework. He was supposed to write his alphabet. It is hard for him. He has been copying them without paying attention to how the letters are meant to be formed, and it means the way he is making them doesn’t always flow smoothly. It is more difficult because of the way he is doing it. I praised him a lot, which I know he didn’t understand any of—I don’t think he actually knows more than five words of English. But it’s the tone of voice you use, isn’t it? Like C and her Angry Child that I actually don’t know the reason for. It’s implicit. It’s tone of voice. It is body language. Words do count, but not all the time.

C was cycling through modes the whole time—I could see it. But it was kept in. They weren’t that apparent. A serial came on and men were hitting each other and I could see the rage mount in her. It wasn’t normal involvement in watching a TV show. It was really and truly rage—not Angry Child, I think, so much as Detached Mode kind of rage. I thought if I were a child, that face would terrify me. She is a child and I am an adult. I feel worried, but if she is still like this when she has her own children, it is going to be terrible for them. My heart kind of bled for her, and I wished I were here longer. It doesn’t have to be that way, and yet it might be. What I can do is so limited. I don’t want this cycle to continue, and yet it might, just because she doesn’t know how to stop it.

It’s terrible. She is such a loving child and a caring child. Whenever she has something nice to eat—junk food or whatever—she will give some of it away to someone if she meets them on the way to where she is going. I have seen her do this two or three times. If she has 2 bags of chips—and usually she won’t buy just one of something—she will give one of them away to someone.

No one has to ask her to help. Her uncle sat down to tear mushrooms, and he did not have to say anything to her. She began to help him.

It doesn’t have to be like this. She doesn’t have to cycle through rage and shame and pushing away the people she cares about and not giving a fuck because it hurts to care, and yet she didn’t get the care she needed when she was small, and now it might be like this for her.

Anyway, we had dinner then, and C swept the livingroom. (Country X-ers eat on the floor, make a big mess with rice eating it, and then sweep up after.) Then C kind of stood there. “Are you ready to go?” She was. So we walked the short ways to my house. There was a group of men walking by us, and C stared at them with big eyes. It made me feel frightened for her, and I put my arm around her.

We got to my house, and she got into her bed and played on her phone for a long time—maybe two hours. I slept fitfully. It was like some part of me felt she was an infant, and I needed to be aware of every need she might have. I guess when she finally slept, I also slept more soundly. She talked in her sleep a few times—nothing alarming, just talking. I have no idea what she was saying. I stroked her hair, and she settled again. She pushed my hand away and she settled. It’s odd, because things help her, even when she is pushing them away. She needs to push, but she needs the thing she is pushing away. Sometimes. Sometimes it is like that, and sometimes she needs that thing to actually stop. I think I know the difference now, maybe. Not all the time. But sometimes I do.

It’s a miracle having here sleeping. It feels that way.

Angry

I think I hate everyone and everything Country X right now. I think that is what has happened. The immigration ministry has decided I need to leave, and now I hate everyone. It’s a possibility anyway. Otherwise, I have no explanation for why my students are driving me so insane.

The thing is they are doing the same things that adults do. They are things that have bothered me all along, but now they make me want to kill someone. They criticize relentlessly. (The next time a kid tells me about a minor misdeed that occurred 20 minute ago, I will completely lose my mind.)

The concept of “letting it go” would be useful here. Maybe it is just what third and fourth graders do. In this case, I need some perspective. I am not a primary school teacher. I don’t have a clue.

They fight. Constantly. “He was playing. She kicked me (on accident). He isn’t giving me my pencil back (because he’s not finished doing what he borrowed it to do).” They talk over each other and all at once—this isn’t my bad classroom management. They talk all at once to their other teachers too. They are loud. (Just like adults.) They don’t listen when other people are speaking, but instead ignore instructions while they are being made and then frantically discuss what is expected amongst themselves during and after. (Also just like adults.) What they decide usually turns out to be different than what is expected. I have been able to train class four into listening first, but class three is incorrigible. One of my class fours can talk nicely to each other, and the other fights like mad. Class three seems to be hopeless. I would like to give them all knives and let them get the killing over with, because that seems to be what they want to do.

I don’t know what has happened here, but the famed happiness in Country X is really, “We are not allowed to show negative feelings. We keep everything inside and then go home and kick the dog or beat our wives and children. Or drink ourselves to death.”

But they are lovely people. I just hate them right now.

Departure

I may have mentioned this, but I decided to leave C here. The topic came up on Monday, when the other girls were telling C to behave herself (she was in that Wild Animal state), because I am only going to be here this year.

Fuck.

Anyway, sometimes I hate living on a planet with other human beings.

But it was out there, so I pursued it. Maybe that was the real problem anyway. Maybe that has been the topic of conversation all week. I don’t know. She said she wanted to stay here and she wouldn’t look at me, and she wouldn’t say why she wouldn’t look at me. Protecting herself from the feeling of loss that would go with connection. Eventually, she began to hide behind her hair, which made it click in a little better. Oh, the last time she did that, she was telling me what she wanted and she felt very ashamed to have her own opinion and her own desires and to have them be different opinions than she assumed I wanted her to have.

I think she has never been allowed to reject her parents. She has not been allowed to be close, and she has not been allowed to reject them. They can’t tolerate rejection. Everything they do must be fantastic to her, or they cannot tolerate feeling rejected. Maybe.

Eventually, I wrote her a note, because she really couldn’t hear me. She kept saying, “I will stay here.” I was having a hard time telling her what I meant anyway. The note said something like, “I am listening to you. I want to know more so that I can explain more to you, and then you can tell me what you think of that, but I am listening.” She seemed to soften a little from that, but it didn’t last. I left after two hours, and she was only slightly calmer.

Then on Tuesday, we didn’t talk about it. Just as I was leaving, I said, “Do you want to stay here?” And she said yes in a way that seemed honest. I said, “I will keep you here then.” I had already more or less decided that, because on the walk down on Monday, I began to have a very clear sense of how the loss of place and routine would feel to her. She is attached to the place and the routine, because attachments to people are so difficult for her, and the attachment to place and familiar things cannot be maintained over a long distance. She would feel she had died, and no longer existed. It would be extremely difficult to cope with.

In my mind, I began to move on after that. The C issue is settled—I had thought at first of leaving her here, but later didn’t feel settled about it. Now I feel settled. I have thought it through, and this is better for her. It isn’t just fear of the unknown or the immense amount of effort getting her to the US would involve. It is better for her.

It must have been my Demanding Adult who thought trying to decide whether to stop over in India would be a good idea to consider, and if I do go whether I should go to both Mumbai and Delhi, or only Mumbai. (Many of my earthly possessions are at a friend’s house near Mumbai. It is unclear whether I still care about them). So I did a bit of research. I looked at the cost of plane tickets for India vs. other potential stopovers. I looked to see if they were actually running flights to Mumbai. (Three years ago, they weren’t, and it necessitated an expensive and difficult-to-get train between Mumbai and Delhi.) The internet stopped working, although everyone else seemed able to access it—this seems to happen to me sometimes.

Anyway, I may not have realized how much I was triggering myself. I do need to decide this, because aside from needing to book plane tickets and apply for a visa (possibly), I need to hand off my passport to the person who would arrange for the visa and the first leg of the journey in the beginning of July. But it might not have been the best thing to go directly from one stress to the next—from worrying what to do to take care of C, to thinking about the separation. Except that maybe it will be easier for me if I think I know what I am doing. Just like I showed C my friend’s house where I will stay when I arrive, maybe I need a picture in my mind of what will happen to me, so that I know I am taken care of and safe also.

Connected

I went to see C again. I was so tired I just wanted to sleep and I had no idea how a visit would pan out and no capacity to think about it either. So I just went. Fuck it. Hope for the best. That’s how I felt.

On the way there, I thought about her request for junk food. I hadn’t brought her junk food on Monday, because I was going up there basically to punish her. I was so tired and more than a little overcome with a sense of futility about it all, but there is a shop outside the school and I bought junk food there.

The students joked when I came in. They said, “C isn’t here.” And I got really scared, because I didn’t see her right away. She wasn’t with her friends or near her own bed. I said, “Don’t say that. I get really worried.”

Anyway, she came over. She had eaten already. She asked me why I had come with a worried look on her face. It must be if I break the routine it’s very worrying. I told her I was worried, because the night before she had not been okay.

She tidied the things around her bed for a while, singing, and eventually began to study her physics. I felt without really thinking about it that I had the Teen with me. I don’t know what it is about the Teen, but I love her. She is so full of life, so purposeful. C sat on the bed, and I put my hand on her back from time to time. It seemed that she was shrugging it off, but maybe she was just moving. I began to think after a while I sort of have it right. This is about the right amount of closeness. I am here, I am talking to her cousin and not to her, I am touching her from time to time, but I am not sitting close to her. And she likes this. She likes mom being there, but not smothering her. She likes having mom there while she does her own thing.

After I had been there for about 45 minutes, C looked at her watch and I got the familiar boot. I didn’t move right away. I said something about her uncle and that’s when she said she didn’t want to go. I don’t know why she didn’t, but I am sure I’ll never know. I let that go. I said, “Do you want to stay at the higher school?”

She looked me in the eye this time and said in a kind of vulnerable way that she did.

I said, “I’ll keep you here then.”

I started to go after that. I hugged her and I got a hug back, less of a side hug, and more of something frontal. I was surprised actually, but I guess she felt connected again and safe.

Deportation

In the short term, I do not know what to do. I can’t really let go of worrying about C. I can’t even decide if I need to do anything or if she will get settled on her own. I kind of think she cannot get settled. Exams are in one month. After that, they have a holiday, and the students are saying that this year, there will be a one-month holiday at the high school. So there are these two separations looming. It’s 2 months away, but like my absence in 2017, no one seems to be able to shut up about it. They keep talking about it, and I think she is scared. Scared of being away from me, scared of not being allowed to be away from me.

I kind of can’t get back into my own body. I know I feel very scared, and that the fear is completely consuming when I relax and let it in.

One thing I was considering over the weekend that I hadn’t thought about before was that this is an immigration issue. Immigration, I always forget, is terrifying to me. I really think I did not know I was a legal citizen when I was a child and I was with the girls—none of whom had proper documents—I constantly risked being separated from them via deportation, but I do not think I realized I could not be deported. I feel I am being deported, and I am scared. Little parts can’t quite grasp that I am going to a place I have been before, that there will be people that I know. I just know I am leaving important people behind, and although you plan for reunion, it is never as certain as you would like.

For an undocumented child, being undocumented is terrifying. It is like being available for legal kidnapping. I think that is what is getting triggered now. I had foster parents. I got attached to them and then returned, and I also didn’t understand about my legal status and I grew up with people who lived in fear of deportation. I think this is that fear. I think this I that fear of losing everything I have ever known: loved ones, school, familiar places, toys, everything. And it is probably doubly triggering because that is what I was considering doing to C—not exactly, but kind of. A separation I couldn’t tell if she wanted or not. I think some of the separations felt like deportations because although the distances were not that great, they were so total. They were languages and food and ways of being. That is what I am considering now. It might have been most important that I lost everyone I felt would protect me.

Yeah, so there is that.

It seems to me now that, having made a decision about C’s fate, the space has opened up for thinking about me. I feel like I will die if I leave Country X.

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