C triggers me almost every single day. I didn’t anticipate that. For a while, a part inside was just happy to see she was not dead and no one had dismembered her, so every interaction with her was reassuring and calming.
Now, there seems to be an enormous, inevitable wtf. I still think it’s the same reason. She’s reassuring. The dissociation gets reduced, and I take things in that I don’t take in when it’s a different student in the same situation. Then I have to deal with what I have managed to take in.
Yesterday, I was walking by her classroom at recess—her classroom lies between all of the classrooms where I teach and the staff room—and she came rather suddenly from around the corner and began shouting very fiercely at a boy. She was very much up in his face. I have no idea what she was saying—it was very fast and not at all in English—only that I had never seen her so angry.
I saw this, and didn’t stop, but I watched her as I went on talking to the students who were walking with me.
And then just as suddenly the boy pushed her, quite hard. She went flying down the steps. I did stop then and I nearly began to walk back towards them only then C began to laugh.
It was completely alarming. Except she laughed.
I asked her, “Are you playing?” because there was something theatrical about the whole thing, her fierce shouting, his dramatic push.
It seemed to me she said yes or she nodded or something, “He’s very angry,” she said.
“I got very scared.”
“Thank you, ma’am.”
That was all. I had a lot of work to do, and so I went on my way then. But it left me terribly upset. Ruthie popped out for a bit and chatted with a friend while I marked notebooks. She wanted to kill the boy. She wanted to cut him up in small pieces.
I am realizing that, while it doesn’t seem like such a great thing when parts come out, at least my emotions are getting processed somehow. At least there is some thought and some communication about how I feel. So I was angry. I was murderously angry he had touched her in an unkind way, never mind that she seemed to have provoked him on purpose. No one should hurt C.
It seemed to be okay after that. I taught for a period. I checked more notebooks. We went home a bit early because exams start today and after lunch the students prepared the classrooms that will be used to administer exams and then there was nothing else much for anyone to do.
But I had trouble falling asleep. I woke up in the small hours of the morning and Ruthie popped out again to express how grumpy she was at being awake and finally when I did sleep I overslept and didn’t want to get up. Then when I did finally get up, I almost immediately began to cry without knowing why.
It took a while to let things settle into something that made sense. I could protect C. In that moment, when the boy pushed her, I could protect her. I didn’t need to. She wasn’t hurt, and the situation didn’t escalate, but I could have. If the altercation had been serious and continued, I could have told them to stop and they would have and I could have kept her safe. Both children are bigger than me, but they would have obeyed me because I am a teacher and because when I do shout children nearly always do what I tell them.
I am contrasting this in my mind with being unable to protect Nata or any of the girls I loved when they were the same age as C is. None of them were dealing with angry teenage boys with hurt feelings. They weren’t dealing with manageable problems. I am an adult now and I have more power because of it. I have a certain amount of power because I am a teacher as well. But that’s not really the main difference. The main difference is the nature of the problems people around me have most of the time.
It’s really hard to grasp this. There are still Yuris in the world. Callous, cruel people didn’t disappear when I left his brothel. There are still people struggling to survive in the hands of a psychopath, but I am no longer one of them. I don’t know anyone who is, except perhaps my sister. And so my life is vastly different. I can protect the people I care about.