I can’t really get through a thought. Intellectually, of course, I can. It’s simple. Emotionally, it’s not so simple. And I have come to understand that they go together. You don’t know something, not really, until you have experienced the emotions of it. If you can’t do that, you keep reworking the same thought, calling up the same emotions again and again, until you’ve done it. If you put your emotions in boxes, which I have had to do, every time the thought arises, you shove the emotions in a box and they remain there, patiently, waiting for you to take them out again. In my case, because it’s all so intense, it gives a sense of the emotions coming out in chunks or in bubbles that burst. The emotions wash over me every time I have that thought at the same intensity as they did the last time. It used to be nothing got better, because nothing useful happened with the emotions when they came out like that. I was overwhelmed, maybe, or I shoved them back again and they remained there until the next time.
Anyway, the thought has to do with my not causing death, and with love also, with other people’s love for me not causing their death. Which is obvious. And yet I don’t know this, because I couldn’t do something with the emotions of it—whatever needed to be done.
Because it wasn’t just Nata who died. There were other people who loved me who died. I saw their deaths. Their deaths had nothing to do with me, and yet I saw them. I saw them when I was very young, and one of the problems with that is that, as a small child, this wasn’t happening to anyone else. Grandparents died. There was the occasional fatal accident or illness in the family. But it wasn’t something that seemed to keep happening every few years, the way it was happening to me.
It seemed to be about me, and yet I am not saying I felt I had done something to cause their deaths. That thought doesn’t seem to have been there. It seemed to have been more that I felt like a disease vector—like I’d gotten chicken pox and then given them to my sister. More that it was just something about me perhaps, as though death were maybe a matter of personality. I just kind of seemed to get people killed. I was very young when many of the most important people died. It was the best I could come up with.
And then Nata died, and it was about me. It was about her love for me. I find as I go through life these days, I don’t want anyone to love me. It’s more evident with my students. I feel very close to them, and I think they feel very close to me. The relationships are, in a way, naked. Everyone’s heart is just on his or her sleeve. It’s partly the nature of children, partly the nature of Country X, to just care without any attempt to hide it. So I don’t want them to care about me. It is okay to care about them, but I don’t want them to care about me. I don’t want them to care, because I think that might be fatal.
So when C notices a bit of dirt on my finger in the morning while I am talking to her about her maths and she tries to brush it away, I don’t want her to do that. I don’t want her to in a way that is very intense and trauma-based and has nothing to do with sitting there working with integers. I don’t want her to do that so much that after a while, later in the session, I start to feel as though I can’t speak. I don’t have to speak at the moment when the feeling comes over me, but I’ve had that feeling before. I know what it means. I know when I need to speak, I might not be able to. It passes though, and when I do have to speak, I can.
I know, later, when I have a chance to think about, why that feeling came over me. I think she is going to die. She cares about me, and she is going to die. So I think I had better be very silent and hide under the bed or in the closet, the way I did when Stecia and Magda did.
That’s not really the thought. The thought is that I didn’t make anyone die. Love didn’t either. I was who I was, doing what I was meant to do. The people who loved me did what they were meant to do. Yuri was the murderer, so he was responsible for their deaths, but there’s one more piece of it I hadn’t fully grasped.
My dad was responsible for the fact that I was there to see them. He was responsible for Nata’s death also.
He was responsible because he kept sending me out to work for a murderer. He is like the nail that led to the fall of the kingdom. He sent me to work for Yuri. Nata came to love me because she was who she was and I was who I was, and because of that love, she died to save me from Yuri. But the love was just there. I was just there. Nata was just there. Yuri wasn’t just there. You don’t need to choose to murder. But my dad is the one who left me in Yuri’s care, who put me at risk every time he sent me there, who created a situation where Yuri might really kill me. And he is the reason Nata died.
No one is likely to die for me now: Because there is no murderer, because no one is forcing me to work for a murderer, because, no matter what is going on in my life, it is unlikely to be as risky as the situation my dad created in my life for me. There isn’t going to be all that much to save me from.
It is safe to let people care about me.
That’s the thought. I can’t quite get through it. Almost.