Things are clicking in nicely today, after a long crying jag in the morning that seemed kind of interminable, then a student problem I had to deal with in the morning that turned out to be not as awful as expected but made me sick for the 30 minutes I was here before school.

Oh, and C is fine. She spoke to me in the morning, and listening to her speak English was like listening to someone talk with rocks in their mouths. Sometimes she speaks perfectly—I think these must be prepared moments or frequently recited phrases she’s saying, because it doesn’t carry over into spontaneous speech—but I got kind of the update on life. The 2 minute version, and I felt the connection, and I felt the reassurance that she is fine. I think I felt the reassurance that she is fine because I could feel her emotions, and she felt fine. She felt fine and she felt confident and optimistic about life. I think she gives up on academics very fast. The gap between what she could do if she kept at things and what she could do now is very wide, and she gives up hope. It seems now she was getting discouraged.

I am not sure how to explain this, but it seems it to me now that I had hoped for so much for her. She felt, That’s not realistic. I can’t do those things. I mean, she had hope for about five minutes. At the first obstacle, or the second, or maybe the third, she lost it. And I wasn’t close enough to her to realize what was happening.

That’s one thing.

Then, in the morning, after the crying jab, I began to realize there was a mother. Annousheh had a mother. I called this mother mother. She seems to overlap with Ksymcia, but I am not very sure. They are different sizes in my memory—Ksymcia is a girl, but Annousheh’s mother is a woman in my memories of them. So I know which one was holding me, but if I cannot remember the feel of their bodies against mine, then I just have the impression of “mommy” and safety and brown arms around me and I don’t know whose they are.

It is a painful thing to remember. Immensely so.

I have a few thoughts about it. One of them is that when you are in the midst of a flashback or a trauma state or anything like that, you feel really, really trapped in it, because the emotion of it is so strong. Not just trapped in a sensory memory and the experience of trauma, but the impulsive response to it. I feel so homesick when I remember these things. The impulse to go running to something that feels like home is so strong, I feel trapped in terms of my choices. It’s problematic when the impulse is not possible or inappropriate or even harmful, but even when it’s doable, it still feels confining. It gives you a sense of doom. Or it gives me one. As the trauma gets worked through, the feelings aren’t as intense, the impulsive response to the memory is not so strong, and it starts to become possible for the feelings that arise from the trauma to be one of many feelings, to be weighed alongside practical concerns and overall concerns and the complex web of feelings, and I have more choices.

I also get less of a crazy-as-shit feeling. I mean, I don’t start thinking what would make life bearable for me is just idiotic and untenable. I don’t have a solid sense of what I might do, but it seems like it could be something that’s a bit more balanced.

Also, it starts to seem like the things that I remember did happen. I am not just bat-shit crazy. Things are hazy and maybe many details and practical matters I will never know, but someone loved me when I was very small. She spoke Dari Persian to me and had a little girl and they felt like family to me. They died somehow—one or both of them were murdered. I suspect my father was the perpetrator.

She called me Asha-jaan. The Russian girls called me Annoushka and Ksymcia called me Anniezcka and this woman I called moder-jaan. I don’t know when everything happened exactly, except that it seems to me both Annousheh and her mother died and all of the Afghan girls died before I was 8.

I feel a bit of hope now. Because these girls lived in hell. And they loved each other. They loved me. They didn’t just fight to survive. They remained human, not just fought to remain human, but remained human because they were human. If they could do that, I can at least try to get through the day.


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