Yesterday was awful. I hated yesterday. It was a day I came home from and was happy to have over and done with.

It started off with a chat. First it came up that boys at school are teasing her. Then it came out that they are teasing her not just that she is some kind of teacher’s pet, but that we were dating.

So that’s one bit of information.

Then I ask her something very direct: Are we? Something like that. I don’t give anything away about how I feel. I just ask her.

First she says we are. Then that we aren’t. I don’t know why she changes her mind exactly. Maybe one of them is the right answer in her mind, and not the other one. Or maybe it’s thinking through what kind of relationship we have, that it’s mother/daughter and they are incompatible.

I have this conversation with her—a chat online—that’s totally confusing. I don’t know how much she understands what I am saying. She mostly says, “Don’t know.”

But I try to tell her feelings are okay—whatever feelings she has—but that to me she’s a little girl. More or less, that’s what I tell her.

It brings up all kinds of stuff though, because probably I’ve brought on the teasing. It’s how I act with her, and can’t help acting with her, that has done it. Not that I am treating her like a girlfriend, but there’s perhaps no other category in a teenager’s mind for a middle-aged woman treating a girl like someone very precious.

So I feel it’s my own punishment. I didn’t deserve C. I did something that is hurting her. I won’t get to keep her.

I grew up on a razor’s edge, where you lost everything if you didn’t do everything perfectly. And even if you did, sometimes you lost them anyway.

I feel a hundred kinds of guilty. In the patches when I get time to think, I consider that guilt.

Well, there’s this thing. I was considering it already anyway. It was what came to my mind first thing when I came up. I think I might have gone to bed thinking it.

I am the one who shouted for help—not Nata, but me. I said, “Spacite.” I shouted in the wrong language—not just in a language people in the next building wouldn’t understand, but that they wouldn’t care about. A language that marked us as being outside of the bounds of people you can care about…Just those Russian prostitutes.

It made me realize that sociopaths flock to these pockets of vulnerable people. They surround children and the elderly and sex workers and other groups that have less status or power. Society has to work extra hard to protect people who are vulnerable and have less power because of their own abilities, but sex workers are a human-created category. It’s not a developmental stage. My dad, I think, could prey on prostitutes—and I think he did pretty on prostitutes—because people cared less about their lives. We know immigrant lives are less protected in society. Sex workers lives are less protected. Non-English speakers are at a disadvantage anyway, and their lives matter less too.

We were at the nexus of all of this. And I put us there in the minds of anyone who might have come to help. So they didn’t.

And that’s my fault. But it isn’t my fault that society is like that. It isn’t my fault I didn’t sufficiently grasp the whole power dynamic of my culture well enough to act.

So I’m angry. I’m angry at the world. This is hard for a while. Anger is not allowed, I realize. I think because I would have been punished for it: I would have acted out. But also I saw how angry people hurt others and I didn’t want to be like that.

But I am. And if I can let that anger be there, I feel better.