I have little bits of thoughts today. They make sense to me, but I don’t know if they will make sense to me.
I was thinking about attachment. It seemed to connect up to some things. Someone suggested Holly van Gulden. It made me think. I was thinking about it anyway, but it made it all the more important in my mind.
I was walking home last night from the shops. It wasn’t eight yet, but really no one was around. Hardly anyone. I guess some of the “hotels” (small restaurants, all with pretty much the same food for the same prices) were open, but it’s cold and their doors were shut. So I had this sense of being alone, and it made me think how alone I generally am. Not just because I am, in fact, not with anyone, but because I am no one’s any particular anything.
It’s hard to describe that, but I think it relates to having so many caretakers, so many broken relationships with caretakers. It has to do with the inconstancy of that care, but also with my life now. There is no sense of really belonging to anyone—I don’t mean a sense of being safely a part of a group, but being irreplaceable to someone, which is what attachment is all about. I mean, I feel sort of like a towel, in a way. Something that can be transferred. A different towel will do. It’s not like a toothbrush, which is always only your own.
I think C triggers me, because sometimes she looks at me as though I am her particular someone. I think that is what happened when I first began to teach her. She looked at me as though I was not merely a nice teacher at her school or even a teacher she likes, but like I was someone special to her, and I have not felt that or taken it in a very long time.
I think, too, that C felt I was her particular someone very quickly and early on in our relationship because of her own broken attachments. Her dad left her when she was small. It seems when her parents divorced, her mom left her with an aunt, and then came and got her again after perhaps a month. So that is really three broken or interrupted attachments: Dad, mom, aunt. I don’t know how old C was when all of this happened, but her sister is maybe two years younger than C, and the sister’s natural father is C’s step-father. Under 2.
When I came from the Capitol City and realized that I could not make C stay in touch with me or maintain an attachment, it made me think I cannot fix this. I cannot reparent her. Maybe she feels I am actually real mom or maybe not, but I am not in her life enough to repair everything. Maybe not anything.
And I think that triggered me some more.
This was what prompted the disastrous argument after my return from the Capitol City and her return from her village. It made me feel hopeless, like I have failed before I had even begun, and also like I cannot keep her safe. It triggered some other stuff too, and between all of it I became angry and controlling. Distrust makes people controlling if that’s what they can afford to be. And it isn’t really that she resisted my control so much as there are other people in her life doing exactly the same thing. There were too many scary, angry people to please. Or at least people who might become scary and angry at any moment. I was the least scary and she chose to defy me.
But I took it personally. I took it as a sign she felt no attachment. The attachment had been broken or never existed.
Well, I am not sure that C actually remembers her attachment to me when I am not with her, or have not been with her recently. Her ability to attach is just broken. Or she might remember, but she is not sure exactly who I will be: if I will be kind to her or if I will be scary. But it is not personal.
Really, what caught my attention about C was her broken ability to attach, all the symptoms that she does not feel like anyone’s particular someone: her lack of shyness with strangers coupled with too much willingness to attach to a new person (me), her careful watching to see if her attachment figure is still the same person as she was yesterday. She has, I think, no clear sense that her loved ones are either permanent or constant. Her sense of those two things is not totally shattered, but it is disrupted.
This scared me. It scared me quite a lot. I know it is disrupted attachment that drives girls into the arms of traffickers, into domestic violence, into the arms of untrustworthy people who will harm or use her. And I have to live with that. I have to live with the idea that I cannot fix this.