I was thinking about the modes because of what happened with C just before I left her. I had a lot of feelings as I thought about it. It wasn’t very easy to think about. A change in my thinking I have found is that I have these intense, overwhelming feelings and sometimes traumatic memories in the course of thinking about other things. It’s as though they are sort of places I need to pass through on the way to whatever interpretation or decision about the present I need to make. The intense feelings or the memories are not the final destination. They are just a place to pass through. Sometimes I am really overwhelmed by something for a minute or two, or even ten minutes, then I’m on to something else. But it’s not that I have shut down.

It wasn’t that smooth of a parting, and I suppose it stayed in my mind as something I couldn’t really understand and needed to think through. C came to the back door—I was on the other side of the doorway then—and gave me back my purse, which she had been holding in the bag she had asked to hold for me, so that no one would see the snacks. I said, “Come with me. I forgot what you said.”

She didn’t say anything, but it was clear she didn’t really want to. She wanted to be with her friends, and you might say away from this embarrassing adult. I literally held her by the wrist to keep her from disappearing into the crowd. The thing is it seemed to me not that she was embarrassed, but that she felt unwanted. I put my arm around and held her close to me as we walked, and her whole body was tense and small. I asked her, “Are you coming down tomorrow?” “Don’t know.” “You are dancing next Sunday?” “Don’t know.” Suddenly, she didn’t know anything. Later, thinking about it, I felt rejected. She’s shy to be with me. I mean, she is. I know she is. I think that is why after I couldn’t get anything meaningful out of her, I suddenly withdrew. I felt unwanted. I was leaving anyway, but I didn’t part ways from her as gracefully as I might have if I hadn’t felt that way.

It wasn’t terrible at all. None of this was dramatic. It was all very subtle, but there was clearly a lot going on inside of both of us.

Today, I realized she did feel unwanted. Her telling me she was coming down was an invitation to meet her. I asked her when she was dancing, but that was clearly an expression of interest—it said I wanted to see her. Then I said I forgot. I didn’t want her enough to remember. It’s hard to say, “I have so many feelings when I see you that I can’t quite accurately remember anything.” It’s hard to make it not personal for her.

I am sure she did feel shy and it would have been more comfortable for me to say goodbye to her there in the doorway when she came to give me her purse, but she felt unwanted. The modes seem like they might be helpful here, as a way of understanding how she felt, but it seems she might have been not have been in such a clearly single state. She was first in detached mode. “I will just disappear quickly and not deal with my feelings or this situation. I don’t care if I see you anyway.” Then I wouldn’t let go of her. Was she frightened at that point? Ashamed? I am not sure. But her body language elicited in me a protective, reaching out response. I put my arm around her and held her close. I felt something. I do that when she feels scared, but sometimes I think it scares her more when I am closer to her in response to her fears. She might have felt ashamed. “I wanted to see you, but you don’t care about seeing me.”

But I felt rejected and went into detached mode, and then she felt abandoned, because I suddenly let go of her.

It wasn’t the end of the world. I looked back a minute later, and she was laughing with her friends. I don’t want to make it sound like I killed the pope in all of this. I did not. I just need to understand what happens between us, because she is so reactive and I am sometimes reactive too. It happens too quickly, and I don’t always understand either one of us until later.


One thought on “Parting

  1. Rachel March 7, 2016 / 1:52 pm

    It is really hard to catch in real-time what is happening, because the modes can shift in a split second, sometimes back and forth between multiple modes, all at once. You have made some insights here that will serve you well with her. Whatever is happening, it is obvious there is a strong loving bond between you two present.

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