I read something in the night when I was feeling terrified from that lingering memory of running around looking for my “mommy.” It was from the blog The therapy relationship and it really helped. It had to do with the desire for human connection “coming online” again.
Yeah, that’s what is going on right now, and has been for a while, but I really had no idea what was happening to me, because mostly what stood out to me were the feelings of fear and loss. Those are memories about the desire to connect, but not the main event.
I get some things because of it. One of them is what has happened for C—and maybe me also. That when the desire for attachment has mostly led to pain, loss, and rejection, it does not feel like a good thing to have happen to you. It does not feel like reaching out to people is really such a good idea or that it is ever going to lead to joy. It does not seem like connecting to you will ever bring anyone else joy, and while you cannot always resist the desire to reach out to others and while there are times when it seems this time it will be different and you feel hopeful for a while, it does not seem like it will ever lead to satisfaction or joy or contentment in life.
It might explain all the Facebook memes I see about liking yourself. Yeah, it’s a hostile world out there. No one will ever feel any joy in connecting to you. Ouch.
The thing is that when you are a child and your parents can’t connect with their children or to you, you have no idea why this has happened or what that feeling of wanting to connect is. It just seems to lead to problems. C has no idea that anyone can just take pleasure in her company. They do, and I suppose she notices, but she is so afraid to feel the sense of connection that she isn’t going to be very aware of it. She is going to discount it in some way, or feel like it is a temporary state that might disappear at any moment. And it might be that because she does feel very hurt at rejection, she cannot really maintain relationships with people who would be able to sustain a bond with someone and would be there consistently. She just has no sense that joy in connecting to other people is part of being human. It is a confusing thing. She can’t figure out how to make it happen or why it stops happening and the problem seems to be her. The problem may partly be her, because she does not have the skills to maintain relationships, but is mostly not her. It is mostly the people she has no choice but to be around most of the time: they are people who cannot connect to others or to her.
The joy she feels in our relationship is immense, or it is sometimes immense, and it is new. However, it is overshadowed by fear and loss, because the desire for connection triggers other memories where fear and loss were very prominent. It is immense for me too, and I also feel intense fear and loss because of my memories.
Something else I have become aware of lately is how much my past relationships help me now, and how the choices I am making in the present make me feel more connected to them. Although they are all lost relationships—broken by death or unavoidable separations—I feel strengthened by them. When I take care of C, I remember the connection to the non-relatives who actively took care of me and protected me, and I feel I belong to someone still. I feel a sense of pride, like they are proud of me for how I have turned out, as though this is the tradition: we take care of the little orphaned souls as and when we can. That as what my people do. Or something like that.
I am reminded of their warmth and love for me, and while I feel terribly sad when I remember it, it is also this wonderful, lovely feeling. I am still carrying them with me, even though I will never see them again and although some of them are dead and no one will ever see them again.
I think I did not know that. I think I did not know we can carry people who are dead with us in our hearts, and they can give us strength. I thought they were only sources of pain, rather than sources of ongoing connection and meaning. I thought I had to end the connection, because that was the only way to get rid of the pain.
The last thought I had, which is a hard one to stay with, is that I really am special and unique and C loves me for that, although I don’t know that she could ever articulate that. What I am doing for her seems easy and like not much. I bought some biscuits and went to the Vice Principal’s house to get her a bed in the hostel. I spent about 100 dollars on school things for her. I spent free time in her house. I walked 30 minutes uphill to her school. None of these things are much.
But it’s the emotional part that is special, isn’t it? I mean, really and truly, no one else would say, “This child needs someone. I’ll sign up for that. I am not particularly entangled emotionally. My plans right now are pretty flexible. Yeah, okay, put my name down. I can do that.”
I mean, no one. No one does that. To me, it’s such a no-brainer. How can I help? Can I do that? Yeah, I can do that. So I’ll do that.
How did I become this person?