I am now in a state. The whistling stopped. I guess they are having a lunch break. But it got too out of hand for me to come out of very well. I had had the idea of putting headphones on and drowning it out with music. I don’t know if this would have worked, because it’s very high-pitched and penetrating as a sound. But the electricity went out and the laptop ran out of battery. So that was out.
I am wondering again about my relationships. How did this happen to me? How is it that an incredibly difficult relationship is at the center of my life once again? Why do I have a string of lousy relationships. The last romantic relationship seemed perhaps okay—relatively supportive, although long-distance. It wasn’t upsetting until other stuff started getting brought up and made having any romantic relationship difficult for me. But all of my other romantic entanglements have been with people who have the same kind of disordered attachment as C. Or something. How did that happen? Or, why did the pattern not stop as I became more healed? What’s going on?
It isn’t exactly interfering with my healing, it seems, although it interferes with my life. (When am I going to be decently calm enough to write the lessons I was meant to write last week?) Rather, it seems to be accelerating the healing, because I absolutely have to have my own stuff together before taking on C’s issues. My healing was always a priority, but since the relationship got more intense in August, it has been like that. Romantic relationships didn’t do that, for sure. They interfered. I was too destabilized to do more than cope.
I’m trying to remember my first long-term relationship—it started in my 20s and lasted until I was 30, nearly a decade. That was disorganized attachment. She hated me like C does, because the closeness was causing her pain, only I didn’t stay calm and soothing then—even if that might have helped. I became more disorganized myself while she became more detached, until I finally lost it and gave us both space. The thing about it was that I couldn’t fathom why she was behaving that way. I was so upset. Why is it she seemed not to even care? I get it now, but at the time it made no sense at all to me. There is no way I could not respond to her vulnerability without an answering warmth. What I learned from that relationship was not great I think. I think I learned to be more detached and defended. The hard part for me in it was that I cannot leave people. In some deep part of me, I believe if I leave, the person will die. And maybe that is why this has happened to me. I am the perfect person for someone who fears abandonment, because I fear being forced to leave. I would have these moments of pure meltdown where it would seem I needed to leave—this person really does not care about me, she has no empathy or concern for me whatsoever, it is just really time to go or at least get space—and the internal conflict over it was enormous.
I was in therapy at the time, and this of course could not be properly explored. I couldn’t cope with murder as a trauma source, and it just isn’t on someone’s radar as a possible fear. Abandonment is, but not death. There is no sense in the average therapist’s head that what might be getting played out is a memory of someone bleeding to death, and that terrible choice of whether to go for help or not, because they might bleed out before you get back.
My therapist used to ask me what I got out of not leaving an emotionally abusive relationship, and it was something I could never answer. I could never zero in on this idea that I might be afraid for the wellbeing of the other person. In a more average fucked-up life, it just doesn’t make any sense.
So that’s probably why, and I am sure it played out in the early days with C. I knew how abandoned she felt when IT Ma’am left. I could see it in her face and behaviour, and I knew if I got close to her, I couldn’t leave her, but it also played out in ways I wasn’t as conscious of. And now I haven’t left her. Despite her attempts to make me leave, I have and I will not. I am just going to take the risk of staying, even though it’s difficult and stressful. Even though it’s affecting my basic functioning—I am not sleeping or eating properly. I think I can learn to cope with her. I think she can learn to cope with her own difficulties. I have a tremendous amount of hope for both of us. I came back from what seems like a psychic grave, and so can she. I don’t think I had that idea in other dysfunctional relationships. I just didn’t know how to leave, but in the process of not leaving, I have learned a bunch of stuff about people with disorganized attachments that might make it possible for me to not leave and still cope. It’s not working out that great this week, but things could get better. I could get better even if things don’t. I seem to be getting better quite consistently, even if I am down to 48 kg.
I should say I have learned a lot from my students. I had kind of forgotten about this, because I was a bit more successful with very difficult students prior to the last 3 years of teaching I did before coming here—2 years, because the students were just less difficult and the last year the students were a lot more difficult. I started to realize that I couldn’t just hope to survive the year when I had extremely difficult students. There were always going to be some. I mean, not just difficult students, but students who might become so dysregulated they threw a punch at me or who seemed to thrive on stirring up the class to rebel. It was the nature of the environment I was teaching in. The kids just had a lot of trauma to deal with, and it wasn’t just one student or even a few students. There were going to be a few in every single class. I was going to have to learn how to deal with them better. I was going to have to just learn how to get kids with severe emotional problems to function in a classroom. There wasn’t a choice unless I changed districts. So I learned, and sometimes it worked.
All of that has come into play with C. I can cope, I see her as worth coping for—I mean, I see her having the same potential as any child, probably more potential just because of who she is, but it might be harder to get to that potential. And when I might have gotten those first early signs that this is going to be a difficult relationship, I was still in that trauma-based place of thinking, “I can’t leave her. She’ll bleed out.” It made me a really great attachment figure for a while, until it collapsed on my head in December, right before she left. And then I spent a month working on myself and figuring her out, and now on my end I am able to put the knowledge I have and the skills I have gained together in a way that makes me more able to cope with her. Even if I am not actually helping her, I can cope with myself while not leaving her.
Anyway, this seems to be my adventure. It’s not like my friend’s adventure, who has a bucket list a mile long of places he wants to see, but it’s my great unknown. It’s the thing I want to see if I can do. I hope there won’t be fallout from it: If C acts out too much, her parents will no doubt blame me, and take her back to live with them. I am pretty sure that will be a disaster for her, and that’s why it’s important I figure out the right balance with her of healing vs. overwhelm. It’s too much this week: I think I didn’t cause it. IT Ma’am pushed her over the edge by telling her explicitly that I won’t leave her, and getting her all stirred up and frightened, because C heard that, I imagine, and focused in on the word “leave.” I have no control over what other people say. That’s the problem. And Country Xers like to talk.
I’ll sort this. Or I won’t. But I really do have to try, because no one else will. I know very clearly that, while C won’t die, if she can’t get a solid attachment in her life, she will drift through a series of broken attachments. There really isn’t a lot of psychological knowledge at all here—they don’t even seem to know how you get pink eye.
Last week a kid in kindergarten gashed open his forehead. He wasn’t going to bleed to death, by any means, but it looked like he might need 6 or 8 stitches. The teachers responded by gathering around him in a mass and yelling at him while he wailed about who his parents were, what his sister’s name was. Absolutely no one seemed to realize this little is scared and maybe you should shut up and be quiet and calm. Maybe you should go down to his level so he’s not looking up at all these big, scary people he doesn’t know, and maybe anyone who has any relationship with him should get close to him and be a presence.
It’s not a good environment for a kid with an emotional regulation problem.
So let’s see. Let’s see what I can do.