The progress I feel in my life is that I got through the day pretty well. I didn’t have that kind of rattled day I used to have where being distressed and having processing to do that I couldn’t do made everything I did end up just a little less graceful than it might otherwise be. My last class of the day felt like testing me, so I was very strict and punitive and enforced the rules until they felt under control to me, when I began to ease off slightly. There were two kids that really got upset by this. They took offense. After one kid got punished, she apparently made faces, which here in Country X we cannot just let go. That is a serious affront and must not be tolerated. So I punished her harder, which made tears come to her eyes. A minute later, when there was kind of a break in what I needed to do, I went and put my arm around her and put my face against her head. I said something not particularly meaningful about being a good girl now and listening or who knows what. The point was really to speak and connect, because it seemed to me I was looking at Abused Child. I was looking at a wounded child who felt personally hurt at what I had done. That fixed the rift in our relationship. The other kid was something similar, but I could see this rage in his eyes, so I just looked at him. I don’t know what kind of look it was. A level look. Full eye contact. I just made a connection. He calmed down. It was interesting. I think there was some point in my teaching career when I didn’t know to do that or I couldn’t do it with the proper skill to get the results. I could form warmth relationships with students, but I couldn’t help them calm down well enough when things went wrong, and sometimes the warmth just brought out absolutely every one of a child’s relationship issues.
But I am not in such great shape now. I feel dysregulated or too easily triggered by relationship, or something. There was a religious lecture down at the Holy Site, so the high school students went down in the afternoon. I thought of C, of course, and kind of wished I might see her—just catch sight of her head or something. I saw the students walking down as I was leaving my house from lunch break, and I saw them again walking home. Anyway, I didn’t see her.
It seems as though it triggered me. I missed her, so there was that wish to reach. Then the other students were looking at me in a kind of unfriendly way, whereas the last time I had seen them, they were very friendly. Who knows if that was a perception or not, or if it was what it meant, but I recognized Detached Mode. Can I trust anyone? A degree of paranoia had taken hold.
It made me think of all the modes I saw in the last meeting with C, which lasted for maybe 10 minutes. It came on the heels of a mix of Abused Child and Vulnerable Child—a snarled I love you and a wish to meet. Then when I met her, she made eye contact, but there was no connection. Just flat. Distrusting. Detached Mode, then Teenage Part (Go now), then Dramatic Mode cycling rapidly with Abused Child who felt the need to make a dramatic ultimatum, refuse to walk, and then flee. She’s dysregulated. Really dysregulated, but maybe not dangerously so. She may be in a dysregulated place where she is not functioning well in other related areas of her life—social situations maybe—but not necessarily cutting or pushing sexual boundaries. As long as she is not harming herself, she can get out of it eventually. She can calm down. I hope. But it’s amazing to think about. All of this stuff going on within ten minutes, when all I did is stand there, then ask if she had anything to say to me. Then asked if she was okay.
I saw this before she left Y-Town in December also. Not all the modes, but Detached Mode I saw a lot. I didn’t know what it was. Detached Mode always scared me, and got me going in a Detached direction myself. It seems like if I can see them better and if I can learn about them, there might be some hope of responding in a sensitive, responsive way that helps her instead of winds her up. But I am also reminded that she needs a chance to regulate in between. It’s very intense for her. It’s intense for me also, but it’s even more intense for her.
But it all comes down to that frightening parent, who is both wanted and feared, both loved and rejecting. You get close and you think they will hurt you. You go too far and you feel unwanted. Then between those two possibilities, you also get rejection and shame. I actually felt afraid, seeing the students. Before I became paranoid, I felt afraid. I wanted to see C and I felt afraid of seeing her. Not for any particular reason. I think that’s the hard part. It wasn’t that I really worried what her reaction would be. I might see her and she would be in a mode I recognize now and that doesn’t feel personal to me. I am sure it’s more a fear of even being within the same neighbourhood as my attachment figure, as though even arms’ length is not safe enough.
Which pretty accurately sums up my dad, in fact. The same city is much, much too close.
In a dysregulated state, any contact is frightening. That’s what C is going through too.