I have another cold or something. Spring is hard. Yesterday was the school’s annual religious ritual. The monks come and chant prayers all day, people come by for lunch and at dinner time. It’s kind of routine.

I wasn’t assigned to do any work, but I hung around the people serving and helped out. I didn’t do that much. Mostly just dried dishes. I had woken up with a bad cold, and by afternoon I just wanted to sleep.

National Language Ma’am thought I could go home. She said half the teachers had left anyway, although I am not sure that was true. They were hanging around in the staffroom, watching movies. She said you don’t have any work and we can manage without you. It was around 4:30 or so by then. So I left.

I came home and fell asleep around 5 and I woke up for a bit around 7 and slept again until 5. So probably that helped.

In the morning, I had some thoughts. I had some thoughts about feeling worthless and unwanted and unloveable and about feeling shame. I think I’ll just lay them out there. They are really painful, but I think I will just say them plainly and get to the pain later.

People who don’t have supportive relationships with others are very fearful people. We need social support, and when we don’t get it, we feel very afraid. My parents, for different reasons, could not form supportive relationships with others, and they were very frightened people. Fearful people tend to rely on control to help them manage their fear, so my parents were very controlling of me.

A child needs a structure. Actually, we all need structure to help us make life predictable and to help us get along. If it’s the right sized structure, with boundaries that keep the child safe but also leave enough room for the child to develop, then it feels like a house. If it’s too permissive a structure, then it doesn’t keep the child safe. The child is permitted to do things that harm themselves or harm others. It makes the child anxious and fearful. If the structure is too small, it feels like a cage, with no room for the child to develop as a person or to get their basic needs met.

I grew up in a straightjacket. For my mother, every unexpected event felt like an assault. The crying of her baby was an attack on her worth and her competence as a parent I don’t know how she became the person she was, but that is who she was. I was an enemy combatant who needed to be conquered and controlled. She had an ability to attach, so there was at times warmth but there was absolutely no room for me to be a person, because she was too fearful. My basic human needs—for closeness, for independence, for affection, for protection, absolutely all of them—were disallowed.

And that’s why I feel so much shame. We feel ashamed when we break the rules. It is the emotion that goes with having transgressed. My very existence was transgressive in our house. Shame is that emotion telling me, “I am breaking the rules.” The rules disallowed my existence. My dad’s abuse was horrific, but my mother alone would have created that kind of shame in me.