I reached for C the last few days. It might be part of why I have been struggling. I have been reaching, and maybe that is a trigger.
I have been sending her texts. I had sent her one or two a few weeks ago—just I believe in you. That kind of thing. I thought the Teen might be activated. She would need to hear that. Then this week, I sent quite a few more. On Sunday, C seemed to be struggling. She posted something on Facebook about friends hurting her, but she has these two older friends I don’t think I have met—she called them brother and sister—and I didn’t say anything to that. I do feel her status updates are often messages to me. Maybe they aren’t. Maybe I just think I am the center of the universe, when I am not. But I have this feeling. This is partly for me, because she doesn’t know how to tell me. But the next day, I just wrote her and said try to concentrate on your studies. You can do this. Then Thursday, I just felt worried about her, so finally I sent her a text—I’m worried about you. Are you okay? “Yap.” Which sounded okay to me. Friday, I sent her a text that it was okay to be angry at me. It is okay to disagree and to argue and be angry. She is my daughter and she is allowed to do that—actually, I don’t like students to argue, but she can argue. I want to hear how she feels. Saturday, I think I wrote her that she is always in my heart and we are always connected. Suddenly, I realized it was their parent teacher meeting at the high school. I knew I couldn’t go. I didn’t know if she would want me to, but I couldn’t. Our principal won’t even grant leave to people when they are sick, so no way would he let me. He is not sympathetic to this situation. I had to ask twice to let him go petition for C’s place as a boarder, and he said, “She won’t get.” So I just sent her a text about that—I couldn’t go. I am really sorry.
Sunday, I saw she had been online. She had been online in the middle of the night, and she had been online when I had been out shopping around 7. So, she was reaching. She was feeling lonely and unsettled and she was reaching. I sent her a text that said I love you and I am here. Then a few hours later, after I had thought more about what I wanted to tell her, I said something more. I said it is okay to need me. You are still a child and sometimes you will need me. And it is okay to want to do your own thing. That is part of growing up. It is not selfish. And my love for you will never go away.
I did not see her online again the rest of the day. It’s possible she felt settled again, and she was okay.
Well, that text and the text about it being okay to be angry, those two texts were very much from my heart. I thought a lot about what I wanted to say and what she would be able to hear, and I felt those texts expressed my true feelings. Maybe that prompted the upset I felt later. I reached. I communicated my real feelings. I tried to connect in an honest and authentic way.
One thought I have this morning, after a fairly decent night’s sleep—I was worried about C, and I woke up twice, and just checked all the devices. All clear. Quiet. Anyway, the thought I have is how frightening my mother was to me. She was my mother and I wanted her, but being close to her was so terrifying. Sitting in her lap was terrifying. Being held was terrifying. I think about it and I want to run away. Physically, I want to run. I have that feeling in my body. Just run. So I wanted her. She was my mom. But I was terrified of her. I think all of that terror comes up in other close relationships. The feeling of wanting to connect prompts terror, and it is not entirely fear of being rejected or unwanted. It is fear of being physically hurt.
What happened yesterday I think was just the fear got too great. I was intentionally provoking myself, trying to sort some of my feelings, and it was too much. I think I started to have memories of my own mother. Feeling things are unreal, starting to switch, that is what I do when I am deeply afraid. It is part of how I have coped all of my life, because there wasn’t any other way. I can tell myself little stories that will help me calm down. That has been what I have done. Even very young children have imaginations, but it also makes it unclear what is real and what isn’t. It takes the solid ground away from you. That’s the disadvantage.
The thing is that it makes me feel crazy. I am sure it has always made me feel crazy. I have these very intense emotions I don’t know how to regulate that lead to very strong impulses that I may or may not act on, but still go running around in my head, and then I also have this way of coping with them that makes me feel removed from reality. It’s really difficult, and makes me feel broken from the inside out. I don’t think I have ever had anyone outside of myself challenge that perception. I don’t think anyone has ever made it clear—directly or indirectly—that I am not broken from the very inside. I have always had the opposite impression. I am broken and need to accept that the problems in my life are my own fault because I am broken. I probably cannot be fixed, but I can probably hobble on through life.
It’s really kind of terrible to think about.
But I have been saying to myself today that these are really just feelings. The distorted thoughts and the impulses are just feelings. The switching is because the pain is too great, and I can titrate the pain. These are things I can do and can manage. And trauma can be healed. I know that it can. There are triggers that are still very hard to deal with, but I can go in the bathroom and scrub the laundry on the red floor and be okay. The truck idling still really gets to me. The power tools really get to me. Whistles still get to me, but one trigger at least is easier. I think cold might be easier too—it is not cold now, so it’s hard to say, but I think cold is getting easier. So that means the fear of connection can get easier also. I am not permanently broken, no matter what anyone has said to me.
I think this is at issue partly because of C. There is this sense around me that she is also worthless to other people. Most people I think do not know what kind of pain she is in, but if they did, they would have no compassion for her. They would feel “she should be doing this…she should be doing that…” There would be no acceptance that she can’t. I have come to understand that she cannot call me. She cannot come to my house to meet me. It is not just Country X shyness, although people like to tell me that. If you are not critical, children lose their shyness very quickly. Adults don’t lose it as fast. They have had more years to learn to fear criticism, but children lose it quickly. For C, it is terror, and she simply cannot. Others might understand she feels shy, but I don’t think they would ever understand she is terrified.
It creates this feeling that she is worthless to others. Her experience cannot be honoured. They cannot start from a place of understanding that this is the child she is now. They would try to argue her into the child they want her to be, that she cannot be. And I am not like that. I didn’t used to be able to understand she could not call me. Now I do. I accept that when she hurts less, she will call me.
I need to get ready now, but maybe that expresses something. Who knows.