Later, I had a better understanding of VP Ma’am. What I saw was basically her mind on display. Not someone trying to relate to me as a separate individual, but the wheels just turning as if there is no other person that mind is connecting to.
She called about C coming here in the first place, and so if something goes wrong the parents will also blame her, and she was feeling intensely fearful. It seems she was in an abusive relationship (domestic violence) until her husband died last year. She is a very fearful person once the fears get activate, and this is what happens. She catastrophizes. She was also angry. She was afraid, so she also felt angry and ready to defend herself, so she mentally and verbally attacked C. The effect of that on me seemed to elude her, but that is why that happened. In her own mind, she felt the attack of the parents and others criticizing her for bringing C here, and she attacked right back, by attacking the child.
In the morning, she was a bit better. She came to my table in a panic, reporting a bunch of things she had heard. I said they aren’t true. I talked to the VP at the high school about what happened. I signed the statement. I know the situation first-hand. Those are lies. In fact, they aren’t really important lies. No, the matron didn’t catch them, but does that make any difference? It was 10 pm and not 1 pm. Who cares? But she was in a fearful place, untrusting, and it made what I had told her sound like lies, and yet the VP had, I am sure, extracted the truth out of the accomplice who wished to escape punishment and did by ratting C and the boy out. If the matron had caught them, there would have been no need to extract so much of the truth out of them. She did not catch them. Full stop.
So I told her that. I said people are cruel and they should think more about what they are saying. Then she relented. “Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear,” she tried to say, but got the expression garbled. She began to say that maybe things might be okay in the end, this might not be the end of the world. Then she asked me if I had slept. I told her I slept, but then woke up at two. She had been up for hours before falling asleep. And she shared with me her own fears that this would come back on her. It explained a lot to me that I hadn’t thought of. It’s hard for me to consider, because I had this day where, really, until evening, I had to be strong for everyone else, and there was no one there for me. I didn’t manage to be strong for VP Ma’am, because I couldn’t figure out why she was acting the way that she did, but I at least let her vent and didn’t lash out at her. The only saving grace is I got home and came online and thanked Maths Ma’am for taking my class in the afternoon, and she said, “Are you okay? I am worried about you.” We chatted for a few minutes. She was there, though. And Arts Sir drove me up to the high school and dropped me off and on the way tried to give some advice, not in a pedantic way, but a caring way. In their quiet way, they were there for me.
Anyway, it had been a very lonely day for me, but I have all of you and that really helps.
I had a thought about what happened that evening for C, on Saturday night when she asked me for a recharge at around 9:20 and went to meet a boy she doesn’t like at 10. “Recharge me plz” meant I can’t regulate. I need help. I don’t know how to ask for what I need. I don’t even know what I need. I think being able to use my phone could do the trick. But I need help.
Then I knew she wasn’t okay, and I got all panicky and worried. Later, she might see that as evidence that I really care, and it might make a difference to her, but at that moment, it activated her even more. If I had said something soothing at that point, she might have made a different decision when it came to the boy. If I had said, “I am here. I know you are not okay right now, but I am here to help you,” that might have made a difference. Instead, I think she felt interrogated and judged, although I was not judging her.
It might seem pointless to Monday Night quarterback this, except that something similar will happen again. Reflecting on the previous situation will help in future situations, even if every situation is slightly different.
I don’t know how things will go from here. I keep thinking what steps to take from here, what approach to adopt, and what I might say to her that might help her right now. She is still going to have disordered attachment, but I think this changes our relationship in a significant way in her mind. She came to Y-town, and I bought everything she needed for school. I was there for her. I came through on what I had said I would do. She got in the worst kind of trouble she could think of, and I was there for her. I was very, very angry, but I talked to her calmly and I loved on her. She had done something very, very wrong—culturally, this is very wrong—and I came to her school. I signed the statement. I didn’t disown her, and think in fact she knew I would not disown her. It somehow reminded her I would not disown her. Emotionally, I did not disown her and physically I did not disown her. I never said, “You have disappointed me terribly. I am doing everything for you and you repay me like this.” I accepted that she was flawed and had made a very serious mistake. I do not think anything has ever happened to her like that before, and yet I think she knew me well enough to know that that is what would happen. When she came down from the dining hall to meet me, the first thing she said was sorry, and she looked sorry, but she did not look like she thought I would abandon her. She did not look terrified. When I talked to her, I emphasized the consequences of what she had done might have for her, and the consequences it might have even if they didn’t happen this time. My response to her was clearly from a place of care for her. I don’t think that will be very easy for her to take in. I think she is going to feel a lot of grief and shame over the next few weeks and days, because she knows her parents would never respond to her like that. She is getting something now from me, from someone who was not long ago a total stranger to her, that she doesn’t get from her own blood relatives, and this is going to be acutely painful to her. But I think in the long-term, this is going to mark a turning point in our relationship, just as it marked a turning point when she came back to Y-town.
When she came back to Y-town, things eventually became more difficult (although they weren’t difficult initially, they eventually did), because her attachment trauma became more activated. The turning point made things harder rather than easier. I don’t know what kind of turning point this is going to be, but I think it will be one.