I had this thought at the end of class as some of the students wanted to give me high fives before I left: this is what it is like to be human. You connect. You connect to each other, to yourself, to the things you are doing. There is this connection, a responding within the self that happens that ends up as a dialogue with other people.

I had another thought too: I am not always loveable. Sometimes I am a jackass. I try to keep that under wraps, but it happens. I am not nice all the time. I don’t do the right thing all the time. But I am still me. That sense of having a continuous self and of having continuous relationships is really important to me. I don’t need to be anything wonderful. This is okay. The connection with other people can be maintained and the connection to myself can be maintained.

So much of the grief from childhood is about not being able to maintain that connection and not being able to maintain a continuous sense of who I was—because ourselves are reflected in other people, and my parent’s reflection of me was so distorted by trauma and other issues. The stuff that hits me now in relationships very hard—the baby trauma—it’s everything I felt when that connection could not be maintained. It’s the memory of the repeated, traumatic severing of connection.