Calming down

I went to see C last night. I started to think it would help me to see her, and sometimes it is okay to do that, if I am respectful that she is still getting her needs met. I didn’t know how she would feel about switching up the meeting time from Friday to Thursday. Anyway, I sent a text that said I wanted to come to her friend and I didn’t get anything back.

I arrived earlier than I thought I would, and they were still in the classrooms for “evening study.” There was a dog that had taken a dislike to me so I was heading into the hostel when I saw C. She asked me why I had not gone inside. I told her because I had been talking to one of the girls and then I was talking to the dog. That seemed to be okay with her.

It is strange to feel her worry for me. That question was about worry. “You were outside in the dark and it is not where you are supposed to be and maybe you were not safe.” There is a feeling I have about it, kind of a picture in my head, and it’s kind of like I need to be in the place she put me last. I need to stay in those places, so that I will be safe. I have a feeling of being a toy in Toy Story being expected to stay on the toy shelf. It makes me think the worry comes from having adults in her life that are not actually very capable and do not seem to be capable of taking care of themselves. They cannot completely be trusted to decide where they are supposed to stay. The other thing about this is that I feel differently about myself and about taking care of myself because of her. I feel my own vulnerability more strongly and I feel more motivated to be responsible towards myself, because I know she values me.

Anyway, she went to wash the dishes then. When she came back, her cousin had come and her cousin went to get dinner. I had brought momos to C and she kind of hid them behind something. I don’t know when she planned to eat them. I didn’t say anything. I just noticed it. C straightened the books and clothes on her friend’s bed while she was waiting for dinner to come. She seemed very normal.

She asked if I had brought her phone. I told her no. It was not Friday and I told her I would bring it on Friday. So we discussed that. It seemed to be okay, but I guess she was probably disappointed. “You don’t want to come tomorrow?” she looked worried, but I think she was worried about her phone and not about seeing me. I said I would either come or send it up tomorrow.

I had been talking to VP Ma’am and then, on the walk up, a boy in her class about C’s participation in a debate on Saturday. So I told her I had heard about that and I had heard she did a good job. She disagreed with me and she asked who told me, so I said the boy’s name. I said I was proud of her. She was still folding clothes and arranging books in stacks. I made her stop and look at me. “I am proud of you.” I could tell she was not really taking it in. I wanted her to hear it at least a little bit, that someone could be proud of her.

Dinner came then. I didn’t talk much while they ate together. I was thinking about leaving her and I started to think she’s fine. For once, she is kind of okay, and I don’t need to tell her exactly right now. I can let her have a nice evening with me right now and talk to her later. I came to feel better and I do feel better. I don’t need to actually tell her. I asked if she would come down on Sunday. She said she would. I asked if they had an “outing.” She didn’t know. I asked what time she wanted to come. She didn’t know that either.

Then she said, “It’s going 7:30. You go now.”

I asked some other question about meeting her on Sunday, maybe the time again. I can’t remember.

She said, “Go now,” with kind of big eyes. I could see at this point she was having trauma activated. Her body had become stiff. I could see the stiffness of it. I suppose that is from intense fear. I pulled her to me and hugged her and kissed her. I did this twice. She was very stiff, but I think she still likes it. I told her I would send her a text when I got home. She doesn’t seem to acknowledge now that this is important, but I think it really is. I think she needs to know after the parting that I am still there. I am still safe.

I walked home after that in the dark, and it was a pleasant walk. I felt, again, very calm and grounded leaving her. I think there were moments when I had various trauma thing surface—they had before I came—and I just took note that it was happening. That had happened on the way up: I became very dissociated and felt unreal and disconnected. I just noted that it was happening and that I probably felt very scared to go up. The approach is going to be scary and it’s okay. It’s just baby trauma.

In the night, it became very difficult for me though. I was just terrified. I started to think this is how a baby feels when it cries for mom. It’s really terrified. Babies have no brakes on their feelings, and the feeling just consumes them. I lay in bed, and I felt the extreme tension in my stomach. I guess I slept eventually and I felt terrified in the morning. Later, I started to feel better though. I began to feel that I could think again. A plan began to form in my head about C.

I suppose I felt more hopeful because she was coping when I came, or seemed to be. It might be better to try to keep her at the high school here: it will be less change for her and less upset than being with her parents. I can maybe talk to her uncle or her grandmother about taking charge of her later in the year, especially if she is doing well in school and I can support her financially through them. Then I can reapply to return in a year. I won’t probably get placed here, but they seem to place teachers at schools in this region quite a lot of the time. It might be possible to be at a nearby school so that at least sometimes I can see C. Meanwhile, I can try to concentrate on teaching her self-regulation skills more and on trying to explain how her own baby trauma is affecting her, so that she is more able to manage without me. I will ask C what she wants, but I think this might be what she wants. I will ask her on Sunday and we can go from there.

The thing is it is nice to feel my brain is still kind of working.

I just sent C a text though—I suddenly remembered she asked for a voucher, and I forgot. It was interesting to feel how much I felt afraid after I sent it. She’s in class. She won’t see the text until later, so it isn’t the lack of response. It’s the approach, even when she is not actually there at that moment. It’s very scary to me.


5 thoughts on “Calming down

  1. Rachel April 29, 2016 / 9:26 pm

    There is so much here, but that last part, “it is the approach” – that, is the part that I still do not have a good handle on. The approach, sending a message or any kind of warm sentiment, sends me into a spiral of anxiety an shame and really intense fear. I suppose the approach was constantly met with an uncertain outcome: will she respond? Will she not respond? What does it mean if she doesn’t? And as you wrote before, that lack of object constancy, not being able to feel the continuity, so needing some kind of tangible reminder. And in the approach, never feeling secure it will come. Maybe, I am really unsure. This part baffles me. But you have so much clarity around this interaction and your feelings, and even just your ability to be with the difficult emotions till they pass. Great work.

    • Ashana M April 30, 2016 / 5:10 am

      I would think sometimes you reached for her and she shamed you. Like maybe she laughed at that clay ashtray you made her in kindergarten or whatever it was. Or she said stop whining. She wasn’t attuned to you. She couldn’t do that dance with you and sometimes she wound you up into an emotional state way beyond what you could handle and beyond what she could handle too. Take care and thanks.

      • Rachel April 30, 2016 / 6:23 am

        Welcome. She has told me more than once I ruined her (fill in the blank – vacation, etc) and that my father never wanted me, didn’t want me born. I suppose that counts.

      • Ashana M April 30, 2016 / 7:26 am

        Take that lack of empathy and insensitivity to the pain those comments caused you and apply it to how she might treat 3-month-old you and I think you’ll get a good picture of why reaching for someone might be scary.

  2. Ellen April 30, 2016 / 4:54 am

    Glad you were able to come up with the beginnings of a plan. It seems wise to get used to your news for a bit first, before breaking it to C. A few days will make no difference to her, and will maybe help you feel more grounded before you tell her.

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