Saturday, Teen

Today feels unmanageable. I am in a state and I don’t know how to get out of it. I know perfectly well how to shut my feelings down and get through things, but I can’t have relationships that way. I can’t be responsive that way. I stop being skillful. I can get through a birthday party or a baby shower that way, but I asked C to come to my house today. It won’t get me through a conversation with her. It won’t get me through any conversation with her, and I need to talk to her about some serious things. I either need to talk to her about coping skills or I need to talk to her about my leaving Bhutan.

This is doubly hard because I feel so alone and I feel that no one cares, and the stress of feeling alone pushes me into a more dysregulated place than I would otherwise be in. I wonder about this, but I can’t think clearly enough to have any constructive thoughts about this.

People can respond in very triggering ways. I don’t know if it is worse in Country X or if this just happens. I ended up talking to VP Ma’am about the situation. I didn’t really want to, but she brought up the topic, and stress shows on me. She thought maybe I was sick. She said pretty much everything that would make me feel worse. I was listening to her and I thought because I have relational trauma, relationships are going to trigger me. People are going to say things to me that wind me up, and somehow I am going to have to figure out how to cope with this, or I will have no relationships. So I stood there and listened and said mostly what I thought might be appropriate things and just tried to stay calm inside myself. I focused on myself and how I was feeling and gave her a fraction of my attention, because what was going on inside myself was the main event really.

There were two things she said, in various ways, that were really difficult to cope with. One was that basically it is not safe to have feelings. I should try my best to get rid of them in some way. I don’t think this is a distortion. I think this is her attitude about feelings. I think it might be most Country X-ers attitude about feelings. That’s the part I wonder about. Anyway, she said in various ways it’s going to affect you negatively to have feelings. Stop having them, and we also talked about not trusting other people. She feels it is necessary to wear a mask and pretend all is well when things are not well at all. I wasn’t surprised by that, but it made me feel absolutely crazy paranoid to hear it. Then she talked about fate. If it is fate for C and I to be together, then we will be together. On the one hand, this made me feel devastatingly helpless. On the other, factually, this seems untrue to me. C has choices about it. I have choices about it. Her parents have choices about it. There is not a lot of fate involved. It’s all human beings. I am leaving because of human beings. The legislative body changed the immigration laws. The immigration ministry decided 3 people will not be allowed to stay (and it is only 3 of us that are affected by this part of the decision). Basically, one person, the immigration minister has decided I should not stay. It is not fate. It is one human being and his power over my life. The idea of karma is in contrast to fate—karma means you are creating your own fate as you go along. But somehow it is rarely understood this way. Karma is more frequently understood as an enshrinement of helplessness.

The bell rang and I thought, “Okay, now I can talk myself down off the ceiling.” I went back to the staffroom—we had been talking outside VP Ma’am’s classroom. Maths Ma’am wanted to go to the bank. I don’t know my account number and she owes me money. She has been repaying me 2,000 a month, but then they changed my account number and she cannot deposit into it. So we went. Maths Ma’am doesn’t wind me up. Either she is kind or she is silent. She is a lot easier to be around than most people. So that helped. Then I went to teach my class.

That was yesterday. The kids cleaned their classrooms and then we went home. There was a football game in the afternoon we had to go to, so we needed to be back at 2:30. I came home and lay down. I was totally exhausted, but I didn’t sleep. C sent me a text. She wanted a recharge. I felt worried about her. I don’t know why I was worried—if I felt insane, or if she was really struggling. “I want something from you,” seems very often to mean, “I want you.” I recharged her and asked if she was okay. I said I felt worried about her. She didn’t answer. She didn’t thank me for the recharge. She didn’t say anything. I took that to mean she wasn’t okay.

I sent her texts in response to that, like spread over time. Every few minutes, I sent another one. Things like I am here and I love you. I asked if she was feeling that pull in her heart to be with someone. I said that feeling is called loneliness. I said to be nice to herself so she feels less scared to connect with people. I realized it was late and I had not made lunch, so I went to the shop and bought two minute noodles and ate them before going to the football game. At the football game, I went on texting her. She was reading them, but not answering. Eventually, I started thinking about the idea of just being there, so I began to text her normal things. I asked what she was doing and she didn’t answer. I said I am watching a football game at school. I had an idea it would help to know where I was and what I was doing, that having a picture of me in my surroundings would help. Then I said tomorrow is Easter and usually kids eat a lot of chocolate on Easter, but she doesn’t like chocolate, so I will have to buy her cake. This was about 2 hours after her initial text.

I got a response at last. She asked if they had an outing tomorrow. On Thursday, I had asked if she would come to my house and had tried to find out from her if I needed to get permission from her matron to take her down or if she would be allowed to leave on her own, but they are not told in advance.

So then we exchanged texts about coming down, and I asked if she wanted to stay the night, or if it hurt her to be in my house. I felt like I had the Teen at that point. She said no, it didn’t hurt her. I think actually it does, but she is shutting down the pain so much, she doesn’t realize it. It might be the pain hits her later and she doesn’t connect it. She has been in my house only a few times and stayed in it overnight only once. Anyway, the point is to keep giving her choices. It isn’t to force her to confront pain she is not yet prepared to cope with. She said she would come in the afternoon. I called the matron then, but she didn’t answer. I sent a text back to C to that effect and said I would ask later. She did not respond to that, but I didn’t feel worried. It didn’t require a response really.

Then later when I did call the matron, the matron also didn’t know, so I sent C a text about that also. I didn’t get a response to that either, and that also felt okay.

Later, thinking about the Teen, and feeling that I had been texting with the teen, I felt a lot of warmth for her. I don’t think I have always been very conscious that I am talking to the Teen, and I think very often the Teen disappears when I am there. What I mean to say is that I don’t know the Teen all that well.

I see the Teen from a distance, when I am watching C interact with her friends or when she is posting on Facebook. In the past, the Teen has made me worried. I haven’t trusted her to take care of C or to make good decisions about her life. But the Teen is trying to grow up. The Teen is trying to differentiate, and sometimes this means cutting herself off from pressure of adult influence so that she can individuate. Sometimes this means it feels she doesn’t give a shit about me or what I think of a situation. It means, probably, in the moment, she cannot lean on the wisdom of more experienced people, because those more experienced people do not necessarily recognize her right to pursue her own dreams.

There is something so lively and wonderful about the Teen, so brave, and so authentic, and I just felt so much warmth. I felt this sense of a flower opening, which I often have with C, and I felt so privileged to see this developing person that she probably often keeps hidden from disapproving adults.

That was last night. Now it’s Sunday, and I am in a state.


6 thoughts on “Saturday, Teen

  1. Cat's Meow May 1, 2016 / 1:11 pm

    I am sorry that you don’t have the support there that could help make things a bit easier. Sending soothing, calming thoughts to help you as you learn to juggle C’s needs and your own.

    • Ashana M May 1, 2016 / 6:11 pm

      Thanks. I like having C there to remind me to take care of myself. It is like big, flashing neon signs reminding me not to neglect my needs, because that can only end badly for both of us. 🙂

  2. desilef May 1, 2016 / 10:15 pm

    Hoping Sunday went well for you.

  3. Rachel May 2, 2016 / 4:44 am

    Being told not to feel your feelings is very triggering and confusing. It is hard to have the courage to even open up, given most people don’t understand the intricacies of coping with such delicate triggers and wounds. I am also sorry you don’t have the type of support that would be helpful. I am sure VP Ma’am has good intentions, and supports in a way she thinks if useful to you, but it isn’t. That is so sweet that you find the Teen lively and lovely. I hope the visit went well.

    • Ashana M May 2, 2016 / 5:27 am

      Yes, VP Ma’am sort of says everything she could say that might make things worse. She is just reiterating her own coping skills, which are based on living with someone who lacks empathy for 30 or 40 years, so she is kind of telling me how to cope in a world where people don’t actually care about you. Of course, I don’t live in that world. I wonder sometimes about my choice of friends here, and then I realize my friends are based on people who are comfortable speaking English, who are interested in new and different things instead of feeling frightened of them, and are willing to make the effort to communicate with someone different. I feel like I am just attracting dysfunction, but VP Ma’am was my first friend here because she really likes English. Maths Ma’am and I connect over lifelong learning. Arts Sir and I share a civic sense. So it is this other thing connecting us. I’ll post about the visit.

      • Rachel May 2, 2016 / 10:39 pm

        It isn’t like you have the largest pool of people to select friends from. I imagine you would make different choices if you had more options. But we all need friends and connection, and you have who you have there. Making it work.

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