I was afraid most of the night. I am not sure why this happened—if something is very strongly triggering me right now, or if I just feel safe enough to really feel the fear.
I am starting to see that any contact with C—even an implied contact—leaves me scared, and I cycle through the trauma reaction of fear, sadness, anger despair. I sent her a text message via a friend and I cycled through it. I took her phone to a different phone to bring to school for C and I cycled through it. Any contact at all does it.
Anyway, I got home from visiting C and there were kids waiting for me who wanted help with maths. I let them stay for maybe 20 minutes, and I then I sent them home because I was tired. I went to bed around 8:30. After a while, C’s friend called me about a recharge her friend had asked me to get for her and I hadn’t gotten, because I got a lift and I didn’t really know who I was getting a lift from, so then I didn’t want to ask him to stop at the shop for a voucher. It would look really odd. Anyway, she called, I talked to her and lamely explained my paranoia, and then I asked to talk to C. C was very quiet. I could barely hear her, but I told her good night and I love her.
So that was a second contact. Then I lay in bed awake and scared, I mean really feeling the fear in my body, all through my core, and I kind of told myself, “This is fear. This is what fear feels like, because I have the idea that is what my brain needs to know. That is what it is trying to do—match up the entire sensory experience of fear with other fear-related things. Maybe I’m wrong, but it’s something to do when you are lying there feeling fear in your body and you don’t know what else to do.
I think I might have just dropped off to sleep when I got a text from C about her phone, asking me to give it to her on Saturday, which I planned to do anyway. So that was a third contact, and I lay in bed awake again for about another 2 hours.
I am really, really frightened.
I felt somewhat different in the morning. More despairing and angry and less frightened. Suicidal and worthless, actually, which is not really my favourite way to feel. It’s part of the same cycle though. It’s a reaction to separation. I’m just in a different place in it. The idea popped into my head that I have the emotions, which are baby emotions. Literally. I mean I think these are trauma reactions from when I was an infant, and there was not a lot of actual cognitive processing going on. None, I would guess. Much of what I have going on in my head when I have the reactions are memories of later attempts to make sense of trauma that occurred before I could speak or think. Feeling worthless is my two-year old interpretation or my four-year-old interpretation or my 13-year-old interpretation of something that had happened years earlier.
Instead, it’s a memory of what I thought about a memory. It made me think that people with baby trauma have layers and layers of interpretations of emotions they cannot identity or imagine the source of, because the real source is too deceptively simple. I experienced trauma, and I had no thoughts about it. I just felt scared. I wanted my mommy and my mommy wasn’t there and I felt scared. That is what is going on in my head. Many other things are going on also—I have experienced decades of trauma. But this really basic, core, intense one is from a time when I had no thoughts and no way to form narrative memories—only impulses and emotions.
I think I have other trauma memories that are more complex. I have a sense of being discarded that is one form of rejection—a sense like someone got what they wanted from me and now they are done with me, like I am disposable. I think that is from a bit later, from being four maybe, and I think it comes from my mother wanting me to meet her attachment needs. VP Ma’am does this to me, and it triggers a very intense anger for me. On the days when I am most stressed, have the most work to do, and feel the least able to regulate, she will instruct me to sit and drink tea with her. “Always better.” No, it’s not. I’m a mess and need 30 seconds of downtime before ploughing on with the day, and now you are putting me in a position of directly rejecting you and probably hurting your feelings. I think my mother did that: sometimes, she needed company and insisted I stay with her or talk to her or give her attention. Then she was done with me.
And then there is another form of rejection that is about my lack of importance. I just don’t want you or like you, and I am not interested in you. That’s more like from being six.
C triggers both of those sometimes, because she can’t display her vulnerability most of the time. So she asks for things. She wants contact and it comes in the form of a request for a particular material object. What she wants really is reassurance that I am there, or that I still care about her. Sometimes she wants attention. She wants to be important to someone and she is hoping she is still important to me. I know what it’s about, but it might be that my parents behaved in exactly the same way. Only they were responsible for trying to understand my needs and meet them. C really is not. I am responsible for my own needs and determining for myself if they are getting met or not, for setting boundaries, and basically for negotiating a relationship with her that meets her needs and leaves space for me to meet my own.
So that’s my thought. And now the whistler has started up again. The singer fills the gap. I wouldn’t mind the singer, because he doesn’t hurt my ears, but the whistler has me in a state already. Time for a walk around the campus perhaps.