I am going to lose my fucking mind.
It works kind of in patches. Like I’ll get a good stretch of 10 or 15 minutes and then melty brain sets in again. It so happened that the principal decided (actually the guy in the head office decided) that we ought to have a mandatory meeting for all of the teachers following the last exam in the morning. Now, the assumption is generally that if there is no exam, we are free to start our holidays. And I need to get C from her hostel and take her to my house and pet her for a little while. You know, because she is going away for two weeks and if you don’t get a send-off of any kind, you kind of feel like a stone and not a person. So the idea here is just that she is not a stone.
There are these other constraints, because she is going with another family who happens to be travelling to her village according to their schedule, which she kind of needs to be able to follow since they are taking her. They aren’t her particular friends, so she needs to be considerate of them.
And then I am leaving first thing in the morning for a workshop, so I really do need her to go with them, so that she is gone and safely with her grandparents before I leave.
C’s last exam ends at 11:15, and the meeting starts at 12:45, and I have no idea when the family is going, because C is being a Country X-er and being vague about time. Possibly, because the family is being equally vague. It’s clear I won’t be able to give her a nice send-off, and sit with her until the family leaves, and it’s also clear that she’s not prepared for any of this. She is aware only of her own restrictions, because the principal only announced the meeting yesterday morning, and I haven’t discussed it properly with C.
So this is going to be fun.
It’s important I not lose my mind, because she is going to lose hers.
I got several patches of urgent messages yesterday, and it was somehow very tiring. They were mostly about recharges, and I mostly gave them to her, because I knew she was in a terribly stressful situation—exams, a departure and a reunion, all major stresses—and I thought it might help her to feel I was there, just to be given what she wanted. In the morning, I couldn’t because I was proctoring an exam and I didn’t happen to have any vouchers on me. And I explained about it, and I got back, “But I want it just now.” And I told her, “I know it’s hard to wait, baby. I will give it to you at lunchtime.” I am sure after that she retreated into a defended, paranoid place, but it was the best I could do. If no one yells at the baby or hits her, maybe the baby will heal a little and be able to grow up.
The hard part is the imagined audience I have in my mind, that disapproves of all of this and declares that, since she is very tiring to me, I need to back off from the relationship. I get this advice when I disclose how it feels sometimes. It’s tiring. C is very, very tiring sometimes, and I am coping (I think), but I am very, very tired sometimes. The harder part of that is thinking that actually I am pretty sure this is helping her. It’s not fixing the whole problem, and it can’t, but I am almost certain it is helping her. It’s okay for me to be tired for a while. I will live through that, even if at points it is hard to cope with, because I am doing something that has a deep meaning for me. The invisible audience says I am sacrificing myself for someone who doesn’t care that much about me and does not give me anything back, but I know what I am getting back is a sense of meaning that is important to me.
The invisible audience believes I feel helpless, like C is calling all of the shots, but I don’t. I know I am making decisions that are my decisions, but that they exist within certain constraints. Like that if I am not skillful in responding to C’s emotions, I will get to deal with a very dysregulated child who does not have the ability to calm herself down. Being skillful makes sense. She’s not calling the shots, but if you don’t feel your baby, she will cry and you will have to cope with the crying.
What’s hard to grasp, for my invisible audience, is she does not really want to be this way. It’s not freely chosen. She does not have the skills to do better. She has lots of trauma to deal with, and no specialized coping skills. It’s not selfishness that she does the things she does. It is not pure insensitivity that last night she said come at 11:15. I want a mirror. (Because she is concealing her need behind a demand for a material object.) And this morning, when she began to want to push away her sadness at parting from me, she said don’t come, and if you come to hostel I will not come to your house. That’s not just playing with my feelings. That is melty brain. She just can’t cope, and pulling me and pushing me seems like it will help. It’s not going to, but what does she know?
The other thing the invisible audience doesn’t realize is that I would have a lot of stress in any close relationship. I don’t know that it would be easier with a “healthy” person. My issues would be exactly the same. Stuff would trigger me, even if it were not intended to, even if it were actually caring, well-meaning behaviour. And it might be harder because, with C, at least I have power. I am an adult and she is a child, and I have power, and I also have a responsibility that maybe motivates me more to deal with the fall-out. Maybe with a peer, I would just fuck things up. I have no idea.
I have isolated something. I am phobic of sadness. I was writing about this in my last post. It is absolutely true. It doesn’t completely make sense, because I have felt lots of sadness for years, but maybe it was while I was in a dissociated state. Maybe I could avoid fully taking it in. C is pushing me away but I also want to push her away, because I am also sad, and I want to not be sad also. I want to push the source of the sadness away so that I don’t get punished for being sad.
The problem is not that there is anything wrong with sadness. The problem is people might hit me if I am sad. I am pretty sure about that. I mean, I am pretty sure I am afraid I will be punished for it. There are other issues, but this is kind of the current one.
Sometimes the sadness is not really that great. It seems that way, at least. I have been realizing I feel sad about a lot of small things. C didn’t message me back. I feel sad. It’s not a huge, crushing wave of sadness. If I let it in, that’s a small sadness, but I would automatically fight it if I weren’t trying so hard to attend to my feelings. When I make mistakes and feel ashamed of them, I feel sad. I don’t know that it’s an enormous sadness. Sometimes it’s just a little sadness. But I would ordinarily push that away, which triggers despair instead. Despair is not actually easier to deal with, but hiding under the bed didn’t get me in trouble. Clinging to my mommy did. It’s sad.
C is going, and I feel sad. I think it’s not a crushing sadness. It’s a medium one. I was crying some gentle tears this morning and feeling sad, and it didn’t seem very bad. It’s just that I am afraid of it, so I shut it down. Then all of this other stuff happens. It probably wasn’t the only problem to begin with, but I have worked through some other stuff and this is what is left.
The thing is I am very, very afraid of it. This morning, thinking of her departure, I feel like I am going to crawl out of my skin. The closer it comes to the time I need to go and get her, the worse it feels.
It’s very important I not lose my mind today. I lost my mind in December when she left. I did not like it. I would not like it if I did now. I need to still be attentive to C and her needs. I need to be an adult, and I need to be an empathetic, available adult—not a detached, uncaring adult. A mask of capability isn’t going to help.
Wish me luck.