C has a Ruthie. Do you remember Ruthie?
The day before she left for Village, C said, “Come at 11:15. I want to buy a mirror, large-sized, red in colour.” (I have cleaned up the text for clarity, but that is the gist.) And I recognized that voice. In the cleaned-up, grammatically correct statement, I can’t really make it sound like Ruthie, but that is Ruthie, or the equivalent thereof. That is the child who does not yet know that she might not be wanted, does not have the experience to think about how that statement might be perceived (that I am good for buying mirrors and otherwise have no function), or that other people are busy. She is confident and happy and entirely ego-centric.
It’s a different voice than the Vulnerable Child, who knows she might not be wanted and has an attitude of helplessness rather than confidence. Ruthie wants mommy, she feels afraid without mommy (I remember that fear when Ruthie was very prominent and active), but she doesn’t quite know that mommy might not want her yet. She is sparkly-eyed.
She’s lovely. I liked Ruthie and I like C’s Ruthie, even if I might sometimes need to tell her gently about limits or that other people have different feelings than she does. The feeling I have about them both is warmth. I think that is, in fact, the core feeling they represent. I kind of remember that. I remember about Ruthie that it felt, when I was “her,” that a lap would always be available. I wanted a lap and no one would ever be too busy to let me sit in theirs. Because it’s a baby sense, isn’t it? It’s the sense we have before we have the experience to know that other people do not always share our views. We would like to sit in a lap. Therefore, the other person would love to have us be there. We don’t have a theory of mind yet. Other views are not possible.
I was thinking about this, because I was texting C about wanting her, and it gave me a very warm, Ruthie kind of feeling as I was texting, and it also really made me cry. Quite a lot. That Ruthie feeling was hard to take. It was warm and nice and wonderful to have, but I don’t think I would have stayed in it so long if I didn’t think C needed a little taste of what it is to feel wanted. And to let her feel wanted, I needed to let myself want her. Not in a scared, clingy, VC way, but in a real way. A Ruthie way, where it wouldn’t feel that C is wanted because she meets my attachment needs. I just like her.
That Ruthie feeling is about connection, I think. C wanted a mirror and, indeed, I was happy to buy her a mirror and Voila! you have common ground and connection. And I also think that is what has been bred into me as being unacceptable. I cannot have that happy, connected feeling. It is not allowed. More than any specific behaviour of personality trait or preference or anything observable, that warm, happy, connected, safe feeling is what is not allowed. After I have it, I think I feel ashamed. I think that is what happens. I think that is what happens for C also.
It can happen when connecting to other people or when connecting to oneself—doing pleasurable activities can do it, but it is not allowed.
Not being able to have that feeling makes life quite difficult. There isn’t a lot of joy in it. There is no “ping” inside that makes you feel, “I like that. I like doing this.” There might be a very distant ping, but it’s hard to ferret out. It makes life pretty drab and joyless, and it also makes it hard to know who you really are.
I think this is part of why I have been struggling the last few days. I have had these text monologues with C which may or may not have met any of her needs (lots of guesswork involved there), but forced me to feel in an undissociated way this happy, warm, connected feeling that I am not allowed to have. I think they have been followed by long stretches of feeling worthless, because that’s the trauma connection. Warm, happy feelings will be punished. I will be devalued and then punished. I am remembering being devalued. That is what comes next in the algorithm.