Fiasco

I am trying to deconstruct last night’s fiasco. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the fiasco before C left Y-town in December, but it was still bad. It was bad in the sense that I lost control of myself. I got melty brain and I lost control, and I lost control with her, in a situation where I needed to be adult.

I am mulling that moment over, because it stands out in my mind as being very emotionally laden in a way I don’t really understand.

She was telling me again and again, “Mom, don’t come up.” Meaning, don’t come to see me. I didn’t know what to say. If I agreed, I didn’t know how she would feel. If I refused, I didn’t know how she would feel. I said I don’t know what is best, and I need to think about it. She was crying the whole time. Not giving an answer seemed to be the worst possible answer.

Eventually, I lost it, and I don’t really know why. I was just flooded with anger, but not really at her. I didn’t have any sense she had done something wrong. Maybe it was being called mom repeatedly. Maybe I was frustrated I didn’t know how to help her. I don’t know.

I stood up and took a step away from her. I don’t have any idea what I had in mind to do. I felt very much like punching something or someone. I imagine I might have taken a step or two and realized what I was doing and sat down again. I don’t know. But I felt a very firm hand gripping me by the sleeve of my National Dress and I was forced to sit down again. C grabbed me by the sleeve and made me sit down.

It leaves me with an almost unfathomable sense of being cared about. She did not let me make a scene and embarrass myself in front of all the girls in the hostel. She held onto me and contained me in a moment when I really did not deserve any kind of care. It was not my finest moment, and she responded in a way that felt caring to me.

It’s extremely painful to think about this, but it gives me a felt sense of having value. It feels like it is safe to behave as though I have value, because my value can be felt inside me. It is not just something I am telling myself about. And it makes it possible for me to feel that the sense that I don’t have value is a distortion, rather than a painful truth I am trying to protect myself from.

Anyway, then she scolded me. She said, “You did this at my house. You told me you wouldn’t do this again.”

I said I was sorry. She said some other things and I just said sorry again.

After a while, a thought kind of crossed my mind about what she might be thinking, and I said I am not angry at you.

“Then why you show your anger to others?”

“I am angry at your matron.”

I got a flash of abused child then, “Why you angry at her? What did she do wrong?”

I had an idea I didn’t want to get caught up debating it. “I don’t know. Maybe nothing. I can’t think straight.”

Then she flipped into punitive parent, and I got a series of threats about what she would do if I came to see her, including suicide and dropping out of school.

I don’t really know what I said to that. After a while, she burst into sobs. I had a feeling while she was crying that was really awful. I tried just to breathe, and it was really hard. It felt impossible to calm down at all, even a little bit. I think there was a sense of connection at that time, but it was terrible. The feeling of connection was really terrible. There was nothing nice about having it. It was like being in hell.

Remembering that moment, I think now it was the sense of wanting connection and the pain of not being able to get it. I think we were both having that feeling: we couldn’t figure out how to connect to each other, and it hurt. We couldn’t figure out how to connect to ourselves. I think that is what it was. I have had that feeling in other horrible, dysfunctional relationships before. I have always associated it with the dysfunction and with those relationships. It makes me think now it’s not specific to having a shitty relationship. It’s about something inside me. It’s about that core pain, a memory being re-enacted in the present of being unable to get the connection I desperately wanted.

After a while, she said something about my leaving. She has started walking me to the gate, so she got up and put on her sandals. I sat there for a minute, feeling unresolved and not sure it was okay to leave her, but she seemed to be serious about it. I am struck now by the decency of that gesture. Here she had just raked me over the coals, hating me with every bit of herself, and she wanted to walk me to the gate.

I hugged her at the gate. She let me hug her, and she was soft in my arms. I said something about, “I am listening to you,” and her body became hard, like she was angry.

That was last night.

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4 thoughts on “Fiasco

  1. desilef July 22, 2016 / 1:00 am

    Painful. Ashana, I don’t know how you’ll feel about this, but might it make sense to share something of your own pain with her? Not the details. But if she knew that when you were a child some very bad things happened to you, and you don’t want to talk about it because it’s so painful, but you are saying this to let her know that all this makes you very protective, it makes you often worried, and you are very sorry if this old pain sometimes makes you act toward her in a way that’s uncomfortable for her. But she can always know how much you care about her. Sometimes I think it’s hard for young people to see adults as full human beings and understand us when we tend to hide so much of ourselves.

    • Ashana M July 22, 2016 / 5:43 am

      I have shared with her some things about my past–probably more than anyone else here. I don’t really like telling her that’s why I am not coping well in certain situations, because then I feel like I am making excuses. She does need to know it’s my own weakness and it’s not her fault. She needs to know what it is like for an adult to own mistakes. I don’t really know what I need to say to get that across. I have to think about it.

  2. Ellen July 22, 2016 / 8:25 am

    I’m just not sure just what you did, besides feel angry and stand up. Did you yell at C? Or say hurtful things?

    For me, parenting was the toughest job I ever had. Your kid pushes all your buttons, and sometimes, you just don’t have it together, and don’t react how you want. Luckily ‘good enough’ is enough – perfection not required. I think an honest heart, good intentions, and some openness as to what is really going on, is what it takes. An awareness of your own issues is a nice bonus.

    • Ashana M July 22, 2016 / 5:32 pm

      No, I did not say anything, but it was very clear in my body language I was extremely angry. In Country X, that is really not acceptable and C feels very strongly about that. In private, I could probably beat the crap out of her, and that would be okay (culturally), but in front of other people, it is not okay to show it in my body that I am very, very angry. It might actually be okay to shout at her and shame her in front of others, but to struggle publicly with my anger in front of others is not okay. I don’t know who to explain what the line is or even how to identify it correctly, but I know and she knows that it is out of bounds.She expects dignity from me and I think that’s a fair expectation. I usually behave with dignity. I think she does need me to keep it together more than an average child would need. It’s partly culture and it’s partly this extra need for me to always, always be the adult. That need for me to always be the adult might be about needing me to stay myself. The person I am doesn’t behave like that, and I need to stay the person she knows. But really it felt incredibly kind for her to do what she did–not the anger later. Something else triggered that. She really did pull me back to myself and it felt really, really nice.

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