The secretly wrong thing

Sometimes I think I will never understand my own mind.

So Lonely Child cries every day in assembly. Today, Angry Boy did too. Maybe something set Angry Boy off. Or maybe he’s going through the same thing as Lonely Child. I have no freaking idea. Life seems like such a mess sometimes. I think C has parts. On Tuesday, when she asked for a voucher, I think it really felt to her that she was not her. I think I have been seeing that for a while and not realizing it. Trauma dissociation lies on a continuum. I think she is farther along on it than I thought—as far as originally feared.

Yes, the parts kind of line up with the Modes from Schema Therapy, and they aren’t about the level of dissociation that I experience or that I think C is experiencing. But I think she has more than just modes. I think they are more fully dissociated.

I have felt a lot of grief and sadness about that this week. A lot. I don’t even fully know how to explain why. Just how do you hurt a child so much that it does not feel okay to be herself, and these parts must be entirely cut off and denied? It forces me to confront a very, very deep sadness. It’s not a simple or easy thing to do.

I think it forces me to start to confront things in myself that are hard to confront. I do not think that C deserves what is happening to her. I don’t think she deserves either the abuse from her parents or the indifference of society to her trauma-based needs. Last Wednesday, when the other teachers wanted to drink and enjoy themselves on the way home, it was very hard for me to cope with the idea that their pleasure was worth more than the pain I knew she was feeling at trying to manage a separation from her caregiver.

Of course, they didn’t know. But they also don’t really want to know, and that’s very hard.

It is harder still for me to see my own attitude. My attitude isn’t purely based on a wish to rescue her. It’s not just a reflex: It’s not just, “she’s suffering, and I feel uncomfortable with my own feelings in the face of her suffering and I want to get rid of my feelings fast.” That is not what is happening.

I think it’s wrong. I think it’s easier to build strong children than fix broken adults, and it’s wrong to allow children to suffer in this way. It’s wrong not to help children being raised within families that cannot cope with the responsibility of raising children, because these children are hurting. Their pain is absolutely profound, and it does not go away when they grow up and get out of the position of being entirely dependent on people who can’t take care of them. You don’t grow out of a shitty family.

That’s my attitude.

That attitude extends to my own understanding of myself as a child. It hurts. It hurts so profoundly to feel that there are other ways of seeing things, and there is another way of seeing myself as a child—that I was a child who needed help.

Because really I always think there is something secretly wrong with me. Whatever happens, I always expect it to come back to that. Deep inside, there must be something secretly wrong. And, of course, I have faults. Lots of them. I have trauma-based struggles. It isn’t hard to find that secretly wrong thing once you start down that road. I suspect for many of us, a lot of life is a search to find that secretly wrong thing and fix it. Of course, there is the trauma to fix, but that isn’t the secretly wrong thing. It’s unrelated. There was never any secretly wrong thing that made my parents hate me. They had their own problems.


3 thoughts on “The secretly wrong thing

  1. Rachel July 29, 2016 / 12:19 pm

    I am wondering if your ability to attune and really see what is happening for these children, makes the pain more acute for you? In being able to attune and valuing their needs, feeling the grief in a really experiential way about your own parents’ inability or unwillingness to do so for you.
    And yes I very much agree, it wasn’t something secret that made them hate you – and I don’t think they hated you so much as were so narcissistic they gave no real thought to your needs, only how you impacted them or what they could get from you. Which is an incredibly painful experience to be in, and then have to remember and process decades later.

    • Ashana M July 29, 2016 / 12:35 pm

      It makes it intensely real, and I have to see it and handle my own emotions while also figuring out theirs. I think I have to accept the abuse more deeply also, because I look around and the people around me don’t know what these children need and I must have some idea, or they wouldn’t be feeling a connection to me. It wouldn’t feel safe to them to have their feelings surface around me and they wouldn’t be connecting to me.

      I think it really puts a tilt on some of my previous experiences, where I attracted very negative people into my life. But I attracted them because I knew how to meet their needs to some extent. I understood them, and I knew how to meet their needs, and that creates a feeling of connection. However, people with trauma needs cannot always cope with their own emotions and they don’t attach consistently. I shut down my feelings of attachment to protect myself from from pain, and so do other people, and then I end up abandoned by them. They can’t cope with their anger, and they punish me. Life isn’t clear-cut. It doesn’t make abusive behaviour okay, but I can see how for myself I was never inherently bad. I had a Matthew problem of too many emotions and too few regulation skills and you don’t fix that through harsher and harsher punishment.

      • Rachel July 30, 2016 / 9:31 pm

        Yes. To all of what you say. I relate so much and I can’t really articulate my feelings or thoughts at this moment.

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