So C is sick.

I got a text around lunchtime, that she had gone to her village and was sorry she hadn’t told me sooner. We have a student-free day on Friday and Saturday, and I thought it had something to do with that. So I sent a text back that it was fine. I didn’t recognize the number, so that was weird.

Anyway, I went on with the day. She didn’t sound panicky exactly, but probably I ought to do something. When the school day was wrapped up, including the after-school activities, I went to her uncle’s house on the pretext of returning a tego. I got from him that she had a cyst on her spine, and the doctor didn’t know what to do, which was fairly alarming. People don’t seem to realize that lies are alarming.

I didn’t know it was a lie, but in retrospect, I can tell you it was alarming. I went in search of Maths Ma’am next, to get assistance with a call to the grandparents. She was walking towards the bazaar. On the way, we happened to run into C’s aunt, and got the real story, which was much less alarming. C has some kind of enormous boil on her butt. It could be a staff infection. They are quite common here. If you remember, I had one, and they really hurt.

Then I went about trying to call C, because she was with her grandmother and did not seem to have her phone with me. She had been instructed to call me, and hadn’t. I had taken a phone number from her uncle, but it turned out to be the wrong phone number. It was the aunt’s phone number. I was standing there with her as I tried to call. When I got home again, I called her uncle again, and he was unreachable. I called another aunt of C’s and her SIM had been deactivated. I called her mom, and it was busy. I tried a bit later, and got her, and she said she would send an SMS. She didn’t. Instead I got a call from C. That was something.

I talked to her softly. Did she think I would be mad at her? Nope. Did it hurt a lot? Nope. Detached Mode and Teen. But I think it still helps. I mean, even if she is defended and nothing seems to be reaching her, I think it helps that I am there. I think some part of her does feel that I am there, and cares for her.

I had this experience earlier in the week that again made things click in for me. The little boy that used to be C’s neighbour wrote on the window of his classroom, and the other students in the class came running to tell me. I don’t really know his name, and they are six and can’t conjugate verbs yet, so I went into the classroom not knowing that the writing was not ongoing and not knowing who it was. Anyway, he was at his desk crying fiercely. I went to the window and didn’t really see anything. It’s not like the windows are clean. Nothing much then. I made him look at me, and told him not to repeat. I don’t know how to explain this, but I understood the shame he felt, that he felt absolutely deluged with shame. Someone must have scolded him pretty bad. I had a lot of work to do, so I didn’t stay with him long. The look he gave me as I left was very familiar. I feel like dirt, and I want you. I want you to help me not feel like dirt again. I need help with my feelings.

That’s what I activate for C. It’s what she activates for me, but I keep pushing that down, because my more conscious, rational self says, “Figure this out. She needs you. Figure out how to make it work for you.” That means the feelings are not always in my awareness.

I activate that shame, and it’s implicit. She has no idea what it is or how it happens. She’s acting entirely on instinct, and one instinct is to push away what is triggering that feeling of overwhelming shame. I mean, that’s kind of why we have negative feelings, isn’t it? To help us remember to avoid things that are harmful to us. Pressing the lever gives you an electrical shock, so you stop pressing it. Only, what has been harmful to C are relationships, and she can’t actually live without them.

When she is close to me, she feels like dirt. She has different ways of coping with that, but essentially that is what it comes down to.