So I have been thinking about how this other boy, maybe we should call him Angry Boy—I might have mentioned him once before and called him that—feels wonderful when I come to his class. I don’t think the change in him is just me. He has a good class teacher this year. I have noticed this over the course of the year. His class teacher is Arts Sir’s wife, and I have mentioned her a few times as National Language ma’am.
Anyway, his class teacher is very strict and very consistent and also kind. Most of the teachers, when there is some health problem with the kids, are pretty indifferent about it. Or they panic. But I have noticed when they are genuinely sick, this teacher calls their parents and sends them home. I have not really seen any of the other teachers doing that. Kids sit in class with 102 degree fevers and just kind of suffer through it. But this teacher has twice sent kids in my class home when they were actually quite sick.
She is also one of the few people I find comforting when I am upset. Almost everyone else just winds me up more, and I have learned it is better not to say anything to anyone when I feel distressed. But National Language Ma’am actually listens and responds to me rather than reacting, and somehow it really helps.
So I think actually she is a big part of Angry Boy’s transformation. He spends his day in a class where he feels he is safe. The boundaries are clear for him, so that he can trust them to be there and her strictness helps him feel he can control his behaviour. The kids are quite terrified of her, because she uses pretty severe corporal punishment, but she is consistent. She isn’t lenient until her frustration is unbearable, and then beat the crap out of them, which some teachers do.
It’s the same feeling C has for me when she sees me. I have been thinking about that feeling, because I am suppressing it most of the time. I have that feeling for other people—I have it for C. But it’s hard to take, and most of the time, I shut it down. I think it has begun to come out in a dissociated kind of way. The last time I went to C’s hostel to collect her, because I thought she was going to be too scared to come, I felt it. I was walking out of the hostel with her, and I felt wonderful. She was actually angry and in a mixed kind of state, I think, if I remember right. And I felt very happy anyway.
I guess one thought I have about that—because it’s unexpected that I would be happy when she is kind of pushing—is that I still love her. She can have disorganized attachment, and feel a lot of very upsetting things when she is getting connection, and I can still love her. I don’t have to make the disorganized attachment go away before I have positive feelings for her. I can love her exactly as she is, and she can make me feel joy that she exists, even with all of her trauma.
But I think I have to be able to feel that feeling in order to understand the feeling that Angry Boy and C have for me. Except that it’s hard. I think it is hard, because in my childhood that feeling is very closely connected with loss and shame. I felt wonderful being with my mom, perhaps, and I reached for her, and she was angry with me. I didn’t get the connection I wanted, and I got shamed and punished for reaching instead. There was no mirror in my mom of “you are wonderful to me too.”
Our children want us. If you grew up unwanted and you have children, there is always some point when your child wants you, when you are absolutely like ice cream with chocolate syrup and cherries on top to her, and it’s going to trigger shame. C wants me, and I have to cope with that.