Lots of stuff floating around in my head.
I have been thinking why C and I have the relationship we do. I think about this from time to time, think of answers even, and am not satisfied. I was thinking too about what makes contact with me so scary for her—she is in her village. They are voting here, and it involves many of the educated people around needing to do pollwork of some kind, and it also involves people traveling to the places their families live or used to live. (There are a lot of ancestral houses which sit empty the entire year, because no one actually lives there anymore. Once a year, people come home, have a big religious ritual, do some house repair and go off again to their jobs and families elsewhere.) The voting comes back-to-back with a holiday. Anyway, we get five days off, because people need to travel “home” and then back again.
C called me from her village when she arrived there, and sounded happy kid—kind of normal. The most normal I have heard her sound in a long time. Then I called her the next day and gave her holiday greetings, and she was much more guarded. She hasn’t answered the phone since then. I send a text message in the morning wishing her a nice day and things like that, and I call once in the evening and let it ring. Then since she doesn’t answer, I send a text before I go to bed. Just good night I love you I am not mad we are still connected. Usually I get a request for a recharge twice a day also.
What came to me after the crazyland on Thursday was that I am most likely right about how I interpret her behaviour, and what it means about how she is feeling inside, and that is the basis of our relationship, or some part of it. She is communicating in this very indirect way that I understand well enough to respond to in a way that feels attuned to her. So she asks for a recharge and I know, while she also would like phone time, what she really wants is some excuse to feel the connection with me. The feeling of connection comes from the sense of attunement. It comes from feeling someone gets you and is responding in an attuned way, even if none of it is stated.
The recharge request says I feel vulnerable and I want to know if I am wanted and if someone can take care of me, and that’s how I respond to her. If it were for a long period of time, I would have to think about the money this is costing me to just recharge her, but I do feel that when she feels safe enough to ask for attention and care from me in a different way, she will do that. She does know other ways of relating. I don’t know how the recharge came up as a safe point of interaction, but it is that for her. It might have come up because when her parents were here, and C lived near school, I knew she got home when she came online, because she never used to take her phone with her. It stayed in the house. If she was using her phone, she was home. And usually she came online around 5:30 or six at the latest. So she might be at the neighbour’s house or whatever for an hour or so after school, and then she would come home to do her chores, and I knew she was home, because I saw her come online. If she didn’t come online, then I knew she didn’t have balance on her phone and she couldn’t, and I would recharge her. I recharged her because it made me worried not to know if she had come home on time in the evenings and because it made me worried to feel she had no way to reach out to me if she couldn’t cope on her own. It is probably that memory, of my noticing when her balance was used up, and then doing something about it that makes her feel safe. It is this memory of having her need for connection met—the phone, after all, represents connection, doesn’t it? Before midterm, I felt much more ambivalent about these requests, because they were frequent and I was thinking how will this affect her relationship to money in the longterm. Since then, she has stopped asking. I do give her money every day. Not that much, but enough that she can buy a voucher for herself or a bag of chips or a pen.
On Thursday, when the distortions took hold, it seemed to me that I am wrong about this. No one else would interpret her behaviour in that way. They would see greed and a desire to take advantage of me. After I left crazyland, I felt more secure in thinking I am right. I am, at least, more right than anyone else would be. If that weren’t the case, we wouldn’t have the relationship we do. What feels good to her, and also makes her feel so ashamed, is the attunement. She gets her needs met or at least some of them, although she is afraid to ask to have them met.
Maybe that isn’t quite what I mean. It is getting needs met, because she has needs, but in a broader sense, it is someone responding to her in a way that acknowledges her real feelings. The interplay between two people is what makes you feel connected and alive, and it is missing for her most of the time, because she is trying to constrain her own feelings and she is also trying not to see the feelings of others so that she doesn’t have to feel the judgment and rage she expects to find there. The absence of that connection between two people makes us feel lonely and dead inside.
Last Sunday, C came down, and The Boy was also here. C’s friends were asking him a lot of questions, and he felt very shy. He said he felt so shy he couldn’t even understand them. C sensed his feelings of vulnerability, and because he had gotten food on his face eating, she took her thumb and wiped food away from his mouth. That’s attunement. He felt like a little, frightened boy, and she responded to him as thought that is what he was, although he is 12 years old and quite able to wipe food away from his mouth. That is what happens with me and C, at least sometimes. Enough that she keeps coming back, hoping the feeling of connection will still be there and that she can still have a feeling of being attunded to someone.