Maybe there isn’t anything more to say. I think it’s possible I am distinguishing between people with different kinds of relationships to me as a result of C’s role in my life, and it happens to touch on pain that I need to process at the same time as present reality. I am not very sure, but I think it’s possible.
I think it’s possible that feeling as though someone wants me makes me see when other people don’t want me. Again, I am not very sure. It might be it.
C keeps coming back. She wants me. She went and hid under a rock after asking for 2 calculators (#3 and #4 of this school year) on Tuesday, to which I replied, “Why do you need 2 calculators?” She has not resurfaced yet, but she will. She always does. That sad little girl who wants connection will come peeking out again some day. She isn’t gone forever. I miss her. I miss any kind of connection I get with her, even being asked endlessly for vouchers so that she can talk on the phone instead of studying the way she is supposed to. I miss even getting enough information from her tone in a text to know how to respond to her and to be able to guess a little better what kind of response she needs. But she will be back, because no matter what happens, no matter how fearful she is or how angry, she wants me.
I am not perfect. I am pretty sure she knows I am not perfect. But she wants me. I remember after midterm, when I kind of lost it after her crying for a long time and telling me not to come back to meet her (why are they hurting my little girl?), and I walked away very suddenly and angrily and she pulled me back by the sleeve, she asked me, “Why are you showing your anger to others?” She was so hurt and sad that I was acting like an asshole. She said, “You did this in my house.” Mom, twice, you have completely mortified me in front of everyone. Why are you doing this?
I was bad. I misbehaved. I lost control of myself and I was bad.
I am saying it that way, because I feel like this is speaking to a very young part of myself, and that is how a young part of myself understands it. I was bad.
And she still wants me.
I have some more grown-up kinds of thoughts about this. One of them is that this is what attachment means. Things go wrong, there is misattunement, and you continue to seek attunement with that person. In a more head-way of understanding, there is forgiveness. In other situations, with other people, you don’t go on seeking attunement. You give up, because you haven’t had a lot of history of attunement with them in the past. When attunement doesn’t occur in the present, it’s like, well, whatever. They aren’t my cup of tea. You don’t have the same expectation that attunement is likely or possible, and you give up.
There was an issue with the Boy last night. It was a very difficult evening. Evenings frequently are these days, although I think the particular issue was that I was gone on Wednesday evening and then last night I chose to go and meet a friend. Because I had been absent in recent days unexpectedly, I think it hit him harder for me to be gone than I expected, and he came home in a very sensitive place. So mostly all evening he cried and quietly raged. It was not pleasant to be around.
In the morning, I talked to him just about setting my alarm clock because for the second time he changed the alarm or someone did and I didn’t realize that had happened and I woke up in the small hours of the morning thinking I really need to get up (it was midnight), and struggled for hours to wake up when actually it was time to sleep. So I was very, very tired. I was already tired, and I was more tired because of this very small thing that I have asked him not to do before.
So I told him this, and I am pretty sure he was overcome with shame, but I didn’t feel especially empathetic. Just please let me sleep. He didn’t respond at all, and I said I think you don’t understand and went on with my work. I didn’t really know what to do about it. I finished up breakfast and went to the Friend’s house to make the pancake delivery. I came back and he said I do understand. I said, it’s okay. I just get really tired sometimes. He was lying in bed then, and I sat on the bed and stroked his hair.
He was bad. He did a very small thing that really caused a problem for me. And I forgave him. The relationship was still there.
And I think that was a part of what was missing in my family when I was growing up. Problems didn’t get resolved, and there was no attunement repair. Things got pushed aside, but there was never any point when we could see one another’s point of view again. My mother couldn’t see I was maybe overtired and that’s why I had a tantrum, and I couldn’t see she is trying to get the grocery shopping done and it would help her a lot if I didn’t scream about it.
There is this idea about abusive relationships that there is a cycle of anxiety, abuse, and then reaching for closeness again. I think that might happen in every relationship—not maybe the anxiety, but the rupture and the resolution. You cannot maintain continuous attunement with anyone. There are ruptures and then the ruptures need to be repaired. In abusive relationships, the rupture is too painful to be resolved, and it also involves impulses which don’t get easier to control in the heat of the moment. The next time a rupture happens, the person responds in the same way. Trust never forms, and people keep reaching for control to get their needs or wants attended to instead of seeking understanding and empathy.
When there are ruptures with C, we don’t really discuss them, the way that the Boy and I were able to discuss things a little bit at least, and I also don’t know what it is like for C. But in my own mind, I look for attunement again. I try to think what she is going through and why she behaved the way that she did. The attunement can be re-established then, because I know better where she is coming from and sometimes I know better where I am coming from and what I need to do to take care of myself. I think that creates the same sense, that the relationship is still there. The rupture gets healed.
I have another grownup thought about this, which is that the relationship still being there does two things: it creates a sense that I need to monitor my behaviour because she is going to keep coming back. It creates a freedom, because the relationship can tolerate my sometimes being an asshole; at the same time, I ought not to be an asshole, because she is going to take it.
I am saying “I” but it is a general statement. I think it does those things for anyone. It creates a freedom and an expectation of forgiveness and it also creates a motivation to have empathy and to have self-control, because someone will stay there and let you hurt them.