Sensitive and bids for attention

I have been taking into account more that in situations where I have just gotten connection or I anticipate getting connection soon, I am going to be more sensitive. I will be hyper-alert. Connection is a trigger, and my awareness will be filtered around indications that getting connection was not okay. I might become more easily frightened or more easily angry and actually the second trigger might be anything, because I am in a sensitive state. It might be rejection. It might be a loud noise that startles me. It might be someone looking angry. It might be someone not doing things my way.

I get connection in my classes now, from various students, and I am alert to that in them also. When certain kids act up, I look back and I think, “In the last five minutes, did they just get a nice rush of connection?”And I approach disciplining them from that direction. Usually those kids did. They just got connection, and they have become sensitive to some kind of threat, and they responded (usually) in a very angry way. I don’t know what I do after that. It’s not thought out. The part I am aware of consciously is thinking that they are in a sensitive state and are probably trying to regulate themselves again in some way.

The other thing I have taken into consideration is that when those children disturb others, it is often because their vulnerable child peeped out for a second and reached for connection, but their VC has not developed an understanding or awareness of other people’s feelings yet, so that child probably got carried away and trampled on someone else’s rights. The VC needs to be told that the other person does not want to play in that way or would like them to be more respectful of their space and their body. If the relationship can be maintained, the VC will often be able to take that in, but if the child feels very threatened and Punishing Parent comes out, the situation is hopeless. Nothing good will come of it.

I don’t know what will happen. There was a lot of throwing books today and a lot of acting out for a lot of the day. And there were also a lot of children who were able to calm themselves down without any outside help.

I think it solves the mystery of why I have always had more discipline problems in my class than other teachers seem to have, and kind of weirder problems. I am sometimes very good at connecting to young people with shitty families. I get them, and sometimes they are able to feel safe enough to get connection. And then they are very sensitized and it’s almost inevitable that something will happen where they feel very threatened and they act out. Either that or they feel vulnerable and make a bid for attention in some inappropriate way.

If kids never feel safe, Apparently Normal is out front and center copying down notes and feeling quietly dead inside. Vulnerable Child isn’t putting plastic bags on his head because I am giving my attention to someone else. That kid who puts a bag on his head in my class never acts like a 3-year-old in his other classes, because he doesn’t feel safe enough to want attention. That part of him hides.

The other part I am aware of is that in that sensitive state the person cannot think how they are affecting the other person. Punishing Parent cannot think they are alienating a partner they need to work with. Angry Child cannot think they are disturbing the class. But if that child can calm down, eventually they will learn to think about other people and how their behaviour affects them. The ongoing existence of the relationship helps with that. It gives that child a reason to care.

I have been thinking about this in terms of my class and also in terms of my own mind and what is going on in it. So I get connection in class very often, and I come back to the staff room and very often I am in a sensitive state. Almost anything might distress me. I try to notice that, and look at what is distressing me and why. On Fridays, there are two women who talk almost constantly that happen to be free at the same time. So they sit in the staffroom and talk. Which ought to be fine, but for some reason it drives me insane. I think this might actually happen every Friday during fourth period and I have not connected the dots until now.

They want attention. That’s one part of it. Their chatter is a bid for attention. It is partly setting me up, because VC’s are not empathetic in the beginning at least. They don’t understand other people. They are just little. So they make bids for attention and connection that don’t account well for the needs and desires of other people. In my mother, that VC who made bids for my attention did not consider my needs or desires as a child, and she was very often intrusive and interrupted me in doing the things I wanted to do. I want quiet to concentrate and process the class I just taught, and these two women who are speaking in voices I can somehow recognize as needy and wanting attention are not allowing me to do what I want to do. It’s triggering that feeling of being unwanted, that I can’t be me. They don’t want me to need quiet. I really, really like quiet. When things are quiet, I can most easily feel like me, and they don’t want me to be a person who likes quiet.

By the end of fourth period, I felt suicidal. Some part of me was saying, literally, “I will go home at lunch and kill myself.”

I am unwanted. Utterly. Totally. That nerve got touched. And it got touched partly because I came back from getting connection and I started out in a sensitive place and I was never able to calm myself out of it.

Well, I went home at lunchtime and did not kill myself. I had a nice walk and calmed down and cried for a bit. Just tears streaming down my face. And then I thought I am really introverted. That need for quiet is not from the trauma. That is my innate personality. My mind is this very interesting place that I would like to spend time in and basically most other people don’t want to spend time in it with me. They don’t think the same way that I do. We don’t share knowledge with a large overlap because I have spent my life pursuing my own interests, learning about the things I like to learn about, and they also mostly don’t think in the detailed, methodical way I think, so getting someone else in there with me is really difficult. But I would like to spend time there. I like it. I like my own mind, and I would like to be in it sometimes. Lots of noise keeps me assessing the importance or interest of things that are inevitably not interesting or important—they capture my attention with no payoff. So I don’t like noise. And my classroom is noisy because most children are noisy and I go to the staffroom and want relief. I need relief, because I need to organize all of the data I collected in the last few hours since I last had a chance to be quiet. That is me. And they have no concept of that. They are Country Xers and on time of these two needing constant attention because of who they are, they also don’t have any sense that people might need quiet. Country Xers generally prefer to be constantly reminded that someone is with them. I don’t really get it, but that is how they are. They feel very vulnerable being alone. They are not like me.

To give an example, I used to walk home alone in the evening in the dark from C’s school and the girls would always ask me don’t I feel scared. Well, no. There isn’t much to be afraid of. Snakes, being cold blooded, hide from predators at night in temperate climates. There are no bears or lions or tigers or wolves here. It’s a town—not the forest. There aren’t many people around who would hurt me. And I also know the families who live in nearly all of the houses along the roadside. It might be fantasy, but I have this idea that if something happened to me, those families whose children I taught would help me. Even though I am in the road and they are in their houses, I feel their presence with me. I feel cared about and I feel safe. A Country Xer would not feel that way. It isn’t close enough.

Anyway, there is that.

I was also thinking about my own bids for attention from other people. Given what I know or think I know about modes now, I imagine my bids for attention have not always been sensitive to the needs of other people. I shield myself from the possibility of being seen as wrong or bad or shameful by not seeing too much of someone else’s perspective at the times when I reach out and feel very vulnerable and so I might not necessarily know the other person might not like to connect with me in this particular way. And so I think it is possible I have faced a lot of rejection in my life, because my cognitive knowledge of what people might not like became separated from that impulse to connect. That has probably made me feel very hopeless about myself.

I have been thinking about this with C. I have just been conscious as I reach out to her of that voice which sometimes tells me, “I think she might be hurt by this. I think she might find this rejecting. I think this might make her feel guilty.” Or whatever. But I have been listening to that voice recently and adjusting my approach accordingly. In the past I might have gone ahead and done things, dismissing my worries as overly paranoid or overly caretaking of her feelings. I have recently been feeling those doubts +++++++++++++++++++++-+aren’t paranoid. I am sometimes right. I don’t have to steamroll over my doubts and act out a confidence I don’t have. I don’t need to keep myself in a box either, but I do listen to that little voice which suggests I make an adjustment or that I wait.


2 thoughts on “Sensitive and bids for attention

  1. Rachel October 10, 2016 / 11:34 am

    Connection really can be a trigger. In reading this, it reminds me to keep in mind how I react to connection, afterwards – if I spin out, was there connection prior, etc? I’m sorry this is all so painful.

    • Ashana M October 10, 2016 / 11:44 am

      I don’t know why it helps to see it, but it does. It makes things seem less a total surprise.

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