C asked for a recharge to surf the net last night. This time, I said no. It was study time, and things seem about to get out of hand. I am not really setting consistent boundaries with her. In that sense, I am not being a good parent. But I have no idea what the correct boundary would be.

Anyway, she kind of begged and then disappeared. I sent several texts after that, which she read. Things like I am not mad. When I say no I still love you.

No reply, and eventually I fell asleep.

I was thinking about this in the morning and writing her a letter about it—stuff I have said before, but sometimes things bear repeating. I said, among other things, you are always you. The things you want are temporary. Later, you will want other things. The things you want are not you, but you are the person doing the wanting.

I was criticized in a meeting on Saturday rather severely. Not by name, but I knew it was me. And I have been thinking about that, because I feel very ashamed.

It has felt to me because actions cannot be undone that they are permanent. It feels to me like they are carved in stone. And it made me realize it isn’t quite like that. We do other things later. There is an effect and a consequence from our actions, but it’s not like I think it is. It is almost as though I imagined a room existed somewhere with a record of all my shortcomings and failures and missteps in it. And my actions just kept accumulating. I mean that sounds kind of like religion tends to portray actions—like your soul getting weighed. But I don’t think real life is actually like that. You do stuff and then you do other stuff, and you got where you are because of what you have done, but not entirely as a result of your own effort and not because of each and every thing. Some stuff happened and life went on in more or less the same way as though it hadn’t happened.

But I am still here. I continue to be the same person through all of it.

Because of how I have thought of my actions, they have had a lot more weight and importance than they ought to have had, and mistakes have been harder to cope with because of that. It is almost as though I didn’t see myself as a person, but as a collection of deeds. Once I did something—good or bad—it became me. It made facing mistakes very hard, which has actually made it harder to be competent in many areas in my life. It is hard to cope with that kind of pressure all the time. I would guess I have had more performance problems at work and in my personal life because of the anxiety I have about making them. When I am calm and not anxious, I perform better. There becomes less to actually be anxious about and I get more done because I don’t need to spend as much time calming down.

I think a lot of that is because of my mom. I did something she didn’t like, and assaulted me like someone she hated. I did things she liked and she cuddled me. Her response to me was based on how my actions affected her, and not based on what I needed necessarily. Sometimes it was, but not that often. It made for a sense of being different people at different times, and it made a misstep end in the loss of her regard for me and any relationship between us.

It’s not like kids misbehave and they get cuddles and no punishment, but I think within most families, there is some limit to the range of emotional expression at least by the adults. The child might say I hate you, but the adult usually doesn’t. But my mother did, or something like that.