I am trying to write this and be someone who can communicate with other people, can reach out and try to be heard by someone. I am trying to get some kind of connection with another adult.
And I also have this very little, sad feeling inside me at the same time, where it feels like I just want my mommy. It’s quite intense. I miss C though. She came down today, and it wasn’t really lovely. I made pancakes and generally provided an absurd amount of food I felt ashamed of later. It was like I bought every last one of her comfort foods. I spent quite a bit of time cooking and running around and not a lot of time actually with her.
There is more to say about this. I think I might come back to it.
I have had quite a few scattered thoughts this week, which were important to me, and a part of me wishes for an audience for them. Is this interesting to you too? I want someone to talk to about them.
One of them is that when you are in parts and you have this jagged existence, then life is qualitatively different for you than for someone with a coherent self. It’s intense, really. It’s an intense and sort of unreal way to live. Things sometimes don’t seem real at all, and other times they are hyper-real, and sometimes things seem spooky funhousy paranoid.
If you tell someone who hasn’t experienced this that your life is like that you have to embrace your weirdness, and if you don’t actually feel like a weird person—I don’t feel weird, really. I mean, like my life is pretty boring for the most part. I go to bed at eight. I eat 3 home cooked meals a day. Well, then that sense of being a zany person is hard to make sense of.
The other one has to do with how life in parts proceeds. It came out of something C did, where on Monday maybe or Sunday, she was shopping online and wanted money for me for online shopping. When I said no to that, then she switched quite abruptly. The point of the online shopping is that I have shopped online for her, and so online shopping would be an implicit memory of me. It would remind her of a time when I tried to address that need to be special to someone and to have something nice. I was in the process of getting to know her and I asked her, “What do you like?” She said, “Nothing. My parents buy and I wear it.” The idea of a 13-year-old girl from a middle-class background having no personal taste was just too tragic for me. A girl that age would only not know what she likes if her likes have never been important to anyone around her. So I asked her what she wanted, and pushed until I got something. Earrings. So I shopped online and let her choose, and that’s something she would remember. She would remember looking at things to buy online and be reminded of me. But she didn’t connect those dots at all. It was an implicit memory. She had no idea why she was doing it. I am sure of that.
That is what life in parts is like sometimes. You do stuff and you don’t really have any idea why, because memories are not integrated enough to provide you with an explanation for your own mind or your own life. You just jump from one mysterious activity to another without a clear reason for doing that in some cases. That is part of the agony of an existence in parts. You don’t know why you are behaving the way that you are. You are frantically trying to cope with many intense emotions, but you don’t know why you are coping in the way that you are, because the memories of it are just not formed properly or you can’t access them properly or something. But no one can provide an adequate explanation for what you are doing, because they haven’t lived your life.
Someone who doesn’t know C’s life history wouldn’t know that online shopping had anything to do with me. They might get the idea of wanting to fill a hole in the self. They wouldn’t get that it has to do with having a need met by a particular person.
It’s very isolating.
To return to C’s visiting my house, there wasn’t as much of a feeling of connection to it. I think we were both more defended against it. It has a meaning for both of us that is different than the meaning behind seeing her at school. But she left and I just felt a ripping inside later. That feeling of, “I want my mommy.” That’s me splitting. That’s me feeling so ashamed of that emotion of sadness that I imagine it happening to a younger child I no longer am and it’s possible I never was. I may never have wanted my mommy.
That is my other scattered thought: this isn’t about the past. It is about the present. I had—probably still have—past traumas to work through, but this isn’t a traumatic memory. This is life right now as someone with an attachment disorder. This is how it feels not to be able to regulate feelings of attachment when someone important to me leaves. It feels very intense, the way it does a young child, because I am experiencing that part of my life as a young child does. I am not remembering being a young child—although those memories are important. It feels this way now, because my development in terms of attachment is the same as it was when I was a young child.
My last thought is that I am learning to interpret the present in an emotional way. I felt very anxious in the morning, because C has these impositions to write and I don’t know if she is going to be able to. She has been very needy, very defended, and not much in her Healthy Adult self all week. I was not really sure how to support her. Suddenly, I realized, “Oh, when you aren’t sure what will be best in a situation, you feel uncertain. This is uncertainty.” It was as though in the past I have though oh my god oh my god oh my god I am anxious. I am not allowed to be anxious. Well, I am not supposed to lose my mind over it, but anxiety is a part of life. It is alerts us to situations in which the desired path is not clear. That’s just an example. But I see this happening more and more. I am linking emotions more with the events in the present, and that makes it less scary for me. I understand what is going on in my own mind.
Yesterday afternoon, I was trying to talk to C, and there was a lot of ambient noise I couldn’t seem to get away from and she wasn’t speaking that clearly and it was difficult to understand and I began to feel very, very angry in my body. I didn’t express the anger overtly to C, but I could feel it in my body. Suddenly, I realized I am getting connection or anticipating connection, and it is sensitizing me to my environment; it is priming me to react intensely to stimuli. So I am struggling with the ambient noise, and I am reacting to it as though it is a threat. I am prepared to physically defend myself against it. And that helped. It really, really helped.
This is quite a lot different than what I might have tried to do in the past, where maybe I would have tried to link having trouble hearing someone with some kind of traumatic experience in the past. It isn’t really related to one. It’s just an obstacle, and my sensitive state made me react very strongly to an obstacle as a threat. Or, I might even have zeroed in on what C was saying—we were talking about impositions and cheating, and that would have made tremendous grist for the speculating mill. But it wasn’t about the content. It’s okay that she cheated. I am not happy about it, but kids learn that way. It wasn’t the content. It was just being prevented from doing something that created the problem. Obviously, that has happened before in traumatic circumstances, but I don’t know that I need to go into all of that in my mind to get why this is going on for me. I was sensitized. Then there was an obstacle to my goals. I felt threatened. It’s better simple like that.
The last thought is my feelings of suicidality or simply shame. I am so ashamed of my existence it feels hopeless to even be me, but it’s shame. Shame is a part of life. People do actually reject me sometimes. They do disapprove of me. I do make real errors I feel ashamed of. The problem is regulation, so that I am consumed by that feeling because it hasn’t been integrate.
It makes the shame easier to bear until it lifts.
The last thing I was thinking recently was that the ripping feeling of sadness inside is telling me C left. It felt really, really nice to have her, and then she left, and that is all it is. It’s hard because it isn’t regulated and maybe also because I don’t quite know yet that she comes back. It’s not completely clear that she is real, because it’s so intense to be with her and I am too afraid to have all of those emotions because I might express them and that might not be safe. As I feel safer, I will get all of the sensations and emotions of her being here, and I will know she is real and also that I keep seeing her again—she comes back.
Oh, actually that wasn’t the last thing. There is more. I was thinking about her defended state, and thinking I haven’t in the past liked it very much. It’s quite a dramatic shift and always feels to me like suddenly in front of me is someone I don’t know. This week, I have a different perspective on this part of her (and then also on that part of me). It allows her to maintain a connection, even in a very fearful or ashamed state, so this part of her is important. It isn’t standing in the way of connection. It is creating hope for connection that wouldn’t otherwise be there.
Also, last one, there is a communication between us even when it doesn’t look like communication. I think she just rejected three of my messages. Angry child. I miss you and you aren’t here and I am mad at you. The pushing is communication, and part of the connection between us. Of course, the communication is ambiguous. Did she reject the messages or did my phone just decide to give up on them? No real idea. But her not reading is a part of what happens between, and it forms part of the communication between us. When she didn’t come to meet me at school last year for tutoring, that was a part of the communication between us. I evidently responded to it well, or we wouldn’t have a relationship now. I hadn’t realized this, because I didn’t know if I was responding in a way that met her needs or not. I couldn’t tell if I was just being intrusive, but I was taking things in that I wasn’t aware of, and responding to that. I was taking in that pull towards me—that her body often touched me even though she knew it shouldn’t—and there was a little wave of pleasure that went through her when I hunted her down anyway.