I write a lot about C and not much about the Boy, but plenty is going on with the Boy also. Lots of anger, lots of crying, a fair amount of hitting the walls. It’s very hard for him.

So, I had a long day at school yesterday. We had a special program and this being Country X, first of all, there was no advance notice that this would extend beyond lunchtime. (Saturday is a half day of school and frequently the kids get dismissed and get to home by 11:30.) Then, it also being Country X, the 3 pm anticipated end time extended until nearly 5.

Yesterday, the Boy asked me if he could go to his aunt’s house after school. Yes, wash your school uniform, study for an hour, and then go. I came home and he wasn’t home, as expected. However, the school uniform was not washed, the kitchen was a mess, and to add to that the toilet had not been fully flushed after someone had gone #2.

It was clear he hadn’t paid attention to anything I had said and instead gone off to play with friends. I was enraged. I asked the Friend’s brother who was playing outside about the Boy’s whereabouts. With a classmate who is usually a good boy (I am very disappointed in him) at the video game place.

I went and got the Boy. Livid. I told him to come home and wash dishes.

I still feel angry thinking about it. This is my house. There is no obligation upon me to take care of him or allow him to stay with me. It is not the situation with C, where I have told her you are my daughter and I will take care of you no matter what happens. I have made no such promise to him. It creates considerable difficulty for me to have him in my house all the time. I don’t get downtime. I have more than double the amount of work, because he is old enough to take care of himself but he doesn’t really know how to do anything. He can’t even sweep. He washed the dishes and I washed them again, because they were still covered in orange-tinted oil.

I am still livid thinking about it. I came home expecting to get some downtime, expecting peace and quiet, and what I got instead was this absolute, flagrant disrespect of my living space. And no downtime, because then I had an upset child to deal with.

I was angry and I knew I was angry because it was touching upon this childhood wound, that had to do with respect for me and for my boundaries—that sense that I am something simply to be used and discarded. I can’t quite articulate now, but I knew, this is my wound. This is me. No one would be happy in this situation, but it is getting added to because of my wound.

In that moment, I knew exactly why my parents abused me. My mother had that wound, and I being a child did not have an understanding of her needs yet and didn’t have control of my impulses yet and I was also trying to meet my own needs which she was neglecting. The moment when I told The Boy to go wash his school uniform, she would have hit me. She would have attacked me with every intent to destroy me, because in that moment she would have lost all capacity for empathy for me. We don’t have empathy when we feel threatened. The fight impulse does that. It says, “Get this dangerous thing off me. Get it away from me.”

I didn’t hit The Boy and I didn’t abuse him, because I was able to communicate to him without increasing the rift between us too dramatically. I had a certain degree of skill. And I also could calm myself down. I got home and did some work and began to calm myself down a little, and I started to realize that the Boy had come home and I wasn’t there, and the pain is really intense for him. That is a very strong trigger for him. So he would be trying to distract himself from the pain with junk food and a friend and he would also be trying not to think about me. He wouldn’t be thinking, “She wants me to wash my school uniform,” because he would be trying not to think about me at all.

I don’t know what to do exactly. I don’t know how to help him with the pain of my not being here when he comes home, because I have no control over when I come home from school. The principal just decides things. He doesn’t tell us in advance. He doesn’t consider that advance warning might be appreciated—and that’s also a very Country X approach, is basically to force other people to do what you want them to do. If he told us in advance, we might complain, and he wouldn’t be able to keep us until 5 pm on a Saturday. He would have to relent. But he didn’t tell us ahead of time, and in the moment in front of teachers from other schools who are also there, we can’t say anything.

That is something I have begun to catch onto. In Country X, people fight all the time. There isn’t trust or teamwork or compromise a lot of the time. Sometimes there is, but often there isn’t. It is not always exactly like this, but it often is. And very often what people try to do in order to get their needs met is to try to compel others to meet them. This is a new country, and a hundred years ago, it was run by war lords, and 50 years ago there were still landowners and serfs. Many middle-aged adults grew up desperately, desperately poor and they also grew up in boarding schools with very harsh disciplinary methods. Maybe that has something to do with it.

Anyway, I can’t control my schedule. I can’t even prepare ahead of time, and this is going to happen again. I have some thinking to do.

But in that moment, I got it. I got why my mom brutalized me.