It’s Sunday. So I went to see C. They didn’t seem to be praying when I came—maybe I was late, but there seemed to be girls in the classrooms studying. I don’t know. I began to get kind of paranoid about it and then I realized, something slightly different has happened. The school looks different than it usually does, and I am sensitized because I am expecting connection, so this is distrust. A feeling of distrust has been activated by the change in routine, and it is making me paranoid. Then I was okay.
She took a long time to come, and then when she did come, she did not come to meet me. Her friends sat with me, and she continued on to the shop to buy junk food for all of the hostel. She had evidently taken orders.
I waited a while and then I thought she isn’t able to come. She can’t come to me. It is absolutely too painful for her to come, and I said to her friends I am going to get her. And I went. I walked very purposely and briskly and I thought after a minute I probably look angry, and I tried to tone it down a little. I did feel purposeful, but I have seen when I am that intent on something, I scare children and I didn’t want to scare C or scare her friends.
That was an interesting moment for me, to think about how I might be perceived by others and to alter it, because I think I frequently don’t want to know.
Then I went into the shop and she was standing there buying things. I stroked her hair a little. I knew the man and the woman behind the counter were aware that this is my daughter. I go to that shop and buy things for C, and they know I am meeting her and I had that moment of being aware, this is her. This is the child I am going to meet.
After a minute, I had a feeling of pleasure and I realized C felt it too. There was a pleasure for us in being together. A second later, C began to get very distressed, very fussy. There was some problem with the money. She had too much money left over, and that must mean she had forgotten to buy something for her friends.
It’s so interesting to see this in front of me: she had a moment of pleasure in connection and then when something went wrong shortly after that, she was sensitized. She was sensitized to feeling worry about having made a mistake, and she reacted quite strongly. I don’t think she ordinarily would react that way. I tried to be soothing. I don’t know if I was or not.
Then we went out, and there was someone at the gate then, so C was worried about that. Her friend said it would be fine, so we continued, but C was clearly in a different state by then. I kind of insisted she sit with me for a minute. She wanted to go. I don’t know if that was the right thing or the wrong thing. She was really distressed, very much in the midst of that disordered attachment state of wanting to come close and wanting to flee. I stood for a moment near her, stroking hair while she sat on the bench, and I just said, “It’s okay. It’s okay.”
Looking back on that, I think that was the right thing to do. It struck me as evidence I have lost my mind—I was aware in some part of me that I look like her lover. This must look just very strange. But she is my child, and my child was upset, and that is kind of what you do. Looking back on that, I think that was the right thing, because it is brighter in my mind, and I think actually these bright moments are moments when I feel attunement. The flat parts are when I am not able to synch up with other people, and I can’t form a feeling of connection with them. The bright moments are the moments when I feel alive, and I feel alive because I am being human. I am attuned with people around me. It happens when the world seems able to accommodate me, but I think it also happens when I am able to accommodate the world.
I am not completely sure, but I think so. I think that feeling of brightness has to do with feeling attuned—with it feeling safe enough that I can take in information and process it emotionally and respond to the world in an attuned way. It works both ways: what is going on outside of me and what it allows me to do inside so that I can respond. I think there have been many times when I have been able to do this within myself; I have been able to create at least momentarily a world where it feels peaceful and I feel safe, because of something I have done to make it that way. I did the thing I liked to do, or I had an experience I chose to have. But it can happen with other people, when I am able to attune to them. And I think that might have happened. I think I might have been attuned to C and done what she needed when she was distressed and in angry child mode.
She left soon after that, and I gave her cousin the things I had brought and then took out the tiffin of potato curry, and that really hit her in a different way. The shift in expression on her face was dramatic and immediate. We had had a conversation about food earlier in the week via texting and I said sometime I would cook for her—she complained the food at school was tasteless. It was like something suddenly, absolutely got through. She knew I cared.
I have a lot of thoughts about this, a lot of analysis. That will come next.