I got a text from C around 11 pm last night. She has an outing tomorrow and I am sure this is on her mind. Anyway, it said she wasn’t going to come down. She is going somewhere to work. Someplace she called Semp. Her spelling is horrible. Who knows what it really is. Usually her words have the right letters in them, but they are missing parts. Whole syllables get forgotten sometimes. She does okay with familiar words, but something like a place name that she might never have actually seen written she can’t accurately guess at. So who knows where she is really going.
I asked her where Semp was—trying to get an idea of how long a trip this was going to be. For about ten minutes, she didn’t read the message. Then I saw that she had redit, so I began to text her even though she didn’t respond. I sent texts over the course of an hour, and each of them were read. Then I fell asleep.
In the morning, when I woke up, I began to text her again. I knew she would be awake although it is early because they wake the kids at 5:30 am.
Actually, the kids in boarding schools are chronically sleep deprived. Lights out is 9:30 generally, and wake up time is 5:30. There are a few stages in childhood when children need only 8 hours of sleep, but there are many years when kids need 9 or 10. If they didn’t wake kids up so early, they would probably start improving their school’s performance. But they don’t know that sleep is required for learning.
That aside, it was 6 am and I knew she was awake. I sent her texts that she was safe, that I wasn’t mad, and all of her feelings are okay. I finally began to say you are in my heart and all of my love is holding you. You are safe inside my love.
Suddenly, I got a reply from her, responding to the very first, logistical text. This part of her had sent the first text last night, and it sent this text. She said she was sorry and she hadn’t gotten my text until now because she was sleeping. Now, it’s possible this was true.
But I don’t think so. I think she switched in order to reach out and make the connection, but the little parts who wanted the connection felt too shameful, so all the need and shame are shut down, and she is interacting with me as though they don’t exist. Because actually this part cannot feel them. She is this part because the feelings got shut down and this is who she would be if she did not have them. I think she read all of the texts, but she might honestly not know she read them.
The text made me realize something about being in parts. Different feelings get shut down in order to cope and get needs met, and when you are in that part you feel yourself to be the person you would be if only felt that way.
So C has done something with her sim since Wednesday. Loaned out her phone or removed the sim or something. Because I typically text a few times in the day, always pretty much the same messages. Good morning, love you. Have a nice day, love you. Good night, love you. Anyway, since Wednesday, these have not been read. So she is pushing. It feels dangerous to have these needy little parts, and she has locked them up in their rooms.
And while they were locked up, the part left out—this part who does not feel the longing or the shame—has decided to go to Semp or wherever.
It really struck me, that is life in parts. Things get shut down and you don’t know that the feelings you are shutting down are even there, and you proceed with life as though they are not. I can feel it now when it happens. I went to the shop for something, and I was feeling vulnerable about it and ashamed. I could feel myself shutting down that sense of vulnerability about it. It felt like the electricity going out. Vulnerability on. Vulnerability off. It is amazing that I can do that. On, then off. And you don’t know you are doing it or why you are doing it. And then you do feel like the person who does not have those feelings or only has some feelings.
It is amazing. It really is amazing that we can do this.