Morning thoughts

I have been aware more of my own mind, as if I am watching it while it thinks. Not literally—I don’t feel as though I am standing back from myself. But I am it is though I am able to see the sleight-of-hand in the magician’s trick. I can see how it works as it works.

Yesterday, as I was feeling particularly shitty, I could see that my mind is being influenced by confirmation bias and it’s being very strongly influenced because I am having a strong emotion or a strong ego state or whatever. I could see that I felt ashamed, so that everything that crossed my mind became a source of shame—like wearing shit-tinted glasses. Well, it works like that. I hadn’t realized. I think I had believed I was discovering my authentic feelings or something, not an emotional state that influences what seems significant to me about my thoughts.

But the thing is I think this is supposed to happen. That is basically mentalization: I feel afraid. What scared me? I feel ashamed. What did I do wrong? The problem is that I don’t know, and I come up with all of this other stuff that seems much more reasonable than the truth. I come up with stuff to feel bad about that other people have told me to feel bad about. Mostly things my therapists have told me or that I have read in self-help books. I don’t know that this is anyone’s fault. If I knew why I felt ashamed, this wouldn’t happen. I would land on it, assess, move on. Maybe. I think so. I think the problem is that I don’t know.

The other half of this is that shame is a mammal, social response. Human beings have very complex ways of discussing morality and thinking about morality, but when you smack your dog on the nose, she feels ashamed. She thinks about patterns the same way we do, and if you always smack her on the nose for peeing in the house she might work out that she shouldn’t pee in the house.

But I don’t know why I feel ashamed. I don’t know what sparked it, or what to make of it. Other people think it’s some other thing, much more reasonable and rational than the truth, and it has made my truth feel unreal to me. If no one sees what you are seeing, you do eventually start to think that you must be hallucinating.

My mother punished me. A lot. Not in an overt, I-am-punishing-you kind of way, but in I am out-of-control and can’t control myself and am now going to lash out kind of way. So I felt ashamed a lot, because that is how social animals feel when they are punished. When there is no dialogue around this, and when the person punishing you actually doesn’t know why they reacted the way that they did, this doesn’t coalesce into a nice, bite-size piece of information you can digest. It’s just this thing. I feel ashamed and I don’t know why. I don’t know what I just did. Someone else tells you, something you did wrong and it’s convenient to latch onto that. But it never comes around to the truth, which is that, and I really like this, parents with disorganized attachment (as mine was), “may react to their kids with fear or other primal emotions within them that surface in moments of stress. At these moments, the parent may act out destructive behavior and not even be fully aware of how they are behaving.”

So my mother lashed out at me because she felt disregarded, or unable to cope, or like an object, and I had no way of knowing that. And throughout my childhood, I pushed her away because she felt dangerous to me, and I triggered her feelings of rejection and of being unwanted.

I felt ashamed when she lashed out, and it’s not a philosophical, moral, these things are right and these other things are wrong kind of thing. It’s my mother was very reactive kind of thing. But punishment and expressions of anger are usually used to modulate behaviour. That’s their purpose—to help us respect each other’s limits and boundaries and to learn to exercise self-control. I feel ashamed for reasons that make absolutely no sense, but the shame is real. I can feel it. I had this idea that basically I needed to fight the shame harder. Indeed no. It doesn’t work. It does help in life to exercise more self-control sometimes, but basically it will always surface in moments of stress. I will always get overwhelmed and feel the shame I am fighting. Better to let it work itself out.

I was thinking that, and letting my shame kind of be there this morning. And I just thought the pattern to me as a child was that every attempt to engage someone with me—which involves revealing the self, doesn’t it?—led to rejection and punishment and abandonment. There really wasn’t a pattern, and so the pattern became reaching out or revealing myself in any way. I am understating this, but basically my mom was just grumpy. But I thought the pattern was me, or was wanting connection.

I do have to deal with shame throughout my day, because it surfaces when I am rejected, but I think this is actually okay. I have been inhibiting my efforts to reach out to people for a long time and, on the one hand, this might mean that I don’t know how to successfully find common ground with people and I will strike out more often. It is also that I am used to suppressing my feelings of shame, so this might feel new to me and more intense, just because it is new. (Also there is that regulation problem, and the trauma memories problem…) We feel shame when our efforts to reach out to others don’t turn out to be successful. (Oh, I annoyed that person instead of entertaining them.) I think that’s okay. We learn from that how to get connection with other people.

The other thing is because the pattern did seem to be that I shouldn’t reach out and so every time I reached out it was like, “Oh, I did that bad thing again. I have to stop doing it.” So loss of connection always felt permanent, because I was supposed to stop doing it. It was like every connection felt like my last drink, because after that I needed to give it up. And that intensifies my feelings of loss. There is never that point when I think, “She is busy right now. She’s in a bad mood.” Or whatever, “But we’ll connect again.” It’s much more like, “Oh, I breathed again. I’ll try harder to stop breathing.”

It does make the loss feel permanent and forever and much worse than it is.

So that was my morning.

Now I’m late.

Advertisements

Shame fest

Well.

I have work to do—marking. And now have basically abandoned it. I am so tired in the evenings, and in the mornings I feel wrecked by emotions. I never expect to feel wrecked. I wake up in a fog, but with the vague impression there is energy there to be tapped into. Then I nose dive. Two days in, that’s the pattern.

My mind tends to want to think in wide swaths. That’s me, I think. But I suspect I just miss C, and I feel ashamed of missing her. I wake up and have hardly anything I need to do. Relatively speaking anyway. My breakfast and lunch don’t take that long to make. I am not making pancakes. I don’t have curry to make for her. It’s half as much chopping of vegetables, and mine doesn’t require supervision. I put it to cook, go take a bath, stir it a bit when I get out. Hers had cheese in it. It burned. I had to watch it. I don’t need to leave the house early to find a messenger. There is no letter to write. I send her a good morning text that takes two seconds, and that’s it.

She has always been such a big part of the mornings. We used to chat on Facebook while both of us cooked. She was in the kitchen making breakfast for her family, and I was in the kitchen making breakfast and lunch for me. My laptop sat on the kitchen table, and she had her phone next to the stove or sometimes she borrowed her mom’s phone. I know this because later, when she wasn’t in school, I was there in the mornings, and I saw her doing that. Chatting while she cooked. Listening to music and chatting in the kitchen.

That was in 2015. Then she stayed a part of my mornings through the latter part of 2016 because I worked doing things for her in the mornings.

I think I just miss her. But my mind is busy thinking how I am filling the hole in my life by taking care of someone, because I think the only way to be worth something is to take care of someone needy. I am supposed to just know I am worthy, but actually when you have no close relationships, no one does value you. You aren’t important to anyone. But I am not allowed to be sad about that.

It’s a very sophisticated form of beating myself up. And the reason I am doing it is because I feel ashamed. There isn’t any other reason behind it.

I should add I felt fine until I sent the good morning text. Yippee. I had a completely different idea of how the morning was going to go until I did that.

I sent a second text that said I miss cooking for you, which is absolutely true, and then felt overwhelmed by shame. I didn’t feel ashamed of having said it to her. That would be too direct and logical. My mind doesn’t make my life easy that way. It goes for these broad strokes of thinking of myself as needing a child to fill the hole in my life. Other shit like that.

The thing is I learn from these shame-fests, as awful as they are. I thought C probably knows what happens after this. She is silent, because she knows the rabbit hole someone with disordered attachment goes down after admissions of dependency. And she probably doesn’t feel safe. She might not connect any of that in her own mind, but at a felt level, what she feels when I say things like that is probably mistrust. If she felt safe enough to even reach out, it would probably be to say, “Why?” Sunday, she reached out and said, “Don’t text me anymore.” Then in the evening she said good night mom.

Anyway, I remember my mother’s shamefests, and the rabbit hole she went down. I wouldn’t be that surprised if C’s mother goes down them occasionally too. “You don’t love me. You don’t value you me. You treat me bad…” etc. And I didn’t know how to put my mom back together. I was just mad at her, because I needed her to be an adult, and to stay my mom and not this needy shame-showered mess.

I felt like doing that to C. I felt like inviting her to my shame party, and asking her to put me back together again. That was the impulse inside me. And that was very instructive. It told me about my own trauma and the reality of it. Yeah, no wonder my mom came to my room needing me, and I rejected her. Her needs were very scary to me, because I couldn’t meet them, and she flashed back to having her own mother not be able to meet her needs because her mother was like a blunt knife and my mother absolutely fell apart then.

There are times when I think I should acknowledge more vulnerability to C, so that she sees vulnerability is okay and her vulnerability is okay, and there are times like these when I think my vulnerability scares her, not because I have done anything terrible to her (I have, but not often), but because someone else has. Someone else has expressed vulnerability and then spiraled out of control. Things like “I miss you,” need to be used sparingly.

It told me also what I sometimes did in my longterm shitty relationship, and how it affected my ex, who had been brought along to similar shame parties by her own mother and was angry about it too.

So I learned a lot. But it sucks.

I needed her so much

There were some good moments today, perhaps. At least in my head anyway.

The morning was painful, from what I remember. Just disorganized attachment at its worst. Can’t even remember what I thought. I did think later, what am I even supposed to do about this? What even helps? I have no idea. I don’t know why it’s happening or what I am supposed to do and no one else really seems to know either although there are a lot of people who seem very confident about their not knowing.

I administered an exam. Somewhere in the middle—lots of time for thoughts—I began to think I really needed my mom. I was thinking about my mother’s constant interruption, which I inevitably rejected. I was angry at her. She came looking for connection and I pushed her away because I needed her so much, and I was so angry at my need and her lack of capacity to meet that need. That seemed to open up something in me. I have never really thought of my mother that way. I think I find it hard to even really think of her as a human being, but all of my pondering of myself and VP Ma’am and C has humanized her to me in some way. I was so angry and I needed her so much.

It’s like I thought of her as a machine standing in my way, an obstacle and the universe was unfair for providing me with no mother when I needed. No, there was a mother. It was her. And I needed her to take care of me.

So I think that was good.

I think about something like that with C. She needs her mother to be her mother, and her mother can’t be her mother, because there is something very deeply wrong—trauma or mental illness or something. She needs her mom to be her mom. I am trying to help, but I can’t do what she needs her mom to do. I think C sometimes C feels angry at me for not being able to mother her the way she needs. I don’t think she can even consider that she might be angry at her own mom.

I think I felt that way as a child. I was so angry at my mother, but I couldn’t understand why I was angry. I could never have guessed I was angry at her for not rocking me or feeding me or responding to me as a baby and instead terrorizing and then later not being able to support me through the problems this caused for me. I needed her support in working through the trauma after the neglect was less significant and the abuse had mostly stopped. I needed her so much.

But I think that never quite connected for me. I couldn’t quite expect my mom to be my mom and to take care of me, and I felt so angry and betrayed by everyone else instead.

Grief is so complicated.

One more thing

One last thing, and then I think I need to clean my “muddy” house (as C once described hers).

I have been really hurting over the lack of real connection in my life lately.

At the same time, I have also noticed that when I leave the house to go to school in the mornings, I inevitably begin to emotionally shut down. Little by little, over the couse of the day, I ratchet down emotionally to the point where I am about 50% numb. When I come home, I might be able to unwind enough to feel again, but I might be fully back inside my body until some time the next morning.

I wake up shut down and have to work to feel again.

Basically, people scare me. They scare me so much I can’t feel emotions anymore. If I did, I would have a hard time concentrating on anything aside from the fear.

My lack of connection doesn’t come from people not wanting me to be the person I really am. It comes from the fear the perception that I will not be allowed to be myself creates—I am so afraid, I lose my connection to myself.

I feel a lot less scared of C—I don’t know why, but that’s how it has always been. I am less afraid of everything when I am with her. So this connection I have to her feels very vulnerable and very precious. She is precious—she’s a unique human being—but part of the vulnerability comes from feeling she can give me connection and she can take it away. But in reality, the connection flows out of feeling safe. When I feel safe, I can connect again. It’s just people make me disconnect. As I learn to feel safer, connections will be easier for me to make. I can have more connections, and they won’t disappear so quickly.

I think I have never talked to anyone who understood what I was experiencing in my own mind and heart was disorganized attachment, or that it was real and existed in the present. I didn’t understand and I have never spoken to anyone who understood that in my daily life I am starved for connection because I am too afraid, and it isn’t a matter of pushing through the fear and connecting anyway, because when I am pushing through the fear to engage socially I become too emotionally shut down to create any sense of connection with anyone.

I remember sitting in a therapist’s office—no idea whose, it might have been a “trial” therapist I didn’t end up seeing more than a few times—and having that person comment on my flat affect. At the time, I didn’t really know what affect was, which in retrospect I find rather funny. For years, therapists talked about “affect” and I didn’t know what affect was. I thought it was my facial expression and my body language, because so often that didn’t match what was going on inside. Anyway, I don’t think that particular therapist ever considered what it feels like to be so frightened you don’t even think you can have feelings while sitting in the office of someone you are expected to discuss those feelings with. I was doing my best to talk about my feelings, but I was terrified. I was too terrified to have any expression in my face at all.

She wouldn’t know, although she ought to know, that someone who was tortured throughout their childhood will know show fear when they are most afraid, because that child did not grow up having relationships where expressions of fear resulted in protection.

Anyway, this process of shutting my feelings down because I assume my feelings basically won’t be acceptable—and also that this is a physical, procedural memory, not a conscious thought or perception—makes life very, very lonely. So much of what went on in therapy was that: I feel lonely and I feel hopeless. I never said I felt lonely. I didn’t know that the feeling I even had was loneliness. I had no way to even talk to myself about my feelings. I didn’t recognize my own feeling states. I didn’t know loneliness felt that way. My feelings were so profoundly detached from my thinking mind I had no way to express them. I could talk about where I was when they happened. I had kind of a lexicon of locations which represented emotions to me, because I didn’t recognize them as being the same experiences that happened to other people. No one else described their feelings the way they felt to me. I couldn’t call them sadness or loneliness or despair, because I didn’t know that was what they were.

So much of what I needed to communicate was about this loneliness I was experiencing in the present. It wasn’t the past. I went to therapy and said, in my own way, I feel lonely. And I was told, because I wasn’t able to communicate accurately how I felt, “You don’t feel that.”

It made me not feel real.

So I needed to talk about that too. I don’t feel real. I feel lonely. And I feel hopeless, because there seems to be no way out of this loneliness.

And that didn’t exist either. That was also something else, because I didn’t know how to express what I felt so that someone else could understand it—I didn’t understand it, and neither did anyone else.

But I get it now. Until it feels safe enough for me to connect to other people, I am going to feel lonely. It is not hopeless anymore, because I have started to figure out how to help myself feel safe, and for part of the day at least, I can connect to myself. I am able to connect better to other people, so that might change. It’s possible I might eventually feel connected to myself and to others all day long.

I’m only 43. There’s still hope for me.

Part of the sadness I feel about C being in her village has to do with the rareness of the feeling of connection in my life. I am able to feel connected to her when I am with her. I don’t know why, but I do. When she isn’t with me, I am not able to form connections with anyone else in a reliable way. I can’t even always keep the connection with myself, because I just get so scared and I shut down so fast. So it’s like she’s gone, being alive is gone along with her.

I think this has happened throughout my life. There have been people here and there who helped me to feel safe enough that I felt a connection to them, and then something happened to them: they died, they moved away, we had a rift in our relationship, and it wasn’t just the relationship that was lost, but my whole sense of aliveness that was lost, because I didn’t know how to help myself feel safe without that person’s help.

I just never appreciated how very scared I am.

“Frantic efforts to avoid abandonment.”

Yeah, that’s what you would do if that person took with them your very feelings of aliveness and you didn’t know how to get that feeling back again without them. It doesn’t have to be like that, but it was. It was like that for a very long time.

 

Seeing things

I think one of the reasons I have been struggling so much lately—in addition to the separation and the change of going back to the US that is close at hand—is that I have been seeing more of my own mind, my own thoughts and my own feelings. I have been seeing more of my own interpretation of people around me and what they are experiencing—my view of events is becoming quite distinctly “my own.” I think seeing myself automatically creates shame for me, no matter what about me I am seeing.

Last week, on one of my visits to the hostel, C was very angry and very sad, and on the verge of tears. She was very much caught in the midst of her disorganized attachment, wanting to come close and wanting to pull away it seemed to me, and she was in that place where being caught in that place felt unfair. I don’t know how to explain this exactly, but I think there is a little child’s feeling of “I want you I can’t have you and it’s not fair. It’s not fair that I can’t be close to you.” There is a very fussy toddler sense to it. She got up then and began to yell about some confusion she had about history. When did X happen? Who was Y? I didn’t really catch it. But it was unrelated to being fussy toddler, or to my presence. After a few minutes I could see a lightness return to her face and to her body, and I knew she was happy. I guess she had figure out how to settle somehow, and she felt that happiness that comes from having your special person nearby.

Or maybe it was a happiness that she was allowed to settle herself. When she was weepy, I moved close to her, and when she got up and moved away from me, I let her. I watched her and quietly talked to one of her friends, and I let her do what she needed to do in order to settle down again, and I wonder if that felt good. It would feel really good to me. That is one of the things that hurts most for me in life. If I feel upset, I need to not tell anyone about it, so that they won’t react in ways that further dysregulate me, and in many cases I need to make sure that I don’t show those feelings either. If someone just let me talk and let me be and responded to me in a gentle, non-judgmental way that allowed me to sort out my own problems, I would feel so supported. So maybe she felt that way. Maybe she felt supported.

Anyway, as I watched her be happy, I had this sudden thought that I felt real. I left soon after that, and I am not sure exactly what prompted that thought, but it probably had to do with my perception that she was in a disorganized state when I came. I responded to the feelings I believed to be there in her—this sadness and anger about wanting to be close and not feeling internally allowed to—and I think responding to my perception of what she felt (if that makes sense) made me feel real.

I think all my life I have responded to things as though what other people have told me about those things is real, and ignored my own perceptions. I don’t really know what someone else would say about why C was weepy and angry and then yelling would be, but I don’t think it would be that she wants me. I don’t know that someone else would tell me the most helpful thing to do would be sit there quietly and allow C to decide how close to me she wants to be.

I almost imagine someone else would tell me to be more assertive about something, to demand attention or regard from her since I have taken the time to walk 30 minutes up a steep hill to see her. I think they might see my quietness with her as passivity, rather than an emphatic statement that I am here, I am offering support to you, but I am not forcing you to take it, and I am also an adult who can take care of my own needs. If I walked up a steep hill to see you and you aren’t able to talk to me, that is not your fault. I am responsible for my decision to walk up there. Reciprocity does not demand you try to stop feeling and carry on a polite conversation with me.

I was expressing myself. I express myself all the time.

But all of that was me. My interpretation of her behaviour and her emotions, my response to her, my sense that I was real in her presence. That is all me. I think I am seeing myself and the people around me in my own way lately, and it’s making me struggle a lot with shame.

Real

I have been meaning to write for hours, and I am just writing in my head basically. Nothing on the paper. It seemed like it would feel good to write, but now it doesn’t. That’s the problem. I don’t actually feel good about anything, and I was expecting to.

C went to her village yesterday. Exams are over. They will get their results in a few weeks. She doesn’t plan to come back, but she will meet me and send me off to the airport. That’s the idea.

After my insanity of the early afternoon, she came to my house. It was very, very brief, which I expected. I imagine it probably didn’t have to be brief, but that she thinks it will be easier if it is brief. I don’t know that it is.

Anyway, she knocked at the door and I opened it. She said not to latch the door—she was going soon. Whatever. The door bangs in the wind. I latched it. I had bought her a broach—a nice one from the shop downstairs. I had been wanting to give her something when she left. Maths Ma’am had said she would help me pick something out, but then she was busy. But I had been thinking about these broaches from the shop. It was in the shape of a heart, and I liked that, because I always tell her she is in my heart and I am in her heart.

I had been on the point of wrapping it when she came, so it wasn’t wrapped. I put it in her hand, and we were about to walk into the kitchen and I felt like I had forgotten something. I said that. I said, “I wanted something else.” And then I remembered. I wanted to give her money. I got my wallet and gave her 3,000. That’s not like giving a kid 3,000 bucks, but it’s not like giving her 20 either. She can buy maybe two pairs of shoes with that, or a jacket and a shirt. It’s probably about like giving her a couple of hundred. Emotionally, it might feel about like that.

Then I gave her some food and things—apples, 2-minute noodles, biscuits, some juice, milk powder and processed cheese for her grandmother. That’s more or less tradition. People come back to their villages, and they are supposed to bring something. Now, a kid in high school with no money of her own can’t do that, but I think it’s nice for her to have something to bring back. She didn’t really say anything. Just thank you. Oh, and she wanted a recharge. As usual. Sometimes I find the recharge request weird. I just gave her 3,000. She can buy whatever she wants with that. But she wants the recharge from me.

I told her to call me when she got there and hugged her a lot and she left.

Meanwhile, I had gotten a text shortly before that about a going-away party for me and some of the other female teachers who are leaving the school. It was to be at six. So when I hadn’t gotten a call from C by then, I called her—she must have arrived by then, and at the party, it would be loud and I wouldn’t be able to hear C. She answered and said sorry. She had had a lot of work to do and she had been busy. It sounded from her voice that she had been. There was a rushed quality to it. And she sounded very sad.

I went to the party then. The party was okay. VP Ma’am didn’t hit me, so that was nice. I had a nice moment with National Language Ma’am where I had this little bit of pleasure wash over me as I thought she is talking to me because she likes it.

Then I came home. I sent a few texts to C, about feeling different now that she is in a different place, and how she is still herself. I am still here and I still love her. I was thinking about how chopped up you feel when you are in parts, and how transitions can feel deadening in a way because you feel like a different person. The gap between things can seem really, really profound and as though the past and the future don’t even really exist. I have no idea if this hit the target for her or not. I am just trying to think how she might be feeling and validate that. It’s all I can do actually. She isn’t in front of me to see her face. But I told her your feelings are okay. Whatever you are feeling right now is okay.

I fell asleep then.

I woke up in the morning very early, and lay in bed for a long time. I was so tired still. There was this huge weight off my shoulders, because it felt that C is okay now. She is with her grandparents, who I think are not overtly abusive to her. They might treat her like an object, but they don’t brutally beat her or anything. I feel pretty sure of that, although I have no real information. She doesn’t have to keep it together to perform—just social interactions. She doesn’t have to try to concentrate or study or write things that someone else is going to judge. I felt a lot less worried and a lot less responsible.

After a while, I sent her a text saying good morning, as I always do. Then I felt like saying some other things, and I did. I said I miss her, but it’s okay for me to miss her. That’s part of life. I said I am telling her so that she knows she is important and valued. I said I would call her later and I like hearing her voice—it makes me happy. I said she could call or text me at any time. I am not busy. It was all fairly cheerful. Then I said have a nice day.

Immediately after that, I got a text from her, “If you don’t mind mom would you left to texts me.”

Translated, that would mean, “If you don’t mind mom, would you stop texting me?”

It’s weird when she does this, because my heart gets ripped out. I feel so rejected and so ashamed, and I also feel so hopeless and so unwanted. I felt like an object, someone to hand her 3,000 bucks and a nice piece of jewelry and who can then be discarded.

And I also feel like that is not what she actually thinks or feels. I feel like I had unwittingly pushed her into a disorganized state where she wanted to both reach for me and retreat from me, and at the moment when I indicated the conversation was over (have a nice day), she didn’t want me to go and she didn’t know how to keep me from going. I know what that disorganized state feels like, and it seemed to me like what she probably felt. She was expressing it in this very polite, adult way I rarely hear—I get the little modes a lot more, sometimes the Teen, sometimes a very defended part she called Karma one time (I don’t think this part is actually named—I asked for a name and she gave me one.)

Actually, this could have been Karma. I haven’t talked to her that much.

I cried. I was texting her. She couldn’t see my face. I could constrict her access to what I really felt and not reveal everything. I asked her first why she felt that. I said I cared how she felt and I didn’t know she didn’t like it. I also said it hurt me, but I didn’t think she intended to hurt me, and I asked her to help me try to understand. Inside, I felt utterly worthless, but that is what I wrote instead.

Then I began to think about the voice—that’s a kind voice, isn’t it? If you don’t mind, mom….It’s not the Teen. C isn’t annoyed at me for being so needy. That’s Karma. Karma finds a way to reach for contact when all of the other little parts are too afraid and ashamed to get it. This makes Karma vey off-putting—she doesn’t show her vulnerability, and there is always something off-putting about it. In the past, this finding a way to keep contact when she is ashamed to go about that in a vulnerable way has created a lot of disruption, as I react to it.

Anyway, I named that. I said I was about to do some other work when you sent that message. Did you know if you sent a message like that I would worry about you, and I wouldn’t go? My attention would stay on you, because I think C has known me long enough to know that. Rejecting me is a great way to keep my attention without showing any vulnerability, because I always interpret C’s rejection as fear. I have since I have known her. I may or may not be right in that interpretation, but C would know l do interpret it that way.

She didn’t respond to any of that, and after a while I just felt overwhelmed by the storm inside me and also just my awareness of how difficult this is for her. I felt just kind of stunned. We talk about someone pushing and pulling you, and we never connect it to an actual emotional, lived experience. We think of it as behaviours, but never how the person feels as they engage in those behaviours. It was hitting me she feels real things. The disorganized attachment she is in the midst of has an emotional basis to it. Her feelings are real.

Rough day

Maybe I am getting somewhere. Who knows.

Today was the last day of exams for C. It’s not for us, and it’s not for her cousin, but it is for the kids in her year.

So she was going to her village to stay with her grandparents until I leave for the Capital City, when she will go with me and then on to her parents’ house for the rest of the holiday which would be about 2 months long at that point. I guess 7 weeks.

Anyway, departures are hard. Separations are hard. I know that. They are hard for me and hard for her. They don’t always go smoothly when we both need them to go smoothly because of that—as last year didn’t go smoothly at all. I had uppermost in my thoughts the idea that I cannot lose my mind. Go insane on the inside as much as I need to, but keep a lid on my expression of that or it will scare C something awful.

I won’t tell you about my morning—it’s not that interesting. But around the time I started to think she ought to be finished with her exams and checking the text messages I had sent (I always send) in the morning, she hadn’t, and I began to seriously lose my shit. I was sitting at my table, trying to check my Class 4 exams still, and I began to lose my shit.

I hated myself. I had been periodically during the morning. Generally feeling I am a hopeless case. I am not important to anyone, etc. I don’t matter. I never will matter. Because I am broken.

Fuck.

I wanted to connect with her. I really, really did. And I called. Maybe not at the precise point. I am not sure the sequence is important. I might have gotten myself a bit together again to call. Nonetheless, her phone was switched off. Worse and worse. A logical part of my brain said maybe she’s just busy and she hasn’t had time to charge her phone. There’s one outlet in the room for the lot of them—there must be 30 girls in there, and many of them have phones.

Other parts of my brain said it doesn’t matter. I am still a hopeless case, and it went from there.

(Hours later, I realized, this is despair. The despair part of the cycle where connection begins to feel hopeless to ever obtain is this. My mind is just telling me I feel hopeless in the words I had at hand when I was six.)

I catastrophized. I said to myself I’ll never see her again. She has switched off her phone because she has decided that the best way to cope with the separation is to deny it altogether. I don’t know where her village is and probably I will feel too insane tracking her down again. I am going to get on a plane, fly halfway around the world, and it’s going to seem iffy to come back for someone who can’t pick up the phone to talk to me. And who makes me feel like a stalker.

And then something hit me. I felt the feeling inside me at that moment, really felt it, and I knew that is the feeling she has. When she gets tears in her eyes and looks like Pouty Toddler, this is how she feels. “I want you.” That’s the feeling, and it hurts. It really, really hurts. Whatever she is doing is because of that feeling and her decisions about how to cope with that feeling.

I might feel treated badly if I did, in fact, never see her, but she isn’t doing this to treat me badly. She does do that thing where she decides I am not important to her and she doesn’t need me, because that need feels very frightening to her, but basically this isn’t about her regard for me. She always has regard for me. Sometimes she just can’t keep her shit together, just like I was struggling to keep my shit together at that moment because of my pain.

I don’t really know what the implications of that might be, but I immediately felt like an asshole, for being so focused on my pain and being so intent on getting a response from her so that I didn’t need to feel that pain. I had this very clear idea in my mind I feel like I don’t matter, but I matter to her. Always. I am a continuous person to her—it felt like that, anyway. And that continuous person matters to her even if she sometimes treats me in ways that signal to me that I don’t—and my feeling that I don’t matter was being triggered at that moment by things she has actually done before. I was catastrophizing to some extent based on an extrapolation of her past behaviour. I wasn’t completely making shit up. I am perceiving the message conveyed by her behaviour in ways that it would normally mean, but there is some other ongoing thing happening in her perception of me.

I am not making that very clear, I think. But I saw in my mind this gap between what her (imagined) behaviour might mean and her actual view of me. I saw it as two separate things. Me in her mind (valued) and me as I imagined myself in her mind (worthless). And ;they were different.

Somehow, it grounded me. I don’t know why.