Every relationship strategy there is

I was thinking today about what is going on in my disordered mind.

It’s the anniversary of Nata’s death. I feel awful. I’m just trying to get through it.

I wrote my therapist about it, just telling her it was a hard day for me, and I got this back: “I am so sorry you are burdened with these terrible memories and feelings. You can’t erase them, but try to seek some solace in knowing that they belong to the past and not in your present.”

It is among the most upsetting responses I could receive. Of course, she doesn’t know that. Why she wouldn’t know that, I don’t know. But I know she isn’t hurting me or trying to make my life more difficult on purpose.

It isn’t my past. It is my present. I am sad today. I miss Nata today. I miss her a lot. I have a friend who, last year at this time, said, “Yes, you miss her.” That’s the supportive response I wanted. Just permission to feel sad, permission to have an internal world and to have feelings, permission to be a mess today.

Normal people get to honour their losses. People with abusive childhoods aren’t granted the privilege of grieving. They don’t get a past. They also don’t get a present. My present is that I over-reacted all day. I was a shitty teacher. I felt periodically like I was losing my mind. That was today. But I am not allowed to see it that way. I am not, essentially, allowed an internal world. I must see I am in Country X. It’s a beautiful day out. I have decent colleagues for the most part. Life is supposed to feel pretty good, evidently. I am not allowed to acknowledge that my present is my internal world, and today my internal world sucks.

It’s deeply, profoundly dehumanizing, and I don’t know how it emerged as a discourse about trauma. As children, no one cared what life felt like to us. Life was done to us, and that continues to happen to us in adulthood. We are meant to re-arrange our thoughts and feelings in order to accommodate the acceptable line of reasoning around trauma.

I started the day off badly, and I still feel angry. It started, actually, with VP Ma’am coming into the staff room while I was trying to reply to a bloggy friend asking if I had finished assembling the documents for my performance evaluation next week. Hers is due today, but mine is due next week. No, I haven’t started. I am busy hoping I can get my head on a little straighter than it is. But I am pretty sure she started the conversation off like that so she wouldn’t feel like she is in a one-down position when she said she hadn’t finished with hers.

I felt attacked. I felt wary to begin with because I know on days when her performance is going to be evaluated, she does that. She just randomly attacks. She started off like that, came and looked at my computer screen, said some things about the performance evaluation being done, and went away.

I don’t want to be this person for you. I don’t want to be the person who calms you down and makes you feel better when you are insecure. You attack me and I don’t want to be around you then.

I went into a freeze state at that point, so I emailed my therapist about the day—not VP Ma’am, but the real issue today, and got her response back very shortly after.

The thing about the loss is that I am very sensitized and reactive.

I was thinking about that: what goes on in my mind is basically every possible response to needing to repair a relationship. Should I feel sad and cry for you? Should I show remorse? Should I punish you and force you to do what I want? Should I set a boundary? Should I just give up? It must have been that I ran through all of them, trying to fix the connection. I don’t know. This is hard.

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3 thoughts on “Every relationship strategy there is

  1. Rachel November 1, 2016 / 8:06 am

    It is hard, it is so hard. I like how you described your mental formulations at the end, going through all possible ways to respond in order to repair, and trying to quickly determine which to do. The little parts were so conditioned to do that. I never saw it that way or thought of it that way, but I totally get what you mean. I think I do that on such an automatic level, I wouldn’t even be aware I was doing it until you pointed it out.
    I’m sorry about the anniversary, and not being able to grieve back then or now. The past is in the present, it very much is right with you. With trauma we don’t get to just be in the present. Things aren’t just in the past. It doesn’t work that way, and you aren’t just going to forget and move on about her. You feel very sad about losing her, it is okay and actually healthy to grieve that. You didn’t get to grieve back then. And you are feeling more now, so it makes sense today would be a very hard day. Sending support and care.

  2. desilef November 1, 2016 / 10:25 pm

    I’m sorry about all the hurt. I feel it – how sometimes we need people to mourn with us rather than expect us to sort of celebrate moving on.

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