I miss C.
The bedroom is very activating to me this morning, because she slept in it the night before last. I look at her bed, and I think of her body in it, and I miss her being there.
It hurts a lot. I don’t know why it hurts so much, or why I miss her so much. I don’t really understand much of anything at the moment.
One part of me thinks that actually the pain inside me is normal. People feel this. It’s just I am not used to it, so it seems very intense to me. I have been shutting down my feelings my whole life. When I had them, they were always in some way “not me.” So then having them would feel very shocking and confusing. It might not really be that the knives I feel in my chest and throat are such a big deal.
It might be normal people have feelings all of the time, and they don’t especially notice having them, because that is like their air. You don’t think about air.
There is all of this trauma stuff. I know that. But I sometimes think there is also normal stuff that feels shocking and upsetting to me.
And that actually does make sense to me. If I think about my family history—the bit I know about it. If I think of my grandmother, this kind of blunt knife, an insensitive, bustling kind of person, and I think of my highly reactive mother. And I think there is no way my grandmother would have had the thoughtfulness or the skill to help my mother learn to cope with her sensitive, reactive personality. There is no way she would have noticed my mother’s emotional state and helped her learn how to regulate those states. There is no way my grandmother would have had empathy for them. She would have found them annoying and intrusive, an obstacle in her way of getting things done.
So my mother would have felt a lot of shame. “I am having feelings again. I am being bad.” My mother would have felt that a lot, even in the absence of overt abuse. There would have been a mismatch between their temperaments which would have made it hard for my grandmother to help my mother learn to cope with being the person she is. Most of the time, my grandmother would have been annoyed with my mother.
The thing is someone like my grandmother likes the responsiveness and the warmth that goes with having a sensitive personality—someone who feels a lot notices your state and responds to it. She would have liked my mother’s responsiveness to her. But it wouldn’t have worked both ways. She would not have been equally responsive to my mother.
My mother would have felt a lot of shame at being herself, and not learned the emotional skills to be able to manage that shame either. Then I was born. Leave my dad out of it, and you still have disaster.
I think it is completely possible that I look at the bed, think of C, and fully 50% of that is, “I miss people.” Indeed, I do. But it’s shocking to me. It’s still shocking. And, I also feel ashamed. “I miss people and I feel ashamed of having those ‘missing’ kinds of feelings.”
I was thinking this morning that in a family like mine, a family where a child ends up in parts, what is going on in that family is so unnatural, so impossible for a child to adapt to, that it goes without saying that the family dynamic is totally upside-down. If I really think about it, having big, bad emotions was much more acceptable than reading a book, for example. My mother attempted or threatened suicide regularly, and that we had to learn to live with, but wanting to enjoy a quiet activity—that was not okay. That was bad.
I think of my bloggy friend, Ellen, and the things B likes to talk about—they are very normal things. She’s a child, so they are a child’s things. But still, she was that child, and B’s interests were not allowed in Ellen’s family. That part is split off from Ellen, because it was so shameful and so unacceptable to be a normal child.
Given that, I think it makes sense that something like missing a child I care about would feel very shocking and unusual for me, very upsetting. It may not really be that there is anything so wrong with the knives in my chest. It might be I think of her body in my house and to someone else, it’s something they wouldn’t think about or notice, because it’s so normal. It’s intense for me, because it doesn’t feel normal. But maybe it actually is normal. Maybe some of the intensity has to do with finding the normal and average so shocking and so unacceptable.