I was walking down the street after some errands—one of them unsuccessful, which may or may not be relevant—and I started having lots of fairly dreadful thoughts. I can’t actually remember them, but after a while I began to identify them as shame thoughts. Okay, so I feel ashamed. Then I began to think about why, dredging my mind for suspects (a task once too dangerous for me—I found too many things and that made it worse. Being able to calm my body more automatically really helps.)

Well, I was walking to what is now my home, and also walking towards where I expected my friend to be. Oh. Yeah. Probably that.

Then I began to think, so shame comes from feeling you have broken a rule. What’s the rule? That’s how I have begun to think about this. Be specific. Don’t judge what I am going through. Don’t try to alter it, unless I need to calm down—that’s always worth doing. Just be specific.

Well, I think the rule is you don’t approach mom. You don’t approach anything that is mom-like or any of the human needs a mom needs. You don’t get attention or nurturing or help or recognition or praise or approval.

You also don’t talk about the abuse or allude to it in any way, but that’s a separate rule.

The more mom-like a situation is, the stronger the rule comes into force. I am searching for a job—that’s approval. My friend triggers other stuff (she’s 20 years older than me).

I have been wondering why C seems so much more triggered by me than any other adult she is close to. Well, I am very, very mom-like. The other adults she is close to that I have seen her interact with are closer to being peers. They are much more like older siblings. There is a difference, quite a difference. The same rules are in place for her.

And she might trigger me so intensely because in her presence, I am mom-like. Students who are just students don’t trigger me to anywhere the same extent, because they are students. There is a difference there too.

I had the feeling then that everything has pretty much just clicked in.