Maybe this is where I am.
I keep wondering what will help with this. Is what I have been doing helping? What have I been doing anyway? Mostly, I have been applying less judgment to what I think and feel and allowing it to be.
I keep thinking about Mr. Roger’s testimony that made the rounds of social media: Feelings are mentionable and manageable. That was his big goal. In the private space of my own mind, everything is mentionable and manageable. That’s the idea. Things feel worse when they cannot be mentioned and I don’t try to manage them if I don’t feel I can mention them. Instead, I fight internally over it, which can lead to an intensification of whatever is going on, as though I am trying to shout myself into hearing. Or to shut down and not understanding my own experience. That can happen too.
I was thinking about C, because there is a holiday coming up. I was thinking about other holidays, and missing the times I saw her on those holidays. I thought about the end of her eighth grade, which is when I started giving her money on holidays. Someone kind of told me that’s what people do with kids. I hadn’t thought about it. I’m kind of stupid that way. So I found her and she was with her friends talking about how many snacks they could buy with the money they had.
So I gave her money. I think I was planning to anyway, but the timing of it was really like they didn’t have enough to buy what they wanted. And I was there, on hand, to treat them.
I am writing this, and I keep turning away from it. It’s interesting to watch myself try to cope with what is clearly pain. I got through three sentences in half an hour.
Anyway, I gave her money and I had to fight with her over it. I mean, physically fight to give it to her, which is not totally unheard of in Country X. It’s not really that unusual. If someone is really polite, you basically have to wrestle the cup out of their hand so that you can pour them a cup of tea. But in kids it’s kind of unusual to go to those lengths.
This is what holidays were like at some point in the past. I was thinking about that, and missing those times and I thought really it will never be quite like that again. Things change. It looks good for going back to Country X. It doesn’t necessarily look good for going back to Y-town, nor does it necessarily look great for C to continue in her school there next year. Her marks improved in 9th grade, but they need to improve by a lot to make it into 11th grade. So whatever happens next year, it is likely to be different than what it was.
And I thought that is kind of the difference between objects and living creatures. Objects are more or less static, but we know human beings through interactions which are different each time.
There is something about abuse and neglect that makes people discontinuous. I think you can’t really tell that this is the same person you are dealing with, even if the interaction is different. It’s like you don’t know who you will get. You can’t create attunement, because you can’t figure out the next move.
It made me think too I need to be able to feel the child who felt worthless was still me, and that actually means I need to feel the worthlessness. I need to experience it inside my body just as it felt to me then, so that I can know now that was me. This person now and that person then are the same person. And this really means it needs for it to be safe for me to feel that sense of worthlessness and everything that goes with it: the sorrow and the shame and maybe even anger. So that I know that was me. It isn’t an intrusion of foreign thoughts and feelings. That’s me.
In order for that to happen, I need to not have any judgment about it. It needs to not be out of bounds for me to have negative feelings, although I can’t allow myself to drown in them either. I need to regulate those feelings, because they are intense. And I also have to have a lot of self control, so that I don’t act on feelings that are very intense.
But that hurt child who wasn’t cared for or valued or wanted by my parents and had no one to express those feelings to or get any comfort from, that was me.