I have a thought about my sadness at night.

I think it’s the sadness of not having more chances that day. That’s all you get. You’re done. Whatever satisfaction or connection you were able to wring out of that 12-16 stint of wakefulness is all you are going to get out of it.

I think that’s a sadness I have felt my whole life. I couldn’t connect all day, or not as well as I wanted to, and that’s it. No more chances. The day is over and I failed at being a human being again, because basically I don’t know how.

That might not sound like the nicest way to say it, but it feels okay to say that. I am just describing a feeling the best way I know how.

The thing is if I did get some connection that day, I don’t want to let go of it. That’s even sadder.

I was watching SuperNanny again. This one was about a mother who really couldn’t assert herself. Her little ones couldn’t let go of her at the end of the day.

She wasn’t assertive enough to feel like a solid presence to her children and when it was time to let go of her at the end of the day, they couldn’t. She wasn’t enough of a presence during the day to still feel like a presence when they slept. That’s how I felt.

My mom wasn’t consistent. She couldn’t set boundaries. She inserted herself needlessly into my activities simply to regain a sense of power and control over me. She withdrew and slept. She was murderously violent and terrifying.

It was completely unclear to me who she was. What did seem clear about her was so either so discouraging or frightening that what there was of her in my head I wanted to kick out. There was no there there.

I really do believe as we grow up, we need to have internalized images of supportive others in our minds. We don’t need to be aware of them, but they need to be there. When someone struggles profoundly with shame about who they are, they cannot be a presence in the lives of other people—including their children. There is no back and forth, no understanding and being understood.

I wake up in the morning feeling the same sadness, and I think that is about my hope—or lack thereof—of getting connection that day. When someone continually interferes with what you are doing just to assert your control, you don’t develop a sense that anything you are trying to do has a likelihood of success. Not connecting with others, not connecting with yourself. The disappointment any obstacle recalls is crushing. It’s hard to attempt anything, when someone has kept you from doing basically everything you wanted to do just to fuck with you. The despair is crushing. One little thing goes wrong, and you tend to think, “Here we go again.”

But if no one has ever seen that pattern or helped you identify it, if you (or even me) have never worked out my mother didn’t dislike me or the things I did in particular, she just wanted control because she was scared, you have no idea why you even feel discouraged.

I never realized I may wake up today and have no one want to have a conversation with me and not just ask me to be an ear, no one share any interest or activity with me. I may not even be allowed to go about my day without someone throwing a bit of discouragement my way.