I mentioned the feeling of a clenched heart I’ve had the last few days. It’s still there. It doesn’t really let up. I can numb it and while I’m doing that, forget it in favour of something more present and pressing, but I know it has not gone away. I woke up that way. I had terrible dreams: men were hitting me with a shovel, a building was on fire. I woke up with the ache in my heart, and only after a while did the dreams come drifting back to me.
Well, I was thinking about that feeling. Just being with it for a while. I don’t know what has set it off, what it’s about. I don’t know what to do about it either.
Eventually, I started to think this feeling is loneliness. What I mean is this feeling of separation distress is the same feeling of loneliness.
I’ll back up.
In moments of trauma, my parents were there and I couldn’t turn to them, because they were the source of the danger, or they were indifferent or unhelpful. I have been thinking my trauma experiences are laced with that feeling of wanting to turn to someone, wanting to reach out for help and needing to restrain that urge. It’s intense.
That’s not loneliness, that’s please god somebody help me. But the emotion is the same emotion we call loneliness. It’s there for a different reason and loneliness is not as intense as please help me I’m going to die. But the felt experience of the emotion is the same.
I was able to make that connection and I think these connections help in some way. I don’t know why, but I think organizing the experience does help, and this organizes it. Connecting similar experiences organizes them.
I think sometimes I feel that sense of loneliness because there is something I feel unable to express.
To explain that a little more clearly, I think one of the issues I had growing up was that my parents did not recognize I had my own inner world, my own thoughts and feelings that were uniquely my own. That’s generally a problem with children from traumatic backgrounds: it doesn’t magically disappear in adulthood. It’s difficult for traumatized children to recognize that people are guided by their own inner worlds, or that they are in fact guided by a world inside them. People are like machines for them, just goal-oriented.
My theory on Freud is that he was a narcissist. What he writes sounds to me like someone who is not aware that people have their own inner worlds, and so the analyst cannot listen to someone’s telling of a life story or a dream and tell that person the meaning of it, because his access to that inner world comes through the person telling it. It’s like he had no idea how people thought or felt and he wanted a codebook.
That said, it’s interesting to me, because he uses a lot of machine metaphors. Someone who does not understand that people have inner worlds of their own would see people generally as being machine-like.
Anyway, so my parents did not see my inner world. They saw me like a machine, just acting out in the world, without anything inside me. Or they were so overwhelmed by their own inner worlds that my world could not figure into their thinking. There was this massive deficiency in being able to imagine the inner experiences of others.
That’s narcissism. Narcissism isn’t self-love. It’s this idea that people aren’t aware of the inner worlds of others. They might be aware of their own, but they don’t know other people are aware of the inner world of inside them. It’s being a sender of information, without any way of knowing whether that information has been received, because they have no receiver within them, no way of knowing what other people think and feel.
That’s my definition at any rate.
So I think some of these times when I feel this clutching in my heart, it’s because there is something I want to communicate and I don’t know how. I don’t know how to express it or how to get the person I want to express it to understand. I think there are times when I feel it because I want to express to C that I care about her, and I can’t quite figure out if she’s taking that in. I don’t know if I have expressed it in a way she understands, because what comes back to me is not always about me. It’s “I’m afraid of your rejection and judgment. I’m afraid you will betray me or leave me. I’m afraid this won’t last, so I don’t want to get too used to it.”
I think when I am not there with her in any way, she communicates to others that she feels cared about. A classmate says C participates in class and is doing better than herself. What level of performance that means, I don’t know, but what I’m getting at is that C feels a level of confidence to speak up at school, and I think that comes from feeling there is more of a secure base.
I’m sorry this post is all over the place. I just haven’t had time to work this out, but it helps me to share it.
My other thought is that the clenched feeling may also have something to do with things seeming to be a green light for Country X next year, in some capacity. I don’t know where I’ll be exactly, and the process I would predict will take until October or November, but it seems to be headed in the right direction. And there is that internal debate over what that means: what does it mean to rearrange my life for a child?
There are many reasons I might like to go back to Country X, but the tipping point is C.
I was reading an article about “Loving a taker.” Well, it’s clearly about someone with BPD or something like it and a traumatic past, and the moral of the story is sort of don’t love them, because they take everything you have.” I flash back to my own shitty relationship and to therapy during that period, which was mostly focused on the relationship. A lot of it was how do I take care of myself? Withdraw from the relationship. Don’t expect so much from it. Just do what you need to do. So I wonder if now I am doing the right thing. I suppose there is some distrust going on. Will C drain me dry?
In my head, the answer to that debate is that this is helping me. I’m exhausted a lot of the time. I can’t sleep sometimes. My entire torso seems to be full of pain this week. But I feel more authentically myself at school and with my colleagues. I feel more that people want to be around me. I don’t know if they really do or not or how it compares to who it was in the past, but I think my own sense of my world matters. I feel more liked than I used to. Whether I am or not matters less than the perception of being liked. I feel like I’m keeping an awful lot jammed inside, but that I am still able to connect with people better in spite of this. I might have behaved in the same way before, but I am more able to see when I am connecting.
Anyway, the answering thought is that this is hard, but this is growth.
There is the other argument in my head about it: never love someone who can’t love you back. A lot of the time, I think C loves me, but she’s not an equal. She doesn’t meet my needs. I don’t ask her to, and I am not entirely confident that she always even sees me as someone with my own inner world. I am at times, I would guess, the provider of cash and warmth. So is this self-sacrifice?
It comes back to that same idea that this seems to be helping me.
Maybe that’s what I want to communicate. It’s helping me. I don’t know why. And I want to go.