Bad weekend

I had a bad weekend. This was somewhat of a surprise to me. It never seems that way on Friday. I always leave school full of hope.

My friend is Abroad. She’s been Abroad for two weeks. She comes back tonight. I have been here with her daughter and her daughter’s now husband. They got married about a month ago, I guess. Just a simple, legal ceremony. A big wedding is planned for September.

I did not chat with C and didn’t call her. There is no one to call. I don’t quite understand this. I got a phone number off a friend of hers who calls me “sister” and it turned out to be a shop. She had nothing to say when I told her this.

Maybe I call all the time and they get annoyed. I have no idea.

C uses her boyfriend’s phone, but recently she hasn’t been. The friend I always used to call says her phone was confiscated by the matron.

My theory of impersonations was wrong. I really am chatting with C’s sister.

It throws me somehow that she seems to have warm and personal feelings for me. I never expected that. I don’t remember much of a sense of personal connection when she lived in Y-town. She ran off to play with her friends most of the time. I felt like a couch or a chair to her. Something that was there.

But I did try not to be the kind of asshole who only cares about one child in a family, and ignores the other children while fawning over the favoured one. I tried to interact with all four of the children like they were important human beings in their own right.

What I heard from others is that C was more neglected within the family. Sister has her ways of getting what she wants and needs that work for her, while C suffers silently.

I suspect that this more the dynamic in my family when we were younger. My sister was the people-pleaser and I had tantrums. To me, it seemed like my sister’s method worked better–at least she was liked and it seemed like she got more of what she wanted than I did. It felt like I had to fight for every scrap of warmth I got.

Maybe it didn’t work as well as I thought. The people-pleaser is never liked authentically. You end up feeling like a doll for people to play with and really unsure of who you even are.

So today I am grappling with this idea that all of the children in the family are being affected by a trauma I am not even sure of the nature of. Sister tells me she feels really alone, which I think is how C feels, although C doesn’t say so. Why would Sister feel alone if her feelings aren’t unheard and unseen just as C’s aren’t? It shouldn’t be a surprise to me, but it is.

It’s confusing to think about, because of course the family itself denies the nature of the trauma. Although I chat with C and C’s sister now and also C’s aunt, who lived with C until C was six or seven, people mostly pretend everything is fine and always has been. But they both seem so deprived. Both of them tell me they feel different from other people, and that their differences from others are not okay. Both C and her aunt seem to have these intense experiences of longing and loneliness that feel trauma-based to me. Where did it come from?

I don’t know.

But that’s not what made for a bad weekend. I just keep falling into these kind of holes of feeling terrible, feeling worthless, feeling that everything I do is wrong and basically no one will ever like me, what I am doing to get better is doomed and hopeless and the opposite of what I ought to be doing.

I am zeroing in on this idea that I have really intense separation distress. It’s so intense sometimes, it’s like insanity descending on me. I don’t actually know what one does about this. I have worked out that pushing through it, keeping up a stiff upper lip, and forcing oneself to go through the motions of “normal” activities doesn’t help.

I do think it all comes down to regulation.


2 thoughts on “Bad weekend

  1. Alexandra Roth May 23, 2017 / 12:29 am

    I really like your blog. It puts things into words that need to be said, that I need to hear, but I also like it because the way you interrogate your inner world feels like the way I do mine. I believe it helps you to put things in words, as it does for me. But I am also saying that it helps me to read your words, so it’s not only something you do for yourself.

    Here’s something I have noticed: people from deeply, systemically dysfunctional families struggle to express how they feel, as C does, and her sister, because the system itself demands a not-knowing from you. You are not allowed to have certain understandings under pain of further rejection or hurt, and you are certainly not allowed to put things in words. So you don’t know. I see this with my clients sometimes: I say, “But why don’t you say no to your mother when she does that?” and the person looks at me like I am speaking a different language, as if I had said, “But why don’t you raise the gibstol and flun the bisback when your mother does that?” And I think that it is because the question itself is not allowed to be considered.

    So maybe that is why C and her sister cannot explain their feelings.

    • Ashana M May 23, 2017 / 2:37 am

      I think that’s a really great point. I was sitting in class today and 2 girls who are friends and have problems with regulation were winding themselves up into a frenzy. I work with situations like this by trying to stay calm, trying to help the class stay calm, and sometimes kids figure out on their own how to stay calm as long as no one else loses their shit. I started to realize, wow, being around their upset is really stressful. I’m kind of occupying their stress temporarily while they try to figure out how to calm themselves down. I think in families like C’s, the regulation problem is so intense (and the issues everyone can get so dysregulated about are so serious), that there’s a lot of just kind of trying to cauterize the wound so that the family doesn’t bleed out, and it does involve just not communicating what is being felt so that no one is kind of “infected” by those feelings, since no one knows how to make them better. I think when we can’t communicate about feelings or perceptions, we don’t know them. Even if no one actually talks about them, if you communicate about them, you kind of get from the response what the issue is. You cry as a baby, someone feeds you. Eventually this works out to a cognition: I’m hungry. But if you aren’t allowed to cry, and no one feeds you, you just know you feel pain, and if even that pain is not communicated, we are such social creatures that I think you don’t even quite realize the pain is real. It’s like seeing a ghost–what ghost? I didn’t see a ghost. And I think this no-communication about feelings extends to non-verbal communication too. I think what helps C and her sister about me is that it feels okay for them to have those feelings in their bodies. I don’t react to it, or try to get them to stop having it. And it does start to settle for them. By entering into someone’s emotional space with them, but working internally to calm the feeling within my body, they get this model of how to calm a feeling down that they are watching. I don’t know if that makes sense, but I appreciate what you are saying. I know for myself I have these sensations and I often don’t know what’s causing them, I am not even sure how to categorize them sometimes.

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