Ok, so yesterday didn’t happen.
What I mean is I had this chat with C except I didn’t. That wasn’t her. I talked to her on the phone and she asked me about chatting with Boyfriend. He told her he had been chatting with me. I said I had and told her about the time I had chatted with him when I knew it was him, not realizing why there seemed to be confusion over this.
Then I chatted with C’s aunt, and it turns out C has not be chatting online at all, because her phone (which I bought for her) has stopped working. So that was not her.
I don’t feel good about this. Life is confusing enough without teenagers pretending to be other teenagers. But it does make me think other times when I thought I was chatting with him, I might have been right about that.
I suppose I can go back and look at the chats and see if I seem to be right.
It leaves me feeling exhausted though. I have essentially just felt exhausted since Friday, when C left school for vacation. I don’t actually know why this is. But the chat I had with what turned out to be Boyfriend left me wanting to sleep.
I think at these times I am trying to link up patterns to past experiences that I haven’t necessarily made before. Increasing the connectivity of my brain is really difficult. I don’t know why it’s like this, but I do feel something.
When I chat with Boyfriend in his worst moments, there are times I feel something like disgust. I feel there is something wrong with the conversation, there is something strange or bad or gross about it, something “unhealthy.”
It hits me, writing this, that educated, middle-class people (I am from a working class background) have taken their expressions of judgment and hidden them in words that make it difficult to recognize the judgment. “Unhealthy” is one of those words. The other one is “inappropriate,” but that one I had recognized already.
It’s simpler to talk about this in my own mind if I use the words I mean: it feels dirty.
Afterwards, I think about that dirty feeling and I start thinking growing up, when I was a child and I felt “dirty” and presented myself as a child with a distressing feeling, no one approached with compassion for that feeling. I am talking about a time I can’t remember: I am piecing this together, just guessing.
I am guessing no one put themselves in my shoes and felt for me. No one thought about my dirty feeling, made sympathetic noises, and took me off somewhere to get cleaned up. No one acted like feeling dirty is a part of life, and what we do about it is get cleaned up. It is mentionable and manageable (Mr. Rogers’ phrase, which I completely love.) No one ever approached my feelings of “dirtiness” as useful information about my state which could be used to take care of me.
Later, no one ever said to me that the feeling of doing something transgressive and dangerous, like touching corpses or being sexually abused, might have the same visceral feeling to it, and that feeling of being “dirty” was telling me to get away from a dangerous situation.
There is a resonance to thinking about it in this way that is very liberating, like finally getting the song out of your head. It absolutely fits with what I remember feeling.
Anyway, I think Boyfriend might feel that way, for reasons that might not automatically make rational sense. During separations, he might feel he cannot reach out for comfort, because there is something dangerous or disgusting about him. He might feel like he, himself, is the threat. To a mentally ill parent or a parent having difficulty processing her own emotions, a child can feel that way.
That sense of one’s own feelings as being dangerous and disgusting can be internalized: the child can end up thinking, “I cannot be rocked or soothed or comforted, because I myself am too dangerous for my parents to touch. My need is dangerous.” When really the need is overwhelming to the parent but it would not normally be dangerous.
Or who knows, but this is helpful to think about: this whole category of times when I have felt something was dangerous to be close to or to touch.