I have felt a profound sense of heaviness the last few days.
C wanted some things–I think I mentioned that. So I spent quite a lot of time searching for her requests. It wouldn’t be that difficult, except that it’s hard to make my mind work properly. It’s hard to imagine both what I have experienced of things and what I know about her enough to think of what she might like.
There was a teddy bear, and I spent a day or so wandering around to all of the shops nearby who might carry a teddy bear and then bought it online. I hate online shopping. It takes so long.
And then there was a book.
I had to give that three tries. It’s just hard to stay with the process long enough to make a decision. There are so many feelings involved. But I was more or less determined not to give up, not to do what I might have done and just grab a book, say it’s good enough and give up. I was determined to stay with the feelings and let feelings be part of the process, instead of aborting the whole thing so that I can stop having them.
Today, I went to the post office and mailed it.
I haven’t spoken to C in maybe 4 or 5 days. There were two days when she said, “I’m busy. Call later,” or some variation on that. Then nothing at all. She had a tooth extracted. The kids in Country X have terrible teeth, because junk food has caught on in a big way and parenting has not caught up with it yet. Sweets are cheap.
The thing about modern life is there starts to be an awful lot to say no to.
Also, they brush their teeth once a day, if that.
This is a change that has happened within probably the last five years. Not the teeth brushing. The availability of consumer goods, which you then need to be able to make informed decisions about.
Anyway, it might be the tooth extraction that prompted what C is going through. She was very sad one morning and sounded tearful, then cheerful and talkative and asking for lots of stuff. Then silence.
We have been chatting on Facebook though. In one chat, she asked for a fairly large sum of money for when she got back to school. She said she needed shoes and notebooks and “many.” I have learned–I think I have–that it’s mostly better to trust her.
What I mean is that if I say no arbitrarily, because I can’t really price out accurately her needs and feel it’s excessive when it isn’t, then she is really, very deeply hurt. But if I say yes and it actually is excessive, she sometimes comes to this on her own and doesn’t take the money I have agreed to give her. The risk of hurting her trust in my desire to care for her is greater than the risk to my bank account which is, in the end, sitting in Country X anyway.
Which is why I said yes, although I thought she could probably do with half what she asked for.
We then talked about how she would get the cash in hand: my friend who gives her money has gone to Australia to start a master’s program. The friend’s sister has been left in charge of dispensing cash, but she works part-time teaching people to sew and may not be home when C rolls into town on the way to school. My friend said she could take the money from her mother, who runs a small shop selling betel nut.
C said she couldn’t take from my friend’s mother. We discussed this for a bit, and then C said that she could do it.
I said, because I understood the problem to be fear, that you are taking your mother’s money and I am giving it to you because I love you. Or something like that.
A minute later, C posted a status update that she missed her parents–they haven’t come to Y-town to visit and it might be logistically impractical for her to go there, but mainly she has made it clear in a variety of ways that she does not actually want to live in their house again. She said when she sees parents with their children, she begins to cry.
Isn’t there a moment when we begin to realize other people have relationships with their parents that will never be possible for us? These relationships that we imagine are not merely fantasy, but exist. There is something real to mourn over.
The connection between what I had said to her in our chat seemed to me clearly about this feeling: if I am loveable, then why are my parents unable to love me?
I think it is possible that she reached out in the first place due to the stress of a toothache. It’s possible that I am wrong, and she merely began to settle into life on the farm and to feel safe and comfortable. But I did feel while talking to her that this is a part, and parts emerge due to stress and the necessity of expressing something or doing something–in this case, the need for emotional support–that has been forbidden. It’s a way of doing something that needs to be done without being overwhelmed by the fear that arises over doing it. “Oh, it’s okay. Someone else is doing it, and not me. They are allowed to do it.”
It’s heartbreaking, actually, to think a young person believes at some core level that the only way to get attention, to get simple things like a teddy bear and a book (the last one I sent her was a self-help book), is to be deceptive both to herself and to her other people. I don’t know how to explain that, but this part of her is quite charming. Very loveable. Very wide-eyed and innocent. But the discontinuity of it makes it seem very much that this part has been revealed solely to get her the things she needs or want.
Anyway, it seemed to me there was a direct connection between my reassuring C that she could go to an older woman who intimidated her and ask for the money I had sent to her because she is loved and wanted and missing her own parents.
What that leads to is this immense cognitive dissonance: my parents don’t seem to want me. How is it that someone else does? The only way of resolving that dissonance is to think there is something wrong with my parents.
That leads to other conclusions.
It isn’t me. It’s someone else.
It’s someone I have no control over, unlike myself.
Which means it cannot be fixed.
It’s a very hard road to go down.