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I woke up in the night–a friend replied to a text. It doesn’t normally wake me up if my phone is not on silent, but if I am more anxious than usual, it does. I was awake for a while. When I can’t sleep, I end up doing everything you aren’t supposed to do in order to sleep again. I look at screens, which emit blue light your brain thinks is the sun. I think about serious things.

My friend has gone Australia to earn her master’s degree–this is Maths Ma’am, if you’ve been following for a while. She told me C had taken money from her sister as had been arranged. I thought C lost her nerve, but she hadn’t. There had been a bunch of things I mailed to C earlier in the summer, and they had arrived, so I wanted her to have those things. I asked if her sister had been able to give her those things, and she didn’t know. She had to ask.

She video called me then and it was great to see her face again after a long time. It hardly made for a more sleep-inducing interlude.

So I was awake for a while. I had some feelings that were hard to deal with. Basically, night and trying to sleep is painful. It waxes and wanes, but it’s basically hard most of the time. I suppose while I was trying to calm the feeling I felt worried about C. Another friend replied to me, not realizing it was the middle of the night for me either, and seeing anyway that I was awake. I told her about C and her boyfriend and my worries. She said I should inform her parents, which made me more worried. C doesn’t have to tell me these things if she doesn’t want to, and what she will do in the future is not tell me.

I worried, feeling upset and trying to calm the upset.

After a while, a light kind of switched on. This seems to happen these days. I stay with the feeling long enough, and something not necessarily related to the hamster wheel in my brain jumps into focus.

The feeling of someone being lost has to do with death. When someone is dead, it is very obvious that they are no longer located inside their body, but it’s not clear where they went. I freak out when I don’t know where C is because it’s the same feeling as someone being dead.

I hadn’t really thought about this before. I hadn’t thought how confusing death is to a child or how it might feel if my earliest experiences of death were frightening and traumatic.

I have been thinking about how particularizing what I am experiencing helps. Feelings seem to shape reality when they aren’t attached to anything. I have been telling myself during shame showers that I am not worthless. My parents find me worthless. I can’t say it’s the past, because they are still alive. If I ran into them again, I might be too grown up and strong to physically attack, but they would still exploit me or discard me, because that is what the do. That is who they are.

I was thinking this morning, more specifically, this is how I felt when they told me I was worthless. I didn’t do this business of living wrong. I was actively trying to make sense of what happened. They devalued me and it hurt. When I am in similar situations, where they might have hurt me or attacked me, I am going to remember that: this is the kind of situation where my parents would have devalued me. It’s okay for me to know that they did and to remember. We weren’t meant to be amnesiac. We were designed to seek patterns, to make sense of things to constantly compare past and present to help us imagine a future.

Oh, but it’s hard.

 

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