Out of my mind

So I hadn’t mentioned in my last post that I have been particularly react to contact with C lately. She is in her village with her grandparents and has access to a phone again and I can call when I please–no matrons and teachers to confiscate them. I do call every day, which I have done before, and sometimes C chats on Facebook, but I react to this very strongly in ways I find mysterious.

Actually speaking seems to go okay, but it’s the chats or lack of them I mostly react to, maybe because she is not actually there to see me react.

I am trying to handle this in a different way. I think of it as keeping my brain “on.” What I mean is retain a kind of sense of awareness of my feelings–feelings and a sense of awareness of having them and then a curiosity about what they might be about. I don’t know where that will lead, but it seems better than a lot of other things I could do.

Lately, she’s been ignoring me in chat, and this hasn’t really happened before, or when it has, it has been in contexts where I thought maybe she just didn’t like what I said. She doesn’t always answer, but she reads. The reading, i turns out, means a lot to me.

Now, sometimes, she says, I am busy, but not with what, and since she’s active on Facebook, she may just be busy with someone else or something else more important to her than me. And I feel sad.

That’s the practical end of things.

I could add as well, that last night, I called her and she was husking corn and she did actually sound busy. There was a quality in her voice of I am working hard at something, a kind of breathlessness, like she was rushing through a physical task.

So I began to think it’s some weird fluke that she appears to be continually online for long stretches when she’s actually mostly doing farm chores.

More importantly, though, I am just reactive, and I have to deal with that reactivity in some way. I suspect if she did something else, I would have some other difficult response.

I might also add that I think part of my childhood is being unable to interact enough with other people, like my mother or someone else close to me, so that I learned how to understand and express intention and desire in ways that allowed me to communicate and be understand later. Not that I didn’t learn anything, but I think something happened here, so that I learned emotional and social skills in patches. I think normal kinds of rejection that help us move towards something comfortable for both parties are perhaps difficult for me to figure out what to do with.

Tonight, she was ignoring me and I felt very sad. I felt worthless, and my approach to this has been to consider what it feels like to be worthless, and to be someone with opinions and experiences that no one finds of interest, because the thing is that might not be happening now, but I certainly felt that way as a child and it will probably be of use to me to understand what that felt like. It’s quite dreadful, I’ll tell you that, and it was pretty difficult to stay with.

Anyway, I sort of thought more or less on these lines for a while, “What is it like to be someone feeling these things that I am feeling?” One thing I have decided is that when things are so intense, if I have the luxury of not deciding anything or making a determination about what reality is, then it’s better not to, because I am basically not in any state to do that. I didn’t need to do anything, so I mostly felt bad and tried to stay aware of those painful feelings. And then it got to be around 5:15 and I realized it was kind of the usual time to call C, so I called her.

That struck me. I had this thought in my head, “I am this person no one has any interest in and who really ought not to be reaching out to express myself because that’s a doomed endeavour, and then the time rolled around to extend myself and I just did it.” Life carried on. It seemed to need to carry on, and I carried on with it.

She said she was busy, and like before she seemed actually busy–like she was slightly out of breath from rushing. She said she was making breakfast and needed to milk the cow still. Incidentally, all of that sounded quite truthful. One of her chores is to take care of the cow. I have no doubt she might be expected to do most of the cooking. She is 16, and her grandparents are in their 60s. Elderly Country Xers do expect to be be able to put their feet up and wait to die at a certain age–not that her grandparents really have that luxury most of the time–none of their other children live with them.

I told her to have a nice morning and I said I would try to call before I went to bed. In other words, I behaved normally, despite having felt like a lunatic for the last hour.

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4 thoughts on “Out of my mind

  1. This.shaking December 18, 2017 / 9:37 pm

    Ash: I am thinking of saying what I feel: “Well done, Ash!” but now I am thinking: “Is that of use to you at all?” Maybe it is just my need [something I learnt to be good at, as a child!] to be “helpful”. I don’t want to be “helpful” I want to learn to connect. I realized in therapy today that I have walls around me **Everywhere** not just in the situations and places I have long known about. So, how do “Most People” find it so easy to connect? TS

    • Ashana M December 19, 2017 / 4:46 am

      Oh, I think that was probably what I hoped for. I hadn’t thought about it, but I think the positive in the experience for me was I felt a bit proud of myself. That was an empathic and sensitive response.

      I don’t think helpfulness ought to be dropped. It is a nice strategy, but you can expand your repertoire. I get what you mean though. I think it rests on being able to communicate your inner state to others in ways they can understand. It’s hard to do.

    • Ashana M December 19, 2017 / 4:51 am

      I didn’t answer your last question…I think “most people” felt free to explore how to connect at an age when less proficiency was expected. As a five-year-old, you probably took fewer social risks or you tested every boundary and learned you were just annoying. So they learned how to connect through trial and error. As adults, our errors stand out more. Trauma also creates idiosyncratic experiences, so that there are these things that are not automatically understood and must be explained.

  2. broadsideblog January 3, 2018 / 6:20 am

    “I learned emotional and social skills in patches”

    This. exactly. I left my mother’s care at 14 to live with father his girlfriend, 13 years my senior; spent ages 8-16 shuttling between boarding school and summer camp.

    I still feel like I’m watching a movie and trying to figure out the plot in this regard. You can’t know what you never learned (although we try.)

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