I said I felt better. I actually do. The grumpiness has lifted. I have stopped hating everyone. It usually does lift eventually. Mine seemed linked to personal traumas that surface in the springtime, but I think patches of discontent happen to all expats. Culture shock isn’t a single moment, but a process of adjustment that is sometimes easier and sometimes harder. There is no one here to talk to about it, but I think it happens to other people for different reasons.
I have been thinking about those times when my brain seems to kind of break apart, when I can’t seem to identify why I feel so bad but I really do feel very bad.
Children with abusive parents are not able to form a coherent model of their parents’ minds or themselves. The best that can be done is to form discrete images of multiple attachment, somewhat like how to talk to your parents in a bad mood vs, in a good mood.
I think my models are of the neglectful parent who might pay some attention to my problems if I exaggerate my emotions and express them very forcefully and the abusive parent it’s better to do without.
The times which are really difficult are when the parent seems neglectful, but help is possible, and I intensify my emotions to the point where they cause me pain. The “parent” is not my actual parent, because we have no relationship but the dynamic occurs anytime help seems possible or necessary and sometimes is me.
I also think our ways of attracting the attention and support of our parents becomes how we attract our own attention, and the ways our parents taught us to control our impulses becomes our own way of regulating them.
So what goes on in my head is much like my relationship with my mother only I am not her. If my mother knew mainly negative means of influencing behaviour, then I am likely to use punishment, criticism, invalidation and contempt to keep control of myself, which creates this spiral of needing to alleviate negativity, as my attempts to control my urge for comfort or support increases my need for it.
I was thinking about this partly because C’s cousin has begun to experience something intense when he sees me, whereby he catches sight of me and pretends not to see me, looking down or away with a look of despair on his face, and then is lit up with delight when I acknowledge him. I think he can’t decide if I am the neglectful parent who can be persuaded or will enforce the neglect with punishment.
Of course, I am not his parent either, but children with traumatic backgrounds so badly need support and feel so chronically frightened that the attachment system is easily activated and the small degree of support I give him may be enough. Or something.