C has taken her phone to school after midterm. They aren’t supposed to. There is a good chance it will be a major source of distraction. But I don’t comment on it. I just end up as a source of distraction myself, because I miss her.
She is on her third boyfriend since March, so that may have something to do with her choice to keep her phone.
I think more about the kinds of controlling relationships children with disorganized attachments have. Because of The Boy and The Girl, these are on display in my house. They aren’t sustainable, and so the loss and rupture and sense of being unwanted are perpetuated. In the absence of skills in understanding the inner states and intentions of oneself and others, people fall back on coercion and to sustain a sense of connection and use dominance to protect themselves from falling into the role of the one who is controlled. It’s horrible.
I see them and I consider my own tendency to withdraw from relationships: I anticipate this kind of control.
To get back to the point, C and I were chatting recently and she opened up just slightly. She suddenly posted pictures of things that interested in her, and because she hardly ever speaks up, I was surprised at the content.
She sent me a short video of pasta. The video was of the pasta being brought towards her mouth. The hostel matron had given it to her. She seemed in a part: happy baby.
Later, she sent me a picture of a mosquito coil, saying they had gotten a new stand. I was struck by how physical and tangible these things were. Children with disorganized attachments have a primary attachment style that they rely on. The disorganization occurs when an organized approach breaks down. She is not disorganized all the time, and it seems to me that C relies a lot of the time on a dismissive style, or maybe she becomes more dismissive around me.
The thing I recall about dismissiveness is that people’s language for describing emotion-laden experiences becomes impoverished. They may leap rapidly between topics because there seems to be little to say about any one thing.
I think being given food–being singled out as a favourite to be nurtured physically–is fraught with emotion, but what I got was merely a picture. I think the picture was meant to communicate all of the emotions that go with it, but without words they actually are not communicated. I can’t very easily summon up an image of her internal state at all, although I try. I had guesses about what the pasta meant.
Without an awareness of one’s own internal state, you don’t know what needs to be communicated to someone else–what needs to be said, for example, because it is unique to you and not shared. I would guess C presents the pasta and for her it communicates her internal state.
I remember a point when I mostly thought in pictures–my emotional experiences had been separated from language, perhaps because I did not communicate my emotional experiences to others. They were my own states, which I knew about, so there was no need to. It took a long time to be able to tease apart these images into elements that someone else could understand.
Socially, there is a balance between processing one’s own inner state and the states of others. When the parent is so emotionally dysregulated and fragile, the balance tilts toward processing the states of others for the child. It becomes paramount to decipher the state of the parent and to try to manage that state. What comes out of it later for the developing child is a presumption that one’s own experience is not important or interesting or worthy of consideration, and you miss out on the practice of communicating it, so that when it comes time to try, you actually don’t know how.