I am again in Y-town, after having travelled over the course of 3 days from Son’s village in Far North Territory. It is not actually that far–just complicated. I first caught a lift with a retired teacher to the area’s capital. He is one of two men in his village with a car. This wasn’t free: he has somewhat grudgingly become the informal taxi driver for the village and another family has a member in the hospital whom they needed to visit. So they had already agreed to pay him. Actually, since 3 groups of people were crammed together (some in the cab, some in the back of the vehicle–it was something like a Jeep), it did not make sense to me for only one group to pay. But he said he would discuss it with Son’s parents and they would decide. Of course, this left his parents with the bill, but there was not much I could do.
Between Son’s village and Far North Capital is about a two-hour drive, mainly because it’s a dirt road and you end up bouncing around at 10 miles an hour. It was already around 11 when we left, because the man had been drunk the night before and slept in with a hang over. In the car, he still smelled like a brewery. We got there a little after lunch.
In Far North Capital, we stayed with Son’s cousin’s friend overnight, because we wanted to catch a bus to Big Eastern Town which left at 6:30 or so in the morning. From Big Eastern Town, we caught a ride from Son’s cousins to their village, which is about an hour down another dirt road.
Again, we stayed the night, because there is another bus going from Big Town to a town closer to Y-town, and I could fairly inexpensively take a shared taxi from there the rest of the way. However, this idea didn’t work, because the family there wasn’t inclined to drive out to Big Eastern Town at 6 am for me to catch it. We were discussing this in the morning, and decided that it would be the same expense for me just to take a taxi from Big Eastern Town to the closer town than it would be for me to stay the night in a hotel: Although Son has cousins there, he didn’t feel he could ask them to put me up for the night.
He apologized for this, but I get it: the cousins in Big Eastern Town are the wealthier branch of the family and it places Son in the awkward position of feeling like the poor relation (although he is), and they also have their own lives and obligations to attend to.
So yesterday, his cousins in Big Eastern Town village dropped me in town, and I took a taxi to the closer town: actually to a bridge outside it, and from there I intended to flag down someone passing by–either someone I knew, or a shared taxi already headed to Y-town, which is at the easternmost edge of the country. Instead, I happened across one of the teacher’s husbands who was heading into town to pick her up and bring her back. So I went with them.
And now I am here. Son has gone back to Far North Territory capital to meet a friend who will travel with him to the South: there is a way to travel there by bus via a road through the neighbouring country which is faster and easier than taking the bus through the middle of Country X. He has an aunt there, and after a few days, he will go back to the central part of the country to return to school.
The teachers go back to school tomorrow, and today is probably dedicated to laundry and a return to normal life.
I was writing all of this out and realizing this is the first time in four years here that I have actually seen so much of the country: Son’s village is in the north, and I visited C’s parents in the South. I needed to make the trip to the Capital to get my visa renewed, and that is in the center of the country (although culturally it is considered the west). I don’t like travelling, and I think this is probably because it constantly triggers trauma-based memories of removal and foster care placement. Other people are excited by new people of places, but I have to cope with old, unresolved trauma every time I go somewhere while still trying to behave like a normal person, so it feels like something of an achievement for me that I actually saw some of the country I live in.
But I had another idea after all of this, because I have still been mulling over the article I read before leaving about people with an avoidant style drifting into, essentially, a dissociative state and finding this more comfortable than interaction, and I compared this to the marked desire which Cluster B personalities have for constant attention. Why might this be and do they have anything to do with each other?
I was especially interested in this footnote: ”
“I should mention here that the autoregulatory mode is very similar to attention deficit disorder. Both situations involve ventromedial prefrontal inactivity which is necessary not only for regulation of subcortical processes but also in producing and maintaining a “witness” state of self‐awareness. Without an observing self which is attributed to the ventral medial prefrontal cortex, there is a lack of awareness of time and space. The individual is literally unattended to and neglected and unaware of this impoverished albeit oceanic state.”
I have also been thinking, at the same time, that although someone like my mother’s constant demand for attention seems simply selfish, what if someone like her does that because there is something they actually cannot do? If it’s because of a deficit, what precisely is it?
In the footnote, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex is assumed to be responsible for maintaining self-awareness (psychology’s observing ego, and sociology’s self). What if the deficit is in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, whose impaired functioning is compensated for in Cluster B personalities (narcissists and borderlines) by borrowing someone else’s gaze. What if the deficit emerges due a) to neglect and b) because the gaze of the self internalized from the parent is so hostile that is intentionally, albeit unconsciously pulled away from.
What if this is C’s current dilemma? “I want your gaze, but when I begin to imagine that gaze, it is so hostile, I repeatedly retreat from it?” What if this is the core of disorganized attachment?