listen to what i’m saying — 2

When she says, “Every time I ask you for something you make me pay for it,” she’s talking about/to my dad, my uncle. I disappear and become a proxy.

She creates situations in which I’m forced to act like the bully, then she splits from the reality of me, the daughter who loves her and does much for her (and receives much from her), gladly and promptly, and regresses into trauma.

She doesn’t know she needs me to be the bully; she doesn’t know she needs me to be her brother, her husband, so that she can finally get it right, assert herself, win.

I need not to be the bully. I also need not to give in. If I give in I’ll lose myself. I have to hang on to my own self. But if I hang on to my own self, I play the bully.

Trauma ensnares us in a game of no-win. If I give in we both lose. If I hang on and play the bully we both lose.

The only way is to talk. Talk. Talk. Talk. Name the game. Game the game. Outwit the game.

But I know so much more than she does. Will she listen? Will she be able to face the anxiety of going to the airport with the right document but not the document that makes her feel safe, just so that we can both be free of this deadly game?

The anxiety is just a symptom. But symptoms keep us going. She has so many anxieties, so many phobias. Do I want to tamper with them?

This one is not so bad. This one is recent.

But: do I want to have this conversation? Do I want to name the game to her, unravel it slowly, word by painful word — make her see, make her understand? Because it will be exhausting, and I’m (coincidentally?) exhausted already.

Does she want to make sure that she’s welcome? Does she want to make sure that she has my attention? Does she want to know that, in spite of my exhaustion, there is a welcome spot as wide and as deep as the ocean she’s crossing for her in my heart? Today I found myself thinking, If she can’t let go of the wrong document, she can stay home. Is she pushing me to say, I want you at the cost of my sanity, of my subjectivity, of my autonomy, of my exhaustion?

Our minds are dancing a very tight long-distance tango.