A Christmas Story
Dedicated to Naz; a very special friend.
“Dear reader”, I am no Currer Bell. I loved her Jane Eyre. Still, I could never write anything like it. The depth of feeling. The very passion. The intelligent story links – so well done that they are almost invisible. I wish that I could write like that. But I can’t. So, there you have it before we pen another word.
Still, despite my writing leaving a great deal to be desired, I do have a story to tell you. It is not mine. It was given me by my friend Michelle. She likes to collect real life stories. Indeed she seeks them out wherever she goes.
Of course, it was not her story. She had the narrative from a patient at our local psychiatric assessment centre. The patient concerned had kept a journal. For reasons that will become clear later on, the patient, let us call her Alice, gave Michelle the journal to do whatever she wished with it.
She, Michelle, passed it on to me. I have contacts in our local literary world. Michelle hoped that the work could be published to promote a better understanding of mental health issues.
Here are Alice’s journal entries over the week before Christmas.
Dr Müller has helped. She has been kind. Her faint German accent comforts me. It reminds me of the archetypal Hollywood psychiatrist. Without the beard of course.
Dr Müller says that I need to shed all the popular sentimental responses. She says that they relate to responding with pure feelings usually of sadness. Today she added nostalgia to sadness. I smiled when she said that. It took me back to my failed marriage. It also took me back to my horrible childhood.
I have no nostalgia for Robert’s abuse. His utter disregard for my feelings. His insistence on using me as some human object to demean. To sleep with. To push around.
I left our sixteen years of marriage after one violent incident too many. I had made the tea. I poured the water out. I had not previously turned the kettle on. The cup was cold. He threw the tea in my face. As I wiped my face he suddenly slapped me. Hard. I fell back and banged the back of my head. I lost consciousness. When I came to Robert had gone after tearing up several of my favourite books.
That was the last “sorry but you made me do it” that I was going to hear from him. I left that day with two black bin liners. Sixteen years of marriage and I carried out my whole life in two bin bags. Like the Credit Crunch of ten years ago, it looked like married life had left us all with very little return.
What on earth did I ever see in Robert? What?
He was handsome. Everyone said that. He had prospects. And he wrote poems for me. I thought that, at last, life was going to be really good. No more horrors from my home. Robert helped me to stop taking the blame for the abuse that I had received at home.
Then he took over.
I am not really responsible for being abused. I know that much. If that is so, why do I feel so bad about the abuse? As if I had done wrong.
I have often asked myself why it all happened.
My big eyes? Huge and brown? My small hands? He said that he liked the contrast…