A woman with multiple personalities is creative in making a relationship work.
Caro smiles at herself in the mirror. The image is sexy with a short cream skirt, showing off long tanned legs with black leather boots and stiletto heels. Now, a little something to top it off. She remembers the mannequin’s lovely silk scarf. It had swirls of scarlet, ebony, gold and cream like a storm of exotic harmony.
Caro walks across the store in lace black lingerie to obtain the scarf. With a certain satisfaction, she notices the sales woman's mouth drops open. Finding another mirror, she uses the scarf to create a beautiful wrap over her breasts and ties it on the side. Greg will love it.
In the dressing room, she changes and gathers her new purchases. She leaves a pile of discarded clothes at her feet. Let the old crow clean it up.
Caro walks with authority to the register. She pulls out Polly’s newest credit card. Caro only wants to add a little excitement to Polly's dull life. She doesn't see anything wrong with using Polly's credit card. Polly needs to get laid. She's dull. Men like sexy, spontaneous fun women.
Earlier that same day, Polly Newsome sat in a tiny cubicle. Sipping lukewarm coffee, she watched the sun play tag with threatening clouds. She was so frustrated with her job. The Benson file lay in front of her. Bobby had finally been put into foster care. His Grandma had taken him to the Emergency Clinic with several burns that looked like cigarettes. They were hidden on his inner thighs and he had other bruises in places that needed explaining. A medical student took the time to check old records.
Polly knew it was a tremendous amount of work to get Social Services seriously interested in a case. The parents would be angry and sometimes Security had to be called. Often foster care wasn't much better but usually there wasn't violence involved. The courts were trying to repair it. Too little money and a huge case load was the reason. Most social workers meant well, some worked twelve hours a day on a case. But intense work at almost minimum wage didn’t always make the situation better. Adoption was the goal. If the right family was found, the children usually felt safe so they did better at school and self esteem improved.
Now Polly was trying to get the two younger children moved but no one will listen. Maggie, age four, with her big brown eyes never smiled and wouldn't let anyone touch her. Often she would slap her own face or bite her hands until she drew blood.
Timmy was only two. He dragged around a filthy blanket, thumb in mouth with wet diapers hanging down to his knees. The blanket was his security. When you finally got it away to wash it, sobs of a breaking heart resulted. He needed to be in control so trying to get him to lay still to even change him was very difficult.
Polly had been the worker assigned to the case when Timmy was brought in with severe burns. It took a lot to get these little munchkins to trust.
Concerning the burns, the birth mother, Noni said, “He pulled a pan with boilin' water over him. I couldn't do nothin' bout it!"
“How did he get to it? Noni, we’ve talked about putting pots on back burners.” Polly felt like a parrot, repeating the same phrases over and over, common sense things that people do.
Noni didn't even bother to answer. Her look at Polly was one of hatred.
Timmy had partial thickness burns over his abdomen. Polly did home visits and watched the healing of the burns. The home was filled with garbage, dirty clothes, pans with old food and diapers full of feces. She had made out detailed reports but she was always told "no money, not enough foster homes."
The mother often had pinpoint pupils. If it was speed, by the time Mom had blood drawn and processed, the short acting drug would be out of her system. These girls weren’t stupid. She was probably tweaking (high) and not paying any attention to her son.
Polly's cell phone rang. It was Greg. After initial greetings, Polly went silent.
"Are you there, babe?"
"Sorry, my mind is on this crummy case."
"Aren't they all that way? You are great at what you do but it sure takes a toll ."
He was genuinely concerned and decided they needed a fun evening out. They decided to meet at the Prado after work.
Gregory Martin was in love. Polly was gorgeous, alluring, intelligent, sexy, compassionate yet a mystery. He couldn't figure her out and maybe that was part of the appeal. She had jade green eyes, thick long lashes with silken ebony hair that he loved to bury his face in.
Polly and Greg had an intimate corner table where the river was right below them. Relaxing, they sat quietly looking into each others eyes. They made plans to go to an art gallery opening on Saturday. After a delicious dinner, she slipped off to the restroom. He put an envelope next to her creme brulee, two orchestra seats for the play “The Color Purple".
“I can't believe this! I have been dying to see this. The seats are like gold. You are perfect!"
People turned and looked. She held them up and grinned like a kid that had won a race.
They strolled along the waterfront where tiny white lights twinkled in the trees. It was a fairyland made for lovers.
She said, "Make a wish but don't tell me, okay?"
They both did and for the next ten minutes she tried to get him to tell her his wish. He wouldn't give in. At the end of the evening, she insisted on taking the subway back to her loft apartment. He had never stayed over. He was willing to let her call the shots.
As content as these two seemed, there was a complex problem. A few days ago, Polly had suggested they met at a bar. When he walked in, she was the center of attention with a very short red leather skirt and a see through top with ribbons, her nipples showed in the cold bar. The men all looked hungry for her but when she saw Greg, she ran to give him a passionate kiss. He was proud but embarrassed.
That night they had gone to three clubs, drank heavily and she came to his place. Then they made love until the wee hours. Her techniques and reactions varied but she was one experienced woman.
Hell, she could write a book.
Polly was an enigma, two women in one body. She had not felt like herself for six months now and was seeing Judith Newton, MD, a Psychiatrist from Columbia Rush-Presbyterian. Dr. Newton was doing tests to rule out different possibilities for a diagnosis.
Polly was waking up and didn't know where she was, finding strange clothes, makeup and address books with information she didn't know. It was terrifying. Greg had mentioned places and things she had said. She couldn't remember. Was this a brain tumor or mental illness?
Last night after work, Greg suggested they go to the Masquerade Bar to eat and dance. Polly was shocked.
"You're kidding. That's a place for kids. Darling, please don't be disappointed but I don't think I want to go."
"You loved it the other night. You even got in a dance cage.
Polly looked at him with horror.
"You don't remember, do you?" he asked gently, "this has been happening for a while, babe."
He pulled her into his arms.
"You know, we have to talk about this. I'm worried."
She told him she was seeing a therapist. They went into a coffee shop. Sitting in the back with no one around, Polly told him about Dr. Newton. They decided that her office would be a better place to talk about her behavior.
Greg went home and slept for the first time in months. He loved Polly but they couldn't move forward with this hanging over them. Now they finally had a professional to help. Being an Investment banker, he worked with numbers and loved finding a solution. He liked black and white, didn't believe in shades. Polly was a puzzling rainbow!
At the next session, Dr. Newton asked if she could call Greg.
"Sure," said Polly.
Dr. Newton told Greg, "These cases are difficult. There isn't a pill. It looks like Multiple Personality Disorder. Can be serious but with only two personalities, it is promising with therapy."
She told him not to force Polly to reality. She advised if Caro is acting out, let her go with it unless she is hurting herself. She advised him it has to be worked on in the office setting.
Greg got on the computer and did research into the disorder. The causes of this condition have been narrowed down to extremely traumatic incidents experienced during childhood, such as child abuse from which one did not recover, very poor self-esteem, or heredity. Those who have had such experiences are considered to have developed a multiple personality disorder as a mechanism of denial of reality and its acceptance. As such, they start exhibiting certain symptoms. On the other hand, in certain cases, no such history has been recorded. The sufferers of this disorder have had a perfectly normal childhood and have yet developed these symptoms. This may be due to a certain dysfunction in the workings of the brain.
One night, Greg and Caro were at a country western bar and Greg was tired from line dancing. Caro had been drinking and she wanted him to dance.
"Come on, dahling! I don't want to get another dude. I came with you."
"Don't you like country music?"
She was kissing his neck.
At first, he occasionally liked ‘Caro’ who emerged for sex and play. Now she was embarrassing. She was not the woman he fell in love with. Caro was like going to a strip bar when you were twenty-one. It was exciting but grew old with time.
Polly was the one that shared his interests, wanted to have his children and grow old with him. She enjoyed symphonies, poetry readings, and plays.
Suddenly Caro exploded, "You like that snobby, uptight bitch better than me."
She tossed a beer at him, screaming, "My parents liked her better too!"
Now, Greg knew this disorder possibly had roots in her childhood. He had been warned by the therapist not to confront 'Caro'.
He walked to the bathroom to clean up. He wasn't at all sure he was ready for this long haul. What if she couldn't be repaired? He did not want to live with Caro and all her antics.
He had to practically drag her from the club and he sure didn't want sex. He was looking for his Polly in this woman and although they were the same face, these women were totally different.
He kissed her goodnight. She began to get aggressive and he had to physically push her into her own apartment.
"I think you have had too much to drink and need to go to bed, babe."
Polly didn't hear from Greg for a week. Caro called him every day and he had to hang up.
Nobody was getting better here. He finally had his phone number changed. He did call Dr. Newton and told her what was going on.
"I love Polly but I can't deal with Caro. Can you tell Polly I need some time?" It broke his heart to say that. "Please call me if you really need to or there's a break through. I'll be happy to talk to you and Polly in your office."
Dr. Newton used hypnotherapy on Polly. Caro cried about her past. It was unfortunate that her parents were deceased and she had lost touch with other family. After discussion of some childhood dysfunction came up, Polly was in charge. She wasn't losing blocks of time any more. She remembered what she was doing at work. Possibly Greg staying away helped. Caro didn't come out at work often. She hated Polly's job.
It had been six months. Greg began to have sessions with Newton and felt like he loved Polly enough to tackle this relationship. Caro could be handled and with time she should go away. Dr. Newton said her appearances were happening less often. Polly had more control. It had been one month since Caro had made anything but a brief appearance when Greg invited Polly to dinner. It was their favorite restaurant. They ordered wine, dinner ala carte then caught up on news and ordered coffee and the dessert cart.
Greg put a jewelry box on the table. It was a gold necklace with a heart. On one side was engraved Polly and the other Caro. Polly's shy smile was there.
That night Polly slept in Greg's bed and the love making was sweet and tender. The future seemed bright.
By Kathie Stehr