An experience of realizing you have a mental illness.
The familiar sound of rain beat down on the roof of the van. His van, for it WAS his van, not hers: she had nothing, except the clothes she brought with her for the beauty spa job in the mountains.
They had shared many a memory in that van although she had one he didn’t share with her. It was the first time she saw him pulling up to the cottage, his chained tyres making a delicious crunching sound in the new snow. She had felt a little spark light up her belly as he stomped through the snow up to the front door. She had gotten shy then, staring at him through the kitchen table. He hadn’t seen her but she had backed away from the window nevertheless. But that was six months ago. She was surprised she had lasted this long. Now it was the end, the true end, the real end for she had tried many times before but had somehow made it back to him.
Running away was the best she could come up with to put an end to things. She hated confrontation; the evidence showed by the way she destroyed herself. More sabotage than anything. She would hit herself, cut herself, rip to shreds a newly purchased dress she loved, cut her lovely long tresses to short stumps and also hate the person that cared for and loved her.
She snuck a peek at him pretending to look at another car on the road. She knew he thought of her as a scared child in a woman’s body. She guessed she was considering her foolishness of her weak threat on the mountain to go out into the snow naked never to come back. He had followed her out of the cosy cottage picking up her clothes she had discarded over her shoulder. “Baby” he had laughed giving her a fresh wave of bravery “come back, please don’t do this” The snow was up to her bare thighs but she had kept walking. When her bra came off he had had enough. He had grabbed her roughly with her struggling in his arms “I’m not doing this” he threatened into her ear and pulled her back through the snow into the warmth of the cabin. After he had run a hot bath for her they screamed at each other over large glasses of cabernet then made violently passionate love in front of the fire.” I love you, let me take care of you.” He had cooed stroking her hair. She had come off the mountain for him, leaving the best job she had ever been able to get. She had enormous regrets but he had kept his word. Then she had gotten very bored. Wiling away the time in the outskirts of town walking his dog through the forest and feeling increasingly useless.
She looked up at the freeway sign, it read “Tullamarine 60 km”. He hadn’t said anything since this morning and those words were addressed to his dog. A dog she would miss. A gorgeous blue-heeler bitch that pleasantly surprised her. When she had come out from a bath she had found the dog lying close up to the radio speakers in what looked like rapture to Schubert’s Nocturne.
An emptiness pervaded her body. She felt hollow and frustrated. “Why isn’t he saying anything? Doesn’t he want to protest, put up some fight for my love?”
“No” she thought, answering her own question when she observed the tired and resigned profile. The countless times of fleeing were enough for him to know it wasn’t going to work. How could she expect him to put up with a woman that was likely to disappear every time she deemed he slighted her? Would he have to censor everything he said? Would he have to walk around as if on eggshells just to keep her happy? He would grow tired of her impunity to criticism. Grow weary and bored of her threats of suicide and self-harm. Would he always have to drive around the cold wet suburban streets of Melbourne only to find her drenched with rain, dazed and shivering? The night he had found her on the street she was dripping wet and shaking from the cold. He had put her to bed and she hadn’t risen until two days later claiming mental exhaustion but the reality was she had been embarrassed.
No, she couldn’t expect him to put up with an hysterical woman. That’s why she would go back to Perth and start again. Pangs of doubt pierced through her hollow insides waylaying the emptiness for a moment. “Start again? With what? How?” she chastised herself. She thought of her small flat. She saw herself sitting on the couch. The couch dwarfing her with its inoccupation. The hollow feeling returned.
“I’ve...” she croaked. She wanted to say she had changed her mind and wanted to stay, but the words stuck in her throat where she knew they belonged.
The airport loomed ahead. Her mouth went dry leaving her tongue as useful as a sandbar.
A myriad of emotions flowed through her body. Panic, then resentment, fear and a sense of relief. He stopped the van, but remained in his seat, his hands on the steering wheel. “Thanks” she mumbled suddenly feeling ashamed. Ashamed at her antics and the innocence of his love. She felt like she had soiled something good with her folly. In spite of her shame she felt betrayed. “This time it’s for real” she said earnestly leaning into the passenger window’s side. “Whatever” his voice was a monotone. What he did next dissolved all the resolve she had and left it sitting like hot lava on the top of her stomach. Unflinchingly he slowly slid away winding the window up as he went. She was flabbergasted. Feeling a scream of sheer rage prickling her throat, she was aware of a large number of people on the concourse and instead of letting it out she planted herself down hard on the bench closest to her. She lit a crushed cigarette she found in her handbag and puffed away her anger. Devastated as she was she felt an underlining feeling like she deserved it somehow. She puffed on the last drag of her cigarette and crushed it under her shoe, after placing it in the butt bin she sat back down and pondered. In the dark unseen recesses of her brain there remained a thin thread of truth and reasoning. Like an angler pulling up the biggest catch of the day only to see it get loose of the hook she realised she had lost a genuine love. It’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind but her fickleness really took the cake. Her capriciousness wasn’t a trait she could romanticise. There’s only so much bullshit a man can take. And only so much energy a man has to second guess.
Gone was her love but gained was a sense of understanding and perhaps what she had always known. As soon as she landed she would call her doctor and make an appointment straight way. This was getting serious but she felt ready to open the floodgates and maybe with help finally be able to swim to the shore.