We Hide What We Hate About Ourselves

How is Annabelle going to react to what Robin has told her?

These are previous posts in Annabelle’s story:

Who Is She Waiting For?

Why Is She Waiting?

Where Is He?

What On Earth Was He Thinking?

Do You Think He Is Coming Back?

Why Are You Worrying?

Secrets And Darkness

Coffee And Croissants

Just Friends

Tears

Frustrated

His Letter

Strained Relations

Blackwood Gossip

The Older Sister Act

Complicated

Getting There

Dinner Conversation

We Need To Talk

Hurting Ourselves

annie curled up.jpg“My heart feels as if it’s bleeding Chris,” Annabelle finally spoke a few words after sitting in silence clutching her knees for almost an hour.

When Chris had first stopped the truck, he had let Annabelle climb out on her own. He had watched her walk away and stumble onto her side before she had curled into a ball. He could see her sobs were causing her entire body to shake. Every fibre in his body wanted to run over and hurl his arms around her. But he knew, he knew she wanted to be left alone. She knew he was near. She knew he wanted to help. But he’d have to wait until she was ready. Eventually he had walked over and sat down beside her.

“You knew he was going to hurt you.”

“But not like this.”

chris and annie hill“I’m feeling a bit useless. I don’t even have tissues. But I want to help.”

“I hate what he has done. I don’t hate him, but I hate what he has done. Can you love someone who has done things that you hate?”

“Annie, I don’t know what he has done, and I’m not going to tell you what to do. But I think love, real love, is supposed to be pretty forgiving. But I don’t know how bad it is. There are things that are too hard to forgive I guess. There are limits, everyone has different limits,” Chris sighed, “am I making any sense?”

“I don’t understand why he has hid everything from me. How am I ever going to trust him?”

chris4Chris sighed, “I don’t know what he’s said Annie. What he’s been hiding from you. But I hid my drinking. I hid how I was feeling. If it wasn’t for Gina demanding to know why I wasn’t replying to her messages and driving up to see me, I might have been able to get away with it for longer.”

“Why were you hiding? Didn’t you want help?”

“Don’t we all hide what we hate about ourselves?”

“But I could have helped. I could have tried to help. I don’t think he would have done any of these things if I had known, if I had been there with him.”

“Gina used to say to me that at the end of the day the one person who was going to win the battle I faced was me. Surely that’s been the same with you. Could Robin help you when you were at your lowest? Sure he tried to. Even though he knew exactly what you were doing, and he was right there. It was you who had the battle, it was you who had to win it. It’s you who has to keep fighting even now.”

Annabelle stared at Chris, “You know don’t you? Who told you? Was it Robin?”

annie arms“Nobody told me. I figured it out.” Chris could see Annabelle was shaking her head, “that night we came back from camping, before Burt and Pearl came home, I saw you Annie. You were driving your own nails into your arms right in front of me. I wanted to talk to you about it. But the way things played out that night and ever since, I haven’t had the chance. I didn’t know whether to mention it to Burt or Pearl.”

“No, please don’t say anything Chris.”

“Annabelle, now that you and I are talking about it, I won’t mention it to them. But that’s you hiding your battle, and asking me to help hide it too. Even though you’ve probably won for the most part, it’s still there. You don’t want people to know, even people you love. Because at the end of the day it’s you who has to keep fighting whatever it is that makes you want to do that to yourself. I could tell you that you must not hurt yourself over and over, but it is you who has to keep fighting it.”

robin struggling.jpegAnnabelle wiped tears from her face with the back of her sleeve, “Robin has had quite a battle really. He said he’s been doing well recently. Claudia has helped him. I think he’s winning now.”

“That’s great Annie. But whatever it is he is battling, it’s going to go on for a long time – you know that don’t you?”

“I do. I really do.”

“The first step is admitting you have a problem. He’s done that. He’s stopped hiding, stopped hiding it from you, from the person he loves most.”

Annabelle started to cry, heaving sobs, “I don’t know if he really loves me. Some of what he’s done, how can he even say he loves me after what he’s done?”

“It’s obvious he loves you. He wouldn’t be here telling you whatever it is that he’s telling you if it wasn’t for how much he loves you.”

not like before.jpg“He hasn’t said it to me though. I’ve been longing to hear him say it. He hasn’t said that he loves me for a long time. I think he said it in his first few letters, but he stopped saying it a long time ago.”

“Sometimes men forget how important it is to actually say it. It can be hard. I’ve been trying to figure out to say those words to you for as long as I can remember, but I’ve known you didn’t want to hear them.”

“But Chris, you don’t know me. Even if you had said it, and I know you tried, you don’t know me. Robin does. He used to love me. I know he did and he used to tell me all the time. But I think he stopped either before he left or afterwards, I don’t know.”

“He loves you Annie.”

annie yelling1.jpgAnnabelle jumped up to her feet, “how can someone possibly be in love if they have sex with other women?” she yelled into the sky, “aaaargh! No, no. He should never have left if he loved me. Of course it was going to happen.”

“He’s cheated on you?”

“Didn’t he think that were men who would throw themselves at me? I used to have guys getting hold of my number and asking me out. I had plenty of chances. but I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t dream of it. I love him too much. I’ve told everyone that I had a boyfriend, that I was in love with someone else, and everyone has talked about why he’s not here, why he never visited. So many rumours.”

“I know Annie. It’s not fair.”

meaningless.png“How can someone say they had sex with someone else but it didn’t mean anything.”

“It does happen.”

“What does that even mean? Gah! It happens. That’s ridiculous. It’s not like that at all.”

“It happened to me.”

“What do you mean, it happened to you?”

“Do you remember that night I gave you a lift over to the bowling alley? You told me later that the cologne I was wearing reminded you of someone, you meant Robin didn’t you? I didn’t know that back then. I had the biggest crush on you, from the moment I saw you I fell for you. For months you were the only woman I wanted. It might sound pretty lame, but that night I was so mad at you. You hurt me. It wasn’t the first time you’d been like that, but that night it was worse for some reason.”

Jenna and Chris

“I didn’t mean to be rude, I told you that.”

“I know, and I get it now. I get why you would be like that with any guy. But I didn’t know about Robin back then. Jenna was all over me that night. It was a huge mistake. I wanted it to be you. Even Jenna knew that, she started laughing about it the morning after. But I was gutted.”

“Are you saying you had sex with Jenna, and it didn’t mean anything to you? But that’s sick. Sex is so personal, it’s supposed to be special.”

“With the right person it is. But people do stupid things Annie. Some people don’t care. But I cared. It tore me up that I’d done that. I don’t know him like you do, but if Robin has had sex with someone else when he loves you, he will have regretted it.”

robin bar“Hmph. Well, he didn’t regret it enough not to do it again. And again. And I don’t even know, I don’t think he knows how many times.”

Chris bowed his head, “Do you really want to be telling me this Annie?”

Annabelle sat down on the grass and blinked away tears that were sitting on her eye-lids. She shrugged her shoulders, “I don’t want any of this to be real. I don’t want to be talking about this at all. But who can I talk to? I can’t tell Burt and Pearl what he’s done Chris.”

“Annabelle, all I want to do is hold you and make it all better. I am not impartial in this. I’d love for you to forget him and let me make you happy.”

Annabelle looked at Chris. “So why don’t you? You tried to kiss me once before. Why don’t you kiss me now?”

“You don”t really want that, not like this.”

annie3.jpgRolling onto her front, Annabelle looked up at Chris, “Yes, I do. I want you to kiss me. I want you to make love to me. Right here. It can be as meaningless as you want.”

“Stop it Annie. I want to, you have no idea how much, but not like this. I’m not going to let you make the same mistake because you are mad at Robin. Next time you and I kiss, it will be because it is special.”

“It’s because you know about me harming myself isn’t it?”

“You’d be hurting yourself Annie, and hurting Robin too. You know how I feel. Of course I want you to stop loving him like you do, and to let me love you. But if he is at his lowest, or just past it maybe, you said he’s doing better, well he needs you. When I was at my darkest point, if I had lost something, someone, that meant the world to me, it would have been unbearable. I would have stopped trying.”

left“But he left me on my own.”

“You must have been stronger than him when he left you. Maybe it didn’t seem that way at the time. But he was about to cave in. You were getting stronger.”

“I didn’t feel strong. I was terrified.”

“But you must have been hurting yourself less. He would have never have let you be on your own otherwise.”

Annabelle hesitated, “I was frightened that I had become a burden to him. He was so different. He didn’t want to try anymore. I wanted to try for both of us. I wanted to help him like he had helped me. I was trying so hard.”

“He needs your help now. You are strong now.”

“Are you telling me I should be able to forgive him?”

“I am not telling you what to do. I don’t know how much there is to forgive. But if you really love him, you do need to try to understand what he has been going through. If he has been hiding things from you, it was not because he wanted to deceive you, it was  because he hated what he was doing, what he was becoming.”

annie thinkingAnnabelle turned to look out at the view, “I’m sorry I made you mad at me at the bowling alley.”

“It’s all in the past. I didn’t know you like I do now. When I realized you were being loyal, I respected you for that. It made me envious that you loved someone that way.”

“I don’t know how I could have got through the past couple of months without you being my friend Chris. I couldn’t bear not hearing anything from him. You kept me busy and made sure I had things to look forward to.”

“I love hanging out with you. I don’t really want to ever lose that.”

chris kiss annie.gif“And now, you’re being a real friend – I know you care a lot.”

“Ssssh. That’s what friends are all about.” Chris drew Annie close and kissed her forehead.

“I am going to have to hear him out. He wanted to explain more to me. I just couldn’t take anymore. But I should give him the chance.”

“I think he needs to tell you. I think you need to hear it.”

“Do you know what I really need to hear? I really need to hear him say he loves me. I need to know that he does. I don’t think I can get passed this unless I know that I am not a burden to him.”

platonic6Chris looked at Annabelle. Surprising her, he swiftly picked her up and sat her on the bonnet of his truck. “I have no doubt at all that he loves you Annabelle Riley. He might be struggling to say the words, but it’s clear to everyone how he feels. If he’d said he loved you at the same time as telling you he’s cheated on you, you’d be really mad at him. Maybe he’s too smart to do that.”

Annabelle put her hands onto Chris’ shoulders and then loosely let her hands join behind his neck. She let out a deep sigh. “Thank you.”

“Come on little lady, let’s head back to Blackwood.”

When Claudia had called, Robin told her how terrible it had been to tell Annabelle the truth. But Claudia had made it clear he had done the right thing. “You have been lying to yourself for so long, and lying to Annabelle. If you ever want to lift the guilt that has been destroying you, you need to break that habit.” She had told him that months before and had never stopped nagging him to talk to Annabelle.

But at the moment, there was no relief of guilt. Robin felt the full force of the damage he had done and he was tormented that she would react by hurting herself.

robin staring.pngRobin had found it oppressively quiet being on his own after Annabelle had stormed out. He was relieved Chris had been there to go after her. Someone needed to keep any eye on her and make sure she was safe. The recollection of the many months he had been on alert to her harming herself descended upon him and the memory felt suffocating.

Robin needed to get away from the silence so that his own thoughts couldn’t pull him under water. He wanted a drink, or a cigarette. Something just to relieve the anxiety, just to numb the fears that were flooding through his mind.

________________

You can read the next part of Annabelle’s story here:

Not So Easy

Kim, the creator of Writer Side of Life has given us some great writing prompts. Several of them appealed to me, but I have only chosen one to work on for now, because I am still playing catch up with blogging, after my trip to Australia:

Free Creative Writing Prompts

I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?

kim's prompt
Photo by Thiago Matosfrom Pexels 

 

 

 

 

 

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