Nothing

At the end of the last past in Annabelle’s story, Robin revealed that he had suspected Annabelle of being jealous of the attention their daughter Lucy had received and that he had assumed this was due to Annabelle feeling neglected. This was something that Annabelle did not react well to at all. Is this going to be easy to resolve?

These are the previous parts in Annabelle’s story:

leaving1.jpgOn leaving Robin’s flat, Annabelle had raced down the stairwells and out into the street outside. She looked up and down the street trying to recall which direction they had come from to get to the flat earlier that afternoon. She turned right and walked hurriedly, her legs bursting with adrenaline.

From the balcony, Robin observed the direction Annabelle had headed, and after locking his front door, he flew down the steps after her. He soon caught up to her and matched her stride walking a metre or so behind her. He waited until Annabelle turned her head slightly and clearly realized he was right behind her. “You have always said that I was direct and decisive, you said that was a good thing.”

Annabelle continued to walk without responding. After a couple of minutes Robin called out to Annabelle, “I want to marry you Belle. I really want to marry you. But it is going to be one hell of a challenge if this is what happens every single time we have a misunderstanding.”

New Father

“A misunderstanding! You just said something unimaginably painful, the worst possible thing someone could ever accuse me of, and you call that a misunderstanding!”

“I didn’t mean to hurt you. I’ve been trying to understand for the past three years what made it hard for you back then. I knew you were not happy. I was so worried Belle. All sorts of ideas came into my head. I just wondered if maybe I didn’t show you I loved you enough back then. Maybe I was giving too much attention to Lucy.”

Annabelle came to a halt at the end of the road and looked out at the parkland beyond. “You don’t know me.”

“I know you better than you think. I think about you all the time.”

talking.jpg“If you thought I could be jealous, then you don’t know me.”

“But you don’t know why you felt so low do you? And you never seem to be willing to talk about it.”

“I have never been jealous of anyone Robin.”

Robin heaved a sigh, “But you have been neglected. Did I neglect you back then?”

“You did not neglect me. You only showed love. The more love you showed, the worse I felt, because I felt so guilty. It wasn’t jealousy. You are completely wrong.”

“Then tell me then, what was going on? Why did you feel guilty?”

“It’s so new Robin. I only understood it about a week ago. It was Ralph Crabbe who helped me realize. Now I think I understand, but you may never forgive me if I tell you.”

not impressed.jpg“I don’t want to pressure you if you are not ready. I just want to help Belle. You need to trust me.”

“It’s so terrible though. I am afraid you will hate me. It’s so awful.”

“Belle, that is exactly how I felt when I knew I needed to travel back to Wisconsin and tell you what I had done when I was in London. I thought it would devastate you. But I loved you, I had to tell you what had been going on, what I had been hiding. You have to trust me now.”

Annabelle could not bear to look at Robin, but in a low emotionless voice she confessed, “I did not feel anything at all. I kept looking at her, and there was nothing. I was numb. It wasn’t jealousy. Nobody neglected me. I just felt nothing, alright. No love, no joy, not even concern for her – just nothing.”

Robin breathed in through his teeth, “Belle, I am sure that is part of post-natal depression.”

“But I wasn’t feeling down about having a baby. It was the numbness, the nothingness that made me feel terrible. I felt so guilty. The guilt was overwhelming, I couldn’t stop hurting myself, the sense of failure and guilt.”

annabelle“That’s why you were self-harming so much back then. And losing her made it even worse didn’t it?”

“Robin, I know this might shock you, but I still don’t feel anything towards her. I have tried to grieve. I have tried, but it’s never arrived. When she died, I felt something that I can only describe as relief that this huge weight was lifted from me. That made me feel so guilty, I wanted to hurt myself. I didn’t know how else to deal with the guilt.”

It took a few moments for Annabelle’s words to sink in. It was hard to swallow, but he tried to put aside the distaste he felt and concentrate on reassuring Annabelle, “Belle, there are no rule books about grief or emotional reactions. Everyone deals with grief and loss differently. You should not feel bad.”

“But it hurts so much that the only way I can deal with what happened, is to pretend it never happened. I try to erase the memory of how huge my failure as a mother was. I should never have been a mother. And I am so sorry I let you down. I failed, I failed in something that was really important to you.”

lucy2“You didn’t fail. Belle, you did not fail! She was a happy, healthy little girl for months. You did everything right Belle. You tried so hard, I saw you trying. You smiled to her, you sang to her, even when it was clear you were struggling. You did everything you were supposed to. You breastfed her, you cleaned and cared for her, changed her nappies, you got up throughout the night when she was crying. You were the one who spotted something was wrong and said we had to go straight to hospital. You did everything right.”

“Except love her, I didn’t feel any love. I didn’t feel anything. It was as if she wasn’t anything to do with me. She was just there. This responsibility that I had to deal with and was exhausting me. I can’t do it again Robin. I know how much it meant to you to be a father, but I can’t do it. I think you are too kind a person to hate me, but I don’t expect you to forgive me. If you don’t want to marry me, I understand.”

lucy blue“Look at me, look at me Belle” Robin put his finger tips onto the edge of Annabelle’s chin and tried to raise her face towards him, “My mother and I, we were very anxious about you. We read everything we could get our hands on about post-natal depression. Lots of women experience numbness, they feel nothing at all. You must not feel guilty. It’s a real thing, post-natal depression is something very real and I am sure you were affected by it.”

“I don’t think that it was that. It was the just the guilt spiralling out of control. I felt nothing Robin, it wasn’t depression. I felt guilty because I felt nothing. The more I injured myself, the worse the guilt.”

lucy blue1.jpg“I think it really might have helped you to have read what we were trying to show you back then. It seemed as if you couldn’t face it. But I really think you would have seen what you were going through in the experience of other mums.”

Annabelle shook her head, “I’m not cut out for it. I should never have been a mother.”

“You had extra challenges. You had been through a very traumatic experience during your pregnancy, the traffic accident. You were in a new home, a new country, it would have been hard to feel settled anyway. You were exhausted. You are someone who feels guilt ten times stronger than most people. I understand what you have told me. I am not shocked. I am not angry. I don’t hate you. There is nothing to forgive. But it helps me. It really helps me to understand what was going on back then. I couldn’t make any sense of it. I felt helpless because I did not understand. Of course I want to marry you, I love you very very much and I am so glad that you trusted me enough to tell me how you felt.”

annabelle9 (2).jpg“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”

“Love. You need to trust love. You have not done anything or said anything or felt anything you need to be sorry for or feel guilty about. You were not well. I wanted to help you so much, I just didn’t know how to. You must not be afraid. You really have nothing to fear Belle. I am never going to abandon you, or reject you. I do think you need to accept more help sometimes, but you must not be afraid. You are loved, and I need you, I really need you to believe that.” Robin took Annabelle’s hands and pulled them toward him.

She allowed herself to be drawn into him and she sniffled against Robin’s chest, “I’m all snotty.”

lucy and robin1Robin laughed, “You can buy me a new shirt then, like you did for Chris. Besides, Lucy ruined several of my shirts, I have had every bodily fluid known to mankind all over me.”

A faint smile appeared on Annabelle’s face. It immediately damaged as a thought crossed her mind, “I get frightened that I will lose you. Or that you will get tired of me and leave me.”

“Can I be honest with you? I’m freezing. The only risk of you losing me is if I develop hypothermia standing out here in a T-shirt.”

Annabelle threw her arms around Robin and held him tightly, “We should go back.”

rest.jpg“That’s a great idea,” Robin and Annabelle turned and began to walk back towards his flat with their arms around each other, “next time I say something stupid, can we stay in the warm and talk about it? Please?”

“I over-reacted.”

“It’s nothing. It hurt you Belle. I get that now. It was a stupid thing to say, I’ve just been trying to make sense of things for so long. It was when I was in Blackwood at the end of summer with you. I saw what Chris and that Jenna woman said and did because of the way they felt, and it just hit me that sometimes we do things that don’t make sense because of jealousy. I got it very wrong in your case and I am sorry I made the connection. It was a wrong connection. And very hurtful. I regret I ever said that or thought it.”

“You don’t regret asking me to marry you?”

rob and annie3.jpg“Belle…that is almost a stupid a question as I asked you! Our life together, it’s never going to be boring is it. But it would be nice if we worked on how we deal with situations like this. I am sometimes direct, you knew that from day one, that’s how we ended up together. So when I hurt you because I get something wrong, don’t go rushing out of the door. Tell me that I’m an idiot by all means and help me understand why what I’ve said is wrong.”

“It sounds like half a plan.”

“We’ll have to make the rest up as we go along. But I think we’ll figure it out. Love and trust Belle.”

“Love and trust,” Annabelle kissed Robin’s cheek.

________________

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

Weddings

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 Matos from Pexels 

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “Nothing

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