Annabelle and Robin are trying to settle back in Blackwood after the huge knock to her confidence. How is her recovery going?
These are the previous parts in Annabelle’s story:
“Do you have to go to work?”
Robin turned over to his wife, “Yes,” watching the sad eyes Annabelle displayed, Robin then added, “No, I don’t have to go to work.”
Annabelle gazed at Robin, “I don’t want to be on my own.”
“Are we going to do this every morning Belle?”
Annabelle looked pained, “I miss you when you aren’t here.”
“You can always come with me, you know that. It’s going to be a beautiful day. Come and watch me work.”
“Where are you going to be?” she asked.
“Just round the corner, Len and Phillipa Booth’s place. They said since Len hurt his back, the garden is getting out of control. There’s a lot to do. I’ll probably be there for a few hours.”
“I like Len and Pippa.”
“I know you do. They like you. Why don’t you come? Don’t be shy.”
“I just feel so tired.”
Robin’s gaze showed his sympathy to his wife, “I’m going to go and make some coffee and some breakfast. What would you like?”
“I’m not hungry Robin.”
Robin frowned a little. He pushed himself up out of bed and walked through to the kitchen. While he was waiting for the coffee machine, he rubbed his hands over his face in frustration. When he returned to the bedroom with two mugs of coffee and a plate of buttered toast, Annabelle had fallen back to sleep. She didn’t stir as he sat on the bed and started munching toast. After showering and dressing, Robin kissed the forehead of his sleeping wife and told her he was heading to work.
It was almost three hours later when Robin heard a wolf-whistle and turned to look at the house. Annabelle was sat next to Philippa Booth holding a glass of lemonade in her hand. He strode over to the decking, “Hey Beautiful.”
Annabelle smiled, “Pippa called and asked me if I wanted to come over. I made you a wrap for lunch.”
“I was just thinking of taking a break. A wrap hey? Sounds good. Are you going to have lunch with me?”
“I’ve already eaten.”
Removing the baking parchment Annabelle had used around the wrap, Robin grinned, “Falafel. Did Annabelle tell you she has decided to be a vegetarian Pippa?”
Philippa Booth looked at Annabelle with a fond expression, “Really dear, that explains why you are so very slim these days.”
Annabelle looked awkward, “There’s a deli over in Winchester I really like. They sell all sorts of olives and mezes. I really like the stuffed vine leaves they sell.”
“Oh those stuffed vine leaves are great, just as good as the ones we ate out in Greece. We bought a tub of them yesterday.”
Annabelle pulled a face, “I ate them for breakfast Robin.”
After swallowing the mouthful of falafel wrap he was eating, Robin asked, “All of them?” In response to Annabelle’s nod, he added, “Good girl. This wrap is great Belle. Thank you for making it for me.”
After his lunch break spent chatting with Annabelle and Philippa, Robin declared he was going to finish off clearing up the cuttings from the morning’s work. He hauled wheelbarrows of sacks filled with cuttings out to the front of the property and stacked them on the drive.
He was pleased to see on one of his wheelbarrow runs that Annabelle was kneeling on the lawn next to Philippa with some gardening gloves on, pulling out weeds from the flower bed.
A short time later, he saw that Annabelle was helping Philippa to bed some new plants she had bought earlier that morning. It was very pleasing to Robin to see his wife smiling and enjoying working alongside her friend.
At around three o’clock that afternoon, Chris pulled up in his truck outside the Booth’s driveway. He started to help Robin load the sacks of garden waste onto the back of his truck. After they had finished, Robin went to ask Annabelle if she wanted to come with them when they dropped off the garden waste at the recycling center on the road up to Green Bay.
Annabelle thought about it for a moment, “Pippa said that Len would like to show me his paintings.”
Robin kissed his wife on the cheek, “We’ll be back in just over an hour. Love you.”
“Good day Rob?” asked Chris, as soon as he had turned the key in the ignition of his work truck.
Robin nodded, “She was working in the garden with Philippa Booth. She looked like she was enjoying it. And she made me lunch. She’s not done that for a while. She’s definitely getting better.”
“It could be this heat you know, I mean, as well as everything else. Is she drinking enough water?”
Robin turned to Chris, “She drinks peppermint tea and lemon water – lots of it. She’s nibbling food when she feels like it. I still can’t get her to eat a proper meal with me. But she’ll kind of graze on a handful of nuts or seeds or a little bit of salad whenever she does feel hungry. I still don’t think she’s eating enough.”
“If she’s not eating enough, she’s not going to have much energy.”
“Yeah, but this is all psychological Chris. You know that as well as I do. She can’t get over what happened.”
“The car crash?”
“Not the crash. It’s the way she injured herself she can’t get over. She’s completely shaken by it. She doesn’t understand how when she was at the happiest stage of her life, with everything going well, happily married and happy with splitting our time between Blackwood and a couple of months with my family in England, how she could give in to harming herself and worse than ever before. She’s totally lost her confidence in her power to fight it.”
“Nothing else has happened since then though has it? I mean she hasn’t done anything like that again?”
Robin sighed, “She’s not hurt herself, no. After her counselling session yesterday, she told me she’s scared of the responsibility of being alive. I didn’t know what she meant. But she explained she feels overwhelmed with all the possible terrible consequences any of her mistakes could cause. She’s afraid of doing anything that could hurt someone else or cause damage.”
Even Chris felt alarmed by the thought of what Annabelle was wrestling with, “She’s still chewed up with guilt?”
“I feel so sorry for her. It could have been anyone who left that gate open. We’ve all done it. Why did it have to be her? You know, I yelled at her when I found out. I shouldn’t have yelled at her like that. It was the shock of seeing that car smashed up.”
Chris tried his best to reassure Robin, “I’ve been angry with her in the past. Do you remember how I reacted after that trip we took to New York? When I saw that photograph Dean Mathers had posted of her, I was shocked and I lost it with her. You told me how sensitive she is with guilt.”
Robin nodded in agreement, “It’s not just the accident and the self-harming, it’s everything. She won’t admit it but I’m sure it’s guilt that’s made her decide to become a vegetarian. She feels guilty about the thought of animals suffering. She feels guilty about anything and everything. I’m worried to let her watch television on her own. She seems to have taken the whole responsibility for climate change onto her own shoulders, as if she is the sole reason for global warming. And that bloody pastor at the church. I don’t know what he said to her, but I’ve told her she’s not going back there.”
“Guilt has always been a problem with her. She’s still talks a lot about guilt.”
“It’s controlling her now. She’s not enjoying life Chris. It’s hard to see her like this again,” Robin was grave in expressing his concerns.
“This is what she was like after your daughter died?” enquired Chris.
“This is what she was like even before we lost Lucy. No energy, no enthusiasm. I guess the difference is she kept going physically because she knew Lucy needed her. She kept getting up in the night whenever Lucy cried. She did everything right. But within herself she just kind of shrivelled up. She lost her spark. There was this weird emptiness inside her. I do worry that she’s going to end up the same way. The difference this time is she doesn’t have to push herself. I reckon she’s sleeping for a minimum of twelve hours every day with all the napping she does, sometimes more like fifteen hours or more.”
“It really does sound like depression Rob.”
Robin nodded, “She is depressed, yes, no doubt about it. It’s a part of the Borderline though, I’m sure of it.”
“How about you? How are you coping?” Chris asked.
“Of course I worry, but not like I used to. For a start, Belle and I are two different people now. I have something I can relate to to understand some of what she is going through. She is so sweet. She doesn’t throw the kind of tantrums she used to. She’s just knackered almost all the time. But It’s great to have support Chris. I don’t feel alone with it. You, my parents, Nick and Anna – just knowing that there’s a team who know about Annabelle’s situation, it makes a huge difference. All the information about Borderline Personality Disorder too, it really helps. I try not to voice what I’m thinking to her because she still hates the idea of being labelled, but she matches everything I have read, and it helps me to see what is going to help her and what isn’t.”
“I got the impression that when you were in Wales she was doing a lot of walking. She doesn’t seem keen now.”
“We were isolated up there. Perhaps it was what she needed for a short while. It was just the two of us really. The only other person she saw regularly was that fantastic therapist Margo. We saw people when we were out and about, and we had brief chats. I knew we had to get her back with people who loved her.”
“I thought she might want to start walking with the rambling group. They all love her you know.”
“Now she’s back here, she seems to feel more anxious about people. This is the very best place for her right now. I am sure of that. But this fear of life, this fear of making mistakes or causing damage, it’s holding her hold back. She’s becoming shy of people. All this worry and anxiety is robbing her of energy and enthusiasm. The psychological is affecting the physical. She even gets tired just walking into town.”
Chris tried to be upbeat, “So it was great that she was gardening then.”
“Really great. Great to see her looking happy. Pippa has been amazing today. Everyone here is. This town is just what she needs. Everyone is kind and encouraging. They like her. And because most of her friends here are over sixty, she can keep up with them. I kind of wish people would stop commenting on how much weight she has lost, but other than that, it’s all good.”
“This is a great town. It’s been good for me too. Although, the lack of young blood has its drawbacks.”
“If you’re talking about your dating life then no comment,” grinned Robin, “How about that waitress over in Winchester?”
“No comment.” replied Chris.
Robin laughed, “Annabelle loves that desk you made for her. Almost every day she will sit at it to write a letter to someone. She writes to my mother, to Anna, to Dean and to each member of her family. She wrote a sweet letter to her nephew Oliver yesterday and drew little pictures all over it.”
“So are things going well with her family?”
“We haven’t seen any of them since that reception in New York last year. We were ringing her parents every few weeks for a while. But since she started writing letters when we were in Wales, they have started calling her. Not just her parents. Her siblings and some of their kids have called to thank her for the letters they received.”
Chris was impressed, “That’s gotta be a good thing.”
“Yeah of course. She doesn’t feel she can cope with visiting New York to see them. But she seems to be enjoying having more contact with all of them. Mathers calls her too. He is still on the list of people she writes too. She’s been sending him photos, and he’s telling her everything him and the band are up to. Although I’ve told him to be careful in what he says to her. I still don’t know why the hell you called him that night Chris.”
“She was going out of her mind when we couldn’t get hold of you. I couldn’t get signal in the hospital. I kept leaving the ward to go outside to try to ring you.”
“But Dean was in bloody California – what could he do?”
“At four in the morning, I was shattered Rob. I didn’t know who else I could tell about Annabelle hurting herself. But she told me to ring Dean and to ask him to try to contact you. It meant I could close my eyes for a couple of hours. When he couldn’t get hold of you Dean told me that I was going to have to tell your parents. He seems to think a lot of them. Annabelle was so upset about me telling your Mum, but Dean spoke to her and convinced her there was no choice.”
“Dean has a funny way of being helpful when it’s really important, but I still think he’s an imbecile. You know he was arrested for driving while intoxicated last month. Annabelle doesn’t know. She doesn’t seem to use her phone or laptop anymore, so somehow she’s avoided finding out about it. Honestly though, I’m not really happy about the two of them being in touch so often.”
“He does care about her a lot though,” Chris defended his favourite musician.
“I value that. I value what he has told me about when she struggled in the past and what seemed to help her. But still, she is delicate Chris. Dean could knock her back so easily.”
“I think she knows him well enough by now surely.”
Robin contradicted Chris, “He calls her a brat Chris. A brat – Belle? I mean, that’s the last thing she needs right now.”
“She’d have laughed about that in the past.”
“She would have. I’m sure she has. But no matter what I tell him, he doesn’t seem to understand how different she is since January. I don’t think she does laugh nowadays Chris.”
“Rob, I know Dean might not use the gentlest words with Annie. But I think she will overlook that. She knows, I’m sure she knows that he loves her in his own way. She needs all the love she can get at the moment. That’s what is going to help her get better. A lot of love and reassurance.”
Rob nodded, “This is just as bad as when she had postnatal depression. And the sad thing is, she’s been scared of this happening to her again. She doesn’t want to have another child, because she has been fearing this kind of depression. But she’s here again, just a shell of the person she normally is. Always tired. Shy of life, scared of life.”
Chris was determined to be encouraging, “But she’s trying. Stay positive. Today was a good day. More days like today is what she needs.”
“I love her Chris, I don’t like the thought of how much she is hurting. I could bloody kick myself when I think that last time she was like this, I left her here on her own because I didn’t know what to do anymore. I’ve learnt a hell of a lot about life and about love since then. I’m not going to let her down.”
You can read the next part of Annabelle’s story here:
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:
I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?