Annabelle has still not recovered her physical energy and her emotions are still tormenting her at times. At least she has the loving support of her husband and her friends. But Robin is always worried for his wife.
These are the previous parts in Annabelle’s story:
Chris was becoming an invaluable friend to Robin, as well as to Annabelle. It was of comfort to Annabelle that Robin had a friend nearby who he could talk to. Although she never liked to be without Robin, she was eager to encourage him to take a break from her whenever he needed, especially if it meant he could share his concerns with Chris.
“How’s Annie?” asked Chris.
“She’s been a bit low today. Lots of tears. I nearly cancelled on you mate, but Pearl called and asked Annabelle if she would like some help with that knitting she started, so she said she would go over there.”
“Are you alright Rob? You look beat.”
“I’m alright. Just been thinking a lot about what she said today. She’s going round and round in circles at the moment. It’s hard to break the cycle you know.”
“What with? What is she dwelling on?”
“I think mainly it comes back to guilt. I don’t half regret yelling at her about leaving that gate open. She keeps talking about being bloodguilty. Nobody died Chris, even the sheep were fine. But she is obsessed with the idea that she would have been bloodguilty if the accident had been worse.”
“You’ve always said how hard she takes guilt.”
“I can’t help thinking that she’s making herself sick though. She’s torturing herself mentally. She kept going on today about how much a life costs, how precious life is, how awful it is when a life is lost. First she said she is a terrible person for disrespecting life. I asked her why she felt that she disrespected life and she said that harming yourself is showing a lack of respect for sacredness of life. She was sobbing and sobbing. I couldn’t get her to snap out of it. I don’t know where she is getting this stuff from. I don’t think her therapist would have put that idea in her head.”
“She’s not said anything like that to me Rob, but I don’t know, it sounds a bit religious.”
“Yeah, it does. I hope it’s not reading the Bible that’s putting ideas like that in her head.”
“Have you asked her why she is thinking about the sacredness of life?”
“I just presumed she was still going over the car accident and somehow making the link to the way she has treated her own body. Her beautiful mind is a maze at the moment. I just worry at how much she is still suffering nine months after it happened.”
“I’ve seen her praying a couple of times Rob. Is that helping her?”
“I have asked her what she talks about when she prays, and she said usually she thanks God for everything she has. That sounded like a good thing. Her thinking about her blessings rather than her woes can’t be bad can it?”
Chris agreed, “You’d have thought that would help.”
“She feels guilty because of not being able to work too. She made me sit down with her and write a list of all the jobs that need doing around the house. She ticked the things she doesn’t want me to do because she wants to do them herself. I guess I’ve just been getting on with chores around the house. If I see something needs doing, I do it. But she wants me to leave some things for her. She told me what makes her stressed and she can’t face attempting on her own. But things like folding the laundry and putting it in the airing cupboard, loading the dishwasher and unloading it, there were a lot of things that she asked me to leave for her. She said she feels really guilty seeing me doing so much around the house.”
Chris was staring into his glass thinking about all sorts of things that Annabelle had said to him. She had repeated again and again her fear of becoming a burden to her husband, something which he had already told Robin frequently, “She does need to be able to get some satisfaction from feeling she is contributing. Giving, gratitude – they are going to be good for her self-confidence and self-worth.”
“Yeah, I just haven’t wanted her to worry about anything. But she seems to want to take on more responsibility. I’m going to see how it goes, I just don’t want to see her getting stressed.”
“Just keep encouraging her and reassuring her. I’m sure that’s what she needs – just a lot of love. She’ll get there Rob,” the long day at work, the beer kicking in, Chris was running out of practical suggestions.
“I do worry though about what she reads and watches on TV. So many things upset her. She feels guilty when she sees charity adverts. I’ve told her she to talk to me before she starts ringing the number on the screen and donating thousands of dollars. We’ve agreed that spends over $100 should have a discussion between us.”
“You’re not serious, when you say thousands of dollars?”
Robin nodded, “It’s her money Chris. But I can’t let her just give it all away to every charity who run an advert. I’ve said it would be better if we discuss it first. But then she felt guilty thinking she’d upset me. Trying to tell her I’m not upset, I’m just concerned because I think she is vulnerable at the moment didn’t go down well. She said she feels pathetic.”
“It’s hard, never being certain whether what you’ll say might upset her.”
Robin’s agitation was making his fidgeting more dramatic, “Yeah, but I do find it’s better to keep communicating. I can’t let her be on her own with her thoughts. We need to keep the flow of her thoughts going. Although sometimes it is a bloody roller coaster, at least when we do talk about things, we seem to get somewhere.”
Although the answer was obvious to Chris, he still asked, “And you, is it getting to you?”
After a deep exhale, Robin smiled “She is a joy Chris, an absolute joy. Even though she is not herself, she is still a pleasure to live with.”
“Rob, don’t take this the wrong way, but don’t forget how lucky you are to have her.”
“Do I sound ungrateful? I don’t mean too mate. I just worry for her. “
Chris was eager to wind the conversation up and head back home, but he tried to maintain the upbeat note. He knew Annabelle was counting on him, “You’re not on your own.”
“I’ve so much support. I talk to my mum a lot. She’s very practical about everything, and very realistic too. I appreciate your support too – a lot Chris. I’m better at switching off than I used to be. Work helps, I need my space sometimes. She needs more sleep nowadays. Sometimes after dinner, I’ll take her straight to bed and… well, you know, and then she’ll fall asleep. I get up and ring my family or watch a movie or read, while she is asleep. I don’t let myself stew over everything.”
“You’ve got this Rob. She will get better, but it might be a marathon.”
“Even if she didn’t recover her physical energy, I’d like to see her beat the guilt. It’s controlling her. It’s heartbreaking to see her cry like she does.”
When Robin reached home, Annabelle was already in bed, “How was your evening Belle?”
Annabelle put her arms around Robin’s neck, “Pearl gave up on my knitting. She said it’s probably easier to unravel it and start again.”
“I thought Pearl could fix anything.”
“Well, I think I may have challenged her. The wool was so tangled and knotted, she couldn’t see any way to unpick it.”
Smiling at his wife, Robin twirled some of her hair in between two fingers, “Speaking of tangled, can I pick your thoughts?”
Annabelle grinned, “Yes, I will admit to having tangled thoughts. What is it?”
“I just wondered if you had watched something or read something that made you so upset about the sacredness of life today. Chris wondered if it might be something religious.”
“Weren’t you two supposed to be out to relax and have a drink? You haven’t been analysing me have you?”
“We talked about football too. But you are our favourite subject, by far.”
“Really!” Annabelle shook her head, “Chris is very astute Robin. As a matter of fact, I was reading something in the Bible this morning that made me very emotional. It was in the Psalms. It was very, what’s the word? Erm, profound.”
“I’m going to be honest with you Belle, I worry about you reading things that make you feel so guilty.”
Annabelle looked a little disappointed, “Robin, it had a very deep impact on me, and maybe part of that was guilt. But it was very moving, very inspirational.”
“But you were so unhappy all afternoon. It’s hard to see you so heart-broken. Besides, I’m not sure we can afford to keep buying Kleenex at this rate.”
“I am sorry I cried so much. I don’t want you to worry about me. But I needed to cry Robin. I had a lot of emotions and I needed that relief. Crying is good sometimes.”
“Annabelle, you seem to be punishing yourself mentally. There is a lot in the Bible about guilt and sin. I don’t think that’s what you should be reading right now.”
Annabelle stared at Robin, “I trust your opinion and I know you care about me…”
“I love the bones of you Annabelle! I’m only saying this because I think it’s dragging you down. I want you to be happy.”
Annabelle smiled and kissed her husband’s chest, “Can I show you what I was reading? You can decide if it is bad for me?”
Robin nodded, so Annabelle reached over the bedside table and picked up Barbara Crabbe’s worn Bible. She turned to the Psalms and ran her finger down a page that had several of the hand drawn hearts that Barbara had written next to her favourite verses. She pointed to the verses she wanted Robin to see. He glanced over them, and then retraced his eyes over them again, taking them in more slowly the second time.
♥ For you produced my kidneys; You kept me screened off in my mother’s womb.
♥ I praise you because in an awe-inspiring way I am wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know this very well.
♥ My bones were not hidden from you When I was made in secret, When I was woven in the depths of the earth.
♥ Your eyes even saw me as an embryo; All its parts were written in your book Regarding the days when they were formed, Before any of them existed.
Once Robin had finished reading those words, he closed up the Bible and gazed at Annabelle with concern in his eyes, “That is what provoked you today?”
“Don’t you think those words are beautiful?” Annabelle asked Robin.
“They are lovely words. Can you tell me though, did they make you feel guilty? Is that why you were so upset today?”
Annabelle sighed, “Honestly, I think I felt a rainbow of emotions Robin. Maybe guilt was a part of it. I was looking at my arm and the way it’s healed up apart from these faint scars. I guess it really hit me that we are wonderfully made. Isn’t it amazing the way we can heal from our injuries. I found it very moving, and I started praying to God and asking Him to help my heart heal in the same way my arm has.”
Robin held Annabelle close, “I was worried that it had made you think of Lucy and feel guilty because of your depression.”
“It did made me think of Lucy. But not like that. This might sound strange, but I found it very comforting. I read those words at first and it made me think of me as a tiny embryo inside my own mom. An unplanned pregnancy that was inconvenient to my parents who were about to become grandparents. But there was someone who knew I existed from the very start and was watching me grow in secret. It’s kind of breathtaking isn’t it? I have never been close to my parents Robin. But the thought that I can call out and talk to somebody who has seen every moment of my existence since the moment I was conceived, someone who understands me so well – I find it deeply moving.”
“You really believe that God is real, don’t you?”
“I know you think it’s silly, but I do. The more I read, the more I feel He knows me. I found it very comforting to think that He knew Lucy too. I wasn’t well when we had Lucy, Robin. I wasn’t well at all. I feel so disappointed in myself whenever I think about her. But you loved her very much. She would have been loved by you and your family, I know she would. But those beautiful words in those verses, it just makes me realize that she too could have turned to the person who watched her developing the moment she was conceived. It’s beyond wonderful,” a tear streamed down Annabelle’s face.
“If it brings you comfort to believe that, then I am happy for you,” Robin whispered.
“I felt comfort, I felt guilt, I felt wonder, I felt energised, I felt loved. I like reading the Bible because I feel as if I am being unzipped and the tangled mess inside is somehow unravelling. I used to feel so lost with my thoughts, but I don’t feel as lost. I feel as if there’s a bright light that slowly I am making my way towards.”
“Belle, you are so lovely. I just don’t want you to face any more disappointment. A lot of people have been disappointed in religion. You need to be careful not to put your hopes in something that is no more than a fairy story.”
Annabelle’s tone became frustrated, “Dean said religion is a con. But he believes in God. The Bible is not a story about unicorns and magic. It’s about real people and the lives they led, the decisions they made, the challenges they faced. It’s about how people could do things their own way or ask for God to help them.”
“Ok ok, I don’t want to argue Belle. It sounds like your faith is becoming very special to you. Just be careful. I love you very much and I don’t want to see you get hurt. Dean can think whatever he wants, I’m not worried about him, I’m worried about you.”
“Robin, I have felt so much hurt, for so long, I doubt that it can get much worse. I want to get better, and I do believe that reading the Bible helps me feel better.”
“My love, listen, for better or worse, that’s what we both said. I am going to be right here. I am going to be watching out that nobody takes advantage of you though.”
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?