Bink was strung like a garrotting wire that winter.
I’ve just found a diary note of the time, that her Director of Studies had sent her home half way through the Michaelmas Term, incapable of anything.
I didn’t really take this on board.
My difficulty was that, ever since I had taken Bink on Paul McKenna’s NLP week, and Alex on Phil Parker’s Lightning Process, a few years earlier, my natural optimism had become a fierce, simplistic, uncompromising religion.
Of course Bink is getting better. Is better. You’re better Bink.
Must have driven her nuts.
I suppose it was my way of surviving.
I’d done all that OCD thing. Years of it. Not being able to wash for months on end because Bink was in Clean Mode and needed the rest of us not to use the bathroom, so she could.
Going back to our local bookshop, twice a week, to change perfectly clean, new A level text books for other identically clean, new A level text books. So that Bink could consider them clean.
I didn’t want to go back there. Never again as long as I lived. It is a shitty way to be.
Not again, Bink. I’m not going there again. What good did it do last time? It didn’t make you well, did it? (Though, yes, it may have got her through A levels...)
That December, Alex came in late one night with paint on his shoes. Anti-trespass paint, since you ask. From climbing a fence after chucking-out time...
(I am reminded of a friend of ours in our church in Parson’s Green. His escapades tended to be more entertaining than edifying.
One Sunday he turned up, his face having obviously insinuated its way into the inside of a dog’s mouth. And then tried to extract itself without necessarily having the dog’s full permission.
Serena, having expressed the sympathy which she oozed so naturally as the vicar’s eldest daughter, even more naturally wanted to know what breed of dog it was. Serena recognises people by their dogs.
A guard dog, our friend said without irony.)
Anyway, I assumed anti-trespass paint would be difficult to shift: what’s the point in it otherwise? To my surprise, it came out of the stair carpet easily, with soap and water.
(And why wasn’t Alex extracting it himself, you also ask?
Alex is a specialist. He fixes my computer, telephone, email system, back-up, and all that; also my mood, lack of humour on a Monday morning, feelings of hopelessness and so on. It would be a waste to require him to spend hours or even days doing a job which would take me minutes. Given that there is so much he can do and I can’t. And that it would take a lot longer to organise him into doing than to do it myself.)
So I took a fresh bowl of soapy water, a cloth and a pair of rubber gloves up to Bink’s room, to extract last night’s paint from the newish carpet we’d laid for her in there.
Don’t! Bink said. Don’t get soap on my floor. How will you get it out again?
(Soap is dirty, to Bink. Because of the chemical action you learnt about in school when you are seven: the soap attaches to the grease, and takes away when it is washed away itself. So obviously, if it’s not taken away, used soap must be one of the dirtiest things on the planet. I suppose.)
I hate spending time on housework.
And along with every other mother in the country, specially in the run-up to Christmas, I had a gazillion gabillion gatrillion other things to do before lunchtime. I had allocated 30 secs to sponge this out of her carpet. So I could get on with everything else.
I just want to get this done, Bink. It won’t take a moment. I’ve got a hundred and one other things to do and this is just one tiny chore in my long list of things to finish so I can have a life. I’ve just done this to the stair carpet, and it’s easy. I’ll wash the soap out again with this clean water, look.
And I probably moved to do it.
So Bink panicked. Ignored me. And yelled.
At the top of her voice, right in my ear, right through me.
Bink, I said, please talk to me. Don’t shout like that.
Alex!!! so loud that he would be able to hear her wherever he was in the house, and rescue her from this mad tormentor who was about to make her carpet so dirty she would never be able to live with it again.
There are many victims of OCD.
As Professor Paul Salkovskis told me years ago, it is an infectious disease. I too had suffered. I was worn down by it. I couldn’t stand this terrible, banshee wailing going through me like a knife.
I could not. Stand it.
So I dropped the bowl of soapy water. Presumably to stop the screaming.
Did I know what I was doing? Could I have prevented myself?
At one level, we always know what we are doing. All of us, even Bink. As long we aren’t drugged to oblivion.
This is why Bink is still alive.
I couldn’t stand the shouting so I allowed myself let go of the bowl.
It bled, soapy, clean to the rest of us but dirty-filthy-to-Bink-soapy, all over her carpet.
She burst into a flood of screaming hysteria, which took the energy of the whole family to contain and lasted most of the evening.
Her stress and mine.
He always does.