So I wended in the general direction of what is known in the trade as apeshit.
Not at first, of course. I was properly brought up. I don’t go around threatening to put arsenic in my daughter’s therapists’ tea just because they do something perfectly therapisty like… arrgghhhhh!
At first I replied, very calmly, That’s bad news. I don’t suppose she told you the associations?
Then (having no response) I sent a much longer email spelling out the associations.
Then I did nothing for a couple of days (except worry myself sick, obviously; and ring Serena a lot, probably) and then I rang Bink because it was Sunday and she has Sunday afternoons off in Therapyland, and we had a lovely long conversation about this and that and how are you and whatnot, at the end of which I said, casual-like, I hear you’re calling yourself Robin again?
And she said, They said I couldn’t be Bink any more.
“A bunch of therapists got together and decided I couldn’t be Bink, and I’d have to call myself something else.”
So I went from sick with anxiety to hugely, hugely, HUGELY relieved – I mean, come on: I’d much rather have mad therapists than a mad daughter, wouldn’t you? Therapists are supposed to be nuts –and really only mildly p***** off because after all, I was soooo relieved that she hadn’t come up with this whacky, crazed idea all on her own.
And sent another email expressing my concern about a policy of getting already loony patients to screw with their surely loony enough identity, and then slept on it and sent another email saying, Maybe I did you an injustice and Bink was fibbing?
She does do that, sometimes, when she’s painted herself into a corner. And no of course it doesn’t help, but one of the things about extreme anxiety is that you sometimes do something which is pretty dumb in the long run but gets you out of an immediate anxiety-inducing hole. Or corner. Or indeed yet another nail-across-a-blackboard mixed metaphor.
And then I thought, If I were a therapist, I hope I’d be perceptive enough to notice that this mother here might be a teensy weensy bit exercised about this whole Robin thing, what with all these emails flying my way like Red Indians’ arrows at the Lone Ranger, and all. Oop, sorry: Native American arrows, given that we’re in therapyspeak. Not sure what the PC is for the Lone Ranger, but presumably something like, Solitary Person Riding Around a Bit to the Sound of Rossini.
And if I were a therapist, I hope I’d be compassionate enough to pick up the telephone and be nice to her about it. Especially as she has asked me to get to the bottom of this.
After all it must be quite tough enough already, being mother to a lunatic.
If I were a therapist, that is. Given that being a therapist is presumably about a) spotting stuff like that and b) solving it.
Two days (five days after the original email) later the therapist finally rang. About something else, I think.
And then I went apeshit.
For a full fifteen minutes, I’d say.
Do you not think Bink has enough freakiness in her life, without being called by the name of her abuser? Of course it’s freaky! Have you renamed yourself? No, neither have I. I didn’t choose the name I go by, and probably wouldn’t have, actually, given the choice. (Quite a boring name, Anne.) I just go with it. Because my parents chose it for me. Like ninety-nine point nine nine per cent of the rest of us, named by our parents and sticking with it.
To get rid of negative associations?!
Bink has been Bink since before she was born, affectionately so-called by her sister Serena. (And has three baptismal names to choose from if she really doesn’t want to be Bink any more.) Bink is associated with all her life, the well and the ill, the happy childhood and the impressive degree and being bridesmaid to Serena, as well as the tormented adolescence. Whereas Robin? Robin! Robin?! Robin only has negative associations.
And so on and so forth, pacing up and down, getting angrier and shakier by the minute.
Until I got off the telephone so angry and shaky I didn’t know where to put myself. So I rang Serena and dumped it all on her.
And then deteriorated steadily throughout the evening till I could barely speak or shuffle.
And then at the beginning of this week a more senior therapist rang, and I could see why Bink tells me this therapist is “very smart”... but as I don’t have said therapist’s permission I can’t tell you much more about the conversation except that I ended up considerably mollified, and pleased to have been contacted.
Though actually, being brutally objective about it now, afterwards, I don’t really see why I have reason to be any less worried, given that Bink is still going under the name of Robin.
“I don’t really care,” she said. “I’m just fed up with keeping everybody happy. The therapists. My family.”
Maybe get yourself happy first, Bink. Or Robin, if that’s really who you want to be... but if so you’ll have to count me out. Soz. Been there, done that, haven’t got the painkillers though because they don’t make ’em for losing your daughter.
[And thank you, readers, truly, really, deeply, for all your kind and encouraging comments.
Helen, your question is the easiest to answer. My publisher is working on the reprint of On Our Own, and earlier this week I was sent a sample mock-up.
I will ask him now, how long it will take to produce.]