Well, I’ve failed Lent already, anyway.
Serena always said it will be too challenging, giving up carbs AND booze AND tea all at once. Make yourself ill, you will.
I started off so well, as well. Wednesday morning, bright and early, took Shaun a mug of bile-green tea. And left the room before he could throw it at me.
So obviously, only two days in and I’m back on the drug I am so addicted to.
Only three mugs a day, though, Serena said, if you are giving up carbs. THREE? How am I going to survive on three mugs a day? Easier to restrict Ben to three gins a day.
Right. One before getting up. One for breakfast. One at teatime. If Ben can do that with his gins, I can with my tea, surely?
We nearly wobbled on the booze as early as Ash Wednesday.
Our last night at Serena’s house, lovely fresh cod ordered from the butcher for our first evening of fasting... and two minutes after Serena had left the house for a couple of hours’ work in the early evening, she was rat-tatting the door again, blood all over her face and hands, bike wheel spinning in the lethally raining darkness in the middle of the road, front light bleeping hideously at the sky.
Ambulance, hours in Casualty, can’t stitch that love, Shaun and I putting the bairn to bed and tidying the house and laying the fire and eventually, around ten, starting the supper anyway. Then Alex in from the hospital, where he had stopped on his way home, thank goodness because Christian (type one diabetic) was having a sugar crash having not eaten, and it transpires that the worst place to suffer a life-threatening condition is in a hospital...
The hospital chocolate vending machine (life-saver if you are diabetic) being broken. Of course.
11 o’clock, candle and fire lit, cod and asparagus on the table, big jug of sparkling water, and Serena says, Do you think this is a reasonable excuse? To break Lent?
Serena, if I broke Lent every time I had a traumatic evening... well, I often do. Several times a week. At least.
Which is why I’ve given it up now.
Possibly for a lot longer than Lent, given that Bink’s been on an addiction treatment programme, and presumably not a drink since Christmas.
I mean, you know, if she ever comes home again…
She rang me.
As it happens, a few minutes before Serena rattled the door with blood pouring down her face and into her fingers.
For once, I had to risk not being able to speak to Bink again for another fortnight, and tell her I was hanging up.
But I managed to get hold of her again.
It is balm. It really is. Just hearing her voice. Why, when she sounds so fragile and lost and broken, I don’t know. Perhaps because I have missed so much of Bink for so long... Gone through so many arid journeys when she hasn’t spoken to me at all.
(Like when the boys first went to boarding school, aged eight and ten. I would think of them all day long, every minute and busy moment whatever I was doing, like a girl missing her lover. Occasionally they would make it to the call box…)
She feared I would be cross with her!
For walking out. After all you did to get me there.
Bink... how many times do I have to tell you? I just want you to be WELL. I don’t care what route you take, or how you arrive, once you have.
Yes, ok, I admit, it is frustrating, a bit soul-destroying, to spend many hundred hours, many months thinking and research and other people’s help, on a solution for you... and it turns out to be the wrong one. But if we – sorry, back to therapyspeak: if you – find your way in the end... how could I care?
(And yes, all right, being brutally honest, I was pretty p****d off with you last weekend. Walking out without telling us. Disappearing so I had to spend all my mountain walk tracking you. Yet again. Then you refuse to speak to me all weekend because I “stress” you. What do you think you do to me?! Though I didn’t actually get around to saying any of this, because I forgot, in fact. But yes, since you ask, I do get angry with Bink. Sometimes. When I’m bored of being broken-hearted.)
Perhaps it’s a mother-thing – other mothers, feel free to tell me in the comments – or perhaps it’s just my personality: my gift, the curse my wicked fairy godmother cast on me in my cradle, is that I simply can’t get discouraged. I just can’t do it. Can’t do giving up.
I try. Every so often, my soul tries, in self-defence.
That’s it now: I’m giving up. I’ve had it. I’ve had enough of my life being ruined by this. And everyone else’s too.
(I say to myself.)
Call yourself Robin? I don’t love any Robins, in my life. Call yourself Robin (I vow) and you can walk alone.
Walk out of treatment? Refuse to return my calls? Only make contact because you didn’t recognise Shaun’s number, and got me by mistake?
That’s it. I can’t do this any more.
And then she rings, and immediately, immediately, I am full of hope again. We will get there, Bink. You, and we beside you.
We will get you to your dreams. Or die trying.
So back to Lent and giving up things and drugs and addiction.
Bink is doing better than me, anyway.
She is not back taking anything. Except lots and lots of Ibuprofen, because her back is agony.
Your back, Bink? You’ve never had backache before.
Lorazepam is a muscle relaxant, she explains. Now I’m off it, the tension in my back is really painful.
Ibuprofen’s ok. I can do Ibuprofen.
Just before we hang up, though, I say, panicking, Don’t overdo it, will you? (I know nothing about Ibuprofen. Can you kill yourself, on bucketloads of it? Or worse, get addicted??!)
All right, she says.