Rose loves Bink very dearly. As Bink does Rose; she might say even more dearly.
To cut them off from each other might have protected the child to some extent, but would also have hurt her very much, too. However ill Bink has been – and sometimes that has been very, very ill indeed – there has always been profound, loving good, hidden somewhere deep in the heart of her. Why would we deny Rosie that? To part the sisters would have been very wrong indeed, as far as we could see.
Similarly, to cut Rose off from Gatsby alone would have been completely random and pointless. She wouldn’t lose anything by it, sure: nor gain anything neither. If Gatsby had not offered Bink a home with him, promising her the earth and round-the-clock care and delivering a nightmare – if he had simply remained a friend to all of us and never become Bink’s so-called, in the contemporary, ill-defined and unspecific catch-all jargon, “partner” – there wouldn’t have been any issue at all.
However, the one thing we could protect Rose from was the so-destructive, so-life-denying relationship between them. The Spirit of Bink-and-Gatsby together. The third person in the ménage. The sum total of what the two of them added up to as a unit.
There was nothing wholesome about that at all, that we could see. (Bink told me years later that when they were good together, they were really good together. I can sort of believe it; or that it could feel that way, anyway. He is intelligent: he could be fun… But I never saw it. Besides, that was after she recognised the terrible destruction that amounted to the two of them, most of the time.)
That, we could protect Rose from.
And the way to do that, was to cut her off from Gatsby.
There was no downside to this. No ties of blood or marriage to be violated. No deep affection, that we could discern, to be hurt by it. No regrets expressed by the child herself: if anything, she seemed relieved.
True, it was extremely hurtful and disconcerting to Gatsby himself, he didn’t understand it all and no doubt still doesn’t. Despite all that has happened since. But alas, the stakes were high, everyone was in a lot of pain and I’m afraid any insult incidentally inflicted on a grown-up, healthy adult was simply sad collateral.
True too, it made Bink very angry with us; or rather, me. But she was angry with me anyway. The whole point of being a parent is that you love your children enough to bear their anger, if you need to make yourself unpopular in order to protect them.
And of course it would have been much more pertinent to protect Bink from the relationship. But this we couldn’t do because she was legally adult. Believe me, I looked into it. She was undoubtedly vulnerable. She was also being exploited (as was he). But the burden of proof on curbing someone’s freedom has to be very rigorous indeed.
Probably rightly... despite all the injury done to the tiny few duped by a sect or a seducer or any other kind of con, while their heart-broken and un-duped families look on, helpless to save them.
I hope this all makes sense, as to why we cut off Gatsby’s contact with our child. If not, all I can say is that I had a very strong instinct to do it. In any case, no one has any answers when it comes to mental illness.
We’re all just guessing: the very top shrinks among us, too.
One thing I have learnt, is to go with my guesses not theirs.
Which was all poor Gatsby was doing.
Years ago, before Bink was even thought of, I read a book called Tough Love. A close friend had a husband who could be violent, and its thesis made a lot of sense – in theory, if rather challenging to implement in practice. True love doesn’t mean thoughtless tolerance.
Gatsby’s approach was liquid love. If I love Bink I will do everything, give everything, yield everything she ever demands or asks.
She puts a rope around her neck, screams that she doesn’t want her parents to know, insists that her family mustn’t be appraised of her whereabouts, panics lest her mother might somehow find out that she’s in a psychiatric hospital or living on the streets or might be about to kill herself…
Gatsby gave her what she wanted.
Damn nearly destroying them both.
There just remain a couple of things to say on the subject.
The first is this.
Though it would have been a very bad motive for our decision (to use a child for this purpose) undoubtedly there was an incidental and beneficial spin-off in the message it gave to Bink. I didn’t for a moment believe she would break-off with Gatsby because of our disapproval – of course not –but sometimes you have to preach a message you believe in, even when it has no power to change events.
After all, now that she sees for herself how utterly disastrous the set-up was, at least she has the assurance of knowing that 1. Her parents are not utter morons, and 2. She can trust us to tell her next time she is about to wreck her life.
Finally, two or three weeks ago a very thoughtful and kind reader, who through this blog has joined the prayer group of friends for Bink, asked me privately whether anyone was specifically praying for Gatsby.
It was a very pertinent and powerful question.
Since then I have been, daily.
Along with my prayers for someone else, who damaged Shaun very badly, too.