Friday, September 22, 2006

I read
this book by Tracy Thompson a little while ago. Parts of it resonated startlingly with me.

“She was looking at her baby, Ace, admiring him “”I was wondering how anyone could hurt anything so precious.” At that instant, an image popped into her mind: a man bent over Ace, sexually molesting him. She could not get the picture out of her mind. She was horrified at herself. Who would even think of something like that? What kind of mother could dream up such a thing about her own baby?””

Me. I could.

“The intrusive images in her mind changed from the sexual to the graphically violent, always involving her baby.”

I’ve never heard/read anyone saying this before.

“ . . .it was as if someone were forcing her to watch a sick snuff movie, and she could not turn off the projector.”

“How can a mother summon up the resolve to say the words, “I can’t stop thinking about dropping my baby off the balcony”? What if she is desperate and nobody takes her seriously? Even worse, what if they do?”

My movies don’t so much feature me doing unspeakable things to my baby. But being somehow forced to watch while someone else does. I see her eyes. Agony and terror and why isn’t mummy coming to save me. Sexual violence. Or tortuous scenes borrowed from another continents genocide. Sometimes it’s something like that happening to me, but I can’t cry out or defend myself because she’s sleeping in a dark corner of the room, unseen by the monster. I can’t make a sound or a fuss in case she wakes. And sees. And is seen.

Sometimes there’s no third party. I had to stop admiring the scenery along my two hour countryside train route to work, because my baby was falling from every bridge, hurtling into every river and crushed before every piece of farm machinery. Over and over and over. With sound track.

I read a LOT of books on the train. It’s got to be fiction, its got to be absorbing and intelligent. Anything that even causes me to roll my eyes at a cheesey metaphor can have me lost from a glimpse through the window. slave to the showreel of catastrophies. Her beautiful little face contorted in searching for me.

This book is important to me because it talks not only to my fears about the inevitability of a legacy of mental health issues, but because it’s not sentimental. There’s no chorus of triumphant optimisim . Rather, it’s the slow determined tread of women who move through one battle and know there's likely to be another. Learning about themselves and how strong they can be. And sometimes forgetting again. It felt to me sometimes like a quiet bolstering hug, no further explanation necessary –like from one of those few friends who doesn’t need to ask how you’re doing, but might rub your arm, put the kettle on and then talk about something else.


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