My daughter is reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson for her GCSE English.
I want to tell her not to bother: she has the perfect example of a split personality in her mother.
Ninety percent of the time I am good natured, fairly placid, tolerant and easy-going. And then -
Well – I have told you about the wolves and the hedgehog. I won't bore you again.
It's what happens when I start to come out of that phase I'm coping with now.
Damage control, you might call it.
Did I really say all those things? I frantically rummage through the last few weeks' worth of texts and emails, trying to find out.
Yes, I did. In some cases. In others, thank goodness, the words remained safely locked in my brain – they did not escape to cause damage. But I thought them. Believe me; I thought them so hard it felt as if they would fly out of my head and circle round the intended victim like killer hornets. They battered inside my mouth and stung my tongue so it felt swollen and too big to fit behind my teeth. Yet I dared not open my lips. I dared not touch that keyboard.
Because words are like sharks' teeth – they grip and do not let go. You cannot undo the harm done by words with yet more words.
"The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it."
And yes, there have been tears. Because I never meant to hurt. I never wished to cause a fracture in any of my precious friendships. This is why sometimes I hide away, for fear of causing just this devastation.
Different friends react in different ways:
"Hey – you're certainly on form today! Very witty – but rather cruel, don't you think?"
"Ouch. That hurt! Be careful with my feelings please."
"................................................................" The long silence.
Abject grovelling goes only so far. Hugs can only be given if they are received. Gifts can be interpreted as attempts to purchase forgiveness. I can apologise. I can explain. But the fact remains that those words were said or written and I cannot bring them back, no matter how much I'd like to.
If I said things while drunk, then at least I would have chosen to drink; I did not choose to be bi-polar.
These changes to my character really piss me off.
I'd put it more elegantly, but I'm still up there; with those nasty words.
So, just watch out. And please, don't take anything I say to heart.
Because those hurtful words don't come from my heart – they come from my brain. And my brain can't be trusted right now.
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