Aunt Jo and I sat in her kitchen for two hours today drinking raspberry frappes. At one stage a bee fell into my tall tumbler, drawn by the fruity scent, buzzing with panic as the ice weighed it down and it couldn’t escape. I plunged my fingers into the red ice. ‘Don’t,’ cried Aunt Jo. ‘It’ll sting you.’ ‘I don’t care,’ I replied. ‘I am despondent.’

I gathered the ice, the pulverised fruit, and the bee, clutching them, a blood-filled trophy, crimson juice gathering at my elbow, great globules of ice staining Aunt Jo’s brand new granite benchtops. The bee climbed atop a piece of ice, an insect climbing Mount Everest, shook his wings and was gone.

Aunt Jo mopped up the spill and made me another frappe. ‘I’m despondent too,’ she said. ‘I didn’t think she’d take him back.’ It’s a rotten day, there’s no better way to describe it. My sister has taken her ex back. She kissed a frog and he didn’t turn into a prince but she’s prepared to wait for him to change. Aunt Jo and I think it’ll be a long wait. ‘I think I’ll go and smack him in the gob while I’m waiting,’ said Aunt Jo. ‘Or cut his break cables.’ Aunt Jo and I amused ourselves for over half an hour devising imaginary methods of revenge.

‘I’m fed up with Millie.’ Aunt Jo is smoking. It’s the first cigarette she’s had in five years. The smoke is exhaled in angry puffs as if she is visualising spitting in ex-man’s face. ‘Why can’t she see him for what he is? How bad will it have to get before she runs for the hills for good?’

I am worried. My sister has laid down the law but not in the direction it should be laid. Aunt Jo and I have been given our marching orders. A very firm’ thanks but no thanks.’ We are each putting on a brave face but internally we are falling to pieces. How can she take back a man she is so fearful of? What has he said to her to change her mind so definitively?

‘He just told her he loved her,’ said Aunt Jo wryly. ‘That was all he had to do. He can be quite charming for the ten minutes a day he’s sober. Millie would cling to those ten minutes as a measure of his true character, as a sign that he is capable of changing. It’s all a load of bloody bollocks.’

I have a headache from the ice or maybe from the fear that my sister could end up in the emergency room at the hands of the man who tells her he loves her. There is nothing I can do about it. She is manic depressive but not non compos mentis. In this case, it is a desire for love that is impairing her judgement, not a mental illness. Aunt Jo and I discuss harsh methods of punishment, withdrawing our support, not being there to pick up the fragments of her heart every single time it breaks at his hands. But it is hard to do. How can you send someone you love out on a tightrope without a safety net? But how can I continue to watch as the colour of hope disappears from my sister’s eyes?

Aunt Jo slices a baguette with gusto. ‘We are being forced to wait for more violence to occur and I hate it,’ she said. ‘It’s like waiting for the end of the world and being denied the chance to do anything about it.’ She waves her knife in the air, whirling it around her head like a broadsword. This is what Lara Croft would be like as a pensioner. ‘One foot wrong, that’s all he has to make, and I’ll turn him from a rooster to a hen with one slice.’

As I drive home the streets grow dark. A black cat runs across the road, edged with purple shadow. I cannot tell in which direction it runs, so swift is its flight. I put on the windscreen wipers but realise it is not raining. I am crying, my dreams for Millie’s new life screwed up like scrap paper. I try not to think about her but she appears like a ghost in the headlights. I feel like stopping the car in the middle of the road and screaming until I am skinless but all I can do is keep going and watch for signs of trouble. The realisation lodges, sharp as glass in my throat. I know it will be a while before I can swallow it down.

12 thoughts on “Despondent.

  1. as much as i know this is not what you want to hear,, i am including a link to a post i wrote some time back,, before you and i met i believe,, and it may give you some insight into the twisted thinking of your sister… i know… be cause with out the diagnosis… i am she…..

    “broken girls~n~bad boys”


  2. Sad to say, I don’t think there is anything you can do right now. Anything you say or do could well be classed as interference, and can only lead to bitterness between you.

    (as it did between me and my brother, to whom I hadn’t spoken for nearly 20 years)

    Just be there to pick up the pieces if it all goes pear-shaped again …


  3. I wish I had something witty or deep to say. Unfortunately, all I can do is offer you a virtual hug. I have a heavy heart after reading your post, and I am not even related to Millie. How difficult this must be for you and aunt Jo. I will be thinking of you all today.


  4. This post really hit home for me, Selma. I can’t begin to tell you how many times in the last year, and even in the last weeks, I experienced very vulnerable and lonely moments where I wanted so badly to call up my ex and say “I miss you and I love you and I can’t live without you.” I am thankful that he has a live-in girlfriend which precludes such irrational thinking and behavior. By the next morning I am recovered and asking myself what the hell I was doing even considering such a an act of desperation. I remember too well what that life was, it was hell, and I don’t want to go back there, even for the ten minutes of “love” that I would experience. I pray that your sister realizes quickly she has made a mistake, before the lesson she learns inflicts damage that time can’t heal. Nothing is worse than standing helplessly by and watching someone you love systematically destroy their life. My heart is with you.


  5. I’m reading this and as I’m reading it part of me knew that your sister would have taken him back…without going into too much detail I was in an abusive relationship and I went back many times…my best friend stood by me the whole time everytime telling me not to go back…I know you feel helpless so did she but it was only when I had enough and some stuff happened that I realized I can’t go on like this and that is when I crashed and needed all the support from my bff. I hope your sister will eventually really leave that asshole for good and you will be there to help her recover but in the meantime it is hard to stand by to watch her go through this and do nothing, but that is all you can do cuz no matter how much you want to help she will reject it and only accept it when she is ready… I totally agree with leslie – you have to let it go and be ready to catch her when she falls

    Good luck to you and Aunt Jo!


  6. I never believed my friends when they told me “he’s no good.” I explained the bruises were from my “self defense” training. I said he was “teaching me to defend myself.”

    Seriously. What’s worse is, I believed my own lies and I thought I would die when he left me the first time.

    I’ve also been the supporter. When my best friend was drinking herself to death, blaming everyone and every thing for her drunkeness. I would beg her, berate her, and rescue her time after time. Until I’d had enough. She called me from jail. She’d been arrested for driving while intoxicated. She needed bail money and a ride home.

    I got her out of jail, I dragged her sorry arse around until things were squared away, then I stepped back and refused to talk to her for a while. It wasn’t to punish her, it was to heal me. It was time I stopped “being there” for her every need and started paying attention to my family and myself.

    She’s now sober and we’re back thick and fast, but it was a very difficult time.

    I hope that you and your sister can finally get to that point, but you have another element to the mix that I didn’t have, her mental illness. Unlike my friend, your sister may not be capable of “learning her lesson” from her trials. She may always need to be rescued. I pray that you’ll find the strength to do whatever it is you need to do for her AND for you.

    By the way, the more I read about Aunt Jo, the more I adore that woman… Oh, and I thought I was the only one to rescue bees that fall into peril. We’re such softies, you and I.


  7. Um, I forgot to add that the guy who left the bruises on my body, finally left me for good. Lord of the Manor is not that guy. The only bruise HE’S given me was when we both reached for the same baby toy on the floor.


  8. I think that stinks. And the fact that you cant do anything about it….sucks even worse. I am sorry your sister is making such bad choices. I guess thats just the path she is on.



    PAISLEY – thank you for the link. It has made me understand things a bit more.

    TRAVELRAT – you’re right. I just need to step back now – and wait.

    INGRID – thank you so much for your kind thoughts. I really appreciate it.

    JOSIE – I am really sorry you have gone through a similar thing. I can see how difficult it is to make a break. It requires such strength. I really admire you for getting through it.

    LESLIE – so nice of you to visit. You are right. I do have to let it go. I can feel myself getting really stressed about it. Thanks for the advice.

    TBALL – I’m so sorry you have also gone through this but I’m so glad you got through it. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    KAREN – I knew it couldn’t be LOTM. That man is so awesome I want to marry him myself. I’m so sad you had to go through that but glad you met your wonderful hubby. We are softies. I can’t kill most things but I do draw the line at cockroaches. I love hearing them go splat!

    MELEAH – it’s hard but I’m hoping she’ll see the light soon. I’m just praying it won’t take a visit to hospital to do it.

    DAOINE – thank you so much. You are very kind!


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