About a week ago an email entitled ‘Hannah’ dropped into my inbox. It was a message from my mother letting my sisters and I know that Hannah had rung her. Our wait was over. She had made contact. There had been uncertainty and speculation over what had happened to her over the previous couple of weeks and I double clicked the message open in the hope that I might read something that would dot the Is and cross the Ts.
The two paragraph email was littered with improbable statements. My mother explained that Hannah had returned to London on counsellors’ advice following some unpleasantness in Blackpool where she was at rehab. She didn’t yet know what that said unpleasantness was. I stumbled at that very first sentence. Would an experienced drug & alcohol counsellor really send a recovering addict, fresh out of rehab, to the city she used in the most? That would be like sweet-talking a lamb to the slaughter and not even the hungriest of wolves could do that.
She went on to tell my mother she had formed a whole new network of friends she could call on at any time. Really? I found that hard to swallow given she had suposedly only been back in London for a couple of days. She had apparently cleared the flat of ‘anything bad’ and was regularly attending a day treatment centre and NA meetings in the evening. She seemed positive my mother said.
Oh how cynical I have become.
The very next day, my father got in touch to let us know that Hannah had rung again to explain to my mother what the ‘unpleasantness’ had been. She had apparently acquired a stalker while in rehab and the situation had become so bad she had to get a police injunction against him. She said this precipitated her move back to London. Again. My lie detector went into overdrive. None of it made sense. Stalkers take a while to cultivate. And the police don’t act that quickly. And would she really go to them for help in the first place? I don’t know. I don’t have the answers but I feel like I’ve been here before.
I left to go away on business the day after she made contact and I thought I would be too busy to really process it. As I was leaving, I felt annoyed more than anything else. Rehab hadn’t worked – again. She was trying to dupe us – again. And to top it off, my parents were careering towards heartache and sleepless nights – again. While I was away, my annoyance evolved and one evening I was overcome with emotion when talking about her to family. I hadn’t expected the tears, I usually feel them coming. They must have been just hanging out in the background, waiting for an opportunity to flow. I am glad they came. The day they stop I will know I have given up on Hannah.
Over the course of the week, I couldn’t pick up the phone to my mother. I knew she was down and I couldn’t guarantee to be supportive and understanding. I was frightened that my upset around the lies would come out and my mother would feel as if I was attacking her. Every time she tells us what she has heard – she always follows it with a protective clause stating she is only ‘reporting’ what Hannah has told her. She is the messenger. She always has been. And we all know happens to them…
I waited a while and we spoke last night. I felt calmer and more resigned to the situation. We didn’t reallly talk about Hannah. Sometimes its nice not to. She sounded much more upbeat than I was expecting. It was my father’s birthday and it had been a good day. Four of his five daughters had called in the morning and I’m sure we all silently wondered whether Hannah would call too. I found out this morning she had. My father said she had sounded ‘confident’ and ‘control’. She said she had a month left to go at her day treatment centre.
Did I mention my inner lie detector was now finely tuned?
I analyse every word. I think I always have. I am a PR professional and over time I have become astute at deciphering hidden messaging in even the simplest of sentences. Hannah has herself become the Mistress of Spin. I can see what she is doing. But unlike us career communicators, she hasn’t troubleshot her statements. I used to want to unearth the truth. But today, it feels like there is no point. I can pretty much guess what she is doing. I just wish she wouldn’t put so much effort and energy into coming up with detailed scenarios for us and refocus on it all onto herself and getting better.