I know it’s difficult to believe but in my defence I can honestly tell you that blowing up Gareth and Eileen Jefferson’s brand new en-suite bathroom, was absolutely the last thing on my mind when we moved to Leebury.
As I explained to my husband Adam, the police and subsequently my counsellor, in the weeks following boomgate, there really is nothing wrong with a fondness for cleaning.
To which they all replied “Within reason.”
Adam added “If you want us all to believe you’re truly taking this seriously Sarah, you’ve got to stop calling it boomgate”
The point was that I really and truly hadn’t meant it to happen
I’d just chosen to use cleaning to avoid something else.
Apparently it became an obsession and that is the bit that is the problem. I suppose they must be right. When you’ve got to the point where a habit prompts the explosion of a bathroom and it isn’t even your own, then yes the facts are undeniable.
In retrospect however it was only as a subconscious answer to a problem that was much worse.
A problem so vast and insurmountable that I was finding it difficult to get beyond, or over, or through, or around it.
My problem was that Eileen and Gareth Jeffereson had stolen my husband.
As I sat nervously waiting for my first appointment with the counsellor, that Eileen and Gareth had insisted I visit in lieu of pressing charges, I reflected on where we had got to. How I’d arrived at the point of no return on the move to Leebury and the year we’d had here, but it was too big to deconstruct in the surgery waiting room.
Plus my train of thought was derailed by the sound of Adam’s voice on the intercom. It wasn’t that I was surprised, he was a Dr there after all. It’s just it sounded like he was a bit cross and that took me back to boomgate. “Mr Taylor Room 9 please”. His patient had no idea of the train of thought his bunions, or whatever it was he was there for, were prompting in me. He stood and and shuffled past.
“Could be piles I suppose” I said not realising I’d said it out loud, until a woman who was probably Mrs Taylor glared at me.
I was just nervous.
I sat amongst the sniffles and the crying babies, and the magazines and leaflets and I wondered what the counsellor would look like. Adam had said he was excellent.
When I’d been ill in London I’d just been prescribed a short course of Prosac.
Waiting to see a counsellor now was making me feel ‘properly bonkers’. I hoped he wasn’t too tall and that he didn’t have a beard. I’ve had a mortal fear of beards since childhood. The height thing was new though.
I braced myself for the counsellor’s voice announcing my name on the intercom. ‘Ladies and gentlemen the nervous woman on the banquette next to the bottle of hand sanitizer is off her raving nah nah. She’s coming to talk things through, but I don’t hold out much hope’
He didn’t though
He walked out into reception and called my name. I was so relieved that as I walked towards him I said, “Oh thank God you’re clean shaven” which made him smile and made me feel extraordinarily aware of how airless it was.
I tried to imagine him on the toilet, which nervous people are supposed to do to calm down, but that just made me wonder how clean the mythical toilet was and the whole thing began spiralling.
So I stood still with my eyes tightly shut until it passed.
It must have been a while because I became aware of how silent it had become, until he coughed and I said
"Sorry I was just thinking about you on the toilet"
The was a deep but short silence then he said “Do you want to follow me through to the counselling room?”
All in all, it went quite well considering my reticence and after 37 minutes of mainly nodding and listening, he asked if I’d ever heard of obsessive-compulsive disorder. I didn’t answer immediately because after checking the time again, I’d noticed a small dust bunny build up between the lino and the skirting board and I was wondering if I could get to that without him making a big deal about it.
It did register though and I agreed that possibly I might have a mild tendency in that direction.
When Adam came home later that afternoon I told him it had gone well and that the counsellor had suggested I might have OCD.
I immediately wished I hadn’t, because instead of the supportive and understanding fantasy version of the conversation that had been playing in my head since my appointment, where he had taken me in his arms and said things like “we’ll get through this” and “It’s all going to be ok” and “I love you so much”; he used words like “Exactly”, and “This is what I’ve been trying to tell you” and “Why do you never agree with me? Why does it have to be someone else’s idea for you to think it’s true?”
Then he did that brushing his hands through his hair thing and we sat in silence for a while.
Then he said it.
“Look Sarah you know I love you, but I need some time on my own”.
I didn’t say anything I just looked at him. He looked at his shoes, then the ceiling, then his shoes again.
Then eventually I said “How long have you felt like this?”
“A while but you telling me that you have realised something I’ve been telling you for weeks now is the tipping point to be honest. It’s just so disrespectful Sarah”
I sat there for a moment opening and closing my mouth like a swing bin lid. His reason made no sense and I was struggling with the enormity of it.
Finally I said “I didn’t realise it, the counsellor suggested it”
Adam said nothing.
“So because of that you’ve decided to leave?” I asked.
Then he left the room came back with a suitcase and said, “I’ll be at Gareth’s”
Oh my God no. I thought, not bloody Eileen and bloody Gareth’s please please not Eileen and Gareth’s , I’ll never clean anything again as long as I live just, please, please don’t go there.
Instead of which I said, “You’ve been out all day. Did you pack that case, before you went to work then?”
Adam rolled his eyes and said ” You see this is exactly what I’m talking about you’re completely missing the point Sarah. Who cares when I packed my bloody case it should be the fact that I’m going that is the issue”
And then he left.
I didn’t have time to explain that giving a reason to leave someone which didn’t exist for another nine hours, after you’ve packed your exit case, is precisely the point.
He didn’t give me the chance.
He didn’t give me the chance to shout or cry, or snot down my nose, or cling to his leg, or throw things, or beg him to stay either. I wouldn’t have done, but he wasn’t to know that.
So I just sat there looking at the carpet as the front door shut behind him and wondered if he’d packed enough pairs of boxer shorts.
I think I must have been sitting there for a while because there was a growing orange glow on our wedding photo on the wall, as the street lamps lit up outside.
So I switched on the table lamp then I went into the kitchen and took a bottle of wine out of the fridge.
The mayonnaise had leaked in the door and I couldn’t even be bothered to mop it up.
It was overwhelmingly quiet.