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Time to Grow Up


Again David had brought Lisa to ever stronger feelings of despair and pain.

It had all happened before, many times. First of all the little irritations David showed, then suddenly the furious descent into anger that he vented on her, smashing her down emotionally, tearing apart any feelings of support and safety they had created in their marriage.

Lisa sat, bent over her pain, eyes closed, arms and hands held protectively in front of her. David stood before her as if challenging her to respond. She was sure he wanted her to, so he could knock her back again.

The sane observing part of her that she had slowly developed over the years saw there was a pattern in it all. But what did it mean? There was a trigger that started it each time, but what was it? What was it today that had set off this avalanche of emotion?

She dared to open her eyes and between the wet tears look at David’s face – look with as much detachment as she could draw on. And it was a shock. A mixture of expressions were distressingly apparent on his face. It was something she had never dared to see before, fascinatingly clear. There in front of her, as if in short trousers, was a little boy somewhat scared that he had gone too far this time. But at the same time his eyes were alive with excitement, as if involved in some intense and important game.

Something stirred inside her as recognition dawned. She had two younger brothers and she had seen this game played between them and her mother. But they had the bodies of children, and the child David who stood before her had the body of a man who she feared could be dangerous.

Even so she stood up, watching surprised and slightly anxious expressions flit across David’s features. “Do we have to keep playing this game?” she said to him, now standing more firmly.

“What are you talking about?” he asked, slightly pulling back.

“Before I tell you that” she said, walking over to the telephone, “if you hit me I am going to phone the police and our marriage is ended.”

He started to walk toward her and she lifted the phone, finger on the 9 button. “Sit down, ” she said, feeling more in command. “You did this with your mother didn’t you?”

“Did what? He said, angrily now.

“Hurt her to prove to yourself that whatever you did she still loved you. It helped you feel more in control.”

“What rubbish are you talking?” he said, slightly more subdued.

Rubbish or not, let me spell it out to you. Every time I begin to find my own feet and become more independent in what I do you turn on me and knock me down emotionally. Today I told you I might work away for a while because of the new contract I have with my designing project. I didn’t see it straight away, but you got more and more irritable until you turned on me, yet again. Well David, I had no feelings of wanting to leave you, but I can see now it scared the little boy you still carry around inside you and you lashed out at me. So, let me say to both of you – it is time to grow up.”

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