” What’s the matter mommy, why do you look so sad”
Helen turned to her daughter, distracted, torn between two worlds, ” Mommy’s not sad, just thinking. I’m thinking of when I was a little girl like you”.
” Can you tell me about it mommy”.
” Not right now, perhaps another time. Let’s get dolly dressed shall we”. Helen put the thoughts from her mind and concentrated on helping Di to dress dolly.
Later that night, after putting Diana to bed, Helen settled down with a glass of wine, frowning in concentration as her thoughts drifted back to childhood.
She remembered the stern voice of her mother, the slaps, the scolding, the angry words of constant criticism. Her mother thrived on order and cleanliness and Helen was an unwelcome disruption to the tranquillity and smooth running of the house. From an early age acceptable modes of behaviour were verbally and physically forced onto Helen’s psyche. Crying was frowned upon and various disciplines were used to dispel Helen of this weakness. Conversations were not encouraged, as ‘ little girls should be seen and not heard ‘. Helen, over time was molded into her mothers image, her emotions baked into conformity with her mothers will.
As a child, Helen never experienced love from her parents. Her mother was emotionally detached, never hugging, never playful, just a supervisor ensuring that Helen followed her rules. She saw very little of her father. He travelled fairly frequently on various business adventures and when home retreated to the solace of his private study.
Helen occasionally tried to rebel. At the age of ten she borrowed, a music video of George Michael’s ‘ Freedom 90 ‘, from one of her class mates, and secretly played it when her mother was not around. She loved the song’s refrain and the glamour of the fashion models portrayed in the video. She started singing around the house, an expression of her need to break free. But her mother met these outward expressions of exuberance with ” For heavens sake, please stop wailing, I’m trying to concentrate on my book”. Helen would than retreat within herself, singing songs in her head, creating her own fantasy life. She always offered a quiet, serious persona to the world, but deep within was bursting to break free of all restraints.
Helen was thirteen years old when she heard the announcement on CBC news that Prince Charles and Princess Diana had officially separated. Helen loved Princess Diana for her poise, her charm, her fashion sense and all the glamour that royalty represented. Her greatest treasures were the six scrapbooks of articles and photographs of Princess Di’s life, that she had lovingly created since the age of seven . Over the following months Helen absorbed all the lurid details of the aftermath of the separation. Disillusioned with romance and royalty some part of her retreated into a cold, uncaring space. The remaining romanticised dreams of her childhood had finally slipped away. In a fit of anger she consigned Princess Di’s scrapbooks to the trash with a vow to put all sentimentality behind her.
In high school Helen became known as the ice queen. She was reserved and condescending, isolating herself from fellow students. She ignored all attempts at friendship becoming self absorbed in her studies, shutting out the world. Arriving home from school she would go immediately to her room, only coming out to spend a wordless supper with her mother, returning to her room soon after. She was empty inside, devoid of any emotion, not part of the world but surveying it from a distance.
University was no different, Helen continued on in the same frozen manner, making no friends, until she met Jordan.
Helen first met Jordan when he deposited himself, on the vacant chair, beside her in the university café. She was deeply absorbed in a book and was unaware of his presence. A voice eventually penetrated her consciousness ” Is that Jung’s ‘ Symbols of Transformation ‘ how are you finding it. I found it a very difficult, even after reading it three times”. Irritated, she looked up from her reading, eyed him up and down, her face expressionless and then returned to her book.
” Sorry, extremely bad manners on my part, I’ve interrupted your reading .” Jordan apologized and continued sipping his coffee. Helen tried to concentrate on her reading but Jordan’s presence has disrupted her inward tranquility and irritated she closed her book and left the café.
Over the months that followed Jordan found occasion to search out Helen, his kindness and humour gradually began to thaw her reserve. At the end of University Jordan had managed to chip away at the iceberg of Helen’s emotions leaving only half of that frozen mass below the surface. Two years after university they were married and Diana was born a year later.
Helen greatest fear was that she would be forever scarred by the frigid house in which she was raised. She tried hard to give her child the love and attention that was missing from her childhood but found it difficult to break entirely free from her partially frozen prison.
Finishing her wine Helen gave a sigh. For some reason, she again heard the refrain from George Michael’s ‘Freedom 90’ in her head and knew she finally had a chance of breaking free. For at last she was surrounded by love, and love heals all wounds.