Saturday, March 23, 2013

A new passport: 'myself as myself'

"This slim woman of average height who had striking curly reddish hair and a soft, sometimes barely audible voice." 
~ Dr Robert Cawley (London, 1958, quoted in Wrestling with the Angel: a Life of Janet Frame by Michael King, 2000)

I stayed many months in hospital, and each time it might have appeared to Dr Cawley that all my problems had been solved, I would immediately present a new emergency, either through fear of being abandoned or because there was another problem I dared not mention.
With time, the marvellous luxury of time, and patience, Dr Cawley convinced me that I was myself, I was an adult, I need not explain myself to others. The ‘you should’ days were over, he said. You
should go here, go there, be this, be that, do this, do that – you should you know – it would be good for you! Lifelong, largely because of my own makeup, I had been a target for the You should-ers, with a long interval of You must Or Else: it was time to begin again.
Perhaps I had sensed a new beginning or tried to advance it because one day during the past summer I had changed my surname, recording it on the necessary document. I had been issued with a new passport.

No longer, I hoped, dependent on my ‘schizophrenia’ for comfort and attention and help, but with myself as myself, I again began my writing career.

~ Janet Frame, from The Envoy from Mirror City (3rd volume of autobiography)

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