If they keep this up, I'm going to pull out of the sessions. Deal or no deal.
But I didn't. I don't know if I was intrigued or amused or too offended to quit, but something made me keep returning to the Portman.
Despite his wild claims, I got the impression that Dr. Hale was worried about me somehow. Perhaps that's why I kept going back.
IIt was no different with Valerie. It didn't matter how long passed between sessions -- and sometimes it did seem like ages between our meetings -- we would always come back to the same sorts of circular conversations:
"How did you get here?"
"Through the door. How did you get here?"
Whatever the provocation, Valerie never rose to the bait.
"Do you remember coming through the door?"
That's a good one.
"No I don't. But who remembers boring details like that?"
"Okay, can you tell me what you did last night?"
"It's a bit fuzzy."
Valerie gave that smile that told me absolutely nothing.
"It's because you weren't around last night, were you?" she suggested.
Not this again.
"No, I was probably too drunk. Do you remember everything when you've been drinking?"
"You blame drinking for everything."
"I drink a lot."
"Do you? Because I don't think you do."
That was interesting. I'd been thinking for ages that I didn't really drink as much as I thought. But how else, then, could I explain the gaps in my memory?
And as for her other theory ...
According to Valerie's diary I attended her weekly clinic for just shy of two years. According to my memory, though, it was more like twenty or so sessions. No more than that. Predictably, Dr. Hale tried to blame the discrepancy on my not being around all the time.
"Obviously I wasn't around or I'd have made the meeting," I said. He'd have to be quicker than that to get one by me.
Annoying as the pair of them were sometimes, the day came after two years when Valerie announced their research project was drawing to an end. In other words, funding for my sessions was about to be withdrawn. Both she and Dr. Hale agreed it was not right for me to have no ongoing treatment, so Dr. Hale and the Contracts Manager wrote to my local Primary Care Trust.
Would the authorities listen?
I couldn't escape the irony that after years of trying to escape from the system, here I was now desperate to get a finger-hold back into it. The difference was, I was driving this treatment. This time I had asked for help.
So why wouldn't they give it to me?
Arbours put me in touch with a lawyer who said he would take my case to the authorities and paint a picture of me as someone totally unfit to live unshackled, someone who would benefit from the help of a trauma therapist recommended by the Tavistock and Portman -- at the council's cost. This wasn't the worst lie that had ever been told about me and, I figured, as long as it got what I wanted, it was okay.
I thought we were making headway. I really did. Big organizations like councils are always thrown when you play them at their own game. By bringing in a lawyer I was forcing them to show their hand. They didn't like it.
After several months of negotiations we had almost solved it. Then my lawyer rang me one day to say he was resigning from the case.
I was distraught. "What on Earth for? We're so close! Is it the money? I can pay you more, I'll find it somehow."
There was a pause.
"It's nothing to do with money."
"Then what is it?"
What would make him abandon me so cruelly after such a long fight together?
"Kim, it's my professional opinion that if we continue to portray you as unstable then it will harm any hope you have of winning your other case."
Excerpted from All of Me by Kim Noble. Copyright © 2012 by Kim Noble. Excerpted by permission of University Of Chicago Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
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Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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