Wanda sat miserably in her office chair swinging from side to side. She did this when she’d something weighty on her mind and the motion seemed to calm her as she weighed options.
Her musings inevitably began with an inventory of life as far back as she could remember. She dimly remembered the shadowy image of a man who’d take her for walks. She’d ride on his shoulders clutching firmly to his hair for support. His firm hands holding her in place gave her a sense of belonging and security. The feeling of love between them was mutual and she thrilled at the memory.
Also in the shadowy past she recalled those pleasant outings had ceased. She was told later by Mother her memories were of a time father was still with them. He’d been conscripted as had so many in that era to fight an enemy she’d never known.
Surprising how things turn around she thought glancing at the corporate name proudly announcing itself at the entrance to the office. She now worked for a corporation belonging to the nation her Father had been called to fight. Enemies were now friends and the Father she’d barely known was dead! What was the purpose?
She sighed and forced herself to face the problem at hand. She felt she was on the verge of losing her husband. Was another man she loved to be torn from her life?
The fight last evening had been a monumental one and her husband had stood through it all shocked and shaking his head in disbelief. He, a quiet man was her Jock and would never do anything to hurt her, at least she thought so.
“No,” she said to herself quietly shaking her head he was a good man and would never harm her physically so it must have taken quite a lot for him to silently pack his bag next morning and move out. He’d been so patient with her in the past now she’d lost it over some issue that on reflection was really of no consequence.
“No,” she said in a whisper. “It was me!” Why can’t I learn to keep my feelings under control?
Wanda remembered home without Father was dismal and cold. Mother had to work to support them both so she was farmed out in younger years to be cared for by Grandma or a kind neighbor who sympathized with their plight. Wanda’s Mother was so traumatized by the loss of her husband she withdrew into herself. Any love Wanda experienced came from Grandma, but by the time she was ready for school Grandma had gone to her rest. Mother sank further into a morass of self-pity.
So Wanda matured feeling unloved and a deep feeling of insecurity kept her from establishing friends. She was afraid to develop friendships as those she’d loved had left her and she feared forming attachments would eventually result in another loss. Such a situation she thought she’d not be able to handle.
Not that people didn’t want to make friends with Wanda. As she blossomed into young adulthood she was beautiful and in spite of a dysfunctional personality excelled at school. Boys who attempted to get her interest were coldly rebuffed and if it were not for her unfriendliness she’d have been class leader due to exceptional academic achievement. Sympathetic teachers knowing her home situation tried to coax her into taking a class leadership role thinking this would improve her feeling of self-worth, but they were similarly rebuffed and finally gave up.
On Wanda’s graduation Mother informed her she was old enough to fend for herself. Grief had rendered Mother a premature aged woman and she made it plain it was working hard to get Wanda an education had aged her.
Of course this was not entirely true, but the thought perhaps she was the cause of Mother’s distress dug a knife further into her gut feeling of worthlessness. She did a quick job research and cast about for a place to earn her keep. Most of her interviews were a disaster, but she’d somehow lucked out on her present job. It was the days before personality testing so she got the job based on scholastic record and the corporate test which she passed with flying colors.
Her businesslike approach suited management very well and because of the quality of work she produced she slowly rose through ranks of middle management. But management carefully avoided giving her assignments requiring a personable approach to clinch a deal. She was the ideal support work horse of the corporation and eventually found herself travelling with those who were able to translate her research into the final sales pitch.
It was at one of those inter-corporate meetings she first met Jock. He was the point man for the other firm involved in business discussions with her company and they had opportunity to discuss her research over a working lunch.
Wanda felt a stirring she experienced only on occasions she remembered happy times spent with her father. She tried pushing those feelings into the background but they wouldn’t be moved. She found herself staring at this man with the trademark smile for everyone, but she could see that under that personable veneer Jock was a quiet and serious man.
Jock felt the electricity of their first meeting and her penetrating gaze. At first it made him feel uncomfortable, but at his hotel room later that evening he thought of this strange new feeling and it pleased him. He felt quite comfortable meeting anyone in the public arena, but on one to one contacts outside of business he was reserved, particularly with the opposite sex. But with Wanda he felt different. He could hardly wait to see her in the meeting scheduled next day.
To his surprise he quietly asked her if she’d like to join him for a private dinner and without hesitation she said yes. Her willingness surprised Wanda too. That was the beginning of a whirlwind romance which ended in marriage six months later.
Wanda’s company agreed to her transfer to their branch office in the city Jock worked in. It was on the understanding she’d be willing to travel occasionally to which she readily agreed.
For the first time since childhood she experienced love. It was overpowering and she wanted so badly attention she’d lacked that she gave Jock no space for himself. He was gentle and kind with her and having learned of the cruelty of her upbringing tried his best to understand her demand for more and more of him.
Her possessiveness and demand on his time began to affect Jock’s work, and in the latest annual work appraisal Jock was counselled to lift his game or suffer consequences. Wanda shrugged it off and at Jock’s next office staff celebration she was invited to expressed displeasure to Jock’s boss who angrily told Jock to get his house in order or he’d lose his job.
It was immediately on return home that evening Jock finally resolved to bring matters to a head. Wanda went ballistic, and in her anger told him he should consider his relationship with his wife more important than his work. If she was that unimportant to him then perhaps he should find someone else he could be happy with.
Wanda immediately regretted saying this and observing the hurt and anger in his eyes she feared she’d gone too far.
Jock didn’t join her in bed that evening but Wanda’s pride would not permit her to make things right with him. Her fear increased as she heard her husband’s muffled voice on the telephone long into the night. Then in the morning he’d quietly packed his belongings while she silently watched from the shadows of the corridor and with the sound of the car moving down the driveway she realized she’d lost him.
Living alone again Wanda sank back into cold professionalism she’d experienced before meeting Jock. Her reason told her she should be the one to try and sort things out with her husband, after all her unreasonableness had almost cost him his job and she’d been the one to invite him to leave her. But she’d become so used to blaming her life circumstances on others she was in denial there was something fundamentally wrong with her attitude in life. Sure life had dealt her a losing deck of cards but there were better games to play and she needed to get her thinking straight.
Several weeks had passed with no communication between Wanda and Jock. Wanda felt a terrible emptiness and she missed him. The more she thought of him the more she remembered his strength, his love, his reliability and faithfulness. Her life was empty without him and it was increasingly dawning on her she was responsible for this situation. She needed to contact him and attempt a reconciliation, but to do that successfully she needed to change.
It was while she was introspecting waiting for the elevator to take her to her work level she glanced at the list of building occupants. Dr. Gwen Green, Psychologist 2nd Level stood out in stark contrast to other names.
Wanda blinked as a voice inside her suggested a meeting with Dr. Gwen Green would help in her situation. She resolved to listen to that voice and changed her usual pressing of elevator level button 8 selecting level 2 instead.
For one month Dr. Green skillfully helped Wanda confront ghosts of her childhood, her feelings of rejection and insecurity. She realized she’d tried to compensate by smothering Jock as she desperately tried to find an anchor that wouldn’t be moved, a relationship that wouldn’t end as others had. She realized he’d never have left her by choice, she’d sent him away. She began to realize she’d almost destroyed Jock by her desperate possessiveness, and wanted to make it right now. Dr. Green encouraged her to make an attempt to salvage her marriage and if that was possible to do it right this time.
So three months into the separation Wanda punched in the number of Jock’s office telephone. Wanda froze when a female voice answered. She introduced herself as Jock’s new secretary and reported Jock was in another city on business. She gave the hotel name and contact number inquiring if it was a business matter she could help with. Wanda thanked her and hung up.
Then she phoned her company supervisor and told him she’d have to take a few days leave of absence due to a family emergency. The supervisor agreed and offered help if there was anything he could do. Wanda thanked him, disconnected and phoned a travel agent booking an air ticket and room in the hotel Jock was staying in. She feared Jock may be taking her advice and finding solace in another relationship so wanted to observe him from a distance to see if there was still a chance of reconciliation before showing herself. She was impatient to get there but her desire to see him was tempered with apprehension as to what she’d see when she got there.
Wanda registered at the hotel desk after checking to see Jock was not in the lobby, then concealed herself in a quiet corner behind a flower arrangement. Hour after hour she waited for Jock to appear. She noted a professional conference was listed and wondered if that was the purpose of his visit. Then toward evening a tired looking Jock arrived in the lobby. He sat sorting through papers in his briefcase and made notes.
Wanda watched it all for some time waiting to see if anyone joined him. Then finally she plucked up courage and hiding her face behind a paper sat opposite him making out she was reading.
“Do you mind if I sit here? She asked pleasantly.
“Not at all,” said Jock briefly glancing up at the figure of a woman reading the daily news. He returned to recording his notes of day’s activities.
Wanda put the paper down. “No, do you really mind?” said Wanda. Her heart was racing as she anticipated another rejection in her life, but Dr. Green had prepared her for that eventuality and she was ready for it.
“I’d said it’s OK!” Jock looked up with mild irritation and suspicion. Another case of someone trying to hit on him? He was not ready for that. Then his irritation turned to amazement!
“Wanda?” He said uncertainly. “Is this going to be another unpleasant confrontation?”
“No, I’ve just come to say how sorry I am for the way I’ve treated you. I’ve been taking counselling and realize now I smothered you with my possessiveness and almost cost you your job. Thank goodness you at least have that! If there is any chance of us starting anew you’d find me a much different person, one who supported rather than held you back. I really miss you and am sorry for all the trouble I’ve caused.” Wanda searched Jock’s face for his reaction.
Jock took it all in with his usual calm manner and sat thinking while Wanda’s heart raced a marathon. “Is this for real? He asked in an uncertain voice.
“Oh yes, this is for real and I hope you give me another chance!”
Jock sat pensively with pursed lips thinking it through. This had been quite a shock for him. He remembered all the unpleasantness of their marriage and winced at the thought.
“I still love you, but are you really the woman I fell in love with, or are you the woman I married?” He began to smile as he thought how ridiculous that may sound.
“I’m the one you fell in love with.” Said Wanda hopefully.
Jock reached over and touched Wanda’s arm and she began to sob silently. Jock moved quickly to her side and placed his arm around her. Her body shook with emotion.
“And who’s this Jock?” Wanda glanced up through her tears to see a tall striking woman standing over them.
“Oh I’m so sorry I shouldn’t have come here! Goodbye Jock, it was nice to see you again. Have a happy life” She dried her eyes and putting on her professional look excused herself and headed for her room.
A panting Jock was quickly at her side. “What was that all about?”
“I see you took my advice and found another interest. I shouldn’t have come, I’m sorry to intrude!”
Jock grabbed her by the arm and led her back to the puzzled woman.
“Meet my cousin Lucy from England. She’s attending the conference with me so the three of us can enjoy dinner together this evening.”
Lucy looked at Wanda disapprovingly. “So this is Wanda!”
“Yes this is my wife Wanda, I’m so glad to see her again. Give me a few minutes to phone ahead to the restaurant and book an extra place at the table. Wanda I see from the key in your hand you booked into the hotel so I’ll arrange with the desk to have your room cancelled and you’ll move in with me.
That evening Lucy who at the beginning of the evening had been so cool to Wanda thawed out as she saw the happiness of their reunion and the two women formed what was to be a lasting attachment.
Later as they were together in Jock’s room Wanda poured out her sorrow for the way she’d treated him but he silently took her in his arms and placed his finger on her lips.
“Let’s forget about all that unpleasant stuff and concentrate on now and the future,” he whispered.
“© Copyright Ian Grice 2015 All rights reserved”
Acknowledgement. The illustration image belongs to http://www.health.com