#9 I wasn’t born yesterday

A phrased often meaning I’m not naive & can’t be fooled.

As you read Maeve’s story think about the following.

How has Maeve’s life experiences shaped her self esteem & feelings of self worth?

What trauma & abuse has Maeve been subjected to?

What are her responses & coping strategies?

How do you think health & social professionals would perceive John as Maeve’s ‘carer’?

John is a violent & controlling man, Maeve has a complex life & medical history. If John killed Maeve as her health deteriorated, would his actions be viewed sympathetically? 

John & Maeve now in the 70’s, they have been married for 48 years.

Maeve grew up in Ireland, in a strict religious home. She was sent to England after she brought ‘shame’ on her family by having a relationship with an older, married man.

She had been sent to a wealthy family where she was expected to look after the children, cook, clean in return for her lodgings. Maeve was penniless & worked long hours. She had no friends & no longer had contact with her family.

John lived locally & befriended Maeve, on her way back from taking the children to school. He took interest in her & bought her cigarettes. Meeting John was her favourite time of the day.

Her work suffered. She arrived back later & later, the family had been warned of her past & the man of the house would use the term ‘I wasn’t born yesterday’ when Maeve made up an excuse. The more she lied, the harsher his punishments became.

Having confided in John, he suggested she ran away. They planned it meticulously & Maeve saw John as her rescuer.

They married just a few months later, a small  ceremony with only John’s family present.

Initially, they lived with John’s father in their large Victorian family house. Maeve looked after the home & the men, whilst John & his father ran the family business. Maeve was grateful to them both, despite the high & often unrealistic expectations they placed on her, she knew this life was better than the alternative.

The business was successful & a few years later, John bought them a new home of their own. Maeve enjoyed making it homely & warm. Their family grew quickly & Maeve gradually saw less of John as he worked long hours & worked away. She understood the demands of his job & was content with her young family.

As the children aged, John would return & began complaining about the state of their home & the children’s behaviour. He felt they lacked discipline. The consequence of Maeve’s alleged  ‘poor parenting’ would be to give her the housekeeping in pennies rather than notes.

He knew this really troubled her, having once been so incredibly poor, knowing she would have to count them out at the shop counter, despite their wealth. 

Maeve found comfort in her cigarettes, & at the end of each long day, she would have a soak in a hot bath, with the radio playing, smoking & singing.

This was her happy time.

As the years passed, John became an angry, resentful man. He believed Maeve was ungrateful for the affluent life he had gifted her. After-all she would be nothing without him.

When he had stewed in the resentment for a week or so, he would find release by punishing  Maeve. His preferred choice was hiding the bath plug. The pleasure of her deep unhappiness of missing her nightly ritual became a delight to John.

On occasions when she begged him for the plug, John would drag her upstairs run a cold bath & hold her head under the water. Calmly reminding Maeve who was in charge of this house. As Maeve’s distress heightened, so did John’s enjoyment.

As the years passed, John’s punishments altered, sometimes they would be even more depraved or sexual, but would be quickly followed by affection, extravagant gifts & a request for forgiveness.

Maeve blamed herself.

Of all the punishments she was subjected to, the memory of being held under water was the most profound. Throughout her life she continued to be triggered by the sound of a running bath.

Her chest feeling tight, crushing her torso, gasping for breath, frozen.

Now in their 70’s, Maeve has dementia & multiple health conditions. She is dependent on John to ‘care’ for her.

He knows this & whenever he feels the resentment boil, he simply runs the bath.

No violence, no aggression, he calmly demonstrates his power & control.

Maeve is frozen, & her body remembers the safest thing she can do is stay still & silent. 

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