Some stories are easy stories. In this society we seem to like a good vs evil story a great deal, where there is some sort of fight as the climax. A complex reality is trimmed to fit a storyline that plays out in predictable ways. Other cultures have meandering, interwoven stories, which layer meanings in complex incompatible ways.
This story is a short, sad story. The sort of story I experience often. These stories linger in my mind troubling me, nestling uneasily against other stories. These stories contain realities that do not fit together. They rub together abrasively, creating sore places in my mind as they settle, refusing to be easily filed away and ignored.
My good friend brought his girlfriend to a party. She had brought a bottle of gin with her, as no-one else drinks it. The girlfriend was a mental health nurse. As is usual and have come to expect, she brings up the violence which is often part of her profession within the conversation. It seems that mental health nurses, in the main, have lost sensitivity and do not understand their behaviour in this way. Internally I wince, yet sigh with resignation as she talks about her new job role with a jovial re-enactment of a restraint. My partner locks eyes with me. I know what the message is, “Don’t make a fuss! Think of our friend!”. As it turns out this time someone else speaks, as the mental health nurse goes to get drinks, making my points for me. Another friend says, “They do that. When my nephew was sectioned they insisted on giving him drugs that way. We asked them to just hide the meds in his food as the hold and the injection distressed him. They said he had to take responsibility. We said, but he’s mad, he’s been sectioned, surely that means he can’t take responsibility? Isn’t that the point?”. I acknowledge the feelings and the story, but don’t unpick it further as just then the nurse girlfriend returns. When I tidy away, I realise the vodka bottle is nearly empty. The nurse girlfriend hadn’t even seemed drunk. My partner and I look at the bottle. He says, “I think she was trying to tell you she didn’t like her job.”.
“It’s not my responsibility to fix that, its hers,” I think, bitterly.