Saturday, July 20th, 2024

B Book Excerpts by Jean Loxley-Barnard
THE HOPE TRAP -- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Had a History


The following is an excerpt from The Hope Trap, Jean Loxley-Barnard's forthcoming book.

I do not believe children are born with dual identities, I think they have experiences that change them. Rob was one such person. He was a dynamo of energy, always ready for fun and excitement.
When we first met, he startled me with his audacity, for lack of a better word. There did not seem to be a dark side when he was in college. But there was something different about him. One thing I knew for sure â€" when Rob entered a room, everyone knew he was there.

He seemed like Lancelot. Charming, protective, putting himself out for others. I had never known anyone like Rob.

When we first met, I was seeing his fraternity brother, Mark, and not looking for anyone else. Just before the beginning of the semester, Mark, on vacation in New England, sent a postcard with a crab pictured and a see you soon kind of message. Rob, working his way through college, sent me a dozen roses with a card saying, "Beautiful women and beautiful flowers belong together." Life had changed.

Mark asked me to the annual university ball in November and I accepted. Rob was annoyed and invited one of my sorority sisters who was dating his fraternity big brother- a very nice, but not handsome young man. The girl was gorgeous. It troubled me. A glimpse into my future.

In years to come,
there were times Rob shared more memories,
none good,
of life with his father.

There were signs all along, but I was attracted to Rob. He was unlike anyone else I had known. We married in undergraduate school. Before long, I learned he wished he could become a doctor. I wanted it for Rob as much as he wanted it. After the birth of our first child, I was able to get a full-time job and Rob was able to work part-time jobs, even after being accepted into medical school. One job was working at St. Elizabeth's with schizophrenics.

Rob had told me about his late father's mental condition and his temporary job, working with these patients, brought it all to mind and then some. An image Rob described that he had at age three, summed up his early life: "I looked at my father and saw a wolf's head."

In years to come, there were times Rob shared more memories, none good, of life with his father. He learned to lie to save himself. It explained more and more to me about the person I loved and was living with. One thing it explained was Rob's increasing need to numb himself with alcohol. It led to my arranging an intervention.

Our last three years together seemed like our best until bottles showed up in the trash, as well as a strange interest in a teenaged female patient in that third year.

There had been times I took out a photo of Rob at six years old, thinking, "This terrified boy is who I am staying with." I reminded myself, until I could no longer.

A child does not have to be a Jekyll and Hyde to suffer the consequences of living with one.