Mrs. Hilary read it three times, and the third time she understood it, if possible, less than the first. Complexes seemed very difficult things, and she had never been clever. Any of her children, or even her grandchildren, would understand it all in a moment. If you have such things—and everyone has, she had learnt—you ought to be able to understand them. Yet why? You didn’t understand your bodily internal growths; you left them to your doctor. There were doctors who explained your complexes to you.... What a revolting idea! It would surely make them worse, not better. (Mrs. Hilary still vaguely regarded these growths as something of the nature of cancer.)
Sometimes she imagined herself a patient, interviewing one of these odd doctors. A man doctor, not a woman; she didn’t trust woman doctors of any kind; she had always been thankful that Neville had given it up and married instead.
“Insomnia,” she would say, in these imaginary interviews, because that was so easy to start off with.
“You have something on your mind,” said the doctor. “You suffer from depression.”
“Yes, I know that. I was coming to that. That is what you must cure for me.”
“You must think back.... What is the earliest thing you can remember? Perhaps your baptism? Possibly even your first bath? It has been done....”
“You may be right. I remember some early baths. One of them may have been the first of all, who knows? What of it, doctor?”
But the doctor, in her imaginings, would at this point only make notes in a big book and keep silence, as if he had thought as much. Perhaps, no more than she, he did not know what of it.
Mrs. Hilary could hear herself protesting.
“I am not unhappy because of my baptism, which, so far as I know, went off without a hitch. I am not troubled by my first bath, nor by any later bath. Indeed, indeed you must believe me, it is not that at all.”
“The more they protest,” the psycho-analyst would murmur, “the more it is so.” For that was what Dr. Freud and Dr. Jung always said, so that there was no escape from their aspersions.
“Why do you think you are so often unhappy?” he would ask her, to draw her out and she would reply, “Because my life is over. Because I am an old discarded woman, thrown away onto the dust-heap like a broken egg-shell. Because my husband is gone and my children are gone, and they do not love me as I love them. Because I have only my mother to live with, and she is calm and cares for nothing but only waits for the end. Because I have nothing to do from morning till night. Because I am sixty-three, and that is too old and too young. Because life is empty and disappointing, and I am tired, and drift like seaweed tossed to and fro by the waves.”
It sounded indeed enough, and tears would fill her eyes as she said it. The psycho-analyst would listen, passive and sceptical but intelligent.