A girl sat opposite me on the Tube. She's unremarkable - thin, long dark hair, pale skin. Cold. From her bag, she produced an A5 notebook and started to write. Glancing furtively at the lefthand page, I see she's writing a list. I can read the first item: "my apparently awful ability to remember experiences". From my distance of 4 feet away, I can tell that the rest of her list is consists of additional "faults" and/or a written rebutal to them. Someone has been snarkily chipping away at her and now she was quietly fighting back.
Writing as therapy.
Memories flowed: I remember doing it too, back in the dim-and-distant past, when Dumbo was playing his mind-games: start a list, leave some space, change pens and write a rebuttal in the space you left. Counter the negative with something positive. List the nastiness, the petty cruelties, the times (s)he hurt you and didn't notice or care. On a different page, or at the other end of the notebook, write a list of positive things about yourself. Doesn't matter if it is something simple like "I've got good teeth" - anything to strengthen your sense of self and ensure that someone-else's perverted view of you doesn't engulf your entire life. Make a list of goals and plans: how you'll escape; who you want to be in 6 months, a year, two years time. Hide the notebook where it can't be found and your rebellion exposed - in your bag, probably.
I watched the girl furtively over my knitting. I wanted to tell her that she isn't alone; that others have been there too and survived. And that she is far more worthy than the person who hurt her. To do that, though, would have been to admit to invading her privacy and to possibly hurt/embarrass her further. It would also have meant popping the bubble that is travelling on the London Underground, where everyone is in a privacy bubble, travelling in a world of their own. I could not do that to her. All I could do was sit and silently wish her well, when she got off the train.
I hope she is OK and that her writing gives her the strength she needs to stand her ground and protect herself.