Rope and Pearl [work in progress 2]

Here’s another version of Rope and Pearl, possibly a section that will form a larger piece.

Dear Rope and Pearl *

Thanks for coming to the joint meeting on XXXXXXXX and talking about the problem we named ‘the secret’.

The secret has been going on for about 40 years, though it has escalated in recent months during which you have been forced to have more regular face-to-face contact under observation. As you both declined to describe the origin of the secret, I will focus instead on its current effects on you both.

Rope, you told me that the secret sometimes makes you mistrustful of your sister. You described your fear that she would behave irresponsibly by disclosing information that could put you both in danger (though it was not possible, you said, to disclose the nature of this danger to me). Other effects on you include some difficulty sleeping at night and occasional ‘outbursts’ during which you ‘snap at’ or ‘stare down’ your sister. You said that these outbursts make you feel guilty but that you think they are an inevitable effect of being ‘on a knife edge’ in your sister’s company. You said that the secret’s effects on you were more difficult to bear when Pearl speaks about your shared history, even when these anecdotes are unrelated to the secret itself.

Pearl, you also spoke about the effects of the secret on you. You said that you were living in a state of anxiety and paranoia. You have tension headaches that you associate with the times when the secret is most difficult to bear; these headaches can leave you bed-bound for several days at a time. You also described how the secret upsets you because it causes your sister to act towards you in a way that is ‘unsisterly’ or ‘hostile’. You described how the secret causes you pain and that you try to alleviate that pain by speaking with Rope about what happened 40 years ago.

You both described a time, not long ago, when the effects of the secret were much easier to bear. This was a time of ‘collaboration’ – for example, when Rope was first arrested and Pearl went to visit her. I feel that we made some progress during our meeting when we spoke about this time of collaboration, though I realise you will need to have a more detailed conversation in my absence.

In advance of our review meeting, I encourage you to consider the following questions:

– Pearl, you seem to have strong ideas about what a ‘sisterly’ relationship looks like. Where do you think these ideas come from? What different ideas might Rope have about a ‘sisterly’ relationship?
– Rope, you said that sometimes you ‘over-react’ to things that Pearl says. Which things, in particular, invite you to respond in this way? Are there times when it is easier for you to not ‘over-react’?

I look forward to meeting you both again at our review meeting on XXXXXX.

With best wishes



* As requested, I will use your nicknames in all future correspondence.