A spiritual seeker struggles with love and guilt.
= redemption gem collecting religion spirituality shame guilt Allegro therapy bipolar prison =
Ian's Story is a study of wounded personalities struggling to find wholeness through work, love and devotion. The story is told through a combination of first and third person narrative by two characters.
Ian Fairweather is a former Charismatic Christian Pastor who works as a Social worker in an institution for emotionally disturbed adolescents. His personal interests include the study of philosophy, esoteric religion and gemstones. He lives with his wife Maureen who suffers bouts of severe depression that resemble bipolar disorder. Rather than seek treatment for her, he endures her psychotic episodes and tries to heal her with his own brand of self help psychology and new age spirituality. Ian himself suffers from panic disorder manifesting in “night fears.” Ian works with two younger friends: a formerly itinerant hippy, now a teacher called Soma and an Occupational Therapist called Caitlyn for whom Ian has a secret infatuation. Maureen's psychosis deepens and she is hospitalised for several months. Ian's younger friends introduce him to marihuana, which affects him adversely. His friendship with Soma and Caitlyn deteriorates when Soma and Caitlyn have a brief affair before she returns to her husband. Ian is forced to realise his hope of a relationship with Caitlyn is a fantasy. At this point the third person narrative becomes a first person account by Ian who reveals he himself has written the first part of the story as an objective account but now feels it is necessary to assume his personal authorial voice. He examines his friendships with Soma and and Caitlyn and Soma's influence on him through his hippy philosophy and his drug poetry. Ian discovers Internet pornography, which engenders a degree of self-loathing. Maureen is released from hospital and begins the process of mental and emotional rehabilitation. In a psychologically vulnerable state, Ian breeches his professional integrity when he accepts an offer of hand relief from a fifteen year old client Kasey in return for helping her avoid custodial remand. Ian is charged with indecently dealing with Kasey and sent to prison. While Ian is in prison, Maureen, with the help of an Indian meditation teacher, regains her sanity. When Ian is released, Maureen supports him in regaining his dignity and self-respect. He turns to gemstone collecting as a new career. Maureen now takes over the narrative in the First Person. Ian has committed suicide while on a gem hunting expedition. She publishes the manuscript of Ian's story. The book attracts the attention of people who have known Ian and his work. On the anniversary of Ian's death, a wake, attended by many of Ian's former colleagues and clients enables Caitlyn to deepen her understanding of Ian’s journey and the profound effect he had on others before his ‘moment of weakness.’ Greg, the druggie boyfriend of Kasey who Caitlyn visited as a prison volunteer, escapes from prison and takes Maureen hostage in her home. He attempts to rape her. She convinces him to give himself up. In Greg, Maureen comes to understand how prison life had wounded Ian and led him to succumb to his despair. Maureen travels to India to study meditation. After returning home, years later, she goes to the remote gem site where Ian died. At his old campsite, she reaches her final understanding of Ian’s suffering in the last days of her own life.
The house was silent.
Ian walked down the hallway. He turned instinctively toward his study. There were books, tumbled in heaps beneath the shelves and scattered across the floor. He picked up one that was open, face down on the polished timber. The tissue thin pages of the old book had been creased. He smoothed them and firmly closed the stiff, leather covers. He placed the book on an empty shelf. It was all he could do. He would see to the rest later, hoping there was no real damage.
She would be somewhere in the house. Silent. Rocking her body like a child. It had reached that stage. Soon, there would be guilt and tears and he would forgive her but for now he must control his anger. He must move slowly, speak quietly and ever so calmly. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He breathed again, visualising a white light shining over him, surrounding his body like an aura. Then he walked through the house. There were no other signs of disturbance. Everything was immaculately tidy, as it usually was.
She was in the spare room. The last time, he had found her in the kitchen, sitting at the bench with vegetables and knives laid out in front of her. Just sitting. He had asked her if she was about to prepare dinner. She had screamed and thrown the knives at him. He had to be very careful with the first thing he said. Especially in the spare room. The spare room had not been used for years. It was the room where their first child was to have slept.
Maureen had an intense, frugal appearance. She was quite pretty in a brittle way, though assuming age beyond her years. Her long, thin, brown hair framed her narrow face. When she was younger and wore Indian dresses, people always said she looked like a hippy. Quite in contrast to Ian who was tall and pale and wore grey suits with nondescript ties. Now he was slightly flabby with a noticeable belly and his hair had receded.
- Just got home, love, he said softly. She stared at the window, rocking intently over her folded arms.
“complex and interesting” Louise Thurtell Allen & Unwin