On the last Bank Holiday Monday, while prone in A&E having fallen off my horse, waiting for the X-rays of my ribs, my phone pinged. A text. Ooh, who’s this?
My phone didn’t recognise the number. ‘Something understood,’ it said. And that was it.
Hmm. Now what? I checked the number: not from my ex David, so who was it? Then, after a week when I could hardly move, I get an email and this time it is indeed from David.
‘Hi. I’m stuck in France with a flat battery so while that charges I find myself with time on my hands [!]. I can honestly say that I did not see your message asking, “Where do we go from here? If anywhere.” It was not until I read your column that I realised I’d missed it. I’ve been thinking about where we go, or if we should go there, for many months.
‘I’m glad I delayed my reply, especially after reading the column about your hypnotherapy. It appears to be benefiting you. I hope that’s the case. I would love to know who you had tied in your imaginary “chair” in the visualisation session. I hope it wasn’t me. Would you like to join me for dinner and a catch-up? Any time, any place. David X’
Hmmm. Before answering, I forward it to my dating guru Hayley Quinn to be analysed. She replies:
‘1. He begins by talking about himself and his problems.’
‘2. He justifies waiting so long to reply as a benefit to you: “I’m glad I waited…”
‘3. He reads your column but doesn’t answer your message? I’d rather he were more engaged with the private than the public you.’
She adds that he is under the illusion he has no need to change.
‘Totally one-sided – even his “the hypnotherapy appears to be benefiting you” seems to be placing the necessity to change (and the viability of the relationship) with you and your personal development. It’s subtle, though, so I’m not surprised you were kept in this attachment for so long. I’m really hoping that this can now be door shut, windows open.’
Anyway, today I’m off for more of my hypnosis treatment with Malminder Gill to encourage me to let go of past slights and be less anxious. She leads me downstairs to her treatment room. ‘Thanks for the mention in your column,’ she says. ‘Though I did get a few abusive messages on my Facebook page after it came out.’ Oh dear. An online troll had taken issue with the diagnosis of a toxic person in my life as a ‘narcissist’. I ask to read the messages but Malminder has already deleted them.
I recline on the couch. She starts to talk, beginning with a story about a woman who was afraid to leave the house in case she had a stomach upset. The rest is a blur: I either fall asleep or am under her spell. She is certain the session today will have a long-term effect; in any event, she will email me a recording of her voice, which I am to listen to twice a week before bed.
After the session I don’t feel hugely different and anyway I’m starting to wonder if I really want to join the ranks of the super-confident. I can’t stand confident people. Take this young woman, writing in Vogue: ‘I’ve just returned from my honeymoon and spent two weeks offline, catching up on my neglected reading list.’ Dear God, I imagine her poor new husband is ruing the day they tied the knot. I spent my honeymoon terrified NatWest was going to call me, saying the cheque to pay for the reception had bounced. I don’t think sailing, entitled, through life makes you a very nice person. You certainly don’t ever feel the need to improve. There is no self-doubt. This must be the crux of what’s wrong with David: he’s so confident in who he is, he’s blind to the fact he’s the one who needs to change. I’m doing all I can to self-improve: hearing aids so I don’t keep saying, annoyingly, ‘Eh?’ Hypnosis so I can leave the house.
I stop off at Selfridges to stock up on make-up: Chanel foundation, Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser to blot out the sun, Sisley primer and concealer to erase my past. I go to my dentist and have my teeth cleaned. I buy an oversized sweater by Navygrey. I am not going to have dinner with an arrogant a*** any time soon. Clearly I’m not. But I like to be prepared, just in case.