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A Broken Soul

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“It’s always the broken souls who are always trying to help others.”

Unknown

 

‘Jarrod is looking for a place for him and Willow? This is actually going to happen?’

Sonya couldn’t stop thinking about it, about what she’d overheard. The very idea of Toadie moving on with his life and doing it with Willow, putting himself into the role of her father had hit her like a freight train. What made it worse was that she didn’t even hear it from Toadie. She’d overheard Shane and Dipi discussing it as though it was already set it stone – something that was actually happening as opposed to being something that Toadie was thinking about or considering doing.

She’d been pacing throughout the lounge room for what felt like hours before sitting down on the couch in order to fully process the news and catch her breath. She never understood how Toadie’s mind worked or what motivated him, no matter how hard she tried. It didn’t matter who it involved, she couldn’t make sense of it and what was happening with Willow was no different. He was prepared to do anything to help her, to make sure that she had stability and a parent in her life – someone who loved and cared about her and who was there to take care of her. And she wanted Willow to have those things but she couldn’t help but worry about what Toadie was going to give up, what he was going to through away in order to make sure that happened. The longer she thought about it, the more it bothered her and she couldn’t stop herself from thinking about it. She wanted to take her mind off of it but didn’t know how until she saw the photo album she’d been looking through the night before.

Things had been going from bad to worse for months. There was always something happening, something that was too much to handle and no matter how many people tried to help her, it rarely made any difference but that photo album did. It gave her something to think about and reminded her of all those happy and joyous moments they had shared as a family.  That album held so many memories. Everything from their wedding day, to Nell’s birth, celebrations and every day events – everything had been captured and was right there in front of her. Over the months, it had gone from a book of photos to a symbol of hope. It brought so much happiness back into her life and allowed her to completely escape from reality and focus on the good times, even if only for a short time. And today was the same, at least for a few hours as she flicked through the album, remembering all the good moments they’d shared before stopping as she had stumbled across a photo that was taken while and she Toadie were on holiday in Sydney.

That holiday held a special place in her heart. It wasn’t something they had talked about often, if ever given what happened afterwards but for her, it had always been something beautiful that she cherished for years. It was a specific moment of realisation during that holiday that she held onto. She’d loved and been in love with Toadie for months but that day, especially right before they left to return to Melbourne was the moment she realised what it was that she loved the most about him. As the memories rose to the surface, she found herself back on that cruise liner in 2010. It had been a wonderful journey for the both of them. A chance to get away from everything that was happening and enjoy some time alone and focus on themselves and their relationship. It was their moment of happiness and even running into her ex-boyfriend hadn’t ruined it, if anything it was what made everything clear to her. What made her realise that Toadie was the one she wanted to be with forever. That he was the one she had been waiting for.

“You care about the people in your life and that’s why I love you.”  She’d said to Toadie with a smile on her face.

She could remember that conversation as though it was happening at that very moment. Despite everything that happened in the past and how much she had been hurt, especially with Steph and the pregnancy, she knew that Toadie could never just sit back and leave someone else to deal with everything that was going on, not when he had the opportunity to help. Steph needed him, her family needed him and he was going to be there to look after them and support them and she was going to do the same thing for him.

His selflessness and how much he cared about people was so refreshing. She had been consumed by it and even thinking about that day, those words brought a smile to her face because it was real. He didn’t do it for the glory or because of what he could get out of it, he did it because it was the right thing to do and he was a good person. She’d never experienced that before. She’d been in love but never with anyone like Toadie. Everything he was set him apart from the other men in her life. Specifically, men like Troy and Eli. Eli was completely self-centered. He was only ever focused on himself, on what he could achieve and if he was there for or tried to help someone, it would have been for his own benefit, never there’s. Troy was her first boyfriend, the first guy she ever loved but he was also a violent and destructive person to be around. He was dangerous and a threat. Toadie was none of those things. He was kind and generous, he cared about the people in his life and always put them first and it was beautiful.

“It was beautiful. It… *was* beautiful.” Sonya thought aloud as the smile that went from ear to ear only moments ago started to fade.

The happiness she was overcome with only minutes ago was slowly disappearing and she couldn’t make sense of what was happening or why. She closed the photo album and placed it next to her as she looked around the room on the verge of tears. She was remembering a good day, it had always been a good day but now, there was something else there – something she had ignored for a long time. It was his selflessness. His caring attitude and putting others before himself. She had always seen it as a lovely trait but she was looking at it differently now and seeing everything that had come about because of it and none of it was good and it had always been there. This wasn't a result of Andrea’s manipulation or caring for Willow or even because of the ending of their marriage, it was always there. And the more she thought about Sydney, the more those words were starting to haunt her. Something she’d seen as beautiful was destructive, something that she had loved about him was something she should have been concerned about. She'd constantly focused on the beauty of those qualities, on the good he was doing instead of seeing it for what it was and recognising it as being detrimental to not only himself but to her and everyone around them. He had always put other people first. He put them before himself, his problems, his marriage and family to the point where those buried issues were allowed to fester for years and become almost self destructive. She couldn't stop thinking about how different things might be now, how a serious situation could've been avoided if she'd noticed all of this earlier. If she hadn't been blinded by his caring and selfless attitude and not only seen what was going on but said something earlier.

 

-•-

 

Sonya picked up the phone to call Toadie. She dialed the numbers before she had even thought about what she was going to say to him if she got through or how that conversation would unfold if it came to actually discussing the issue. All she knew was that she needed to say something and quickly. This was too serious to wait and deal with it another time. He needed to be aware of what he was doing before he made things worse for himself. She put the phone to her ear and took a deep breath before getting second thoughts and instantly regretting her decision.

“Oh God, please don’t pick up.”  Sonya whispered to herself with her fingers crossed.

As much as she wanted to talk to Toadie, she wasn’t prepared and thinking about what was going to happen next and what she was going to have to say to him was beginning to distress her.  

The phone rang twice before Sonya pulled it away from her ear to press end call. “Okay. He’s not there.”

“Sonya?” a faint voice spoke from the other side of the phone.

“Hi. Hello.”  Sonya responded laughing into the phone nervously.

“Hi. How are you?”  Toadie asked.

“Good. Yeah, no I’m good. How are you?”  Sonya replied nervously.

“I’m alright. Sonya…”  before Toadie could finish, Sonya interrupted him.

“Can you come around later- um, this evening?”  Sonya asked while attempting to make herself sound as casual as she could to avoid Toadie getting concerned.

“Uh, sure. Is something wrong?”

“Yeah, no. No, I just, um… I, I need to talk to you about something. It’s, uh, It’s important.”

“Well, I can come around now if it’s easier.”

“No, no, no. this evening would be better. Just come around any time later tonight. Okay. Bye.”  Sonya hung up the phone before Toadie had the chance to respond and took a deep and heavy breath and closed her eyes.

She tried to remain as calm as possible but her concern as to what she was going to say to Toadie when she came face to face with him was increasing. It was too late to have second thoughts now so she pulled out a chair and sat down at the table placing a pen and a notebook in front of her. She needed to be prepared and figured that the best way to do that was to write a letter and use it as a guide so she would know everything that needed to be said and the exact way to frame it in order to have the right impact. It was the only way she knew of to make sure that Toadie understood everything she was saying to him and didn't misinterpret her words or the intention behind them. 

She took a deep breath and began to write.

 

Dear Jarrod,

I know these last few months have been difficult for the both of us and that it hasn’t been easy for either one of us to

properly move forward with our lives or our relationship--

 

Sonya stopped and re-read what she had just written and shook her head before tearing the page out of the notebook and scrunching it up.

 

Jarrod, my love,

There is something we need to talk about.

 

“NO!”  Sonya yelled out before tearing out another page in the notebook and scrunching it up and throwing it on the floor. She sat there for a moment trying to figure out what to say and how best to say it. She knew what the problem was - she was overthinking it when all she needed to do was write how she felt. Write down everything she had realised only moments before. She closed her eyes to gather her composure before she started writing again. 

 

Jarrod.

I know that we’ve both been through a very difficult time recently and that you’ve wanted to help me through this in any way that you can. I still think about your offer to move back in after that article came out and I lost my job and when you called to check on me after Angie’s attack. I appreciated it so much and at the time, I was so grateful for your offer of help. It was something that I desperately needed. I couldn’t bear to be alone and I needed you. I meant what I said that day on the phone, you were always there when I needed you and then you weren’t and honestly, if things had been even a little bit different, I would have accepted your offer without hesitation but, thinking back to it now, if I had done that it would have been destructive to the both of us. Mainly because I didn’t, well, I couldn’t see the situation for what it was or what would have happened if I had accepted your help. Not just for myself but for you too and that scares me.

It scares me because if I accepted your help when you offered it the cycle would never have stopped. After you found out about Andrea, that she was pretending to be Dee and Willow wasn’t your child and that there was a strong possibility that Dee was dead, that should have been your main focus. It really should have been. But it wasn’t because you were more concerned with me and our marriage and fixing it then you were looking after yourself. You need help, Jarrod. You need to talk to someone, a professional and deal with your past and everything that happened once and for all. I love you so much but I can’t keep watching you do this to yourself and I also can’t continue to be the person you focus all your attention on so that you don’t have to face your problems. So, you don’t have to convince yourself that you’re fine and that the past never happened. Focusing on the past and confronting it and dealing with it should have been your focus.

I was angry and upset and grieving at the time all of this happened but so were you. I wasn’t the only one suffering, the only one who was hurting. You were hurting too, Jarrod. I shouldn’t have been the only thing you were thinking about, especially at that time. Your life had been turned upside down and I know you were suffering, I told you that you needed to talk to someone but you found something else to think about instead of yourself yet again.

You put me first, you put our marriage first and yourself last and I don’t think you have been able to properly deal or process anything that happened with Andrea. What makes this worse is that I don’t even think you realise what you’ve done. I think your own pain and struggles have been pushed to the sidelines for such a long time that you don’t even know how to put yourself first, you don’t know how to struggle with everything you’ve been through because you are so used to not thinking about your own problems and dealing with what has happened to you.  

After Stonie showed you that picture of Dee, you told me that the idea of her still being alive had brought everything back to the surface. It brought back things you have buried for years – the pain, guilt, grief and then nothing, Jarrod. You put it aside and acted like it was something that wasn’t even happening and never talked about it again. You acted like it wasn’t real, that the nightmares weren’t real. When she, Andrea arrived you were only focused on her and helping her and Willow that you were barely making it through the day. I saw that when she and Willow left for London, you were barely coping without them and I don’t think it was because you missed them, I think it was because you needed them to survive. Everything got pushed deep down inside of yourself and that… It isn’t healthy, Jarrod.

This has never been healthy and you can’t keep doing this. You can’t keep using people so you don’t have to think about your own pain. You can’t keep trying to fix everyone’s problems and put their lives back together for them while your own falls to pieces. It needs to stop! For your sake, you need to stop doing this before you destroy yourself. This is incredibly destructive; Jarrod and you need to talk to someone before it is too late.

 

The more she wrote, the more she realised how much she had to say to him. She'd repeated herself so many times but it was important that she never forgot the main issue and actually addressed it. This wasn’t something small and insignificant, it was detrimental and went back years. There was so much she still needed to say, to prepare for, particularly what she was going to say if Toadie suggested that it wasn’t true or that she was reading too much into it. Just thinking about it made her realise yet again how much she had failed to see over the years. She knew it wasn’t her fault and that she hadn’t enabled that behaviour but it had been in front of her eyes for so long and she never saw it for what it was. Seeing it written down in front her just made it even more of a reality. One where she had to act, where she had to make sure that Toadie got the help he needed and understood what the problem was. She also had to make sure that he wasn’t given the chance to talk himself out of this or merely see it as a way to fix their relationship. He had to do this for himself and if it wasn't handled properly, it could make everything worse. This wasn’t just a regular conversation, it was serious and a terrifying reality and she needed to be ready for Toadie to deflect the issue and handle it in the best way possible. 

Just as Sonya had started re-reading what she’d written, the screen door opened and Toadie walked in. She sat there staring at him for a few seconds before looking down at her watch to check the time and turning to face the window, observing that it was still light outside. She thought she'd lost track of time and wasted the entire day but she hadn't. 

"Sorry. I know that you said this evening but, I just, well I figured it was best to have this, whatever it is now. You did say it’s important so I didn’t think you’d mind.”  Toadie said cheerfully as Sonya turned to face him. Staring at him unable to speak.

"Sonya?”  Toadie whispered tapping her on the shoulder.

“Yes.”

“Look, I know now is probably a bad time but…”

“No. No, not at all. I was just, um… I was- “  Sonya stopped talking suddenly and stood up, walking past Toadie quickly into the kitchen. “Do you want a coffee?”

Sonya took a deep breath in an attempt to gather her composure. She'd prepared everything she wanted to say to him but expected to have more time to work out exactly what she was going to say and how. But seeing Toadie walk into the house had thrown her completely and she forgot almost everything she had wanted to talk to him about. Specifically, she’d forgotten the exact words she intended to use in order for the conversation to not be misinterpreted.

“No. I’m good. Are you okay, Sonya?”

“Yes.”  Sonya turned around and smiled.

“So, what did you want to talk about?” Toadie asked while smiling back at her.

“Right. Straight to the point”, Sonya clicked her fingers and bit her lip. “Okay. Um… well, it’s just this whole thing with Willow, you see. I, uh, I don’t really know if it's such a good idea for her to be moving in with you. I mean, if it’s really a good idea for her to even be here and for you to be involved in this. I just… I think there could be a lot of problems for everyone and I don’t think… I mean, It’s not like you’re her father, Jarrod.”

“Well, I… I mean, I can understand if you’re worried about this but…”  Toadie responded confused as to what Sonya was trying to say.

“No, no, no. No, this isn’t about me, Jarrod.”  Sonya took a deep breath and shook her head. “You want to help her!”

“Um… Yes? Why? What’s wrong with that?

“Nothing. It’s just… My God, Jarrod. This is just so you.” Sonya responded harshly before running her hands through her hair while Toadie looked at her confused. “You’re just… you’re so nice, Jarrod. You’re too nice.”

Toadie laughed. “What? Isn’t that a good thing?”

“Depends on the way that you look at it I… I suppose. I’m not trying to make this about myself.”

“You already said that.”

“Yeah, I know. I just… I’m saying this all really badly, aren’t I? Look, this isn’t even about Willow, she does need someone to look after her, she’s just a child after all. It’s… It’s about, this is about you, Jarrod. You need to fix things. For everyone. You’re a fixer.”  Sonya stated.

“What?" Toadie whispered confused as to what Sonya was implying. "What does that even mean?”  

“It means… what I’m trying to say is that, it’s like when we got together, yeah? You were so focused on me and my problems and fixing them and helping me through everything and then Steph got pregnant and you threw away our relationship because she needed help and then Andrea came along and I know you thought she was Dee – but you felt a responsibility to fix all of her problems and you let it consume you and hurt us. Now, you are doing the same thing with Willow. You aren’t her father but you are acting like you are and I get that you want to help her but– yeah? Yeah!" Sonya responded quickly before cutting herself off, nodding her head and attempting to smile in the hopes that she got across what she was attempting to say.

“Okay. So, I mean, since when is wanting to help people a bad thing?”

“No, it isn’t a bad thing, Jarrod. I’m not saying that is a bad thing. But you… you just never know when to stop. You go too far, you always have and it just isn’t healthy. For anyone.”

“Okay. Then tell me what to do. You think I should just stop helping people altogether?” Toadie inquired, his tone becoming slightly bitter and annoyed at the insinuation.

“No. Of course not. You just need to learn when to stop and put yourself first. You can’t take on other people’s problems, you have to think about yourself too. You should have been doing that all along instead of focusing on our marriage and us getting back together, that should have been the thing you thought about first and then everything else second, you know what I mean? It just isn’t healthy to put us before…. before yourself. You need to put yourself first and work through your problems before we can even think about fixing things. This can happen later but this behaviour of yours is so destructive, you need to focus on working through that now.”

“I see.” Toadie nodded in response.

“I’m not saying this to hurt you, Jarrod, really I’m not.” Sonya tried to reassure him and see if he was okay.

Toadie smiled at Sonya. “No, no, no. I get it. I do. Thank you. I’ll take that into consideration.”

Toadie turned around and walked towards the door before he stopped and looked back at Sonya and waved as he left the house. Despite everything that Sonya had planned, she knew she had made a mistake. She tried to get through everything quickly because she could only remember bits and pieces of what she had prepared to say but she knew she'd said the wrong thing. The overall point was there, her concerns were addressed but the look on Toadie’s face and his reaction as he left worried her. She was expecting him to be upset or angry or refuse to accept that he did this but he didn’t – he smiled and thanked her.

 

-•-

 

She laid in bed tossing and turning as the entire conversation between her and Toadie went over and over in her mind. She’d said something she wasn’t supposed to, she was sure of it. It obviously wasn’t anything big or she wouldn’t have this much trouble remembering what it was but it was there. The look on Toadie’s face, the way he responded told her that.  When she called him a fixer, he was confused. When she called him out on how far he goes to help people, he was taken back and annoyed but when she said he needed to know when to stop and put himself first, he smiled and thanked her. It was the wrong reaction, especially when thinking back to the entire conversation. 

“Did he even understand what I was saying to him?”  Sonya whispered aloud.

She couldn’t help but think that he misunderstood what she’d said, that he didn’t grasp the seriousness of how unhealthy his behaviour was or that he saw her comments as a way to get their marriage back on track, that one scared her. It wasn’t good for either of them if that was what he thought and it would’ve made things worse in the long run. Especially since if he kept this up, it would eventually break him and there wouldn’t be a Toadie anymore. He would be gone because he doesn’t know how to survive or tried to help himself for the wrong reasons. She wanted to contact him and make sure that he understood what she was saying but was afraid to push things. Toadie needed to accept this and work through it on his own, she couldn’t force him into this especially if he wasn’t ready to accept the reality of the situation. She knew what he was like when it came to putting himself first and the idea of putting his wants and needs before everyone else was something she wasn’t sure he was going to be able to do.

“Unless there was an incentive…” Sonya wondered aloud before it hit her.

"Oh, no!” she shot up quickly in bed in a moment of horror and clapped her hand over her mouth. “What have I done?”

As she sat there she remembered what she had said to Toadie before he left. “You need to put yourself first and work through your problems before we can even think about fixing things.”

It was such a small, insignificant comment that, in any other situation she would have brushed off but this time was different. She hadn’t intended to bring their marriage into the conversation at all, it was supposed to be about Toadie and only Toadie. A way of convincing him to get help and recognise his unhealthy and destructive behaviour. She’d been trying to find a way to explain why this was important for him to do for himself but instead, she gave him an incentive. It put the focus back on their marriage, that he needed to get help because it was the only way for them to be together again and that was the last thing she wanted. She wanted him to do this for himself but he was going to end up doing this for all the wrong reasons and she couldn’t help but blame herself for it and all because of one slip up.