The Blue Notebook
On that day, the last entry, I stopped dreaming as if a magic wand had been waved. ‘Any dreams?’ she asks casually, to find out if I’m ready to forget my absurd evasion of her. We discuss the nuances of my feeling for Michael. We are happy together most of the time, then suddenly I have feelings of hatred and resentment for him. But always for the same reasons: when he makes some crack about the fact I have written a book — he resents it, makes fun of my being ‘an authoress’; when he is ironical about Janet, that I put being a mother before loving him; and when he warns me he does not intend to marry me. He always makes this warning after he has said he loves me and I am the most important thing in his life. I get hurt and angry. I said to him, angrily: ‘Surely that’s a warning one need only make once,’ then he teased me out of my bad temper. But that night I was frigid with him for the first time. When I told Mrs Marks, she said: ‘Once I treated a woman for three years for frigidity. She was living with a man she loved. But she never in all those three years had an orgasm. On the day they married she had an orgasm for the first time.’ Having told me this she nodded, emphatically, as if to say: There you are, you see! I laughed, and said: ‘Mrs Marks, do you realize what a pillar of reaction you are?’ She said, smiling: ‘And what does that word mean, my dear?’ ‘It means a great deal to me,’ I said. ‘And yet on the night after your man says he won’t marry you, you are frigid?’ ‘But he has said it or implied it other times and I haven’t been frigid.’ I was conscious of dishonesty, so I admitted: ‘It’s true my response in bed is in relation to how he accepts me.’ ‘Of course, you are a real woman.’ She uses this word, a woman, a real woman, exactly as she does artist, a true artist. An absolute. When she said, you are a real woman, I began to laugh, helplessly, and after a while she laughed too. Then she said, why are you laughing and I told her. She was on the point of using the occasion to bring in the word ‘art’ — which neither of us have mentioned since I stopped dreaming. But instead she said: ‘Why do you never mention your politics to me?’
I thought it out, and said: ‘About the CP — I swing from fear and hatred of it to a desperate clinging to it. Out of a need to protect it and look after it — do you understand that?’ She nodded, so I went on: ‘And Janet — I can resent her existence violently because she prevents me doing so many things I want to do, and love her at the same time. And Molly. I can hate her one hour for her bossiness and protectiveness and love her the next. And Michael — it’s the same thing. So we can obviously confine ourselves to one of my relationships and be dealing with my whole personality?’ Here she smiled, drily. ‘Very well,’ she said, ‘let’s confine ourselves to Michael.’
15th March, 1950
I went to Mrs Marks and said that while I was happier with Michael than I have ever been in my life, something was happening that I did not understand. I would go to sleep in his arms, dissolved and happy, and wake in the morning hating and resenting him. At which she said: ‘Well, my dear, so perhaps it is time you started dreaming again?’ I laughed, and she waited for me to stop laughing, so I said you always win. Last night I began to dream again as if I had been ordered to dream.