Ali wiped away the tears which had splashed down onto her face and took some steadying breaths, she didn’t reject to my arm being around her and there it remained.
“Talk to me Ali, I know we got off on the wrong foot when you arrived and I think we are both as bad as each other on that note, but I hate seeing people upset, even you!” I said whilst Ali fought back more tears.
Ali opened her mouth to speak, closed it again, swallowed a lump in her throat then opened her mouth again.
“I’m really sorry Anna” she sobbed, “I know we got off on the wrong foot and believe me it wasn’t anything you had done it was me, I didn’t want to get close to people…” she said and I bit my tongue to stop myself retorting angrily that she had got on fine with the others.
“First impressions, I admit I wasn’t too fond of you when you arrived and was not happy when you kicked me out of my old bedroom but I got over it … eventually” I said and Ali gave a watery chuckle.
“You see I don’t get you Anna, I have been vile to you, I have given you a fat lip and yet you still care, why?”
“I like to see the best in people and that includes you Ali, seeing you in this state makes me think that maybe there is underlying circumstances to why you are the way you are” I questioned.
A tear trickled down her face and Ali didn’t wipe it away, instead she looked up at me and said, “That’s partially why I am upset” she said, “I can see my dad in me.”
“Is that a bad thing?” I asked thinking about how much I resembled my father both in appearance and personality.
“That’s very bad, I don’t want to be likehim!” she sobbed, “I want to be different.”
“How do you mean?” I questioned.
“I couldn’t wait to get out of the house when I got offered a place at university, my mother was never home as she worked three jobs just to support us, my father was on the dole and no-one would employ him as he’s an alcoholic who abused my mother and bellowed at me. I saw him on countless occasions clobber my mother for talking out of term. He was always having sex with other women too – I would not be surprised if I had a half sibling somewhere out there” she finished silently crying again.
“I see" I said, the mystery of Ali’s behaviour now revealed and slotting into place like a jigsaw.
“I understand you now, that’s why you lash out, it’s all you have ever known, vicarious reinforcement”
“Hey don’t go analyzing me and using your fancy psychology term!” she said the merest trace of a smile twitching at the corners of her mouth. But in a manner of speaking yes, I have build up so many defenses to protect myself from getting hurt and when something threatens those defenses I lash out.
“Ahh I see now.”
“Look I know its a lot to ask but can we start again, pretend we have never met and start afresh?” Ali asked and I nodded.
“Good” she said smiling at me and brushing away the tears, “Right okay then ….. Hi, nice to meet you I’m Ali”
“Hi Ali, I’m Anna”