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anne cunningham

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Do Not Sleep Forever, Beauty
By anne cunningham
Tuesday, April 25, 2006

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... retelling of a grimm tale

Rose, Briar

Age:  17

Medical Record Number:  123456

Father:  Rose, Phillip James (Deceased)

Mother:  Sexton-Rose, Aurora Sylvia  (Deceased)

Legal Guardian(s):  Rose, Flora Marie; Rose, Fauna Robin and Rose, Merrywether Jean (paternal aunts)

Attachment to Medical Record:  Patient’s journal entry

MD:  Prince D. Charming, Psychiatry Fellow

Reason for Admission:  Psychosocial, inpatient drug/alcohol rehab. after suspected suicide attempt by the use of the illegal substance, Maleficent, by needle injection. 


I don’t even know why that Dorko Dr. Charming is making me write this.  He is about as Lame-O as they get, but here goes anyway.  This is the first of my stupid patient journal entries.  Dr. Charming says that it will give me perspective, to put all this crap on paper, so here goes nothing.  I mean, I want to get out of here.  This is stupid.  I didn’t do anything, and I certainly didn’t try to kill myself like they all said.  It was an accident, I swear! I just want to go home.  I miss my aunties, terribly.  I can’t even have visitors right now.  I’m sure they are so mad at me.  They have been nothing but good to me for years and years and years.  It’s like I have three Auntie-Moms, and I should be so grateful.  Name one other kid who loses their parents as young as I did, and then goes on to have this perfect little life with the nicest people in the world.  Auntie Flora, Fauna and Merrywether have given up their whole lives for me, and I never meant to hurt them like this.  I never meant to hurt me like this.  I mean, really, I didn’t.  I just got carried away, and even that, I’m sure everyone understands.  I’m not making an excuse, but I’m not the first dork-brain kid that messed around with drugs and it got out of hand.  I honestly didn’t mean for it to end up like this.  It’s like I had control, and then I didn’t.  I mean, I really think, in the beginning I had control, you know?  I’m way smarter than that, way smarter.  What kind of college is going to accept me now, after this mess?  I can kiss Julliard goodbye now, I suppose.  But I really felt like I was the one in control, like yeah sure I can try this stuff and I ignored all the D.A.R.E. stuff we learned in third grade … all that stuff about how experimenting with alcohol leads to drugs, and if you choose marijuana up first, that it will just lead to other things.  I mean, I knew all that, and I did want to experiment a little, so it wasn’t even that my friends pushed me into it.  I did want to try some stuff, and then it just got out of hand.  It doesn’t matter though, it’s over now.  I didn’t try to kill myself!  So are you reading this Dr. Dorko Charming?!?!?!?  It was an accident.  Can you let me go now?  Did I write enough?  Have I provided you with enough “perspective,” because if you think I believe your psycho-babble bull crap that this is for me, for my use, to give ME perspective, you must be the one that’s out of your mind!  I know that you made up this exercise so that you can dig into me, not so I can dig into myself.  I already know myself, and I guess you wish you knew more, or maybe you are looking for a shortcut into “fixing” me, like you can’t take the time or a billion sessions, so you just hand out an “assignment” and have me tell you what my problem is!  Why don’t I just give you the key to my diary at home, the story of my life??!!?  Wouldn’t you like that?  This is so dumb.  Why don’t you just do your job and “fix” me already, except you see, I’M NOT BROKEN!  It was a mistake.  I didn’t mean to do it.  You really piss me off!


Note:  Patient seems agitated, very clearly angry, blaming everyone. Still unwilling to take responsibility for her actions, or really look at what happened.  Will discuss this next session.  This evening gave packet of letters to Briar from her aunties.  Explained to her again that the rehab facilities policy is that she have no visitors for the first week, no phone calls, mail/email contact.  Patient given copies of three separate emails from Flora, Fauna and Merrywether Rose.  –P. D. Charming, MD, Psychiatric Fellow


From:  Flora Marie Rose (

To:  Kingdom Health Care/Drug Rehab Unit

Subject:  Letter for patient Rose, Briar


Dear Rosie My Bud,


Please know that I love you.  I can speak for Flori and Merry as well, but your doctor said we should focus on our own feelings right now, but I’m your auntie and I can’t help but tell you that we all love you very much.  For some reason, Dr. Charming has asked us to tell you your “birth story.”  That’s what he calls it.  He says it is not enough at this point for you to just know that you are loved.  He said it’s obvious that you realize that, but that there are some things that you may not quite understand about yourself or what happened to you, and he thinks it’s important now that you know some things.  I hope this will not be hard for you Rosie My Bud, because we did not keep these things from you, and to us your “birth story” was simply that you were born, which brought all of us such great joy!  You have no idea what a beautiful, bright-eyed infant you were!  Oh, yes, you do!  I forget how you tease me for the millions and millions of pictures I have of you, and the scrapbooks that take up a whole shelf!  You are such a beauty, and oh my gods and goddesses, Sweetie, you scared us half to death.  It is not that you are our life, please do not misunderstand me.  It is that you are life!  You have so much to offer and your future is so, so very bright.  

Oh, dear, my girl, I am starting to get off the subject and Dr. Charming was so darn specific that you really needed to hear about things that maybe now you can understand, but anyways things that you could not possibly remember as they happened before you were born, some of them, and those that didn’t, well, you were simply too young to remember.   And I guess I feel bad now, because we never felt like we kept things from you.  We did the very best we could to raise you after your parents died.  I promised my brother over and over that if anything ever happened to them, that we’d be there, your godmothers, but we really never expected it would happen so soon in your young life.

I am going to try to tell the story now, as much as I can, as Dr. Charming also said to keep this to a minimum of pages.  He doesn’t want you overwhelmed, but he does want us to help open your eyes. 

 Where to begin … now you already know that your father was Phillip, our big brother.  And what a big brother he was, so kind, so loving, so smart and what a sense of humor.  We were so lucky to have him as our big brother.  We looked up to him always, and he treated us so well.  We were a very close family, four partners in crime, always together as children.  We played hard, and we really stayed in touch through the years, learning from our parents how important family was.  Even in college, and our earlier jobs when we first left home, we always got together.  It was for always, and in all ways … for holidays or dinners just because everyone was in town at once, stuff like that.

 Your daddy met Aurora at college, his first year.  Your mom was beautiful AND smart.  That’s what Philly always used to say.  He always felt so lucky to have met her, to find someone who was both of those things.  “Beauty with a brain” is what he used to say.  But, Honey, your mamma had some problems too.  Maybe she was a bit like one of those geniuses that can’t stand the inside of their own heads at times, do you know what I mean?  She was one of those “creative types” with all her writing and her artwork.  She was so very bright, really bright, if you know what I mean, but she had her dark times too.  We all knew this, as Philly never made a secret of it.  He worried about her many times, because she drank too much, and she was into drugs too, some quite heavily.  There were times she could not help herself in any other way, and in loving her, we could not help but to explain it away.


Oh, this is so hard for me to tell you.  I see now what Dr. Charming means, when you hear all of this, it’s not quite going to “fit” with the way you have been thinking and feeling things all of your life, because you did not see the half of these things or were too young to remember any of the things you might have seen.  And there we went, thinking we were doing you the very best of good, just focusing on how much you were loved and wanted in this world.  I see now that we have done you a mistake, and I am so sorry.  I have to stop writing now.  Dr. Charming was very specific that we take only so much of our time, and we weren’t to ramble and try to tell you everything all at once.  He said there are three of us, and the three ways of our telling, he says, will become very important to you.  Do you believe this, your aunties and I are sitting her at the home computer, with a kitchen timer, as he has sort of told us how much time to spend on this before we send these emails to the clinic for Dr. Charming to give to you.  My time is up.  I will never stop loving you my sweet girl, daughter to my heart.  From your very birth, my dear, all I have ever wanted for you was the gift of Beauty.  You have that gift, because you are beautiful in your own right, and you give that back to so many.  Please remember that.  It is not a shallow kind of beauty that you have.  You are lovely to the deep.   Love,  Auntie Flori


From:   Rose, Fauna Robin

To:  Kingdom Health Care/Drug Rehab Unit

Subject:  Letter for patient Rose, Briar


 Dear, Dear Girl: 

How silly this kitchen timer stuff is, but its my turn now.  Flori wasnt supposed to say for all of us, but she went ahead and tattled anyway, in a way speaking for all of us, telling you that we love you!  And now I will say it, too, by my own self, as Dr. Charming said, these are supposed to be our words one to the other.  I am supposed to speak to you, from me to you, never mind that you had three Auntie Mums, not just one.  But keep this in mind, our girl, we were the lucky ones!  You make our world complete.  I love you.

I guess we are supposed to be telling you your beginning story, or is it birth story that Dr. Charming calls it, but anyway it is all about getting at the truth, he seems to think.  I dont mind what we are getting at, I just want to help you, and I really hope that our not telling you some things when you were very small did not do you harm, but really we didnt think we were hurting you by not telling.

And do you remember the stories I used to tell you when you were very small?  Not the bad one about how Philly and Aurora got in that accident.  We never wanted to dwell on that with you.  It seemed so simple that you only knew in your little girl world that they had died in an auto crash.  At barely four, we didnt think you could understand much beyond that, or that some day you might ask for more to go on.  But we certainly didnt think that it would come to this.  We have always wanted the very best for you, and imagined that we were telling you the truth all along in the way that we continued to love you in their place. 

The day you were born, when I saw your face, I wished for you the gift of song, because almost immediately your little gurgling and cooing sounded like music to me, but you already knew that because Ive told you that forever and ever, and you know how good you have been with music and voice, and now Julliard knows too.  Oh, my dear, do not worry that you have messed that up.  You are still going so many places!

But, I am getting off track here, and your Auntie Merrywether is raining right down on my parade, pointing to the kitchen timer, telling me my time is almost up and here I have not told you a single thing, so I better get to it.

I was telling you, and you already know this, that the stories I used to tell you when you were little, were of a fairy-tale nature.  I started to talk about that.  I know that you know how your mamma and my dear brother Philly died in that wreck.  You certainly never believed that when you were born a great many fairies and well-wishers came to the house to wish you all but good things and that some mean lady came in near the end and wished something bad awful, that you would be stuck with a needle from a spinning wheel in your 17th year, only to sleep for a hundred years, unless a charming prince rescued you with a kiss.  


Oh, my how silly it seems now, remember how I turned your aunties and I into fairy godmothers, how I told you we whisked you away to this house in the country to protect you from the evil wish, and how ironic it is now, that you almost die oh dear, Im not even sure I should be saying this, but oh how you scared us, Rosie, with that overdose.  And with a needle too!  It seems so ironic now, and I must tell you what bad auntie parents we feel like now, because we knew that you kids are all going through this, and we tried to guide without stepping right on top of you, but we certainly never thought you would ever get beyond minimal involvement in something like this.  If you knew the conversations we had after you had gone to sleep, especially once you became a teen-ager, about how we needed to protect you from this stuff, but that we couldnt keep you from everything, and now look what has happened!

Im so very upset, but not with you, my darling girl.  Im upset now because my time is almost up and our big sister, your Auntie Merrywether is ready for her turn, and you know she will just go ahead and tell you everything, as if your Auntie Flora and I are dumb as doorknobs!  Since our dear brother, your papa, died she has always been queen bee, and so I guess that is how it will always be.  We love you my sweet, with all our hearts and all our smarts.  Thank you for not sleeping 100 years.  You are the world to us.  Love and hugs, Auntie Fauna


From:  Merrywether Jean Rose (

To:  Kingdom Health Care/Drug Rehab Unit

Subject:  Letter for patient Rose, Briar


Our  Baby Briar: 

You would not believe how disrupted we are, your aunties and I.  This “assignment,” is what it feels like, is causing us to start to bicker.  Here I am, the last to get on the computer.  The oldest and the last!  Can you believe it?  Oh, my dear, I know you can, as if you were here you would be laughing and poking fun at us for all of our bickering among ourselves.  How we have amused you over the years, you would point out to us, and then tease us some more.  But how you have fulfilled our lives, you must know.  And I guess I am doing the same as they have, I am starting this out by trying to impress upon you how much you mean to us … and yes, of course, this would have to mean that I was hovering about looking over their shoulders while they had time to write to you, to tell you now the truth of your being here.  This was not because I was nosy, but just so concerned, my honey, that we have done you some wrong by keeping some things from you that we did not think would serve you well in knowing.  But we must tell you now, with all of our love, because it seems there is some kind of anger or something amiss, anyway, inside of you right now that has pushed you to do things that you might otherwise not have done. We know how smart you are, my honey, how beautiful inside and out, and we know now that what we have to tell will make it easier for you to understand maybe why things have happened the way they have.  We know, my honey, that you didn’t mean to do it, as you thrashed about and screamed this at the hospital when they finally brought you around, oh, but to see those needle tracks on your arm!  How could we have missed such a thing!

 I am rambling now too, and your aunties are in the background telling me that I best get to it, as this is the first time we’ve been asked to write, and we are not sure what they will be expecting from us later, and how hard it is going to be … I must tell you that … how hard it is for us not to be able to see you, to hold and hug you or to even call you right now, but we know that is for your own good.

So, I am going to tell you now.  Your upbringing, your coming into this world, it was like a fairy tale.  We loved our brother Philly so much, our big, happy, loving brother!  We always wanted the best for him.  When he met your mamma, dear sweet Aurora, we could not have been more pleased.  She was smart, and we knew that was important for him, the brain-iac!  He so admired your mother’s beauty from the get-go.  I mean, who could miss it?  You have only to look in the mirror, my honey, to see it.  But it was important that she have the brains too, and how your father and your mother used to talk, spar, tease and otherwise pick at each other’s brains.  To be in their company was always so full of energy.  And you did come from that energy, my girl, always remember that.  

But it is some of that energy that we never told you about, thinking you didn’t need to know beyond the cruelty of what you already had to endure, which was losing your parents to that awful wreck, before you were even old enough to have a catch of memories to hold.  All I have ever wanted for you, since birth, was the ability to be resilient to thrive beyond anything you were given, and I hope that this story we are giving you now will help you and not harm you, or make you feel badly against us.

It is true , my honey, that your parents died in that awful wreck, but the story behind it is too terrible to believe, but we must make you understand it now.  Your sweet mamma had some problems, and on this night, so close to your 4th birthday, she and your father had been out to dinner.  They had been shopping nearly the whole day for your birthday coming up that weekend.  Even during dinner, you must imagine that they spoke only of you, but you must also try to imagine that your mamma probably had some wine, and maybe got “tipsy” as they say.  In telling you now, you have no idea how badly I try to make this not be what it was, but we all knew from the very beginning that your mother drank an awful lot, and in such a way that no one really noticed.  The liquor didn’t touch her like you might think, as she did not get goofy and out of sorts or loud.  She merely turned inside herself, became quiet, as if tired, but her mind never rested.  She was always contemplative.  The alcohol would relax her, but that relaxation was only on the outside.  Inside she reeled, to no end.  I do not believe her brain ever slept complete.  

We do not know this for sure, but only from the medical reports before and after your mother and father died.  They did autopsies, and a lot of blood work on both of them, and I guess you are old enough to understand that now, but how it must hurt to think of your parents in such a state beyond just what you have known all along which was simply that they died due to the unfortunate wreck. 

As it turned out, your mother drove them both towards home.  We can only imagine to your daddy that she seemed quiet or tired, and as tired as he was, but what he didn’t know … or maybe what he refused to believe was that big of a problem, your mother had been doing other drugs as well that night.  The way it was explained to us was that, if the alcohol had made her quiet and inside herself, those thoughts which she suffered so often, probably pressed upon her, which is why she did the other drugs too, to bring herself back up.  And you have no idea how hard it is to half explain this to you know, knowing that I do not have to fully explain it because of where you have been and what you know all too well of these things already.  You must know, my honey, what it feels like to be low, and then high, and then, yes, out of control … like that car.  This must be how you were feeling too.  Oh my dear, I think in just saying I have said all that you need to know, and perhaps your aunties and I will be better able to understand this as well.   There is much inside of you, it comes from all the places you could imagine, from inside those who brought you into the world.  But you must remember this, you are like your mother and your father in many ways, but it’s important now, according to Dr. Charming, that you know all the ways in which you have carried on their traits, good and bad. 

The timer is going off, and now it’s your aunties’ turn to get on my case.  We have to email these off now.  We are not even allowed to read them and change a word of it, but you must know that we would not have changed one thing in all of our lives.  We would not have changed the fact that you are here, among us, of extreme importance, and we love you dearly.  You will get through this, once you understand the mystery of it which will help you solve the mystery of yourself.  The world still yet awaits you, and every hope, dream and wish we had for you, since birth, will come true .  That, too, is still inside of you, your potential, my honey.  Love, Auntie Merriwether

 P.S.  Listen to Dr. Charming, okay?!?!?!  I know in all your smarts, you will think you can fix things all by yourself, but I think he is on the right track, especially after having done our part with these emails.  Already your aunties and I are seeing things in another light, and we will all be better for it.  Hugs to my honey girl.  

 NOTE:  Patient and guardian release forms were signed.  Email was copied also for the chart and for my patient care planning.  Notes regarding same:  Important to pursue hereditary psychosocial issues (maternal) without an over-focus which could be of detriment to the patient.  Do not want to build a prophecy for her to fulfill, but will walk that fine line, giving her the information and empowerment she needs to continue to know all parts of herself (good and bad) in order to embrace herself on the whole. 

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Reviewed by Regis Auffray 5/14/2006
Wow! This seems so real, Anne. Thank you for sharing this gift. Love and peace to you,


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