I am thrilled that the amazing (crazy?) Amy from Concealment and Exposure has taken the time to talk to me this week, shortly before another installment in her life is revealed to us by Rose Edmunds in her new book Restitution.
Amy, you are a smartly dressed woman who had all the trappings of success in the world of corporate finance, but nobody really seems to know you well. Perhaps you could answer a few questions so that we can understand you better.
It is said that you are exceptionally ambitious and obsessed with material things which demonstrate your success. Does this conceal hidden insecurities?
Before I started out on my painful journey of readjustment, I would have vehemently denied this, but now I’m inclined to agree. Having grown up in squalor due to my mother’s compulsive hoarding, I felt driven to live the “perfect” life I’d been denied as a child. The material possessions were merely symbols of this quest for perfection. But the shame and embarrassment of my childhood never left me, and I felt unworthy of my beautiful home and designer wardrobe, and dissatisfied with my professional achievements. So I drove myself harder and harder until it all imploded…
Would you agree that keeping secrets make relationships impossible to sustain?
Yes and no. In the past, I believed everyone would shun me if they knew about the hoarding, and so keeping the Big Secret was essential. This has been my undoing on occasion. Now, I’m much more open about that aspect of my life, but I still haven’t told anyone about Little Amy. People already regard me as crazy and I shudder to think what they’d say if they knew I was haunted by a hallucination of my fourteen-year-old self.
Did you enjoy the chance of assuming a new identity by changing your appearance? Shorter hair suits you, by the way.
Thanks for the compliment. I like the short hair too, and now realise that the long flowing locks were just part of the illusion I was trying so desperately to maintain.
The new identity was exciting to begin with. I relished the opportunity to be someone different and leave behind all my emotional baggage. But ultimately I came to realise that no matter who you’re pretending to be, you can’t leave your weaknesses behind.
Did you benefit from your stay at the Priory?
Not as much as I should have done. It was useful to retreat for a few weeks, but I never really fully engaged in the therapy and was always trying to hold something of myself back (those secrets again!). With hindsight, I shouldn’t have been on the rehab program anyway, because obviously I’m not an alcoholic.
We have seen you in a variety of relationships. Who was the one who got away?
Toby Marchpole. We first dated when I was sixteen and I realise now I should have confided in him about the problems at home. He was hurt when he found out what I’d been holding back, as it demonstrated a lack of trust, and ended the relationship. On the other hand, he ferretted out my secret in a very sneaky way, but I can hardly hold that against him in the circumstances. Unfortunately by the time we reconnected, time ran out before we could put the past behind us.
Is Little Amy a help or a hindrance in times of stress?
Both. She talks a lot of bullshit, but on the other hand from time to time there are nuggets of common sense in what she says. But lately she’s been a real bitch and it’s stressful to deal with her. Plus it’s obviously concerning that she’s around at all, which makes me wonder if I really am crazy. I’ve also been wondering why she’s fourteen? Did something stressful happen then which I can’t remember? Maybe some day I’ll find out.
Thanks so much for the interview. I do hope my answers have cleared up some of the mystery surrounding me. You’ve given me much food for thought and maybe I should try to be more open with people in the future. But it’s so hard to shake off a habit of secrecy ingrained over a lifetime. Perhaps I should have been a spy…