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If one thing good had come out of the past twelve months, it was these sessions: of all her psychiatrists over the years, it was Byford who had brought her closest to breakthrough. So far this much was clear: Claire Malcolm was addicted to self-sabotage. In a pattern so deeply embedded in her life that Byford had suspected of being rooted in her earliest babyhood, Claire compulsively sabotaged all possibilities of personal happiness. It seemed she was convinced that it was not happiness that she deserved. The Howard episode was only the last and most spectacular in a long line of acts of emotional cruelty she felt impelled to inflict upon herself. You only had to look at the timing. Finally, finally, she had found this wonderful blessing, this angel, this gift, Warren Crane, a man who (she could not help but list his attributes as Byford encouraged her to do):

a) Did not consider her a threat

b) Did not fear or dread her sexualit or gender

c) Did not wish to cripple her mentally

d) Did not, at a preconscious level, want her dead

e) Did not resent her money, her reputation, her talent or her strength

f) Did not wish to interfere with the deep connection she had with the earth – indeed, loved the earth as she did and encouraged her love of it

She had come to a place of personal joy. FInally, at fifty-three. And so naturally it was the perfect time to sabotage her own life. To this end she had initiated an affair with Howard Belsey, one of her oldest friends.

On Beauty, Zadie Smith


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