I had a very curious childhood. But maybe that had something to do with having a lot of energy that didn’t find any outlet.
I wanted to be a dancer—this was my passion, but at the age of ten, I suddenly went into a dead faint one day, having been a very skinny but very healthy child. Nobody took much notice. But then it happened again. So I was taken to the family doctor, and it was discovered that I had an incredibly rapid heartbeat. Nobody had noticed this; it was, I suppose, part of my excitability and liveliness.
But my mother got very alarmed. This rapid pulse should have been ignored. But my mother was quite sure that it meant that I had a “bad heart.” So she went immediately to the convent where I attended school and told the nuns, “This child mustn’t have any physical training, she mustn’t play tennis, she mustn’t even swim.” At ten, you know, you don’t argue with your mother—she tells you you’re sick, you believe her. When I would be about to climb stairs, she would say, “Now, take it slowly, remember your heart.” And then of course the tragedy was that I was told I mustn’t dance anymore. So the dancing stopped like that, which was a terrible deprivation for me. It’s really only in the last decade of my life that I’ve been able to face all this. When I realized what my mother had done to me, I went through, at the age of twenty, such resentment—this happens to many of us, but I really had reason. When I was thirty, I began to understand why she did it, and thus to pity her. By the time she died in ’76 we were reconciled. But it was an extraordinary story.
In brief, my mother was unhappily married. It was a dreadful marriage.
I suspect she was sometimes in love with other men; but my mother would never have dreamt of having an affair. Because her marriage was unhappy, she concentrated on her children.