Title: "Falling" 1/1
She has begun to be fixated on self-doubt, begun to question things that seem to be more fundamental than the matter of her existence. She has found that there is something curiously addictive about scrutinising the patterns of your life, about seeing failure, dissatisfaction and unhappiness in the pattern of your past, and then seeing it again in your present. She thinks this is merely a substitute for other, more regular addictions - but drugs, alcohol and even sex take more time and physical energy than she has at present. So, self-doubt is seriously in season.
Except its hardly a season to be jolly, its more the season to reflect, to take the blame, to suddenly be embarrassed to tell people meeting you for the first time what it is you do.
She thinks sometimes that this might be a punishment for their hubris, for their belief that the world was theirs to change and that they and only they knew what was best for the country. But then she remembers, with something akin to defeat, that they never really had anything to be arrogant about. Elected by 42% of the electorate, hardly a ringing endorsement - and then governing with the Republicans holding the Senate and even their own party more often at their throat than solidly behind them. Even their goal of raising the standard of public debate looks faintly ironic in the light of the discussions that embattle them now.
She even wonders about the friendships that she used to believe sustained them. She has started to question the longevity of Bartlet's senior staff in comparison to the mobility of personnel in earlier administrations and she asked herself if the presence of the same team for so long is really about loyalty and trust, or about the ability to control and manipulate. She finds herself speculating about the President's use of their faith in him to deceive them and wonders if history will judge them as criminal - or nieve.
But he isn't the only one she wonders about. If this were over, if the White House were lost to them in a storm of accusations and recriminations, perhaps even in shame, what would remain of this band of warriors who seem so close now? Would she talk to Sam once a year, Josh when he remembered to return her calls, or when he needed something, Leo hardly at all? Would Toby drift in and out of her life as he has done for the last ten years, as constant as the drip of water from a leaky tap and about as complex as some antiquated plumbing system.Or would he fade away as well? Too embarrassed by the memory of failure to stay in touch?
And if he drifted away, if they were suddenly nothing more than people who had once known one another, what would be the failure that haunted them. The administration, or something more personal?
She's started taking the advice of one of her predecessors, making sure that she gets a quiet half an hour most days, in a hiding place only one person can track her down to. She intended to use this time to clear her mind, to plan and to strategize, but she's become addicted to reflection and though the press would be easier than her ghosts, the thoughts move around her head like guests at a wake, unsteady on their feet, with mixed degrees of grief and embarrassment and an undercurrent of regret at needing to be there at all.
She understands more about madness than she did before, or at least about certain types of madness. More than once she has imagined herself running amok in the press room, cutting down the press with a randomness that she ought to find chilling. There might be something very welcoming about such a release but there must always be control; it is one of the patterns of her life, running through the structure of her existence - like the veins in marble.
She wishes that she knew more about geology; because she thinks she might learn to compare the people she knows to different types of rocks - but, once she gets past Toby as something dark, glittering and close to indestructable the metaphor escapes her. And there he is again, in her thoughts, at the heart of her insecurities and her deepest fears - and perhaps he is another one of the veins that run through her life. Although she understands that veins can be broken, or cut.
She is dimly aware that she is in love with him, suspects he may be a little in love with her, or at least as in love as he is capable of being. But she can't muster much enthusiasm or interest in that and she suspects that by the time they decide to do something about it, they will both have forgotten what their feelings meant.
It is another of the things that will be sacrificed to the greater good, this potential, lingering between them like a backward glance. Maybe it has a strength she has not found and it will survive, a little tarnished but still hungry, still thirsting. She wishes she believed that way, but her faith flickers like a candle in a draft, and she doubts. What she truly believes is that they will end this struggle and have gained nothing, have saved nothing. But she and Toby will have lost something that might have been worth making sacrifices for, that might have been their greater good.
But, she shouldn't be surprised, because the evidence is there in the patterns of her life and once you learn how, its easy to read the patterns, although harder to determine what to do to change them. And she's become addicted to self doubt, to scrutiny and so she ought to know.