relapse prevention therapy
When I was five I was raped. He said it was a game. It wouldn’t hurt. These are clichés.
I sometimes tell my students that fiction often isn’t fiction and power is often about desire. They’re too young to understand, of course. People are never what they seem.
I play the role of teacher. They don’t see me. They see a person they want to be and I crave that attention. Something I can hide behind, like an open library book covering my face. Addiction reprogrammes the brain. That’s an analogy drawn from computers and software. The brain is the hardware. Addiction rewrites the codes of serotonin and dopamine levels. Feel good and feel bad factors. Few people fully understand how they work and those that know aren’t telling. They’re selling drugs man. The heavy artillery of drugs.
In bygone era, which sounds suitably old-fashioned, I might have said addiction recalibrates the brain. There’s more of a hard engineering feel to it with the use of the tips of protractors and slide-rules and forceps to measure ear to ear and the bumps on the head indicating certain propensities towards being a slut.
It’s not a disease, not something you can look down the microscope at. More a sense of dis-ease. A craving. A lack of self-control. I fell into the pit of broken and needy people. You find them everywhere when you start looking. The internet made it easier. I covered over bodily desires with other bodies sticking to it and penetrating me, but never touching me. Looks didn’t matter. I longed to be touched, to be cherished. Love the highest abstraction, a kind of cosmic calculus that would work itself out in the end.
I was often skint. But I didn’t need much. I stopped eating. A roof over my head. A bed. These were there for the taking if I’d let other people have me. My pale body dwindled away to hair and bad skin, the sorrows of femininity disappearing with my gender. I was like one of those ticks or lice burrowing inside a living cell to feed. When I started teacher training and had to sit in the staffroom, while other teachers ate and chattered, I said I was a vegan. That was then suitably exotic, like saying I was a Klingon, to make me the object of conversation and then something to be put aside, forgotten about.
I used to dream with beta wave of being normal and not caring so much what people think about me. I wasn’t sleeping at the time, depressed and prone to panic attacks. I started eating only things that were green, which was a good thing because everybody knows I never put the lids back on jars. The mind is a powerful tool. I smashed my body into increasingly small parts until everything hurt, my head, the whites of my eyes, my stomach, arms and legs, even my toes.
Juggling life is never easy and I wanted to die, or at least I wasn’t worried about it. I was worried about being odd and fat and ugly. But when you take control of your body you take control of your mind. When Jesus went into the desert and fasted for forty days and forty nights his disciples didn’t say, oh Jesus had anorexia or body dysmorphia, low self-esteem and he didn’t want to be fat. Let’s not crucify him but counsel him to death and that’ll cure him. No, here is my body, broken for you. I like that. Broken for you.
When Jesus was asked by his disciples why they couldn’t exorcise a demon in his name, he advised them to fast. What the text books don’t tell you is fasting makes you, if not righteous, then it makes you think you are right. Know you are right. It sorts things out. When we subjugate our bodies we subjugate our mind. It’s a self-inflicted dysfunctional-ability. It shows the world you do not lack commitment and if you are seen as a failure you are a failure on your own terms. No longer a moral problem based on deficits of understanding and empathy.
Reverse-engineering. I told my parents I’d been raped. I came out as a victim after my vitals were taken after another unsuccessful suicide attempt. I went blank. That’s not a very good description. You know how the narrative goes. They hug and console you and dad blames himself a bit and swears revenge on the babysitter and mum cries. You don’t know my parents. I went blank. They went blanker.
Let’s play the blame game. I remember being weighed and measured and judged. The doctor puts his hand on my shoulder and advises me to have a bit more belief in myself, a bit more self-control, a bit of exercise twice every day, which was good for moderating stress and then I’d be cured ever after of him thinking we were the Walton’s family.
I did not lead a sheltered life. This is not what I did. This is not who I am. This is my body, broken for you.