A lovely thing happened to me the other day.
I was standing in the queue at Costa which is a rare treat as I am far too poor to buy their coffee but I had just come out of a therapy session and whilst I was therefore considerably poorer monetarily, I felt much richer emotionally.
We’d burned some witches that day, my therapist and I. Anyone in my life who lies to me, mistreats me, ignores or belittles me was hunted down and executed.
It was so much fun. I yelped ‘CUNT!’ a lot.
My therapist – let’s call her 999 after the UK’s emergency services number seeing as she spends all day saving lives, breaking up internal fights and putting out emotional fires – had taken hold of my trembling hands, looked into my weeping eyes and informed me, not for the first time, that I was behaving like a small, vulnerable child and not in a cute, adorable way because I am, in fact, 44 years old and a chain-smoking Rioja-addict.
999 explained that because I frequently behave like the vulnerable child I once was when I was an actual vulnerable child, I attract the kind of people (let’s call them cunts) who get off on my vulnerability and exploit it for their own pleasure.
‘CUNTS!’ I yelped. ‘Cunts indeed,’ 999 said.
999 then explained that because it was ME who had allowed these witchy cunts to cast their toxic spell over me, it was also perfectly possible for ME in turn to cast them out in a puff of special-effect fag-smoke.
‘But HOW 999?’ I wailed, all trembly and 7yrs-old-ish. ‘How can I get out from under their cunty spell?’
‘By. Growing. The. Fuck. Up.’ 999 said.
What she actually said was: ‘You need to take executive adult control of your inner-child response’ because I pay her a lot of money to use psychotherapeutic terms like that.
So I did. I grew up, right there in the therapist’s chair.
999 took me back to the time when I lived under the toxic spell of my mum. She asked me to draw a picture of Mum as I remembered her and I drew a stick figure, crying and vomiting, holding a bottle of vodka and a fag and next to her I drew me, little-girl me, crumpled at her feet looking terrified and confused and also peeing a bit on the floor.
I saw immediately that the picture I’d drawn of Mum was almost identical to a pic I’d recently drawn as a joke for a cartoonist friend who’d asked me to send her a pic of how I was feeling at that moment and I’d drawn this:
I wasn’t vomiting. And the vodka bottle was a much more socially acceptable glass of wine, but still, I was her, I was my mother, AM my mother.
Being like my mother remains the greatest fear of my life and here was the evidence, in badly drawn stick-figures, that I am, by tear-stained degrees, slowly allowing myself to become her; consumed by sadness, so vulnerable and weak that I can’t see what I really need or remember what being happy feels like.
How have I let this happen?
Well. The answer to that, whilst fascinating and entertainingly traumatic, is rather long-winded and complicated which is why I’m writing a book about it and would be very delighted if you would buy it when it’s published. I may include stick drawings to illustrate my painful childhood experiences in a jokey, light-hearted way lest you drown in so many vodka-soaked anecdotes.
In essence though (strap yourselves in, folks) leaving my marriage has triggered an enormous amount of fear, a level of fear which I haven’t felt since I was a kid and which has, in turn, sent me right back into all those child-like feelings and behaviours which were a response to my mother’s feelings and behaviours and which now leave the adult me especially vulnerable to people (aka cunts) who make me feel the same way my mum did which is: weak, confused, worthless, needy and bone-achingly sad.
To escape all this misery, to stop myself from turning into my mother and also from repeatedly meeting my mother wearing the disguise of other people (mostly men) the first thing I must do is remove anyone in my life (aka cunts) who treat me like my mother did. Only then can I finally, as my therapist didn’t exactly say, Grow. The. Fuck. Up.
So we did. Together we burned the witches. Culled the cunts. Massacred the mothers. I walked out of there feeling clearer and brighter than I have in months, if not years. Who knew symbolic mass-murder could be so uplifting?
Which may be why the lovely thing happened straight afterwards in Costa.
I was in the queue and in front of me was a fella, a rather handsome fella if you really want to know, and he was clutching a box of Costa’s own macaroni cheese and looking a little stressed at the length and slowness of the queue in front of us.
We exchanged an eye-roll. His eyes rolled very handsomely and his smile was all mischief and promise. We then exhanged a few words. I challenged him about whether the macaroni cheese in his hand was worth waiting for, it being an over-priced cardboard box containing over-cooked cardboard food. He added, ‘and it’s so yellow isn’t it? It’s so very, very yellow.’ I agreed that yellow food is only for kids and prisoners and he didn’t look to be either of those things.
And then he looked at me and said, handsomely, ‘you have the most wonderful spirit about you. No that’s not right, it’s more than that, you have a joyfulness about you, you have brought me a touch of pure joy today.’
I thanked him. He gave me his number. And I’m gonna call him just as soon as I’ve finished growing up a bit more.
I’d hate to have to end up killing him…