Tuesday, 10 January 2012
Sunday, 8 January 2012
Someone wrote to me recently and what they said sparked me off thinking about appearances and reality. I have always possessed an uncanny knack for presenting well in even the most dire circumstances. In fact, in recovery I have found that my ability to seem confident, sorted and well have counted against me when I've reached out for help. People look at me and see nothing wrong - no help needed here! Move along! The reality, the damage, lies much deeper, can be hidden for the most part, though in extremis as of late my muteness and frozenness have been a little more difficult to stage manage. Dressed in long sleeves and gearing it up, meet the articulate, educated woman. Dressed in a vest top and playing it down, meet someone who's a little rough around the edges, a harder woman with tattoos and serious self harm scars. The language and the manner change to match.
Both are real, but which one is me?
Those are the public personas, and all the shades that lie between. I do believe to some extent that everybody adapts a little to suit their situation. The problem I have is one of degree. There are actually numerous personas my head flicks between, each one existing in its own right. I find it hard to remember quite how I am in one headspace if I'm in another. Cold, Detached, Savage, Angel, Emma, Destructive, Compassionate... The memory problem I find as I flick between personas adds to the fragmentation, the disconnection, my experience of life as a collection of snapshots, a series of events with little apparent connection, my difficulty with time. I find I lose track of days, that an hour can be a lifetime or else be gone in the blinking of an eye. Sometimes I look at the clock and an hour has passed, or more. I'm someplace else, gone, lost in a trance.
I have a love-hate relationship with my outward appearance of competence. There is power in wearing a mask. And I can be competent, so it's not a lie. Not always, anyway. Sometimes when I'm struggling, when the PTSD's bad I put on my outward appearance, Angel: hair done, makeup perfect, fresh clothes. Wearing it as a cloak, I interact with the world one step removed. I'm very well, thanks for asking, don't get too close there. But this mask, this cloak can also act as an iron maiden, closing me in, suffocating me - the metal digs into me and hurts me and it traps me there, alone.
I found this writing, something I wrote back in my drinking and using days, when I first felt myself splitting, found myself carved in two and me lost somewhere between, out in the ether. I fragmented further as things got worse, as I found myself beaten and sold. I became we, and we did what we had to do to get through. Sometimes all that can be done is to get through. Survival is everything, hour by hour, minute by minute, though one beating, then through another. Me but not me, there but someplace else, one but many, together yet apart.
I’d be sectioned if I told them what was really going on in my head, inside my mind. So instead I feign normality, humanity, I smile when someone cracks a joke, in fact I smile a lot, I’m known as the Smiley one, but it’s just pulling facial muscles, a dumb contortion of facial muscles that doesn’t mean anything, it’s just acting, it’s just pulling a face, just playing the part. I’m not smiling inside, and if they could see what was inside they wouldn’t be smiling much either.
Inside is darkness, brokenness and damage and a cloying, decaying sense of evil that feels somehow primeval and is shot through to my core. Don’t come near me or I’ll rub off my DAMAGE. I’m like putrefying meat, going bad from the inside out, this evil’s eating its way through me and the pretty smiling exterior just serves to make it all the more terrifying because if you met me just to chat with you might be mistaken in thinking there is Nothing Wrong and I’m a Lovely Girl. I see the devil sitting at the end of my bed. I want to inflict pain, pain like I’m feeling, I want to damage as I am damaged. I stop looking myself in the eye in the mirror.
I’m scared of myself and trust no one. I scorn the people around me. They see only what they want to see and that is not the real me. I am the consummate actress, the director, pulling the strings but they don’t see it. It is better, safer, to give nothing away, knowledge is power and I'm not about to hand that over to any fucker right now. It’s not that I lie, I just don’t tell the truth.
The divide between the Smiley me, the Normal me, that I present, and the Other me, my dark side, becomes cavernous. I feel caught between the two, detached and lost. I am living two lives, one visible and fake, one hidden but more real, those two aspects of myself meeting only because we share the same body. My body feels alien to me, separate from my mind and the darkness, just a canvas to etch with cuts, a vessel to indulge in the substances I choose, something I wear and flirt with and fuck with. My mind – that’s someplace else.
I am a voyeur in my own life.
I love and I hate the Smile, the Mask, it allows me to feel aloof and to pass unnoticed in a world in which I increasingly feel I don’t belong. I belong someplace else, someplace darker, and I find myself seeking out the dark and the dangerous. I flirt with it, it part scares me, part thrills me, it’s playing with fire and I know I’ll get burnt but I can’t leave it alone. I never can leave things alone: I’m an Addict, an Obsessive. The smaller part of me wishes people would notice, see my pain, see my turmoil, help me up and out of this Pit I’m in. But I’m way too far gone to be able to let people see the Real Me. My state is Unacceptable, and I know it.
Wednesday, 4 January 2012
Tuesday, 3 January 2012
I recently rediscovered this piece, written by me a while back. A reminder in gratitude for being out of the sex industry and in recovery for my addiction...
Fast forward a year and I’m out, up up and away from my partner. Well, away, anyhow – I can’t say I’ve come up. I’m actually still playing the game, albeit in a different setting surrounded by different characters in a different time. I’m no longer subject to his violence, to the punishments he meted out, I am no longer made to perform for his friends to pay for the drugs and drink he uses, but I’m still trapped. I got my leg caught in the trap and it’s not coming out. I still have a little habit of my own to support, drugs and alcohol, the drugs have a price and that price is me. I’m too fucked up with men, too fucked up with the drugs and booze and the constant replays of the past violence to do a normal job. I feel shitty and worthless and so I find myself turning to the only industry where that’s more or less a prerequisite for work. I’ve become a prostitute, a hooker, a sex worker – the names may vary but the work doesn’t. I tell myself I can close my mind off, this isn’t really happening to me, I have a work name, it’s just acting again, just another role, it won’t affect me, these fuckers won’t get to me. I keep telling myself that, if I tell it to myself enough perhaps it will become true.
I work in a massage parlour, seeing up to 8 men a day. Sometimes there’s just time to go down to the poky bathroom and mop up, add a bit of lippy, have a bit of vodka and then it’s back up to the next punter. It’s quite incredible to me that it’s come to this, that my life has come to this, me who had the world at her feet, who was top of her year, could be anyone, anything, go anywhere. How on earth did I end up here, selling my body at £45 a go, with men I wouldn’t normally give the time of day to cumming on my boobs or in my face (they claim a misaim)?
It shouldn’t surprise me, not after everything that happened with my partner, not with the addiction and the mental health shit I put up with, but it still does. I had a long way to fall. Oh how the mighty have fallen! It’s kind of ironic too that I should be selling myself like this at the time when I am actually losing my looks to the booze and the drugs. I’ve got that bloated, pale look with the red cheeks worn by all alcoholics of a certain fervour. I’m the biggest I’ve ever been and yet men pay me for sex. It makes me almost gleeful in a bitter and twisted way, my ex always told me no one’d fancy me if I let myself go, we don’t want you becoming any more of a fat cow than you already are do we? I’ve proved him wrong.
Maybe not. The guys who come here aren’t exactly Richard Gere. It’s not like they’d have the pick of the women. Most are old, most are fucking ugly bastards, most hate women for rejecting them and have scores to settle. These are the worst. They act like sadists, they hurt me on purpose, to get a rise. I don’t respond, I hurt but I don’t respond, and they hate that and they hurt me some more. I resolved after my ex never to show a man that he’s hurt me, him and his friends would do stuff to me to get me to cry. The shame I feel about crying in front of them, about giving them that pleasure (my tears made them laugh) stays with me. The shame and the scars have stayed with me.
I have scars all over my body, the backs of my legs, my thighs, my belly, my arse. He glassed me on several occasions, and beat me frequently and severely, sometimes with a belt. Everytime I take a shower, everytime I look at myself, there they are, it’s like I got away from him but he’s still there, he’s left his marks on me, the blood and cum may have washed off but the feeling of dirt remains, sometimes I feel like the scars are burning into me, a sign that his malevolent presence will never be gone from my life. The punters don’t care, their gaze is fixated: boobs and holes are all they give a fuck about.
I get flashbacks, I get nauseous and shaky when that happens, I feel like I’m right back there with my ex, my chest and throat go all tight and I feel like I can’t breathe, I’m being choked, being strangled, having the life drain away from me. Sometimes, I’d pass out when it was happening for real. I still get the feelings. I feel like I’m going mad. I sleep with the light on. The booze knocks me out, I’m on a litre and a half of vodka a day plus top ups, but I awaken in the night, bed clothes soaked with sweat, heart going nineteen to the dozen. I hear voices, my ex’s voice and the voices of the other men who used me, they are so real I can’t believe there’s no one there. I sit on the floor by the toilet, vomiting my guts up and shaking.
Sometimes I ask God to get me out of this mess, I plead with him, I get down on my hands and knees and say, hey God, if you’re really up there, please help me out of this shit. I make bargains and promises – help me to stop drinking, to get sorted out and I’ll do anything you want God, anything at all, just please help me. Met by a deafening silence, I figure God hates me, which makes sense: I feel like the anthichrist.