Tag Archives: creative writing

Addiction,Recovery, Relapse

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Addiction, recovery, relapse; it’s a loop which grips you like a noose. That first step to recovery is painful and frightening. Many addicts are in two minds about it when they take the first step, so it comes to nothing; in no time they are back on the street scoring. It’s claimed that you have to hit rock bottom before you’re ready for recovery, but rock bottom can be an awfully long way down, with untold dangers on the way.

It’s unusual for an addict to go into permanent recovery at the first attempt. They often get into that familiar pattern: addiction, recovery, relapse, addiction, recovery, relapse. This is traumatising for everyone who cares. Each time the addict relapses they are at high risk of overdose, as their tolerance for the drug has gone down. Family and friends often give up on the addict, but they need to know that with every attempt, there is more chance of success, just as every time a learner driver takes a driving test, they are more likely to pass.

So, addiction, recovery, relapse is a loop which grips you like a noose, but a noose can be untied. The circle can be broken, placing the addict in permanent recovery, though only time can tell if this has occurred.

Addicts get clean every day, and stay clean for the rest of their lives. Some of them go on to work tirelessly to support other addicts through recovery, though their hearts may be torn over and over again. I have great admiration for all recovering addicts.

Today, I pay tribute to recovered addicts everywhere; in particular, two brave young women who will remain nameless (it’s enough that they know who they are); a local man called Jimmy, who has become an inspiration to many in this town; Adam, at the Bideford Lighthouse project, and, of course, my daughter Laura.

I live in hope that I may add my son’s name to this list at some point.

With Grateful thanks to Sumyanna, whose thoughtful suggestion has given me new hope, and who may be pleased to learn that she inspired this post.

The Daily Post #Loop

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Author of my Being. Part 4

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…The continuing story of the trauma that threaded its way into my life when I reached puberty. Click on the links to read Part 1, Part two and Part 3.

WARNING! ADULT CONTENT

I recently turned eleven. Thanks to my mother’s gentle tact, I’ve bathed by myself since the start of pubescence. Now both my sister and I have more space to splash.

I lock the door against invaders,
but the peace of security evades me.
I imagine prying eyes, spying through the frosted window,
dribbling at my prematurely curved body.
I hide my breasts and genitals beneath clean flannels
that my she-devil nipples and the wilful triangle of hair
are concealed from peeping-toms,
and also from me.

I could soak and scrub all day,
but it won’t change the way I’ve become.
It won’t make me clean.
I can never be Me again.
It’s a cruel error,
this forced, false femininity;
this stealing of self.
It’s the end of everything.
Please Lord, if indeed God you be,
let me be a boy.
Let me be me.

I want to wake up free from this monstrous body, throw off my vest and run in the fields
unencumbered by the trials of Eve, but I don’t know how to strike a deal. In my panic, it doesn’t occur to me that a boy must eventually morph into a man. Recent events have made me less sure than ever of whether I like men.

Smashing up against all of this angst and agony, is the worst secret of all, one that often creeps up on me when I see my father’s photographs, and whenever I am alone in the bath. It’s a  humiliation that I try to press down, but I can’t. It thrums in time to the pulsing of my blood, a tantalising tickle way below the belt, lurking low in the belly, beneath budding flesh.

A flimsy flannel may cover up the sight of that rebellious part of me, but it cannot desensitise the site.

The beat is taking me, strumming deep inside,
I try to block advice from some devilish guide
plagueing me with vile and wicked temptation
to stroke and to probe the inner inflammation.
Apalling visions are swishing in my head
of naked women kissing in a sweat soaked bed.
I abhor the excitement which billows within,
insisting that I execute a dark, exquisite sin.

The thrills explode, but as the water grows chill,
I’m chagrined and angered by my weak lack of will.
I wallow in disgrace and I’m sure of one fact
It can’t be normal to commit such an act.
I’ve a nasty suspicion that I’m to blame,
For my father’s iniquitous act of shame,
and not only that, but the juvenile attack
is starting to feel like an earned comeback.

More ignominy awaits. My mother, with her kind sensitivity, has left it as long as is practicable, but one evening she brings the subject up, in as casual a manner as she can muster:

“When we go to town tomorrow, I’ll buy you a couple of bras.”

Heat presses against me, insinuating itself beneath my skin. My heart is hammering. I taste metal, a flavour that’s becoming familiar to me. I knew there could be no remission, but this feels like proof; the final nail, hammering into the coffin of childhood..

“I don’t… I can’t… I… All right,” I reply.

Her eyes slide in my direction, assessing the situation, then look quickly away. She knows I’ll shut shut down or hide my agony behind a mask of anger if she shows too much kindness or empathy. A brief sentence is all I’ll allow. I deal with unpleasantness in my own way. I don’t like soppy stuff, it’s for weedy girls, who burst into tears and let mum cuddle them and make it all better. My problem can’t be resolved, and expecially not in that way. I mustn’t show weakness.

If I was a weedy girl, I would probably be pleased to have reached this landmark. I no longer know what I am, but I’m not like the sissies in the village nearby, with their busty Barbies, frilly skirts, and pink hairslides.

“You’ll be more comfortable in a bra,” she murmers.

It’s evening, so I can’t run off to my world at the bottom of the field below my house, but when I go to bed I can plan how my first conversation with Paul will go. I see him, sprinting through the field towards me, his hair bouncing. In a moment I’ll reveal myself…

The next day, mum and I go into a low-key shop, a shop that’s not brazen about its bra display. I can’t look at the bras. To me, choosing one would be like selecting which type of lethal poison to take when you have no wish to kill yourself. Mum rummages around, then picks one up and asks me if I like it. I’m several feet away, trying not to look like someone who’s being bought a bra, so I mutter that it’s fine. I’m too embarrassed to try it on, so she guesses the size, gets two, and says that if they don’t fit she’ll bring them back and get a different size.

At home, I obediently go to my bedroom and try on one of the bras. It’s a horrible white pointy thing – this is 1966, and horrible white pointy things are fashionable. It feels uncomfortable, but I was expecting that. I can’t bear to look at myself, so I don’t know whether or not it fits. I take it off. I only plan to wear it for school. I go downstairs, where mum is trying to look indifferent.
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“Do they fit?” she asks.

“Yeah, thanks mum, they’re lovely” I say, attempting to sound keen.

As it turns out, they don’t fit. Anywhere. I endure months of increasing itching and chafing before mum risks suggesting that I may have grown out of my first bras. We go through a slightly different routine, with a marginally less painful result. My mother, without fail, does her best for her strange, repressed boy-daughter. She has many difficulties in her life, and, however it may seem, I do my best not to be one of them, perhaps with less success than I would hope. Wanting to please me, she asks me if I like the style of my current bras. I don’t want to her to feel she’s failed in any way, so I say yes, thereby precipitating the purchase of exactly the same ugly, uncomfortable style. The fit is little better. I come to the conclusion that the mistake of my birth is worse than I thought. Not only have I inadvertantly been made into a girl, but my shape has been inaccurately designed.

Still, I think, at least this time I didn’t have to go through the discomfiture of being present when my mum bought the bras.

My father has taken to covering up his disgrace with fake jollity, adopting a hail-fellow-well-met attitude whenever I’m present. This is an in-between time in our relationship; it could go either way. He could apologise, and make whatever dumb excuse he may please. All my life he’s been a hero to me, so I’d be eager to forgive him, but in addition to being sexually driven, he is proud, arrogant, and selfish, so there’s little hope for real repair, and anyway, maybe I’m in the wrong, too. I’m the one who’s turning into a filthy monster. What he did could be partly my fault.

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Author of my Being. Part 3

… The continuing story of the trauma that threaded its way into my life when I reached puberty. Click on the links to read Part 1 and Part two.

I would like, at this point, to introduce you to The Author of my Being. The link below makes interesting reading – and viewing; even for me, although there is no information of which I was not already aware, and no photo which I haven’t seen. I grew up surrounded by them.

Remember, the photos you see are pre-1955… many of them are a little risque for their time. I believe the originals of the prints on this site are in the posession of my sister, but I have others.  I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away. They form an important part of my history, and who knows, they could even be valuable. I keep them hidden well out of reach, as some of them depict adult family members.

Dear reader, please say hello to a charming, intelligent and likeable man. I say this without a trace of sarcasm – he was all of those things, and so much more…. Here is a link to my father, the eminent photographer:

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↓ ↓ link ↓ ↓

,ANTONY BASIL

↑ ↑ link ↑ ↑

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Beyond that, I’ll keep this post short…

A while ago I was looking for images of one of my daughters, when a photo of me surfaced. My dad, having been a renowned photographer, before he gave it up to become a toil on the land (all of which you know, if you clicked on the link), gave us each a Brownie 127 camera. One of my brothers must have taken the photo, which was captured just as I was stepping out of our kitchen door. The expression on my face made me cry. I looked at that photo so many times over the years, wondering at my expression. I never made the connection before. Suddenly I knew; it was taken just after my dad had deflowered my mouth with his tongue.

I look as if I am lost, and am looking for a way home.

to be continued…

©Jane Paterson Basil

The Author of my Being. Part 2

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More about the trauma that entered my life when I reached puberty. Part 1 can be found immediately below this post, or you can click on the link HERE.

A few weeks after my father rams his tongue down my throat, a fifteen year old boy who lives down the road lures me into a caravan to “show me something”. Once there, he pushes me onto the bed, pins me down, and tries to tear my clothes off. At first, Im too shocked to take in the nature of his intentions. Terrified, I think my life depends on my escape.

Fear is metal-flavoured. Later I will learn about the chemicals released by the body, which prepare us for fight or flight, but at this stage I know nothing of adrenalin.

He’s underestimated the accuracy of my fierce reputation, and the strength of metal. I struggle free, and punch him a couple of times. He reels backwards, finds his footing. Blushing, and staring at the floor as if in search of some small thing he has lost, he stutters a three syllable apology, which repeats. He’s stuck, and doesn’t try to stop me from leaving.

I’m confident that not even a boy five years older than me will dare cross me twice. I’m correct. I have ways, and I take to making his life as difficult as possible. I’m safe from him, but nothing can exorcise the feelings of rage and shame that hit me again and again, every time I think of the attack. I feel no conscious blame, but somewhere deep inside, I’m soon to start totting up the abuses.

Meanwhile, my father and I are avoiding each other’s eyes. He’s floundering, scrabbling to plan a strategy. I spend a lot of time on my own. I’m often to be seen running through the field below our house. No longer is it a joy; merely an escape. When I reach the bottom corner, I crouch down and crawl into my secret, secure space. This den is a miracle of nature, its earth walls dry and lined with tree roots where I conceal my private writings and pictures of Paul McCartney. When I show him my tiny hideout, I’ll invite him in. We’ll sit opposite each other, our feet touching, while I show him all the items I placed here in preparation for his arrival. Everything which belongs to us is here, everything which reminds me of him. This is my shrine to him.

Paul is going to save me. One day his limousine will choose a scenic route to a nearby gig. While passing a gate at the top of the field, he’ll spot the clump of trees close to my den. With a strange sense of destiny burning in his chest, he’ll ask his driver to stop, get out of the car, leap the gate, and eagerly sprint down through the field toward the trees. Like a sprite, I’ll reveal myself.

Only then will he know that the hollow emptiness that has always stirred in his soul was due to the lack of me in his life. We’ll spend the rest of our lives climbing trees together, playing tag in warm shadows and running in the sun. On sleepless nights we’ll talk to each other about our perfect world, our silver voices flowing across the small gap between the separate tents in the field where we sleep.

This is my deepest secret. It’s the reason why I smile as I write in honour of him.

It will happen. Soon. It has to.

Our lives will be serene.
Our love will be clean.

I was ten years old, traumatised by sudden, unwanted changes, both in my horribly blossoming body, and in my  life. I dispised and feared the bulging bits, the blood, the bending cramps, and a future which may be filled with bastards who squeezed me as if I was a squeeky toy. When I was in my den, I lived out a fantasy. At all other times I continued to pretend I was a boy. It seemed like my only defence.

My innocence clung to me as tightly as I clung to it.

to be continued…

©Jane Paterson Basil

Dinnertime

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Showered and fragranced, she slips into well-chosen clothes; clothes with the perfect mix of sexy and casual, as if it’s only by chance that she looks that way. She smoothes down her hair and applies the right amount of make-up – not too much; she doesn’t want her look to appear contrived. She checks in the mirror, and sees the reflection of a naturally alluring woman with a lovely figure. Her disguise is perfect. She leaves the house, and walks slowly down the road, with the merest suggestion of a wiggle, a carefully designed expression of uncretainty on her face.

She catches the eye of every man she passes. They look interested, but always, something startles them, and they recoil in horror, before making a wide berth – sometimes even crossing the road to avoid walking past her. She’s getting hungry; it’s been days since she’s managed to lure anybody back to her lair.

Presently, clouds cover the sun. Shadows fade. She spots a meaty giant of a man walking her way. He sees her lost-little-girl look, and pauses to ask her if she is OK. She gives him her well-worn story about only having moved into the area the previous day, and not being able to remember her way home; it always works. He asks for her address, and offers to walk her there.

Her sensitive nose picks out aftershave, lemon soap, coffee, fresh bread, ham, the ingredients of coleslaw, an encouraging tang of lust, and knows she’ll have no trouble. Beneath those ugly scents is the delicious perfume of blood type A, rhesus positive; her favorite flavour.

She sighs in anticipation of her feast.

Written for Michelle’s Photo-Fiction Challenge

©Jane Paterson Basil

Empty threats

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In the UK anyone who owns a TV, or watches TV programmes on a computer, must, by law, have a TV licence, which costs £147 a year. I just looked it up on Google – as I have no TV, I don’t need to know how much it costs. The licencing fee pays for our non commercial channel, the BBC.As there are so many TV channels these days, some people probably never watch the BBC, but they still have to have a licence.

I haved lived at my current address since May 11th, 20th 2015. I received my first threatening letter from the TV licencing company a few weeks after I moved in. It began by warning me that I could be fined some ridiculous amount of money if I didn’t get a TV licence. It told me how much a TV licence cost. Somewhere at the bottom it said that if I didn’t need a licence should go to their website and tell them – but then it said that they may come and check p on me anyway.

I didn’t feel like telling them I didn’t need a licence if they weren’t neccesarily going to believe me, so I ignored the letter.

A few weeks later I got another, slightly more threatening one, which also had the smallprint telling me to let them know if I didn’t need a licence, and that they may check up to see that I wasn’t lying.

I ignored it.

They sent another, and another. Each one was more threatening than the last. They were going to bring round the heavies and look for a TV, they were going to take me to court for non-payment… non payment of what? Why should they assume I have a TV? The vehicle licencing people never accuse me of having a car. What gives the TV licencing people the right?

I don’t like uncalled-for threats, and I don’t like the suggestion that I may be a liar, before I’ve even opened my mouth.

I ignored all the idle threats.

They didn’t visit me. I have a feeling that they wouldn’t be allowed to enter the building if they tried. Neither did they take me to court. It would have been difficult for them to do so, as they don’t even know who I am. The letters are always addressed to  “The addressee”, or some such nonsense.

Having used up all of their tactics to no avail, they then started right back at the beginning, with a repeat of their very first threatening letter to me, and now they’re systematically the whole rigmarole all over again.

The whole thing has made me quite cranky – in the American way (bad-tempered or irritable), but it’s given me a great idea.

A lot of the art in the famous Tate Modern art gallery is considered by many to be pretty cranky – in the British way (eccentric or strange), and some of the work submitted for the Annual Turner Prize is no exception – Tracey Emin’s ‘unmade bed’ being a famous, and controversial example.

I’d like to submit an arwork to the Turner Prize contest. I need an old TV which has had its guts ripped out. I couldn’t use a functional one, as I’d need a TV licence for that. I’ll tear up all of the many letters I’ve received from the TV licencing company, and artistically paste them on the TV sceen, making sure that the visitors and judges get the gist of what is written on them. My entry will be titled “Slapstick TV.”

I think it could be a winner.

The Daily Post #Cranky

©Jane Paterson Basil

Unravelled

You pursued me, pretended to love me, when all you wanted was control.

The day you met my kids in that cafe, you encouraged them to misbehave – made believe it was a harmless game. You played like a fun guy to make them like you, but you were a fungus of the most poisonous kind, killing my mind.

Your behaviour changed on the day you moved into my place, taking control of every corner of my life. You held the money and you chose my clothes. Soon I was clad in ugly rags. You bought the food, yet said we had no money for my children’s shoes.

When I wanted to stop eating meat, you bought half a pig.

When I planned to give up chocolate, you showered me with the goo. You even bought me a man’s tee shirt that said “Dip me in chocolate and throw me to the lesbians”. How could I possibly have worn that?

You bought me another that was steeped in chocolate fragrance.

You asked me what was my favourite fragrance, bought it for another woman and made sure I saw it. You wanted me to think it wass for me, and I did, giving you the opportunity to tell me it was for Kaye.

You had fun with that nasty little game, and Kaye always played along. I was meant to see the expression on your face when you spotted her in the street, and you both intended to make me feel humiliated as you flirted with each other.

I saw Kaye try to play the same tricks with other men while their wives were present, but none of them played along.

You made me sell my house, and we moved. You adult son came to live with us, and the two of you made it clear that me and my children had no rights. You ganged up on us, making the most unreasonable rules. We were there for over a year before I discovered that my name was not on the deeds. You had stolen the home that I paid for. Meanwhile your son was stealing money, and you were blaming my oldest child. I laid a trap, and proved it was him. When I spoke to you about it, you stammered, looked lost, and then became angry.

“What abot Sarah,” you yelled, “she left her bag in the hall when she came home from school.”

That was one of the rules; my girls were not to leave their bags in the hall even for a moment. Sarah had gone to the bathroom before putting her bag away.

You fathered my two youngest children, and used them as a weapon against me, spoiling them and bullting them in turns, being deliberately inconsistant, making empty threats so that they ended up confused and warped by you.

You made me feel ugly and unappealing. I did my best to please you, but that only made it worse. Other men found me attractive, and even tried to steal me from you. At least three of them went to great lengths, but ai came to the conclusion that they were all crazy – why would they want someone as disgusting as me?

I shut myself off from friends as you humiliated me whenever there was an audience. If anyone came to dinner you would push you plate away, saying the food I’d carefully cooked looked too horrible to eat.

If I made an effort to look nice, you’d glance at me then turn away, as if my repulsiveness made your eyes hurt. The more I tried to please you, the worse you became. I could tell a thousand stories of your dirty antics, but I’m bored with talking about it.

You denied your warped psychology – tried to make me believe I was paranoid, and it worked. For a long time I felt too pathetic to leave you. You made me think I was too useless to survive on my own. It was only after I finally got away that I found out the worst of your crimes.

I must have been blind not to have seenwhat you were. The clues were there every time we walked down the street.

You should have gone to prison; for a while, that was what I wanted, but it was not my choice to make. When the secret reached the ears of the man who broke your ribs in revenge for what you did, you thought his sin was greater than yours, which goes to show just how sick you are.

You tried to unravel me, and for a while it looked as if you had, but I survived, and now I understand, it was you who was unravelled. My mother once said you were inadequate, looking sad as she spoke those words. She was a kind woman. I wonder if she knew what an understatement she’d made.

The Daily Post #Unravel

©Jane Paterson Basil