Several weeks after walking away from Susan I did actually meet up with her again only to be rebuffed by her in an extremely cruel fashion. To be fair, at that point I had reached the stage where most of my defences had been stripped away and I suspect that this simply frightened Susan. She didn’t have the knowledge or resources to handle the situation and her fear simply manifested itself in hostility and cold, rejecting behaviour. Shortly after this incident I sat at my word-processor and tried to put down my feelings in words. I wrote:
“Was it such a crime to fall in love with you? Was it
such a sin, that you had to behave the way you did? Surely
open-hearted love deserves respect and acceptance.
It seemed to me that to you at the very least it was an
embarrassing inconvenience, and at worst a crime worthy of
capital punishment. Perhaps you see love as a weakness; something
to be crushed to death on sight, particularly if you see it in
someone else. The reflection of that little spark of it left in
yourself is probably too painful to bear.
I’ve never seen anyone swing so dramatically from the
level of a rational, sensitive adult to the level of a panic-
stricken teenager whose only way of dealing with the situation
was to become downright hostile and cruel.
Your hostility and cruelty were so unnecessary. If
someone falls in love with me I feel flattered and honoured and
respectful of what is a very genuine feeling. If I sense however,
that there are perhaps other expectations that I know I cannot
meet, then I will sit down and talk about them and if necessary
stay with the person through any tears or anger they may feel
towards me for not meeting those expectations. In every situation
I have done this, I have kept the love and respect of the person
and they have remained close, warm and affectionate friends. I
sensed you might have been trying to reach for this position but
somehow trying to spare me my feelings. This is not only a
mistake it’s also a self deception, since we are only trying to
avoid our own discomfort when we try to do this.”
I read through everything I’d just written and decided that I didn’t like it. It appeared to be too reasoning and the feelings expressed somehow rather weak and only part of the story. I decided to write it again but this time to try and leave my head out of it and to try and write more from the gut to see if I couldn’t get at something underneath the rational part of myself that I always seemed to present to the world. The result was the following:
“You fucking bitch! It was a game, a bloody game! “I’ll
never let you into my head David”. “There’s a part of me nobody
reaches”. “I hold myself in”. What a load of crap! Bullshit!
It’s just a bloody cop out. A way of avoiding any connection with
an individual. A way of avoiding any feelings, particularly
anything painful. You’re a spineless bitch! A fucking wimp! You
hadn’t got the guts to admit that you just wanted to get laid.
You had to pretend that you felt sorry for me. You wanted my cock
for Christ’s sake, why couldn’t you just admit it?
You deluded yourself that if you kept yourself
disconnected emotionally, something which is impossible anyway
unless you’re a zombie, you would avoid any complicated
messiness. The joke is that it just doesn’t work. It will always
backfire on you in some way or another. It becomes a self
fulfilling prophecy. If I hadn’t got to you in some way you
wouldn’t have behaved in the way that you did. It was a real
picture to see your cool blow. To watch the facade of
middle-class niceness and airs of authority, suddenly begin to
crumble away from this forty three year old woman, to reveal a
gawky, panic stricken teenager, whose only way of dealing with a
difficult situation was to revert to being downright hostile and
cruel. It’s so sad really. I thought you were an intelligent and
sensitive woman, but in the end you turned out to be quite
insensitive and so clever you only succeeded in defeating
yourself. With no apologies for bitterness!”
This time words seemed to pour onto the screen in front of me and I felt myself getting quite hot and angry as I was typing. Some months later I turned to my notebook again:
“Why is it that more than six months on you’re still in
my system? I’ve gone through hell trying to get shut of you. I
never thought I could cry so many tears, feel so much anger and
hatred. I’ve never been closer to the edge of insanity. I even
planned my own suicide. At forty I thought I’d pretty well got
life sussed. Maybe the same can happen at eighty, I don’t know.
Why did I bother? You were confusing, you gave out
contradictory messages, you became hostile and in the end
downright cruel. What did I see in you, was it sex? Oh yes, that
was a strong attraction. Though sex is an inadequate word to
describe it really. It was like making love with an angel and a
whore combined. All wrapped up in the sensuality of a cat. All I
wanted to do was bury myself inside you and feel you respond to
that. I’ve never known anyone get so lost in the total pleasure
of sex. It was as if I wasn’t there, you were so wrapped up in
But what else was there? Your arrogance, was at the same
time delightful and infuriating. Your sensitivity and sense of
what’s important in life. Watching you at the open window taking
in the evening atmosphere and looking at the Moon. Listening to
you talk about art and music. Your irreverence and sense of fun.
I think if you had a religion it would be hedonism. You seem to
be a pleasure seeker in the extreme.
That was probably part of the attraction. Most of my life
seems to be a struggle to break out of the negative. So someone
who seems to be totally focussed on pleasure is going to be quite
an attraction. Maybe I hoped some of it would rub off on me.”
I’ve stated earlier that for a while I was frightened of facing Susan because I feared I might be killed. Susan figured quite powerfully in my counselling for some time. She became the present time link into a considerable amount of deep rooted, painful and disturbing feelings from my past. I felt torn between feelings of the deepest love and compassion for her and almost violent hatred and anger. I could swing between these two sets of feelings in a split second. When I felt warmly towards her I felt guilty about hating her and at that point there didn’t appear to be any emotional middle ground. I couldn’t understand how I could hate someone that I loved. It was an extremely uncomfortable state to be in. This eventually seemed to flip round. One day I was walking through the city centre when I suddenly began to feel quite hot and flushed, with quite violent images passing through my mind. I kept getting flash thoughts of walking into Susan’s shop and wrecking it and then pouring scorn and derision on her. It seemed the more violent the imagery the hotter I got and the more satisfying the feeling. This was something new to me, I wasn’t sure how to handle these feelings and I was frightened that I might act on them. One of my counsellors though seemed delighted that, in her view, I had at last got through to my anger and now had the opportunity to deal with it.
If fear was difficult to handle, anger seemed almost impossible. It felt almost a totally alien emotion to me. I found it hard to acknowledge its existence particularly around Susan. It seemed so over the top, so extreme. I wondered whether it might be related to something else. A counsellor suggested that it seemed logical to her that if anyone had suffered a certain amount of humiliation, repression and abuse, perhaps in earlier experiences maybe even as far back as infancy, there might likely be a fair amount of buried rage that I would need to release as part of my recovery. As to my difficulty in getting through to these feelings, it was suggested that quite early on in my life I may have taken the decision never to inflict them on another human being simply because I had found it so painful when inflicted on me. It seemed that I needed to un-make that decision in order to begin to release my anger. Here lay an interesting and rather frightening dilemma for me and I suspect for many other men too. I had spent so long controlling it, how could I be sure that if I unmade that early decision it wouldn’t run out of control? My Counsellors tried everything short of physical violence themselves to get me to the point of release but I was so fearful that I would lose control and actually harm them that I found it difficult getting in touch with the feelings let alone actually getting them out.
What saved me here, at least initially, was visualisation. During one counselling session an image popped into my head and my counsellor encouraged me to explore it. It was an image of quite literally swinging a pick axe shaft into Susan’s face. I was encouraged to elaborate on this and to verbalise every image that came into my head. As I did so the story became more and more gruesome, mentally the action slowed down so that I could feel the impact more intensely, I imagined I could hear, see and feel everything: the features of the face crumpling, the head rocking back under the impact and the blood spattering up the wall behind.
Using visualisation like this seemed to sidestep the fear of losing control and the resultant emotional release came much more easily and with more of an excitement about it than discomfort. My counsellors added elements of their own, like knives and guns but curiously these weren’t as effective as the pick-axe shaft, leaving me to wonder if this was a replay of some sort of physical violence inflicted on me in childhood. Though the events were very few and far between compared to the incidence of violence for many children, I was beaten; I have fairly clear memories of most of those events.
My father could sometimes flip into seemingly inexplicable rages. Two occasions in particular spring to mind, both from my early teens. The first was a time when he decided that my two younger brothers and I weren’t washing properly, so he took each of us in turn into the bathroom to have our necks scrubbed with a floor scrubber. The second occasion he decided we weren’t getting up early enough so he beat us out of our beds with a fishing pole.
I was reassured by one counsellor that in her experience buried anger like mine shifted far faster than any other emotion. Unlike grief which can take months or sometimes years to work through, anger quite literally just blows over and is gone, usually making way for far more positive changes in the individual’s life and the way they feel generally.
I was given homework to do. I was to give myself full permission to be angry; to allow myself whatever imagery was useful in achieving this however horrific; and to shout at the furniture, thump the sofa, stamp on the floor cushions or belt anything else that I wasn’t likely to do any lasting damage to.
There were other images of violence, but in these I was more the victim than the perpetrator. For a short period I went through an increased frequency of masturbation, sometimes waking up in the middle of the night and masturbating either for comfort or because of sheer intensity of feelings. Sexual fantasies became more vivid and graphic. One in particular, in which I was completely passive and consenting, involved my death at Susan’s hand. A variation on this ended with the mutual demise of myself and Susan. In each of these variations Susan had complete power and control over everything that transpired. These fantasies gradually faded and ceased to be sexually stimulating although initially the imagery was very vivid and the feelings very intense.
On reflection, to me, the whole thing was about being a complete and powerless victim and there being a “payoff” of some sort of pleasure within that role. Quite a few of my fantasies are still (1992) about being passive while two or three people stimulate me sexually and the stimulation always takes the same form. Since in my adult life I have never been involved in any form of group sex, I’ve assumed that some form of stimulation may have gone on in my childhood or infancy. Possibly in the form of a game or perhaps in the guise of some form of physical examination that may even have been medically based. Around this time I also suffered the most awful physical sensations around my anus and genitals and a sense of restriction in my throat, leaving me speculating whether there may have been some other form of physical/sexual assault in my infancy.*
I am now far more cautious about some of the above speculation regarding sexual assault. I’m fairly confident that I was never abused in that way, despite the references here and in other parts of this document. There may well have been some invasive medical procedures. However, these must be viewed in the context of the medical knowledge and practices of the time.