Learning Curve,

Can best be described only in terms of moments, minute fragments, segments of time. For that is what they are. Cross sections of space where people meet.
Even if lovers, friends, acquaintances, every second of their lives together, still only precious few moments of meeting, true interface is beyond recognisance, we spend time getting into others heads only to plot escape…
Instead the learning curve. Segmented moments plotted on internal graphs:
Am I getting this right?
Am I hearing what they said?
You said?
Am I hearing what I wanted?
Them to say?
You to say?
The list grows endlessly, fractals in the twilight of not knowing:
All that can be played are the cards that lay on the table now, or was it then?

In Absentia…

She was talking to them, engrossed in a conversation about nothing much except as conversation. It was then that I spotted IT…
The fatal flaw, The minor blemish, The look which would disfigure her for ever…
With another a tooth extruding crookedly. Another the glint of sun from her spectacles as she awoke from an afternoon nap. Yet another, a crooked smile. At first minor detractions from their beauty as beautiful women, people. Petty hurdles, mere happenstance, Then;
Then, then they would grow, mutate to become unscalable mountains of hideousness, oceans of unfathomable depth wherein lurk creatures of unspeakable horror…
yet. Only a spot. A beauty spot, a freckle turned mole, scar perhaps from a former lover. An operation sliver of silver tissue. (Long nights anointing vitamin e cream)
sections of tattoo, three cherries, butterfly, darlin’ly cute, eventually tiresome.
She was talking to them and I saw her blemish, the look that made my blood slow, diminish erections: hormones take a holiday… Don’t get me wrong, I loved this beautiful woman, loved her with all I could muster, my balls would tighten when she gave me that other look, that look sent my tongue rolling after her down the street. A dog on heat. But, this look…
Tore away the veil that hid worms feeding, ripping into flesh, decline of beauty, slow degradation into Oil of Ulay (and surgical tucks) End of warmth, sweat, lust. Bodies straining…
i cannot love them then, turning away until fear subsides, turning in a vain attempt to save the vision. Wanting to keep the photograph clear of greasy thumbprints, away from ice cream soured, now dried and staining the picture.
This is impossible, I look again, positioning to catch IT, IT, that look, that frame. Finding myself straining for the same gaze, being there, looking, staring, seeking that momentary glimpse which will destroy beauty…

Nursery Slopes

One of the (supposedly) gentler arts is that of Therapist. Meet Charisma, Charisma is serious people. Charisma was not her birth name, but as she grew up, lived her mistakes and changed her name before coming to Buckloe, forgiveness for all that stuff is inherent.
To be ill around Charisma the Therapist is to invite full disappointment, not for her the weak, feeble or timid. She loves life, enjoys every precious second with arms open wide.
Illness is a symptom; a sign of blocked energy somewhere in the person’s mind, physical ways of living or energy diverted from dreams unfulfilled. Lost cat or dog? Remedy needed. Dead dog? What does this represent in your life? Cantankerous children? What part of you needs to play?
Charisma was able, brilliant and a total pain in the arse.
She knew this and had indeed applied various remedies, none seemed efficacious, and as a therapist she recognised the terrible potential of being unable to cure, as a human her recognition was more of personal loss and loneliness to come. In the meantime she resolved to continue to see if others noticed, if they didn’t she added this as a further symptom to whatever ailed them, if they did, she knew that whatever cure was needed was certainly near. In this, she felt herself to be the therapy equivalent of a mineshaft canary. Those in the know felt instead this to be further evidence of her being a pain in the arse.
Part of the Charisma school of therapy was that patients had invited in illness, she tried to be very careful about this, it wasn’t their fault, because fault like blame was bad, however (a good Charisma word) somehow they had made an invitation and illness had accepted. She could bang on for hours about vegetables, fruit and nourishing drinks that didn’t destroy body chemicals, here she would furrow her brow to really, no I mean really, express her distaste of those poisons tea and coffee.
She wasn’t faddy, that was too effete, she was bang on the money with this, after all who hadn’t seen those 70’s experiments with spiders spinning webs after caffeine? Tea has as much caffeine you know she’d rhetorically not question. She was able to be teased, the urchins would squeal ‘witch’ at her as she made her way from vegetarian restaurant to wholefood shop, she would wave fingers, threaten to turn them into frogs, they would squeal away quickly on small wheel bikes not sure if or when they would turn green.
Her long earrings represented long ears, the ability to hear. Her sensible cotton or wool clothing a back to nature movement. Her clients or patients respected her ideals, motives, even if they weren’t sure what the hell they were. Those who suspected she was a pain, colluded with this, they too gained a certain cachet at dinner parties: “oh, you see Charisma, tell me is it true?” and out would be trotted the rumours, innuendoes, half-truths that make up legend in small towns. The trick was to nod as if you knew the real truth but had been sworn to never reveal or even more cachet gathering to add ” and there’s more” but never ever reveal what that more could be.
Charisma guessed that these moments occurred and in her happier, saner moments regretted those she had wished as frogs, those who had failed her remedies, blandishments back to health. A prophet without cure is after all only a quack along with all others in the duck pond.
Charisma lived in genteel poverty, minimalism was a misnomer for her, whatever could be chucked, had been chucked and then those things, items, that needn’t be chucked had also been flung. The result in Feng shui terms was energy waiting to flow. The expert had been summoned at expense of hours sitting and really, really listening to clients woes. She had arrived, sniffed the air as one who knows odour and made pronouncements beyond the leaving of toilet seats down and the provision of chimes for visitors to tangle their hair in, pronouncements that hinted at great wondrous changes to come, had arranged plants, furniture and little mirrors to facilitate ‘flow’ Charisma had smiled, wanted a second opinion of course and then gently aided the feng shui professional to mental well being. Fee swaps never went amiss and were just so, so validating.
Luckily every now and then there was a cure, a reversal of fortune to smile over, rejoice in. Not that cure was hers; oh no, any joy that came arrived from the client. Theirs was the work the pain that had been endured, hers was only to guide the way, light possible trails. Charisma indeed was a pain in the arse.
Charisma had no partner, no man, no woman, no love thing that any person remotely interested could detect. She was alone. Not that she was lonely, she had ‘holism’ to comfort her. Newer ideas evolving from this fin de siecle had to be examined to see if they were worthy. Held to light as it were, scrutinised for worth value and healing, and if worthiness was lacking… she could discard with the best of fundamentalist/revisionist clerics in any face off.
Her home was Spartan, as only Sparta could have been after a visit from junkie thieves, not that it was without comfort, some was to be had, but a search was necessary first. Not for her the overstuffed couch, the widescreen t.v. And the remotes cluttering the floor for video, hi fi and on. Charisma was serious people, these plastic gadgets were for informing, aiding meditation or off to the charity shops they went with other detritus from the fag end of the 20th century.
Little old ladies who ran these places loved her, welcoming her into their little b.o. And wee smelling shops, they tried hard to mask this heady aroma with rose scents and cheap powders and wondered why the shop filled with Alzheimer victims who felt-but weren’t quite sure if they’d found home. Her goods sold well to unadventurous would be hippies, wool, cotton can always be died black. The difficulty with this for Charisma is that as had she bonded so deeply with her clothes, her obje’ts, many, many times she would bump metaphysically and physically into would be ‘love children’ dressed in black that she began to wonder if black clothing made its wearers clumsy or naturally clumsy people turned to black to hide bruises. Her obje’ts proudly displayed in new owners homes she visited would pronounce their homing instinct by shattering in pieces at her feet or would be used as ammunition in fights after her presence had gone. Charisma has that effect upon people, her serenity if better employed as a diplomatic weapon could have set enemies upon each other and saved billions on defence programmes.
There were those who wondered about the possibilities of entering into love with her, her clients felt love that is true, but not one had dared to rub close enough to her burning light. Would they fall and die as their wings melted? Would she talk to them of technique and timing as their technique and timing scrambled into the mess of no dignity that only love can really usher into relationship?
Truth be told, cowardice around Charisma was the more valiant option for those who dare not look inward in case they found what they thought was outward.
Dealing with money was to be her downfall. Money expects to have power, to be treated with kid gloves, to be conned into staying exactly where they are but with an appearance of movement. Charisma San Andreas’ faulted a she was could not do this, she shimmied, danced beautifully but eventually could not do anything but that for which she was designed; she kicked elegantly, expensive and expansive butt, hard. Fill in your own detail here, I’m sure you can imagine the story, the outrage.
Within days, stories of her earlier wild years in another town, stories of random violence on defenceless animals, failed attendance at AA meetings or attendance: Drunk. Drug parties with younger people in the dead of night, all totally unsubstantiated, all totally deniable, one denial suggests truth, more than two stories suggests truth…
Nobody won with this campaign; the rich maintain no dignity, but then how can they?
Charisma move a little down market, she avoided the ‘tell your fortune’ racket, though that was tempting as she developed wisdom and insight into the way of the world. The possibility of be-coined headress, anything but fun wear…honestly. She maintained dignity of a sort, the genteel poverty that losing does.
Charisma is a pain in the arse.

Everybody got a Jane…

So here’s mine…Tall, thin, blonde and beautiful. Fucked up in that special way only beautiful women are when they come from a spoiling love which they felt as poverty. Fucked up by regard given for good looks rather than personality. Fucked up by attention given for all the wrong reasons, or so they will tell you. Fucked up by the prizes that follow from all of these and hollowness that needs to be filled by something, anything, and anyone, any obsession for now.
Everybody got a Jane. It’s a rite of passage to be gone through, some make it out sane, some not. Some die late embittered, burnt fingers chafing into the long nights that follow.
When we first met I never noticed her, not in any ignorant way, but more of a “there’s this great looking woman over there, I’m here, she’s with someone else that’s it.”
Then we spoiled it. But wait.
We worked together and I never realised that she was falling in love with me. Or so she told later. One day cycling, my pride and joy new mountain bike, bicycle shorts all Lycra and Chamois. She smiled lips open and wide, wanting to be going with me. Then later, she came around with a card and a present for my birthday, spreading her blue cotton dress across the floor, wishing me well and, and, well, she cried, over what I didn’t know, but wanting her to stop crying and to, to do other things that before had never entered my mind about her. Thinking just what was this about? This present then tears thing?
But this is too quick. Months passed between my first meeting, working with her and this. But then that’s how we were, we moved pretty quick.
We went out for beer, just a drink to show her around. Her man, never mentioned, never asked after. She drank easy, pouring and ordering relaxed and slow with smiles for barmen and barmaids, glasses ready to be filled, just for that smile from her again.
We talked of life, music-my passion, drama-hers, and anything else that helped touch the sides. I think retrospect is paranoid, or maybe just liberated from those times, who can tell? I was only too happy to be with this beautiful creature that laughed at everything I said and smiled at life. Later I took her back to my rooms, she sipping Vodka bought on the way.
On the edge of my unmade bed, she cold and wet from the rain. Taking her clothes off to keep warm in my old sweatshirt and teethchattering, what else could I do but want to warm her? Her tales of unlove in a coldened marriage, what else but to hold and want her better?
Then the touching, holding, fingers here and there, kisses and calls in the air between us. Fumbles and fingers caressing, losing mind, gaining feelings, rushes and blushes. Feeling her warmth and wet, entering, gaining momentum only to be thrown out by her body, pushed out and wanting in, hushed voice telling of wrongness but wanting, whispers of please, but please don’t, then hands finding and encouraging. Making this happen was not to be easy anymore. Falling asleep to wake cold and alone, a note of having to raise children from beds, attend to toast and schools.
Thinking of what had happened and whys of the evening before.
To meet again later at work, nothing said or hinted, smiles exchanged, over break, we must talk, meet later. Timings arranged, other events changed to make space.
Her arriving later with Vodka and smiles, a newer white crisp cotton dress, outlines suggesting stockings and sex to come. Me listening of love but no promises of futures as the vodka passed between us. Listening to words but wanting else. Listening, watching lips, blue eyes in concentration while time passed, then hands reaching, pulling toward, breasts offered and taken.
Some habits take aeons to accrue, others happen despite awareness. We settled soon into patterns of she arriving after kid bedtimes, vodka in hand and tales of woe, needing to stare into space while chewing on inner cheek. I would read, watch t.v. Until that too would distract. Her need for me was to be her space, still, existing in non-existence until her meditation on inner demons was done. I was Sir Galahad, all knights rolled into one, and I could do this until her dragons were set in stone.
Then we would make love, slow, gentle easing into the night. Inventive, touchy feely stuff you read about in books, where each time passion increases as tempo slows. Me incredulous that she could be so turned on by me, her wetness flowing to soak sheets and me. Sweet and wet as overripe peaches warmed by summer sun. Many times I awoke, hands clutching into blanket, holding on to not knowing what. Darkness everywhere and hearing her breathing, deep and low, body angled into dreams. Knowing later but never wanting to ever know, that love created in this way: spoiled, rotten and wrong, creates the best sex, intense, passionate and of course, doomed to build death, hate and poison that takes years to wash away.
The vodka would give permission to speak; she talked of frustrations and lovers who missed her by their needs. I heard the warnings but wanted anyway. She talked of foods and not needing to eat, the need to be slim, retain her shape: after two kids it was pretty good eh? All was information to me, where this, we were going never entered my head. We had our space in my rooms, tight under the eaves, safe from the world, who could need more?
I took her to Spain, travelling across France, staying in cheap dingy rooms that she couldn’t afford but complained bitterly of. To Pamplona, me for the first time noticing how the vodka level slipped down the bottle, how food necessary for me was wasted for her. Her drunk in the afternoon, sliding through streets, hanging off my arm, pulling me down, asleep on a bench in the park, snoring, bag rattled across the ground strewn cosmetics, passport and toothbrush. The last not making sense until much later.
Yet. Siesta’s, cooler evenings stretched on cotton sheets in hotels, she sucking me until I would beg for release, as good as love ever gets. To lie together as ceiling fans spin flies into oblivion.
Baguette’s better thrown in temper rather than eaten. Anger at my raising at her lack of food. Distractions of rough foreplay, her need to be spanked, I dumb as only young in love men can be. Loving in place of fighting or was it the other way round?
My inarticulacy stares at me across the page, I loved with all that I had and yet did not have enough. I could not make her happy but thought like some school report come to haunt I could try harder. Chasing my tail and hers across a continent, complete in misery, as she wanted more, more that she was not able to verbalise otherwise the need transmuted and lost. A guessing game with only losers as the prize. Watching her flirt with strangers and then being needed to pick up the pieces when such went astray. Hearing her moans of bottom pinchers but catching her glances to entice.
My jealousy spurred her further, yet I did not know how to let go. Despising myself for knowing my weaknesses and still being around or wanting more, masochism or abuse? How close together these were. I would break free for a few days until she would return bearing gifts to beat on my door, seeking forgiveness or needing solace supposedly only I could offer. I could not refuse her though I tried other lovers; they and their own peculiarities would seem pale. We would make love instantly to stave recriminations, questions, though these would arrive dressed in rags in later conversation.
As our time moved on she felt need to be in company though quickly despised all friends and acquaintances, rubbished overtures from all. Her drinking now not easy but forced and gulped, time running out. Nagging that I could not fulfil her. Snarls at words not wanted or wanted heard. Here visits grew infrequent and missing her became painful but welcome, then she would return, all smiles, love and gifts of welcome. I wondered the guilt of her gifts, friends told of sightings drunk at parties, I nodded my hearing pondering of their inability to see my pain. Then a party together, late, missing her presence, finding her in the arms of a stranger, his hands on her white knickers, her kissing him not seeing me, the light shaded but strong enough to burn holes that last forever.
I left, she coming after me, apologies, blaming drink, the moment, and a forceful other. Me cold and angry, into the pit all cuckolds hide to escape the gaze of others knowing glances. We fought for the first time. Wanting to hit her, using words as fists, her scraping, scratching, and despising my weakness for her deeply as I did. The morning bleak, eyes weary with sight, running away determined to never answer her calls.
Of course she came back, vodka in hand, now wanting to smoke dope to ease the drinking. Wanting to try eating, wanting meals bought only in good restaurants. My now seeing her rise immediately after eating to take her bag, go the toilet and return with freshly brushed teeth. Resentment rising in me as I paid good food bills for her to vomit them away. My weariness at the binges that sapped me but somehow strengthened her. Feeling the failure that comes from wanting the best for another, wanting to help but slipping surely into control, into helping when leaving would be better.
One summer week, she nightly picking me up from work, buying vodka for us and pizza for me. Drinking, me watching videos while she reflected, sparking cigarettes off the stove, taking me to work, to follow the ritual again. Then, finding myself walking the road for extra vodka, catching myself and recognising that this was out of control: 7 bottles in 6 days. Too drunk to run away or change the day but still knowing that this could not continue.
More fights, arguments, other lovers, a litany of shame that in it’s making saps and contorts to destroy better being. My understanding over and over the pull of moth from bright candle flame, the suck of fingers into fire. I was in deteriorating orbit, pulled closer by another’s’ gravity, shamed by debauch yet recognising that this was the only game in town. I continued to leave. To leave. To return. The gaps of days became weeks; slowly immeasurably her influence waned. Then. A call, again late night needing me immediately, getting out of bed, dressed to attend, she ‘phoned again, apologies, emergency over. Feeling stupid at being caught by her until she asked to see me in the morning ‘sober’ to ‘talk.’
I arrived, no answer to my knock on the door, checking my time, trying the back door finding it open, calling for answer. I climbed the stairs fearful of what I might find.
She asleep. Alone. Relieved but concerned over what emergency had taken place here. She stirring eyes baggy in the sunlight, breasts droopy in dressing gown, looking for cigarettes. Asking what I was doing there no memory of ‘phone calls…
I made her coffee as she bathed, not wanting to notice the beer cans, different brand cigarette packs or the empty condom pack. Wanting to leave, this was no longer for my concern, I was trying to leave her, not be caught again. Drinking coffee, Jane now dressed and made up for the day, me wanting to be anywhere but here, with foresight I’d made plans to meet a friend later. She wanting to go out, talk, be friends, my senses taut as in the presence of any predator. I left after agreeing to meet that night, though I felt the yellow streak on my back pressing deeper in to flesh and psyche. We met for drinks of course; she was burning slow, angry, biting into me, until finally I said I would leave. Outside the night dark and cloudy as she began telling me of my uselessness, my inadequacies, how she’d heard I was seeing another and then she attacked, nails in my face, hands pulling my hair, me twisting as she grabbed for my balls, falling to the floor, hearing others laugh at the spectacle as she tried to kick. I waited. Knowing that this would end. Cold, lying on the ground feeling the pain but feeling release in an inner complete and contented way. I knew now that I would never return, could never return, I had finally been ravaged and needed no more. She laughed as I struggled to my feet and said my goodbyes, believing that I would return. I always had before… That would be a nice end, eh? And it did feel like one, though life being savage as it is and we would/will but deny it: a month later, a dark late night of rain and swift winds, I lay in bed watching t.v. and heard a knock at the door. It was Jane. Drunk and inflamed, all made up with perhaps nowhere to go, holding onto the door and wanting to talk, I allowed her in. she needed coffee she said and making it heard the storm approaching, she questioned of newer loves and places I’d been, of missing her and stories she’d heard from others of her kicking me to the floor. She threw her coffee at me, kicked, missed, and kicked again. Asking her to leave passioned her further, she ran to my room throwing records, music, hi fi to the floor. Then she fell onto the bed, begging to stay, asking for love, forgiveness. Then she fell asleep. I picked up my papers, music and began tidying as she slightly snored. I wanted her gone, picking her up roused her, I threatened a bath to sober her, she screamed at me to let her go, she began kicking blindly at me again and I pinioned her. I would not have taken these things from a man; she knew these things yet still demanded special privilege. I carried her to the door, she screaming, biting, gouging at my balls. Finally I pushed her through the door, she screamed that I would pay for this and was gone.
The Police arrived hours later, just when I thought it all over, accusing me of battery, assault and actual bodily harm. I went with them, but making sure that others who had been in the house made their statements too. Jane hawked photographs of bruises telling tales of violence to all who might listen. My embarrassment somewhere turned to shame at being involved in this, denial was pointless as was the showing of my bruises, cuts and hurt, Jane’s win in the short term by their lack of shame and who cares for the long term these days? Nobody of that time matters to me now except in the few times of self-reflection such as these. The Police saw the situation as it was, suggested that I never let her in again, to ignore her, no matter what. All good advice only perhaps now for the first time I heard the truth in it, but isn’t that how advice is? Only useful at the right time or when we’re ready to hear it…
She called many times, always late, drunk of course, mumbling incoherently, as I continued to ignore her pleas she continued rubbishing me with others. Once I saw her walking toward me, I ducked away not needing any further reminders. I believe at the time I loved her, though I know I will not ever love again in such a way. I learned and that’s all any of us can ever hope to gain from any relationship. Learning the features of such relationships, obsessive, co-dependent, fucked up, call it what you will: the sex being the best ever, the over concern for another, the wanting to make them happy, the continuing despite shame, loss of friends, self respect and on…
Everybody got a Jane: I’m over her now. Aren’t I?

All that I could ever own…

She sat next to me, quiet, reflecting on life or maybe lost in the words of ‘Wet Wet Wet’ either of these were possible. The ‘wetties’ were favourites of hers and many years later I was to notice in one of those alone late sad nights watching MTV with a few beers to the worse, that me and Marti Pellow were vaguely alike… but this was yet to come.
She toyed with her salad and I watched mindless in my own ways as she speared limp tomato to brown edged lettuce. Her knee brushed against mine as she turned and asked for a cigarette. We smoked outside with other social lepers, her face smiling now, though some gritting of teeth betrayed tension. I don’t want to say her name, these petty crucifixions totted up still wound deeply, but to continue with she, her, would only create further salted wounds…
Gill smiled, through gritted teeth, sucking deeply into lungs, exhaling as fiercely to distance herself somehow from the smoke. Asking if I knew ‘that little shit Chris?’ Chris was some ginger haired buffoon who lurked on the periphery of my consciousness, I was aware of him as a person who played ultra safely around the movers and shakers that formed our teaching group. He skulked in the way that those who will stab you in the back do: smiling with extreme unction and needling for gossip to repeat later with your name attached to it.
We went for a beer and missed yet another tedious lecture on the merits of ‘experiential learning’ by yet another failed academic that loved such ideas but held no clues as to how it could be done. The ‘whys’ had obviously impressed them but they hated with low dirty passion those who could work in these obviously arcane ways.
I couldn’t drink at lunch time for far of snoring later during some other learning session. This was considered bad manners, though I felt that we had already begun wading through that muddy stream by the rudeness of their ill preparation and delivery. Gill drank slowly, teasing out tastes and wherever it was she was with this Chris character. They’d been having a gentle affair but now he’d told his friends and she was pissed off with being found out. Chris was to be gone: flea in ear and no more nookie. I was amused, for who really cares of these things except those who aren’t getting enough? Those were my feelings then and maybe, just maybe there’s been a slight modification since. I told her of Hunter S. Thompson and his “slap him around like a red headed stepchild” quote and she began to smile again but this time with lip-sticked mouth wide and open, no strong teeth locked in disgrace.
She asked me if I lived nearby and we went there. My house was bachelor pad at this time, female proofed: newspapers wherever they fell, music in every room and a one plate, one cup system, which I ate/drank from and washed immediately. The toilet was clean, not as clean as gay bachelor pad but clean, there being no tampon wrappers to hide behind the pedestals or discarded-but may use make up to fill up shelves.
We kissed like I knew we would. Lips locked and tongues gently probing, testing for weaknesses, defences, any holding back. I could hear her breathing shorten and deepen, feel her heart as she pressed my hand against her breasts. Then we fell onto the bed, struggling to find buttons, zips and anything else important. Her breasts were firm, roundy with lighter brown nipples that I sucked as she wriggled beneath me, her hands finding my cock, squeezing tighter, tighter. This woman knew.
She pulled me on top of her, lifting her legs to guide me in and all too soon I was deep into her. I stopped, looking into brown eyes staring back, no shame, no fear, only joy that I hope was part of my creation. Then we began to push together, me in amazement at how wet she was, I could feel her heat pulsing along my cock, feeling her pulling me in deeper, deeper, crushing me into those wonderful breasts. This was how sex should be, nothing held back, no quarter given. I could feel her climax building, feel her body relaxing then straining toward release, this I’d never felt before. I’d been with sexy women who told me they loved a shag, had fucked others with tongue and cock until they too had come, but this was different, here I felt part of the action, part of the mix that was moving this woman toward fulfilment. I read this now with customary ambivalence, sad that this was the first time this had ever happened but joyful that such an experience had happened for me. I came as she did, feeling joined in the experience almost in some mystical manner. Afterward I lay, soaked in her juices, both avoiding the wet spot created by us. She holding me, cuddling me. I was falling asleep in her arms and nobody minded, nobody criticised, only warmth and security.
That afternoon passed us by, we talked of life, lovers and husbands, though in this last she was slow with information. He was a jogger who needed to run, would arrive back to tired to fuck, to adrenalised to talk, too sweaty to sit and be.
She knew I was sleeping with another woman, another married woman on our teaching course, but had figured her for a total bitch and so considered me fair game. She was right of course on both counts. Jane fucked me whenever she felt like it, our sex I’d considered good until this afternoon and Gill, well Gill was happy to see me occasionally and this suited me fine. I was weary of commitment at this time, Jane the drama bitch queen sapped my energy with her psychological needs and the last time I’d lived with anybody had been a total disaster. Airheads and men who want to ‘do’ things or ‘be’ somewhere never mix… good sex and occasional weekend flings meant that I got to share the bed with myself. Meant that I could go for beer with the boys, fart around and generally hang out with no thoughts of others. Still sounds like bliss…
I would meet Gill wherever and whenever, I knew the rules for married women: the phone goes, you answer and meet for great furtive sex in woods, friends flats and back seats of cars. You come home. They go to their home and how they explain their absence permeates later conversations. I knew that I was expected to keep our trysts to myself, the ginger haired boy lay back by the wayside. I knew that to fall in love was stupid and would spoil the relationship but intelligence is precluded by getting into these relationships anyway eh?
We had a couple of weekends, non stop fucking each other, in the shower, the bath, on the carpet, anywhere that could provide even a little stability. I’m embarassed to say that no long term relationship had ever provided that level of sex, but then this was rationed by time, the prospects of being found out and novelty of being a speciality act: we could be anything, everything and anyone for each other. Such is the joy and special failure of affairs: real needs don’t get met, the needs of companionship, continuity and being boring. If people are never boring to or with each other, excitement must seek newer odder ways to be.
We were discovered, by friends, others like policemen seeking cheap thrills in a woodland car park. Me hiding my cock with my shirt as she struggling to bring her dress down. They ‘kindly’ let us move on. Affairs are unsatisfying as they grow, words like love, care and together are thrown around but carry no anchor to the same words held in commitment.
Our sex seemed to get better and better, certainly my feelings for her grew, Jane became but a troubled memory. I experienced all the stuff that new love brings but also slept alone. The highs of taste and colour seen in new lovers eyes and body, the intensity of seeing them again, but with this came the knowledge that they would be leaving soon. Then comes the fateful question of what will happen to us?
Gill had kids, a husband who provided goods and chattels if no love, children who would be devastated in their teen exam years, I could not provide for them or ask her to leave them. I was still struggling to earn, struggling to move on in my own life, to make sense of the chaos that had engulfed my earlier life, I could not ask other kids to go through what I had. But how to end such a bitter sweet love? I couldn’t just walk away. She needed me she promised over and over, needed my support, strength and love to stay where she was. We talked of years to come, the magic seven, when her kids would’ve grown up, my career would be happening, maybe hers too. I believed in this, believed like some magic talisman will stop the plane from crashing, the sea from swallowing young bones. Believed with everything I could muster in the face of too present reality. But as with all belief systems, dawn pops up again with roses and moo cow poo to place the day in context, I could hold on with all my might or face future same as the past. Hope was not a place I could build this relationship on. To continue loving with futures placed only in dreams of another doing ‘the dirty’ on another can only bring inner violence, there’s enough violence completed by strangers, never mind those we know, to do this to ourselves. But I loved those long legs, curve of eyebrows, the sunshine she brought to me. Perhaps I was beginning to grow up, who knows with these things? The playground challenge, sticky coke moments in teenage dreams of wanting what another got to hold, maybe this was beginning to slip my grip.
I want to say we split in anger, in explosion of my need for more, only this is never how these things are. We split with me suggesting I had met another, somebody who could give me love and time. This wasn’t a complete lie, I needed to begin to love myself again. I was helping and eagerly with it, the betrayal of another, though I didn’t know him, he had yet to hurt me. I could only in honesty return that favour. This isn’t some moral high ground more of a need to see my own face without blush in the mirror while shaving. I couldn’t invent some row with her, some nit picking huff to fly off on or simply say this no longer worked for me, all of these were untrue. I wanted with all I had yet could never have what I wanted, seven years, seven minutes, seven seconds all mean not now and not now means only a maybe in lover time. I’ve wondered since whether all this only shows lack of patience, shows fear when courage was wanted or whether I was gambling all for her to make seven years later, now, I can’t say. I do know that finally I was sick with hurt and the possible hurt I could cause others by this, what I was beginning to realise as a morbid need to create addictive sex with a beautiful woman who went home to share a bed with another man. To shatter a beautiful thing for one flaw is either artistry of the highest or stupidity, both or craziness of the clear kind. I told her I was attracted to another and wanted to pursue my attraction.
Gill hurt by this promised that if I left she would never answer my call again, never respond to a letter, never acknowledge what we had created. I left though, crying all the way for fifty miles at the thought I could never see her again, hold her, be held, or need to shy away together again from wet patches we had made. Feeling that a major part of my life was finally over, feeling the loss that can come only from having part of self amputated, feeling and knowing that strength would not let her respond again, ever. Some months later when feeling lost and lonely in my woman proof bachelor pad I would’ve given all that I own to be with her again, but we were done, you can never go back, must never go back, it is impossible to go back. But that doesn’t stop me from wondering how she is, who she is now and whether she left her husband and a relationship that gave her space to find love but not to follow it through. This room echoes now to words spoken in love that could not be given only lent, I warm my hands on embers grown cold by time and memories stolen from others but that doesn’t stop regret and what may have been.

My yellow candle burns bright…

My yellow candle burns bright…
By my side, flame steady, no flicker to distract as I write this wondering of the whys and wherefores:
The times of sex/making love in cars, how supposedly ‘most of us have the same uncomfortable experience’ or so some pundit sharing purple prose and pedantry tells me from the t.v. And I get to thinking of the last time, when I thought my head would explode as you sucked me to oblivion. I loved that sweetest pain in my reaching, reaching, straining muscles. Screening out the world and the where of where we were and the saying of thank you’s that didn’t cover a part of my appreciation, the so long of that happening before and sad wondering of when this may happen again. Men don’t have multiple orgasms and when they happen like that I thank god, I couldn’t stand the pain, cramps, loss of self and memory gapping. I’m not sure you recognised the moment, spent and drained I couldn’t explain, so now you’ll read this and maybe wonder whether you can make that happen again or even know if you did…
Supposedly the refuge for younger lovers with nowhere else to go, making love in cars, like so many things relegated to youth, can be supped slowly and savoured as gastronomy as an alternative venue in later times. There are however difficulties.
With Gill after a beer, sliding seats back in a woodland car park, hearing another car pull up but ignoring it. Then five minutes in, trousers loose, she underwear down, blouse open and our hands involved in our finding when: tap on the window, torchlight and gruff voices. The Old Bill, “Just wondering if everything is OK sir?” hearing the joy in their voices as they’d caught us, the wonder if we were married to each other or others, the sadistic glee at stopping others’ pleasure-not on my beat eh sarge? We left, to never go there again, it was never the same again, no more did I get to leave my muddy footprints on her dashboard, she her knickers under my seats, lipstick wedged under the handbrake-how that happened is anybody’s guess.
But that, the first and last time I ever got hassled by the police. Rain through sunroofs, loose brakes at the wrong time, people asking directions, all these but side dishes for the dessert that is car sex. Each experience different.
I guess I was about thirteen/fourteen hitching my way to a friends house and an old van stopped, in climbed in up and over porn magazines, stale handkerchiefs and cigarettes. I moved them all blushing the while as the driver told it was ok for me to look at them. They were strong stuff; women sucking, men fucking and me still blushing feeling my cock harden. He smiled again and stopped ‘for a cigarette’ I took one from the pack as he told me which picture he liked best, asked me for mine and then casually began to stroke my thigh. I squirmed away and he offered me cash to see my cock. I showed him and he began to stroke it, talking of the women in the magazine, their tits, soft wet cunts, he took a pair of silk knickers from the glove box and began wanking me until I burst over his hand and into them. He gave me the money, a pack of cigarettes and was gone. I standing in the sunlight, side of the road, spent, shaking with the enormity of what I’d just done, all the warnings of parents, teachers and playground bogeyman tales. I smoked another cigarette, stuck my thumb in the breeze and was gone. I didn’t tell my friend who I was visiting, didn’t know how to say.
It was many years before I had sex in a car again, taking Colleen to the city, stopping at the side of a country road as she told me of underwear and the wanting of me since we last slept together. I had an old Ford with a bench seat and we did the deed in minutes just to slake the pressure until we could do it again, she lifting skirts, moving knickers to one side, gasping as I entered, breath, uh… uh… uh… urging more, harder, deeper, kissing, scratching to just do it, do it now. We finished, sitting upright again, rearranging clothes, smiles at the old couple who had pulled up to share their thermos of tea and sandwiches as they stared at traffic. We giggled at them, their blank faces, wondering if they’d seen, heard or even cared. I drove on into the city and now this seems one of the very few memories I hold of Colleen.
In the intervening years I had motorcycles, wild, dirty and clapped out things held together by wire, wishes and lack of wisdom. Girls would flock to ride on the back, wanting thrills and stops in quieter places, my first motorcycle and Kim asking to sit on it, leaving a damp patch as she gave me glimpses of heaven climbing back off it. She would want me to touch her but not ‘put it in.’ Her hands small and delicate as she unzipped me late at night on country roads urging me to go faster and faster as those pretty hands reached around to drive me crazy. I would stop blinded by the pain in my balls and lust, her face crooked by the joy she built and controlled, she kissing me as my seed flew to the ground. Her eyes glistening at power she knew.
There were those who came to parties with others but wanted wild rides as drinks burnt into them, whispering offers of blow jobs and more. I took all offers uncaring of others scowls all I wanted was the ease of pressure in my pants, somewhere to put it, respite until the next burn. There were those who swallowed and those who spit. Watching my sperm drop, elongate like chewing gum, dropping from leaf to leaf, branch to branch, in glow of headlight and post cigarette. Both mute gazing, fascinated by volume, elasticity and evidence of what had happened not seconds ago. I never saw her again, her boyfriend disgusted at our leaving together dumped her and I never knew where to or cared to put effort into the finding.
Those who swallowed seemed to do so silently, lips closed tight against escape, or gulping to draw down. Callow as I was I never wanted to kiss them afterward, though wanting with all I could not minutes ago, to kiss them now seemed to somehow bring contact with my own cum and that I didn’t want as much as I wanted the to…
In later times there were those who would make issue of this, forcing salty tongues into my mouth, asking in telling of what could the problem possibly be? These were the ones who didn’t make the second ride, the invite back home or other meetings. They always seemed the ones who wanted me to ride one handed, left hand clamped between their legs, caressing wetness and heat, urging to not stop until they came shrieking as we thundered through villages, lights turned down for the night.
Until one night, a local pub and Suzy. Sitting there with her man, drinking me in, eyes bright and shining and he face turning away not wanting to see. Then he left and she came over, holding my hand, asking for name but asking for more with eyes half closed. The next I know she’s sitting facing me, legs open, asking if I like what I see? Her legs in black stockings and G-string pulled tight. She took me outside, hunger kissing and touching, pulling me toward a car, we get in. Her man sitting there, stiff and staring straight ahead, she telling me of him being gay, he doesn’t deny, my lust cooling in wonderment of crazy situations and what to do next. Suzy touching me again, pulling at belt, buttons and zip, holding hot cock in cooler hands, head dipping to take me in, sucking, rising, bobbing, fingers teasing at balls then squeezing base to pump harder, my hips pushing harder and faster gaining rhythm, only vaguely aware of him now as I feel sweet pain building to spurt into her mouth, she sucking to take every drop. Then sitting, buttoning, zipping up, he still staring ahead as if this moment carried no charge for him. She mumbling to him if he was ok, he nodding, my part no longer needed for them, I begin to leave as she beckons him forward and begins to kiss. She’s giving me to him enters my head and I ran away. I’ve no idea if Suzy was her real name for I never wanted to ever see them again. The thought worries me still.
Thora shifting seats back to make room for my stiffy and her desire, catching my finger in the seat runner and losing all fire, stiffy and need but to nurse said finger, thinking luckily all blood had gone elsewhere. I’m such a wuss now in these times, retreating inside to safer places where once I could ignore pain to continue, being taken to hospital by friends after some pointless beating that youth takes and gives out. Checking out Jenny with the uninjured hand, feeling her fingers curling around me, getting the guys to find a wheelchair so we could fuck on the back seat, injured hand in the air to avoid further problems. Later they tell me they thought I was calling a cab with it. Jenny later naked sitting astride me as we drove past the police station, held up by the lights, looks of disgust from older people in the car alongside as I smirk back at the great pussy I’m getting, oh yeah. We drifted apart and she started dating the driver but he couldn’t find a driver to replay our scene, he still calls me on this now, many many years later. When the big bang goes into reverse it may be possible for us to go back, no matter how much we talk on this, until then, we can’t. Like my candle grown shorter by time the possibilities now are limited for these to happen again, no matter the pedant and his poverty ideas of discomfort of sex in cars, feeling is essence, complaints fudge that fine line between reportage and consciousness, to tell from place misses the being there.

I don’t know who’s died

I don’t know who’s died
Who’s lying maimed
In some Spanish street at dawn
Who died from alcohol
Tho’ one I know died from leukaemia
He married an ex-girlfriend of mine
I can only hope
That he died in love
In her arms.
All those crazy young men
Riding black chrome death traps
Blacktarred flat tops
Sunsets and shrouds
Gone from me
In my ignorance of their
I cannot imagine their lives
Only that some may still be
I wonder if they passed their days
In the same winsome way
I remember
Their adolescent days
In some eternal half yeller
Of golden cider
Stolen cigarettes
and girl women
with sticky knickers
We were boys then
and some of us
Still are

Controlling Women

I’ve written earlier of controlling men and the violence that can become part of that behaviour, for women my contention is that violence is not often an option in their repertoire. This is not to say that women are not violent, I’ve witnessed enough women without any embarrassment beating their children in the street to suggest otherwise. Also I’ve been seen women beating each other and men in public and private, so my earlier piece can cover some of those behaviours, my contention here is that women use other forms of control.
The easiest to spot is the ‘Vaginal Wrench’ this is the use of sex or the withholding of it to gain control or favours of some kind. Mens part in this is to go along with the prevailing notion that sex is scarce and must be paid for in some way. Women are trained from early teenage years that ‘boys want only one thing and you don’t’ this reinforces for women that they must control sex. Controlling sex has been a major issue for feminism, initially the advances that contraception gave them to be equal players in the game of ‘free sex’ seemed inviting, and then as their power imbalances did not alter they returned to older styles of thinking. They may have called this ‘owning our bodies’ the ‘right to orgasm’ but these to me are old ideas painted as new, women have always controlled when sex took place, how it took place and how often. I can hear the plaint: but what of those women who never had a pleasurable sex life?
What of them? Women have always known that sex is and can be pleasurable, history, whether fact or fiction reminds us there have always been ‘Brazen’ or ‘loose’ women. These terms I understand to mean women who enjoy sex. To build a philosophy based upon the meanness of spirit of the few is what some controlling women have done: ‘it is our burden to bear men the pleasure of sex, therefore they must pay for their pleasures’ Though the gain may not be sexually pleasurable, the gain in economic or political terms is immense, victims always exact compensation…
Women control sex, they demand that men know the difference between a cuddle and a prelude to sex without having to articulate their own needs. This is a perennial complaint from men I meet, “women will not articulate their needs. What happens instead is a mummers play of trying to get something right without quite knowing what the something is…”
I recognise here immediately a game in action, if true intimacy is taking place then ‘anything and everything’ can and will be articulated. True intimacy is not like pop songs; depth in relationship stems from loving the other, as they are, not how we would want them to be. Intimacy dispels fear, control creates fears. Games.
The next easiest control behaviour to spot is nagging; the nag holds a comfort spot in my understanding of control. Comfortable, we all know that the nag has our interests at heart, knows what is best, the cosy comfortable nag. Supposedly the nag at least is upfront about what they want, the changes needed to make them happy. But are they? The nag delivers two messages, the upfront: do this, do that, you know you must do the right thing. However underlying this is the more important message: you are not right. This hidden is the more important message; you are not right, you cannot make me
happy. As such this is a controlling power game played to the third degree: you are not right. If the recipient does not wake up to the underlying message, years of mutual misery can occur. True happiness lies within us is not dependent upon others. If men must learn to accept responsibility for their
controlling violence and that others cannot make them happy then women too must accept this responsibility: others cannot make them happy.
This last message is not only property of the nag. Controlling behaviour always has messages of; you are not right, you must work harder to make me happy. Otherwise there would be no need to control.
Women learn these behaviours initially from ‘Mum’ or persons acting in to this role. Of course parents must teach us what is right and wrong, however to do this without giving meanings to children that they are wrong or bad is the real trick to good parenting. One unfortunately few manage.
Initially this behaviour begins relatively innocuously, ” I prefer you in….” and eventually can become “He never knows what to buy/wear” I use this general example only to demonstrate the shift from helping behaviour into Controlling behaviour; the recipient is not right, the speaker holds the power of authority in deciding the truth of situations. The first statement is about the speaker, the second tells you how ‘not right’ the other is.
My specific example of this, one morning I woke feeling fed up, down. (I was dealing with a lot of stressful situations at the time) I breakfasted, washed and went off to meet a friend. We spoke, I told her of feeling of my feeling fed up etc. at the end she said ” Go home, Shave, Have a bath” I left feeling that this exchange somehow wasn’t right. It wasn’t until much later that I made the connection, I was being told that it wasn’t o.k. for me to look or be fed up around her, I must shave, be perfect (right) for her, though she was supposed to be a friend, I could only be o.k. on her terms…
These situations can be so seductively subtle. The nag, the ‘vaginal wrencher’ have nothing on these controllers, their art is in having their needs met without actually asking for them specifically. And therein lies their terrifying beauty, by not being specific; their victims cannot ever meet their controllers needs. The game continues on forever until this deadly game gets broken. I hear men talk of ‘ball busters’ ‘bitches’ and not being able to articulate any further what this means to them. This inarticulacy stems from their not learning to articulate their own needs but from having learned to meet and articulate the needs of another. I notice too that women do not feel any need to research this area of women’s control, yet seem able to pronounce upon men’s controlling behaviour (and inarticulacy of emotions!) I offer this not to divide us further as men and women but to open up the debate, Controlling behaviour is exactly what it says it is, whether violence, nagging, vaginal wrenching or the view that others are ‘not right’ all of these behaviours are designed to bring others under control. The only way to end the game is intimacy, the end of fear and moving into acceptance of others as they are.


This essay is written for trainee Counsellors, Counsellors, those who have survived Controlling and for those still in such relationships. In this I write regarding the behaviour of men who ‘control’ or attempt to control others. This I understand to mean men who manipulate others behaviour for their own gratification, this manipulation is coercive and covert in that their needs are (purposely) never clearly articulated. I do not suggest that all or some men wholly own this behaviour. (Women who control are discussed in an another essay) I’ve written this for people who have found themselves as targets for this behaviour, for those who have ‘walked away’ and for myself, as a survivor of such a relationship to help better understand these behaviours. This essay is part of a series given to Students on the Advanced Diploma in Counselling and Group Work I facilitated over the past two years. The essay focus on how individuals attempt to control others behaviour, within groups, one to one relationships and families.
The main issue to remember about controlling men is that their behaviour is always ‘somebody else’s’ problem. Nobody else exists except them. Theirs is a narcissistic way of being in the world; they hold a complete lack of empathy. If they were to fully understand another’s ‘way of being in the world’ or that others existed independently, then they could not exercise control in the manner they do. if they receive empathy; they instead use it to further manipulate. Any information given to a controller will rebound. ‘Ah, but you said…’ and use whatever was said in such exchanges to further manipulate. Colloquially speaking, If you are familiar with the feeling of ‘walking on eggshells’ around somebody or being scared to speak in case you enraged that somebody further, then you know what I mean by this. Your attempts to understand, aid or empathise will be used to a controllers ends and not your own.
Their behaviour is similar to that of a drug pusher, they give only a little bit of the drug at the beginning, then slowly over time increase the dosage. The idea of a drug pusher is to make the person dependent on them, so all actions by the controller are designed to strip away the independence of the person they wish to control. The drug analogy works for me because it takes the intended victim into an altered state of consciousness and disconnects them from their friends, family, and the rest of the world. Also, unless the controlled person (your client) was raised within a manipulative environment then overt forms of control will repel them and the relationship is not entered into. I wish to underscore here, that on some level the controller recognises their behaviour as unacceptable and hence they need to seduce, slowly but surely over time their victim into victimhood. So they entrap their victim into accepting that their worldview is the correct way of doing things. Clients after leaving such relationships will be puzzled how they became involved in such destructive relationships.
As a therapist my other way of looking at this is that it is like brutal army/navy training, the person is shocked by the demands made upon them, change of hair, clothes, behaviour, if you’re going to be with me, this is how you must be. The person comes to accept a new regime and way of being entirely different from how they have been before. A seductive element of this, as with forces training, is that certainties abound. For those who need certainties or ‘right ways of being’ these relationships initially offer a certain kind of security. Having been in the Royal Navy I look back with fascination to the beliefs that I held unquestioningly and still hear expressed by friends still in the Navy. These beliefs offer certainties about the world and their (and once mine) place within it. To not hold the views held as certainties by the Navy (and in this essay controlling relationships) results in sanctions…
What this does then is to place all knowledge, all authority and information with the controller. This reduces further the independence of the person being controlled. Cowardice enters here: Other people will know what the controller is like. His family, friend’s etc will know what he is like but they too have become scared of the consequences if they go against whatever he wants. The consequences can be silence, violence, going missing, sulking, communicating by notes, until eventually they learn to give up, much as the person being controlled learns to give up. Giving up is the: “anything for a quiet life, anything to keep him happy.” This cowardice is two-edged; the first edge is dealing with the controller and not wanting to face the consequences of saying no.
The second -and one in which we all play a part whether as Counsellors, Survivors or as passive bystanders-Is wholly our own in not wanting to face up to understanding that we have let somebody else have control over our lives. To face ourselves in this situation and to aid our clients, is to understand that we have allowed another’s needs and wishes precedence over our own. To find autonomy again can be a long hard road on which to trust others again may not be easy. Esteem can become so low that clients may have forgotten what their own needs, wants and wishes are.
My aim is not to disparage those who have entered into or endured these controlling relationships; cowardice will be the one of the last qualities they may accept about themselves. In that they may have suffered long and continuing violence, extreme hardships and broken bones and through misunderstanding regard themselves a brave person and that for them to leave such a relationship they regard themselves as cowardly. My point here is that endurance of these behaviours stems not from bravery but from misplaced loyalty that a controller promotes for his or her own needs. Experience of this behaviour suggests that controllers may not even recognise their violence for what it is, their victims will be seduced into not recognising this also. Violence then becomes casual; this increases in the victim a sense of unreality about their situation and thus allows the controller to escalate their violence… or even more sadly that the victim had a part in inviting such violence.
To walk away from this behaviour is bravery of the highest kind; to walk into the unknown from the known is true bravery. For those of us as onlookers, as friends or as therapists who wish to help break these patterns, this recognition must be made paramount: the controller may accuse their victim of being a coward by; ‘leaving before things are sorted…’ The victim is leaving what they have been seduced into knowing as ‘right ways to be’ and these ways of being offer their own kinds of security. Our role as people with honour, whether in helping roles or as humane human beings is to provide a helping recognition that the major problem within the relationship lies with the controller and that they have their behaviour because it works for them.
I find it best to remind would be survivors (clients) of controlling people is not to confront, contradict or conflict. The only way is to ‘walk away’. Any confrontation forces the controller further into being right, into defending his or her position, into being misunderstood, and anybody who would contradict is stupid. Any contradiction only serves as further vindication; to walk away is the only answer. Conflict is what controllers ‘do’ best, to enter the arena is to enter the controllers area of expertise.
From experience of working with clients who have left such relationships, when they walk away they are left with ‘it all went wrong’, ‘I did my best’, ‘if only I had done more’ and this is a hangover from their controlling training. The controller wants them to feel like it was their fault, wants them to feel like they got it wrong, they could have done more if only they hadn’t been so stupid. This game can go on for years after separation, after divorce, even after their controller has found a new victim. Support for survivors can be lengthy; self esteem once stripped in this way can take time to rebuild. Counsellors may be the only support that a survivor has; the controller will have worked at destroying other supports in order to reinforce their own control.
Children can be drawn into the game, as can friends and family. Remind clients not to expect too much support from the controller’s friends and family because they will be reminded of their own cowardice by your clients’ courage in walking away. They may pass the odd message like: ‘we knew what he was like all along’, but they won’t engage in a lengthy conversation or lengthy correspondence, because this would exacerbate their relationship with the controller and if the controller were to discover a continuing relationship this would invite repercussions for them… The Controller needs to cut off these support networks because they may expose him for what he is.
Part of the feelings after having left a controller will be of self-stupidity, again typical reactions may be: ‘how come I didn’t know? If only others had told me how they felt’. All of these things, plus others, can add to a sense of self-stupidity. However, it is really important to remember and remind clients to remember that the Controller’s existence happiness was the important issue in the relationship and that any information that did not fit what they wanted, would be chopped off; for example, if somebody said something disparaging about the controller’s behaviour, it was because there was something wrong with the speaker: malice, jealousy etc. Also the controlled person would over time become increasingly isolated as all attention would be going towards the controller, there would be no space for this information to come in. A common feature of this is that victims spend a lot of time and energy explaining away controllers actions, somehow making it right in the world for him to behave in that way. Like saying at parties ‘Oh he didn’t mean that anyway’, or he would not turn up to the party and victims would have to make up an excuse for their non-attendance. Or typically they could not attend a social function because the controller had banned attendance in the threat of violence.
Party’s feature here as they are social events and these can be a source of anxiety for controllers: others may observe their behaviour and see it for what it is. Also, social events break down the isolation they have erected around their victim. It is important to remember is that this explaining away of behaviour continues for years afterwards, Culturally we are ‘not supposed to say nasty things about people.’ I think that’s OK to some extent, bearing in mind the concept of ‘non-judgementalism’ but we can tell our own truth and recognise that the relationship was controlling. To tell ‘the truth’ is embarrassing, to say as a client once could not: “he locked me in the bathroom, threatened to beat me if I came out, for years afterwards my sister thought that I had been ill on her 30th birthday party” In this instance it was only when she told her sister the truth was she able to fully recognise how she had been controlled in that relationship.
Hopefully when our client leaves the relationship, the controller will not be a controller in their next relationship and vitally for survivors it is important that the past, present and future behaviour of a controller has nothing to do with anyone but the controller himself. I believe it is important for all Trainees and Counsellors that If we can say it is not our problem in relationships that others are controlling, we are modelling the behaviour that it is possible to divorce from such relationships with emotional health. Clients can be encouraged to stop being controlled, to have to let ‘the other’ go, to walk away. That to be healthy, they will need to divorce themselves emotionally from the controlling person and say: ‘that’s who they were with us, how they are with the next person has got nothing to do with us. Any effort, any emotion, any time that we spend thinking about them and their actions puts us back into their controlling game. They have managed to get us thinking about them and make them important. We have to let them go.’