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It was that summer, too, that I began the cutting, and was almost as devoted to it as my newfound loveliness. I adored tending to myself, wiping a shallow red pool of my blood away with a damp washcloth to magically reveal, just above my naval: queasy. Applying alcohol with dabs of a cottonball, wispy shreds sticking to the bloody lines of: perky. I had a dirty streak my senior year, which I later rectified.
When you have to face up to the fact that marriage to the man you love is really over, that’s very tough, sheer agony. In that kind of harrowing situation, I always go away and cut myself off from the world. Also, I sober up immediately when there is genuine bad news in my life; I never face it with alcohol in my brain. I just rented a house in Palm Springs and sat there and just suffered for a couple of weeks. I suffered there until I was strong enough to face it.
One of the obstacles to recognizing chronic mistreatment in relationships is that most abusive men simply don’t seem like abusers. They have many good qualities, including times of kindness, warmth, and humor, especially in the early period of a relationship. An abuser’s friends may think the world of him. He may have a successful work life and have no problems with drugs or alcohol. He may simply not fit anyone’s image of a cruel or intimidating person. So when a woman feels her relationship spinning out of control, it is unlikely to occur to her that her partner is an abuser.
I had to de-program myself. From myself. Had to reinvent rituals of purification. So full of the vagrant pollutions of others. It was time to detox. Not only from alcohol, sex, and drugs, but from needy leeches who looked to swab me with their sores. Detox from my own needy lechery. Had to locate the center wound and cauterize. Undo the original sin, the origin of my sickness…Had to learn to replace Them, It, Want, Hurt, Anger, Sorrow, Loss, with Power, Healing, Wisdom, Fulfillment, Satisfaction.