Dialect on the survival of a battery doll by Maxine Thompson is an important book to read right now. Not just for women, also men. This book was written to assist in individual person psychoanalysis. From the author’s experience as a woman, a domestic abuse victim, a UK civil servant (in the modern workforce where commitments are torn between work and family life), and as a result of being diagnosed with PTSD, Anxiety and Depression. It is key now, because it is an important contribution to the public discussion on mental health and work, as it provides a point of view that echoes the experience, and voice of many living in the UK at a time of uncertainty: not only as a woman, but as a domestic abuse victim, and as a former employee for the Home Office. This book was written following employment tribunal, at a time of distinct trial, and in trying to face the uncertainty of income, and the possible loss of profession. It called for a change of thinking habits, and a change in perception in order to survive.
When we talk of lusts, I always got the impression that it is mostly related to sexual lust. Personally I have lusted in many ways. Marginal levels of maturity has shown me that.
In this instance, I think I can acknowledge the three main lusts that turned me from a life of humility and true contentment, to a life of desperation and mental enslavement. The first of these, I had initially held in the best regard, which, to be fair, is a likely condition and symptom of lust.
I had lived with him for close to a decade. I had lived with him for years, until I had to accept that he was an incubus and an abuser. He was someone that absorbed my strength, my heart, and eventually my will to live. I was left depleted, abandoned, and absent-minded. This did not happen at the end of the time we spent together, but was happening clandestinely throughout. I only opened my eyes to the truth after the fact. I guess it just seems to happen that way – something to do with denial, or worse, ego.
I internalised and fantasized my life – living through yahoo chat rooms, my avatar on second life, and a holiday romance that left me with a son, whilst still legally bound to this deception of a reality. The incubus forced me to live an arid existence, whilst he kept two households in the same vicinity – this double-life totally unknown to me. His attitude and behaviour whilst we were together, was one of heavy condemnation. He judged me, and verbally tore me down, brutishly, and arrogantly, with a mouth like a viper. It became a competition, to prove myself just as it has always been. I was “nasty” and “lazy” with home maintenance. I did not teach the boys to clean up after themselves, and I was an overweight “pig”, with “no sense”. No other man would accept the scars on my stomach from the multiple caesareans and laparotomies that I had had to save my life, and even my “mother does not love me”. My friends were “whores and roaches”, and there were doubts about whether I had ever really been sexually assaulted, despite police and crown prosecution involvement.
No one wanted to suffer his company, and my company diminished. I did meet him whilst very vulnerable – twenty-one and extravagantly low in self-esteem…
Let me talk a little about my second lust – the idea of beauty. Beauty has had a serious influence on me. It seems to have a serious persuasion on people in general, but obviously in different proportions, and ways. For me though, it is something of a novelty. It is a novelty first of all because of my mother, and then further on in my college years in my need to be attractive, to the degree that I ended up putting so much weight on it throughout my formative years, and adulthood altogether. I struggled to see past it, and once I thought I had set my eyes on what appeared to be good, I was hooked on it being good, until the truth was later revealed…
My third lust, the one I saw as the pride of life, and the one to make me appear wise, was my lust for achievement. It was my lust to be a success in this world. I wanted to do something good in life, and in society, and the idea of rising to a respectable office in the Home Office (an established and highly regarded organisation) also appealed to my ego. I did not really see it like that in my youth: I just wanted a job, and it was in government administration, and I thought, “that is good, maybe I will make something of myself”. I did not know what it was really like, until my love of ego nearly killed who I was.
I dream tigers that stalk me. These treacherous and calculating creatures, that hunt the weak. With piercing eyes, and intent foreheads. Their colour so striking and vivid in quite lucid dreams. I was thankful that at one point I walked into a room full of dead ones.
I was wearing only pyjamas and large green wellington boots. As though I was the hunter. I had not attacked them though, so I am in no way sure how these creatures died. Sometimes I see big rats passing near me and I get a sense of envy. Sometimes I dream large snakes, and being choked by them as they press heavily in, and circle tightly around my throat. I dream that I am in a room filled with people who have lost their minds and can’t communicate.
I suffer severe nightmares in which I am being chased by various men, up and down escalators, running on rollercoasters, up and down hills and valleys, and in and through cubes. I dream myself bound to a chair, with my arms tied up behind my back. Sitting there in complete terror, in a dark cave…
I had always felt a deep rejection which I really could not articulate. I could not articulate it, but I knew from the beginning, I was alone. I felt myself leave, mentally and emotionally. I turned cold, and withdrew into myself, deciding that one day I would find love and feel special. This ‘feeling’ and ‘sense’ of rejection, abandonment and loneliness, really lead to my primary infirmity, because it made me feel inadequate and made me desperate for acceptance but in an exclusive, ‘everyone must work for my love and attention’ kind of way. As though, if you do not think I am good enough, then neither are you, and you must prove yourself.
I became a living doll. Life-like, and alive, but cold inside. A doll bearing invisible weights that had settled around my innocent and naive heart, forming firmament between me and people.
This memory left me wondering whether this was the beginning of my disassociation. A disassociation that I never quite understand because the whole concept is quite challenging to get my head around. When I was told by my therapist that I think my emotions, I don’t feel them, I was left confused. I had to go away and really think about what that meant. How long had I separated myself from my feelings? How long had I fallen into the habit of questioning them, and sense- checking them to make myself deal with pressure and move on? I was doing this as long as I could remember. It didn’t serve me well to pander to them and sit and cry from injury. Injury was happening to me all the time so who cares. What did it matter? I needed to get up and carry on.
So I did, time and time again.
Maxine is deeply inspired by her children, continuous development, and achievement. She is currently at the University of Nottingham undertaking a Politics and International Relations programme of study. Prior to that, she served 11 years in the Home Office in London, working in Immigration Service, and the Appeals and Litigation Directorate, between the regional offices in Croydon, Marsham Street, and Fleet Street. She is experienced in stakeholder engagement, corporate support, policy writing, risk analysis, and programme delivery. Maxine held positions such as Gender Duty representative, and worked on policy guidance for engaging with Domestic Violence victims. She supported Agency transformation – establishing risk management and business continuity for Appeals operations, and supported the Agency’s digital strategy: leading on contingency planning and critical incidents handling through the 2012 Olympics, and various strike actions in 2013.