I sat in my car and cried outside the supermarket this afternoon. Again I feel I need to do an apologetic disclaimer of my privilege in these times – I’ve still got a job, I can work from home, I haven’t got any major health concerns and nor has anyone around me. I know how lucky I am and how I shouldn’t be complaining, but I am feeling quite strongly the emotional impact of the changes in the world out there, the emerging police state and how it emerges in me too (they’re a big group to all be out together, I bet they’re not from the same family; keep your social distance, etc, etc). It surprises me every time I catch myself because I don’t consider myself to be like that, but it seems I am indeed as judgmental as the next person, despite good intentions. Lots of things mixing up together in a slurpy soup that left me crying in the car. On the way in, we had to queue up and wait to be told we could go in. They had basically built a sort of barricade round the usual entrance so you were forced into a one way system to wait in line to get in. That in itself got my hackles up, again something about feeling controlled. Don’t get me wrong, the precautions seem sensible and I’m prepared to follow medical advice etc, but that doesn’t mean there’s not an impulse in me to kick it all down and destroy. I think we get so acclimatised to a certain level of government control, so that we don’t notice it – how we hardly notice CCTV cameras anymore, how we mostly choose to remain in blissful ignorance of other levels of surveillance online, but now it’s visibly upped a gear, I’m feeling really hemmed in and left with lots of enraged feelings. Again, I’m very lucky to not live in a totalitarian regime and maybe instead of feeling enraged at being told what to do more than usual, I should remember the privilege of relative freedom I have been born into. I am grateful for that.
So there we were stood in line 2 meters apart and then it was the turn of the guy in front of me to stand next to the security guard and wait to be let in. He asked if he’d been in before which the guy hadn’t, so he started to explain the system, “Follow the arrows, go up the odd aisles and down the even. Do not go the wrong way down an aisle or take short cuts.” “I only want some beer,” he said. “Well you can’t go straight to the beer, you’ll have to go up and down all the aisles of the shop and pick up your beer as you pass.” “Is this for real? For fuck’s sake..” The security guard scoffed incredulously, looking to make eye contact with us further behind in the queue, as if to say “Where’s he been, hiding under a rock?” “You swear at me again and you won’t be going in at all” and they get into an argument but I recognise the outrage in the guy’s voice at being told what to do and threatened if he didn’t conform. The argument culminates in the security guard calling him a muppet and shouting at him to get into the shop. The guy confronts the security guard about being called a muppet and an older guy behind me shouts out “Bloody get in the shop NOW”, like mob rule is suddenly a thing, and the guy is off and it’s my turn to take my place next to the security guard. I don’t laugh with him or make eye contact, but nor do I confront him, and again the self loathing that comes with spinelessness lurks uneasily in the pit of my stomach as I enter the shop.
I was surprised to find myself tearful as I came out and spent a few moments unpicking what had just happened as I ate crisps with contaminated hands, head resting on the steering wheel, tears swelling. I think it reminded me of hospital stuff, how the security guard with all the power ridiculed the other guy and tried with some success to get others to join in. That used to happen when I was being restrained, they would ridicule me and make jokes over me imagining somehow that humiliation was a tactic for easing distress. It made me curious about the other guy and his experience of people abusing power around him. Made me realise there must be a whole load of us who are struggling to contain the rage that this new police state is evoking rooted in our previous experiences of people holding power over us in abusive ways.
That stuff must be quite near the surface for me at the moment in ways that make sense. I spoke to the police on Friday and they are not taking the video statement they asked me to give about some of the things I experienced in hospital any further. I guessed that as I said to them at the start “Justice isn’t really something I believe in. It’s not something I’ve seen happen in my life”. It made me glad I’d stuck by my wish to not give a statement about the sexual abuse perpetrated by my brother despite them recommending I do so and trying to persuade me. They haven’t even managed to find him, which doesn’t inspire any confidence in their ability. But the fact that they wanted me to give a video statement about the psych hospital stuff gave me some hope that it might go somewhere, and their reasoning for it not going anywhere would have been apparent at the beginning. They said that the incidents I described were classed as assault and the rules with assault are that complaints have to be made within six months of it taking place. The whole process has left me feeling angry and exploited and like I didn’t trust my gut and protect myself as I had done up until then. They also said that most of the staff from that time would be very elderly or dead by now. He said they did a big investigation into the unit 5 – 10 years ago, but they struggled to gather evidence as most of it had been destroyed with the unit. I think I got my hopes up a bit that I would feel heard at last, but not really. On the phone he asked “Was that standard practice back in the 80’s then, to force feed people using – what are they called – jaw clamps?” No it fucking wasn’t and I wanted to smash him in the face. I’m sure he didn’t mean to, but it just made me feel like he really didn’t get it. I tried to say to him that my complaint wasn’t so much against the individuals anyway, it was more with the health authority for allowing such a messed up culture open to so many abuses of power develop right under their nose. It was them I wanted stood to account to remind them they have a responsibility to monitor such places so they cannot become a law unto themselves independent of any scrutiny. He said assault charges could only be an individual against an individual so didn’t know how that would be possible.
I’ve generally been in a good space, still enjoying things feeling less demanding and getting loads done. Re-felted the shed roof, done lots of washing down of walls and skirting boards and today started glossing. Went out for a run for the first time in probably over a year this morning and wanna keep up with that, so felt good to cross that first hurdle of getting back out there. For ages I’ve been feeling really weak in my body, like I’ve lost lots of muscle mass and gained too much chub. I wonder if the feeling weaker is linked to menopause. Have been peri-menopausal for a couple of years or so with irregular bleeding and now haven’t bled for over 6 months. Don’t know if feeling weaker in my body is connected, but remember what strength and stamina I used to have and how that was something I felt good about, so it will be great to reconnect with that if I can find my willpower which I lost somewhere along the way. Realising my manic energy is a defense, flight, survival energy, my way of coping and feeling in control and now a bit of the grief and the horror of the wider situation and how amongst other things, people are dying alone and the ripples of that, is starting to seep in.
It’s giving me a lot of time for introspection and processing, all this manual work I am doing, and being out in the world less.
Sending out love and compassion and good wishes…