Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Enforced Addiction and the Pathway to Discipline

Been a bit busy, what with my birthday being over the weekend and all! Happy birthday to me!!! Hurray!!! Hope I have not posted this bit before, but here is a tiny snippet from the new book. It is taken out of context and needs work... but here is your chance to play editor and point out the typos and stuff that just don't make sense. Perhaps none of it does - but I'm a little depressed at the moment and apt to look on the dark side. The pic is just something that someone anonymously contributed - I wish I new where it came from as the full-sized, full quality version would be interesting.
Enforced Addiction and the Pathway to Discipline
The raven-haired teenager shook her head solemnly, tears welling in her lovely deep-violet eyes. She was sitting hunched on the side of her bed, the barred side having been folded down out of the way, gazing down at her open palm where only moments earlier had rested two innocuous-looking little green and gold plastic capsules. To her right the foam-filled pillow still retained some semblance of the outline of her head, the subtle gently-creased indentation gradually subsiding and fading from the flounced pink latex covering. To her left the water still sloshed to and fro in the half-drained plastic tumbler squatting accusingly on the narrow wheeled bed table, a Formica-topped hospital-style affair which spanned the bed and which could be slid across as necessary.
Her hands still shook a little, but already the tremors were subsiding. The overwhelming feeling of panic that mere moments before had been uncontrollably welling up in her breast and threatening to swallow her whole, was easing also. Of course it was far too soon to be due to any pharmacological effect of the medication - but what did she know of that, any more than she understood that the underlying cause of her condition was itself, at least in origin, as much the result of psychology and the power of suggestion as was the immediacy of the respite. She felt as if a gently-comforting warmth was spreading throughout her body - whether real or imaginary she couldn't tell - and with it, a kind of a feeling of surrender, of having given in, that was in itself comforting to some degree. But there was remorse too, anger, even a little self-pity:
She had been doing so well -why had she given in? How long had it been, a week? Might it have been longer? It was difficult to tell for sure. Aunt Julia tended to encourage her to remain in her room for much of her time in any case, but had been even more insistent of late, arguing that it would make it easier for her to handle if she really did insist on giving up on taking her sedatives. And she had slept such a lot; in hindsight it was difficult to discern where one day had ended and the next had begun.
But why had she come over drowsy as often as she had since giving up her medication? Jitteriness, creeping flesh, that horrid, 'wired' feeling she had on occasion experienced and that her aunt described as her having ‘ants-in-the pants’; all this and more she would have expected. In its stead there had come a sort of marshmallow-brained lethargy coupled with a bone-aching weariness and a pleasant meadow-sweet urge to sleep that there had seemed no sense in fighting. Why, she had no idea, but in a way she had been glad to give in to slumber - there was little or nothing to occupy her in her room and on the few occasions when she had ventured downstairs... Well, her aunt didn't really agree with her watching television and turned it off when ever she was in the room and she had never come across a radio in the house. There was a bookcase, in her aunt's private study, but it had been made abundantly clear to her on the very first morning after her arrival that the word ‘private’ meant exactly that - besides, the door was invariably kept securely locked when Aunt Julia was not in occupation in any case.
She hadn't really thought about it before, but she had never as much as seen a newspaper left lying around. But now that she came to think about it; it did seem rather odd that no newspapers magazines or other publications were ever delivered, at least to her knowledge. She would have thought that a woman who worked from home to the extent that Aunt Julia appeared to would have taken out subscriptions to several periodicals, simply for convenience sake. She decided that Aunt Julia must be someone who pick’s up her post promptly - it certainly fitted with her aunt's impatient nature and obsession with efficiency and neatly explained why she had never seen as much as a circular or a piece of junk mail lying on the mat by the door, let alone a letter. Come to think of it, she had not as much as heard the post arrive, nor glimpsed the postman. She had not heard the crunch of his boots on the gravel outside, not ever, not even when she been in her old bedroom, the room she had been given when she had first arrived - a simple pretty little country-cottage bedroom that did not look like part of a sanatorium and which had dainty windows that opened out into the summer sunshine rather than being double or triple glazed to the point of near-perfect soundproofing and perpetually hidden behind heavy ‘blackout’ drapes.
She used to write copious letters, then, when she had first arrived. She would write daily to old school friends, the boy she had been fond of - and had once had a burgeoning relationship with - and the family solicitor, the latter in an attempt to make some inroads into starting an action against her guardian. Aunt Julia would post them for her whenever she went into town. She would listen intently each day for the post to arrive, sometimes even going as far as to hover around in the short passageway behind the front door, pacing impatiently up and down while all the time listening intently for sound of the post-office van pulling in. She would quite quickly be ushered back to her room by her aunt, despite her protests that would sometimes embarrassingly verge on stamping her foot in frustration. As it turned out, it was all to no avail in any case; no replies ever arrived- not even from the solicitor's office - and gradually her enthusiasm had waned and the habit had faded.
Sleep, then, whiled away the time and protected her from the worst of the symptoms. Not that there had actually been any symptoms, now she came to think about it, at least not that she had been aware of. Yet, that made it worse somehow: She had gone a least a week, by her reckoning, without the slightest twinge of panic, not so much as a bead of sweat forming on the forehead or a trembling of the fingers. Then, on this one morning, the one morning that she had awoken with that all-too-familiar pounding in the ears, the palpitations, the unfathomable anxiety and nauseating dizziness, Aunt Julia had for some reason taken it on herself to place out her medication in the little dish alongside the tumbler of water that she always brought up first thing in the morning. She assumed it had been by mistake; perhaps Aunt Julia had been in a hurry and it had been result of unthinking habit - these things happened. But why, oh why on this particular morning? Why did Aunt Julia have to leave temptation within such an easy reach on the one morning her resolve happened to be at its weakest?
She felt a tear begin to meander its trickling way down her cheek and lent further forward, cradling her head in her hands. The polythene mattress cover crumpled and rustled like dry leaves scrunching underfoot in a forest as her weight shifted. The childish winceyette pyjama bottoms that she was wearing sighed a lightly squeaking sort of sigh, betraying the presence of a waterproof vinyl inner-lining that extended from the elasticated waistband as far as mid-thigh and that, moistened and lubricated by girlish perspiration - the garment fitting quite snugly in any case - had encouraged the back seam to slip deep between her buttock cheeks.
Despite being alone, she blushed. An embarrassed, girlish little giggle escaped her lips, startling her and bringing her back from the reverie she had slipped into; it reminded her of just how fuzzy her thinking was already becoming. The thought struck her that surely the dosage had been increased. It was this otherworldly, fuzzy-headedness that she disliked most about taking her sedatives - that and the worries she had over possible addiction - but it had never felt as disorientating is this before. She shrugged off the notion, reasoning that the last thing that Aunt Julia would allow would be her doctor increasing the strength of her medication, given that she had been so keen on helping her get off the things. But then again; if Aunt Julia was so keen on helping her give up relying on the sedatives, why had she left them out for her to take? Why had she been more careful? And why had... and why had...? She could no longer quite recall the question she was trying to form and so the thought drifted out of focus. Without quite realising it, her jaw had slackened and her mind once again clouded over.
The click of the lock, the metallic rattle of the round brass handle and the squeaking of the bedroom door’s hinges startled her. Rubber soles padded dully on the spongy clinical linoleum, the unhurried rhythm accompanied by the whispering rustle of polyester and the harsher rustling of starched cambric. Smart black court shoes and tan nylons moved into view. Lifting her a head from her hands, she caught sight first of the royal blue hem of the woman's dress, Aunt Julia's dress, smartly aligned with the tops of her shapely nylon-shadowed calves and flapping open with the momentum of the approach. Her gaze wandering higher, her eyes were met by the glassy-glint of light reflected from the first of the deep-blue glossy buttons fastening the skirt front. Then, higher still, came the next button, surrounded by the shadowy-sheen of uniform-blue polyester, then even higher and the crisp white hem of cambric came into focus, delineating the lower edge of the woman's apron, the spotless starched snow-White fabric curving around to meet the dress's side seams before sweeping inwards and upwards to disappear at the waist under a deep-set navy-blue belt of Nylon Petersham ribbon.
Lavinia's gaze paused at the sterling silver belt clasp. The buckle, a highly elaborate butterfly-wing affair decorated with pierced rococo scrolling, strangely fascinated her - some deeply-buried part of her could not help but marvel at her aunt's trimly-belted waistline in comparison to the relative broad maturity of her hips. An unguarded thought arose unbidden and blushing more deeply she looked up, her gaze taking in the re-emergence of cambric fabric as the yoke of the woman's bib-apron flared out above her nipped waist, mirroring in miniature the flare of the skirt and covering the fitted blue bodice of her uniform dress to just above the swell of her bustline above which showed two more of those deep-blue glassy buttons before a final white button that closed the stiff blue-piped collar about her slender throat. Her eyes momentarily met her aunt's. Then, unaccountably unable to hold her gaze, shyly she averted her eyes catching sight first of the bright burnished-silver nurse's fob watch pined to the apron yoke and then coming to rest on the matching silver nurse's scissor-chain. The latter, looping down and arching around from a clip on the side of the woman's belt before disappearing into a hip pocket set in her skirt held the keys to this room, the cupboards and the draws and more besides, dangling at its end as if an arcane symbol of authority.
Still perched on the edge of the mattress, the teenage girl slowly straightened up, yawning lazily, latex, PVC and winceyette all shuffling, scrunching and creaking together as she did so. Seeing her aunt in nurse's uniform was nothing out of the ordinary, in fact it was more and more becoming the norm for Aunt Julia to make an appearance in her old hospital nursing sister's dress, Whether for purely practical purposes or whether simply because it seemed appropriate to her aunt, given the woman's self-appointed role as ‘carer’, Lavinia had no idea. The one thing she did know was that for some unaccountable reason the mere sight of her aunt in her nurse's uniform seemed to sap her will – she found it virtually impossible to stand up to the woman when she was so dressed. She experienced a similar effect whenever she would visit her psychoanalyst's office. The doctor's receptionist was a horrid, tyrannical rottweiler of a woman and yet one glance at her in her sky-blue nurse’s uniform and Lavinia would be left with no choice other than to kowtow down to her, a situation she found humiliating in the extreme.
A hand intruded into Lavinia's field of vision from her left; a white elasticated arm cuff brushed her cheek. Arm puffs were as much a feature typical of a nurse's uniform circa the mid 1960s as was the bibbed apron, but it was so typical of Aunt Julia to favour such a detail, despite it dating from well before her time in psychiatric nursing. Her aunt was leaning over her, gently rolling the bed-table away down toward the bars at the foot of the bed while simultaneously turning so as to seat her self in its stead. Lavinia felt the mattress dip down to her left as the woman shuffled her mature frame into place, the soft complaining creek of stretching polythene bedcovers now joined by the murmurous crumpling and swishing of polyester, cambric and nylon brushing one upon another and whispering together like summer breeze rippling through bulrushes.
The sudden deformation drew the girl closer in to her aunt's side, just as an arm slipped comfortingly around her shoulders. The woman's voice murmured reassuringly, her lips so close as to be almost brushing the girl’s ear. Lavinia seemed to feel as much as hear the words, her aunt's hot breath caressing her ear and raising goose-bumps on the nape of her neck:
“Now, doesn't that feel better, honey?
“Why? Why did you leave them lying there... th,,,tho... those capsules? Why did you have to leave them lying there like... th,th, tha,thaa...”
“That? Like that, is that what you mean? Remember what I have told you to do if you think you are going to stammer – stop, rehearse it in your mind...and if you still think you are going to stutter, try wording what you want to say in a different way. Try to avoid words you know you might have difficulty with. Now, come along. Let's hear you try again.”
“Th...tha,,,that...Like tha...tha”
“Alright, alright. I can see you are upset, lets just leave it for now and just focus on what is troubling you,”
“ But I, I, I thought you were on my side”
“What ever do you mean? Of course I am – what a funny thing to say.”
“Then why did you...”
“Leave out your medication for you? Well, it was for your own good, believe me. I can see when things are starting to go awry...and believe you me, things were starting to go awry indeed. You might not have been aware of it, but you were rapidly heading for a breakdown. I looked in this morning and you were shaking like a leaf – I just did what I thought was best through you. Of course I 'phoned your doctor first, but that was her advice – to leave out your capsules and leave the decision up to you. I'm just glad you saw sense and decided to return to your medication. I could see you were really beginning to suffer - it was heart-rending to see you that way, it really was. You were becoming too deluded to see it for yourself, that's all.”
“But aunty, I was so, so...close”. There had entered into the girl's protestations a piteous keening, whimpering quality that Julia Soames found somehow appealing, in a vulnerable girlish sort of way.
“It wasn't doing you any good, though, was it? Just look at you, how pale, how drawn you look”. She indicated the girl's reflection in the dressing table mirror opposite. “Yes, you're calm enough now, but just a few minutes ago you were quite literally climbing the walls with anxiety. When the time comes your doctor and I will wean you off your sedatives, but under proper medical supervision. You can't just decide to stop taking them by yourself, just like that – its asking for trouble. But I guess you've learnt that lesson for yourself now, you silly, silly little girl.”
Inside, Julia Soames was smiling to herself: Close? The mere notion had nearly made her laugh out loud when the girl had said it. The truth was that the silly little over-privileged trollop had been no closer to abandoning her sedatives than to abandoning breathing. In fact, though the girl did not yet recognize it, she would soon discover that she had now become more dependent on her daily medication than ever before. The suppositories had seen to that. The first of the daily triad she had given her young trusting charge had always included a modicum of a sedative substance. It had been simplicity itself to shift over to one including in its constituents an internally absorbable form of the girl's usual medication, having very bit the sedative activity of the oral form, not to mention sharing its unfortunate habit-forming qualities. Poor deluded Lavinia; in actuality she had never been off her medication. Indeed over the previous fortnight - for that was how long it had, in actuality, been – she had been gradually and steadily increasing the dosage given her patient. Then she had simply cut her patient off, dead, from her supply of instant brain-numb euphoria - the previous morning in fact – and awaited the consequences. The rest was already history.
Yet her conscience was clear – at least in as far as the delight that she had shown when her charge had first announced her intention to wean herself off her medication had been genuine enough. It had all gone perfectly. As far as persuading the girl to submit to psychiatric care, one of the more difficult aspects was in convincing her of the need to have her under a certain degree of sedation. The idea had always worried the girl from the first time it had been broached.
The girl had always been loath to take her medication and certainly couldn't be trusted to take it, unsupervised and off her own back. On more than one occasion, in the early days, Julia had found the capsules secreted away underneath the girl's pillow. Of course on each occasion she had discovered the deceit immediately - she had been a psychiatric nurse after all - and had stood over the girl while she was then obliged to take them – albeit after a stern talking to and not withstanding a little backchat. But even with the threat hanging over her of being sent home and of her aunt washing her hands of her, young Lavinia had continued bellyaching. The point was; although it was true that he girl would eventually take her medication, it was only ever under protest. Yet, if she was to progress Lavinia to the next stage – though the term regress might be a more accurate description, given her intention - then it was important that the girl could be trusted to take her medication voluntarily, quite automatically and without even being told to do so.
The ironic truth was that only with sweet Lavinia’s own co-operation, by her continuing to struggle, continuing to stand her ground, could she have been properly tamed. It was important that she should have made the brave and strenuous attempt to go without her medication that she had - and seen herself fail… and fail completely, hopelessly and dismally. Without having at least tested her tethers, how could she know the infallible strength of her bonds? But having done so - and found her cause hopeless - with a little encouragement and reassurance the girl could now be expected to settle back in her chains.
Had she not attempted to break the habit they had so carefully formed in her, Lavinia might never have truly accepted her addiction. As it was, this change in mindset, this, sense of hopeless, despairing acceptance, that Julia Soames knew her charge was presently experiencing, would ensure that in time and with a suitable form of encouragement hers would become a very humbling addiction indeed. For now there would be no more fighting back, at least not on that front. In time, as they went forward, new fronts would open up and new obstacles would have to be negotiated but each would be tackled in their turn.
An old adage states: “never fight a war on two fronts”. It was something that Julia Soames knew to be very true. What had been achieved to date had been achieved one step at a time, and that was the way they would continue to progress. But with the battle won on one front the way was now clear to take their struggle of wills in a new direction, to open up a new front. She now had the perfect lever in her hands with which to weaken her charge's defences and had already in mind the way in which she would first apply it.
It was a battle in its own right just to contain her own imagination: How sweet her Lavinia would look in a fresh, pink cotton frock, nearly covered in its entirety by a big, spotlessly-white or pink-checked pinafore with bows of pink ribbon at the shoulders. How ravishingly pretty she would be in a pale-blue sailor suit with a white collar and silk tie or a blue and white candy striped dress with a white peter pan collar and a long back zip - better still, fastening up the back with awkward to reach buttons – the sort of thing a young girl might once have worn to school, a blue plastic belt pulled tight around the waist and fastened with a white plastic buckle at the front. Nothing of her vision seemed particularly suitable for a strapping teenager, but what did that matter within the confines of the home. What was wrong with a simple tunic-dress with a column of buttons to fasten it up the back? Then, why not a grey gym tunic, an old fashioned thing with a square cut satin-lined yoke? She remembered coming across just such a thing – and much more besides - when she had first taken possession of the house; hanging in a wardrobe in a long-disused attic room. A school uniform... Why not a school uniform? Indeed, had not Dr Ecclestone herself – the girl’s therapist - hinted at such an idea?
Dr Anne Ecclestone: now there was a woman who knew what she was talking about. The redoubtable psychotherapist had been lamenting the demise of the traditional British school uniform at the time, saying how it would have been the obvious solution in such a case as Lavinia’s, to whom, in time, even making such a basic decision as to what to wear each day could be expected to present a problem. That the developing situation under discussion was largely of the good doctor’s own creation was beside the point. The psychologist had simply asked, in passing, whether Lavinia still had her old school uniform but the inference had been clear. Julia Soames had been forced to answer that sadly in the negative. What had passed for a uniform at the girl’s school, as she understood it, had consisted of little more than a set of guide-lines as regards colour and certain style restrictions merely aimed at outlawing some of the more outrageous fads of the time. Beyond that, a liberal credo of ‘freedom of self expression’ had reigned – expensive, pampered and privileged was how she would have put it.
That was it, then, the decision was made: a school uniform it would be. And as for that much vaunted ‘freedom of self expression’ – well, the girl had already lost a lot of that, a little discipline would soon deal with the rest. She was not going to rush it, of course, but there would be rules to go with the uniform, and restrictions, strict restrictions. Yes she was going to be strict, very strict. And a strict regime would need some equally stringent means of enforcement – and what could be more apt than the traditional school cane, the heavy leather Scottish tawse, punitive writing of lines, corner-standing with hands on head and all the rest? But all in good time… All in good time…


Orage said...

Typos in the introduction line 6: "I wish I new" and in Enforced Addiction...§5: "She decided that aunt Julia must be someone who pick's up..."

summertime75 said...

The picture came from Carefet, January 18th 2009 http://www.carefet.co.uk/previews/index.htm

and don't ask how I know LOL

Good to read more of Lavinia although I only skipped through as I want to read the completed work, so now you have had your birthday celebrations, belated birthday wishes just get writing, get the damn thing published and put my mind at rest!!!!

Orage said...

Nervous, aren't you? So am I, I can't wait either!

Toyntanen said...

Thanks for the typo info, Orage - it's just the sort of thing that creeps in using voice recognition to dictate to the computer and that is not caught by the spell-check. And I wouldn't always catch it as I am dyslexic.

Thanks for the info Mr Summertime75 - and no, I won't ask! I'll have to visit that site.

Orage said...

Sorry, I add my birthday wishes as well.
Now how about granting my own wish, namely changing your photo on the blog?

Orage said...

Another thing: could you suppress "A taste of the birch" on your blog-list? Its author died a few months ago and the blog has been erased.

Toyntanen said...

Orage, old chap.

What, prey tell, is wrong with my photo on the blog?

I do have one showing off my abbs with my shirt off in the garden though - fine if you like veins and fibers: I was down to 5% body fat at the time.

Orage said...

It's just the beer moustache that grates on my nerves.
Sorry, forget it!

Toyntanen said...

Hi Orage! Thanks for the info regarding A taste of the birch which has now been duly removed from the blog list. Sad news, though even though I didn’t know the author - my commiserations go out to his family and friends. As for the beer moustache – it’s not a real one, just something that occurred by accident when I was messin’ with the image and that I decided to keep. I am not so coy now, so very soon a new unadulterated photo shall be substituted for it – just for you!

Anonymous said...

typo- 'creek of stretching polythene' should be creak

Rex Talbot

Toyntanen said...

Thanks for that, Rex; that's just the sort of thing that gets past the spellcheck!