After the triumphant, OCD bashing, trip to Greece, my first trip abroad for over 6 years, I thought, I’m ready, I’m cured, I’m normal, I can meet Mr Right. I launched my search for love on Facebook posing in a white satin basque with a black pearl G-string as a hair band draped decorously over a Porsche. I asked any prospective suitors not to worry about sending me a picture of their face but instead to send me a clear shot of their feet. This was because, I said, I’m not bothered about faces but I lurve making lurve to feet. I received several shots of feet, one fake, one covered in Neanderthal hair, one crammed into a (woman’s) shoe and lastly a centipede. If you think I’m going to go on a date based on such flimsy pickings, I later posted, you are wrong. You are violating my Podiatric Rights which are enshrined in the UN Charter on Chiropody. I then received more sensible shots of feet but I should point out that those who have more hair on their foot that their head are just not right for me.
I then received a very interesting proposal – a trip to a lesbian theatre co-operative from the son of a dead Global Celebrity. Obviously I love lesbians, my sexuality having been as slippery as two eels in a bath. Although I had not met him, my close friend Sarah, from Divorced from my Drug Dealer Anonymous, had. She said he was highly intelligent and that I might fancy him. Also crucially, given that my relationship with the ex-armed robber had largely broken down because of our financial differences, that he had quite a lot of cash. However when I examined his photograph I didn’t think I would fancy him. I rocked up to the date, obviously late, and recognised him straight away. But as he was rather short (having a short person complex I like tall men) I told him that he wasn’t really my type. But he was witty and very intelligent and generous so I agreed to go on another date. He had told me that he had been in Divorced from My Drug Dealer Anonymous for 10 years but had left as he didn’t like 12 Step recovery. I thought this was fair enough as he was clean and wasn’t drinking so how he achieved it was up to him. In Divorced from my Drug Dealer Anonymous drinking is considered to be a relapse
I was horrified on the second date when he said that he was actually drinking and in fact wanted a drink. I went pale as it is a total head fuck spending time with an addict or alcoholic who is now drinking. Either they are totally out of control or, more dangerously, are totally in control leading us non-drinking alcoholics to believe we might be able to drink. He also demolished, in a witty and entertaining way, every single precept on which 12 Step is based. And he said half the people who had come into Divorced from My Drug Dealer Anonymous in the 1980s were now socially drinking. As my entire life, since I came into recovery at the beginning of 2005, has been based around 12 step this was a devastating blow. No one in my life, even people outside 12 Step, had criticized 12 Step before. This was a revolutionary assault on my consciousness.
The next day I started thinking that maybe everything they say in 12 Step about the alcoholic remaining powerless over alcohol was a lie. Maybe I should be drinking I said. I phoned up a squadron of people who were long term clean. They said they did know people from the fellowship who were socially drinking but that they wouldn’t want what they had. My neighbour Diane, a therapist, who has nothing to do with 12 Step, said I would be crazy to pick up alcohol as my life was going brilliantly without it. There is also the fact that I’m on industrial quantities of psychiatric medication for my OCD which all says you must avoid alcohol. But everything I knew, everything I believed, had been rocked to its foundations. The general advice I got, especially from my therapist, was that I must not see son of dead Global Celebrity again or I could relapse.
He continued to bombard me with texts and invitations but, fearful of ending up in the place where I’d been ready to throw in my entire 10 year recovery and pick up a drink again, I was stalwart in my refusal.
I got hundreds of other proposals from men on Facebook, including being stalked by a 22 year old Indian body builder in Mumbai who phoned me 16 times a day. But I wasn’t interested in any of them and kept batting away their attempts to meet up with me or talk on the phone. Of course the one person I was actually interested in was not interested in me at all. I was back to the situation in Oxford when I was in lurve with someone who didn’t fancy me.
I haven’t spent a single Christmas with my family since I got clean at the beginning of 2005, a situation I hope will change as a result of the family therapy with my father. As I was trying to organise a Christmas lunch with my substitute family, my recovery friends, an exciting opportunity arose. No one wanted to attend the Christmas lunch in London. But I was invited by a friend in Shagger and Lurve Addicts Anonymous to go down to Somerset, in the west of England, for a Recovery Christmas trip. This would be the first time I had ever left my home unattended over Christmas so would be a major breakthrough in the OCD. Also, as I was sure everyone was single, it would be a singles holiday.
Of course, before agreeing to go on the holiday, I had to check the accommodation was suitable for the OCD. I spoke to the manager of the Cheddar Gorge youth hostel who confirmed that, yes, there were locks on the inside of the bedroom doors and they did have a key. I obviously had to check out the situation with the windows as well, as they were on the ground floor, but was told that they could only open two inches. Sleeping on the ground floor (where you are obviously so much more exposed to marauding serial killers) would be another breakthrough. This trip was shaping up nicely. Another big step forwards would be that I would need to drive on a proper motorway for the first time to get there. After assessing that the accommodation was suitable and securing my place, I booked two motorway driving lessons with British School of Motoring. I also had to have two trauma therapy sessions with my EMDR therapist, Raquel Correia, to cope with the ground floor window and the fact that there was no ensuite bathroom. I was extremely worried that every time I went to the loo at night, as I would actually have to leave the room, that I might have to check the wardrobes and chest of drawers for miniature serial killers.
Of course, because of the OCD, I had to make a six page list of every toothpick, carrot and bottle of eyelash growing liquid I was going to take with me. Because of my paranoia over not sleeping, there is a large list of accoutrements I need to take with me, including cough medicine even if I don’t have a cough. These fantasy coughs can really keep you up at night. But amazingly, considering I had scanned at least 50,000 documents in my previous trips, I didn’t scan a single one before I left. I was utterly confident that the house would not burn down. My scanner reacted badly printing out plaintive automated messages saying “YOU DON’T NEED ME” at 4am in the morning. The manufacturer HP said it may need specialist counselling as its self-esteem may be “threatened” by my recovery from OCD. I have given it Prozac instead.
All was set for the trip, I was doing a bit of blogging when I saw a missed call from my friend Susanna. I had half an eye on my blog, but thought I could speak to her for 5 minutes as she had been so good calming me down before the Greece trip. We had a terrible row as she said her mother’s kidneys were failing, which the doctors said was a kidney infection, but she thought was something more serious. I said she was catastrophizing. She said I was more interested in “my trip” (said in an angry voice dripping with sarcasm) than I was in her mother’s ill health. Because Susanna has known me since the age of 10, when she has a go at me I collapse and think I’m the worst person in the world. I didn’t sleep a wink that night.
The next day I was shattered and the girl I was driving down to Somerset, who had organised the trip, couldn’t go in the morning. I faced the prospect of driving alone on a motorway for the first time in the pitch dark and rain. After even my wicked stepmother said I shouldn’t do it, I backed out and said I would drive down on Christmas Day on my own. But I gave her the turkey that I had bought, very organisedly a week early, for our Christmas meal.
The next day I woke up to find out that the turkey had gone off on the train and had to start a frantic hunt around Harlesden, a rather dodgy area, on Christmas Day for a turkey. Only Halal shops were open and as Muslims’ celebration of Christmas is limited, none of them had a turkey.
I sped down the motorway on my own, although it was raining and visibility was bad. Before this, I had been totally unable to travel around the UK by car as I couldn’t go on a motorway. Now I was free!
Although all the recovery people were so noisy I had to hide periodically in my room, (and ignore them while on my laptop), the trip was a great success. Above all, I managed to go on holiday with people I barely knew and share cutlery and plates with them despite the absence of a Proton Particle Purifier (aka “dishwasher”) to kill the imaginary terminal illnesses they might pass on to me.
I went to the doctor 15 times after I got back but was assured, after a battery of tests, that my broken toenail would re-grow. I was diagnosed with Hypochondria Type B, which I fully suspect is a terminal disease. Although everyone was single there was no one I really fancied on the trip. But I did have a major breakthrough in that I didn’t check the wardrobes for any serial killers, whether mini or maximum.
This was the final stage in my recovery from OCD and I now felt conclusively ready to date. I was practically normal and could even date a man who didn’t have an en-suite bathroom. I had also, after 11 years of searching, finally given up my quest to find my perfect replacement mother. I would not find a replacement mother, in the fellowship or anywhere else. My therapist was very maternal and had re-parented me so successfully I was now practically ready to go to University. At the advanced mental age of 18 I was now ready to date.
But there was a fly in the ointment of my dating plans – my roof under my gorgeous roof terrace was as leaky as a thousand year old sieve and needed urgent attention. After initially refusing to do anything the company that had installed the roof had agreed to sort it out. But this was dependent on my lovely builder, removing all the plants and furniture from the roof terrace, taking up the decking and even taking off the railings as we needed to change the coping stones. All the cables for the lighting on the roof terrace and plant irrigation system would also have to go.
The last building project I’d done I had had a nervous breakdown and ended up in bed for 3 months. So I was understandably nervous about doing another one.
As I had to move all the contents of my roof terrace onto the neighbour’s terrace, my new OCD anxiety was that the neighbour’s cat would trip over my plants and sue me. Being sued by trigger happy claimants, such as the cat or a neighbouring parrot, is a key fear of the OCD and has been behind some of my weirdest behaviour. But it was a sign of how much better I was that the building project went relatively smoothly with no upsurge in OCD.
I did end up in the Accident and Emergency department for 3 hours at 1 am in the morning, after I had a four hour dizzy spell where the room was spinning around and I was walking like someone who’d had 10 double vodkas for breakfast. My friend Sarah who took me was the only white British person there. White British people in London will soon feel as threatened with extinction as the Dodo, the most popular boys name in London is after all Mohammed.
My lovely builder swears he didn’t poison my tea. But after insisting that I hand select the position of each piece of decking on the roof terrace I now know the Bulgarian word for “you are a control freak.” He also threatened to walk off the job multiple times. This was because I phoned him 15 times an hour. I responded to the builder’s threats to leave in an ultra-professional way: by chasing him down the street shouting, “I love you I can’t live without you please come back…”
The big news story in the UK, which I’m passionately interested in, is the upcoming referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union. I am strongly pro-European, believing many jobs as well as property prices and rentals on which my prosperity depends, are dependant on our membership of the Union. Ideologically I also believe we have far more in common with our social democratic European neighbours that we do with the United States. All these were the reasons I joined the “Britain Stronger in Europe” Campaign as a volunteer. The other reason was I thought there might be oodles of hot men working on the campaign. I would combine my political beliefs with my quest for Mr Right. This is an issue that affects all British people, living here or in the rest of the EU, and all Europeans living here. I am therefore not sure why all the phone calls I have received from the Britain Stronger in Europe campaign have come from Australians.
However my dating ambitions were almost derailed by a traumatic family therapy session with my father in which he confirmed, what I’ve always suspected, that he’s left me nothing in his will. Everything has been left to my stepmother. This has huge emotional significance as I have felt completely supplanted and redundant since she came along, despised for being too short and having too big a head while she was adored. I brought up in a previous family therapy session my deep upset over the fact that my father has no pictures of me in his house only ones of her. This is despite the fact that I gave him a picture of myself when I was 18 which he hid away in a drawer. She was the blonde supermodel I was the despised ugly duckling and this refusal to provide anything for me in his will just confirms my fears that I am not important to him. I have always equated money with love from my father as he hasn’t given me much. When I bought my first flat at the age of 22 I asked him for 5,000 pounds. He was living in a million pound house in Notting Hill but said he didn’t have any money to spare and that my mother should pay for everything. My father has a deep seated resentment against my mother, which he transfers onto me, that she secured a very generous divorce settlement by saying she was settling in the UK. Then promptly pissed off to Jamaica.
I was so devastated by the family therapy session that I couldn’t speak to my father, couldn’t even leave my house until I’d spoken to a friend in the fellowship who understood what it felt like being cut out. And I could hardly get up the next morning although I had the exciting news to announce that I had had over 10,000 hits on the blog. I had said to my father in the family therapy session that I wanted him to change his will and he had muttered something unclear.
When we reconvened for the next family therapy session two weeks later I said I had been devastated by not being in his will. He said he would do something about it and look to change his will. That and the fact that he started crying when he talked about my drug addiction, convinced me that he cared. I usually never touch my father and can’t stand it if he touches me but when we said goodbye in the tube station I felt moved to give him a hug. This was a massive improvement in our relationship, the family therapy was definitely bringing healing and reconciliation.
Now the building project was almost completed (with me only poisoned once) and my relationship with my father was better than at any time since I’d got clean I felt ready to double my efforts to find Mr Right. With a flurry of flattering photographs (and having mysteriously lost 6 years in an invisible time machine) I launched myself on the online dating sites.
Next week: I launch the ultimate dating challenge – 30 Days to Meet Mr Right…