I need to rebel.
That is my conclusion from my short self-therapy session this evening. I’m getting back into CBT practice, and I have realised: I need to rebel.
The thought I was working on this evening was “I am naughty”. This is at the bedrock of my beliefs about myself, such a core belief that most of the time I don’t even see it. I am naughty. Not in a fun, sexy way (I hate the word being used about sex) but in the way you would tell it to a child. I am a naughty girl.
What is naughty? I had to nail that down to make any progress. Naughty is not sticking to a plan. Not keeping to the rules. Their rules, your rules: if the rules have been stated you stick to them. Naughty is being messy. Naughty is being emotional. Naughty is being illogical and flighty and…..human.
So what is good? Good is sticking to the rules. Being fit for the consumption of strangers and acquaintances. Being someone who can be held up as an example, with no messy bits on show. Being good is being fit to be shown in the school magazine.
Ah. Now we were getting somewhere. School. Yes. Oh dear I was naughty at school. I was good for the entirety of my school career, baring a few pranks. But even those were along the lines of Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers. Then right at the end, right when I was nearly home and dry and could be confidently hailed as a model student, I got myself a girlfriend.
I was on the Head Girls’ Team at school. For those of you who didn’t go to a fee paying school with a hockey stick wedged up its arse, this is the group of girls (all girls school. Naturally) who support the Head Girl. I got onto the team, and I remember standing in the head of year’s office as she scanned us all for uniform transgressions. As she looked at me, before she could even say anything I said “I know my skirt’s too short, I’ll get a new one”. I knew that showing off my legs (which have always been good) was no longer acceptable now I would be Representing The School. Women are not allowed to be attractive. Well, girls aren’t. We weren’t actually allowed to be women at all. That was the point. Women were messy and emotional and sexual. None of that thank you.
And then I got a girlfriend. And that was a crime at my school. It wasn’t a great idea to love yourself, but to love a fellow woman was out of the question. Absolutely not. That was not fit for public consumption. And the stupid thing is, we didn’t make it a public spectacle. We never ever kissed or held hands in school uniform. We knew that would land us in the snake pit. But in the summer term us sixth formers (yes it basically was Mallory Towers) were allowed to wear our own clothes to school. And go into town at lunch time. So we kissed and held hands in town in our own clothes, where no one would know we were Representing The School.
Someone reported us. We got called in to see the Deputy Head. And she didn’t mess around. She went straight for the jugular. If we didn’t stop misbehaving (showing human affection to each other) in public she would call our parents.
Now my girlfriend’s parents wouldn’t have given a shit. But my mother would have been crucified in shame. So that was that. No more public displays of affection. Because the streets had eyes.
To this day, knowing everything I know now, I regret not telling that sanctimonious bitch of a deputy head where to shove it.
But I couldn’t. Because I have always been a follower of the rules. And this makes one of my friends laugh, because outwardly I do things that are against what she sees as the rules. The conventions. I had an affair. I got divorced. I talk about my sex life to all and sundry. I do all kinds of things that, for instance, a shy person wouldn’t do.
But that’s because I have been given a wide variety of rules. And I am trying to follow them all.
- To be a worthwhile female you have to be bold and fearless
- To be a good person you have to care about every political and environmental issue under the sun
- To be worthy you have to achieve things, all the time
- To be acceptable you have to be neat and tidy, outside and in
- To be loveable you have to cause no trouble
- To be interesting you have to have lots of exciting experiences
- To have something to say you have to be different
- To fit in you have to conform
The list goes on and on. I could fill pages with the rules I am trying to follow. Trying to follow all of them, all at the same time. Every day. And obviously, inevitably, naturally “failing”. And therefore feeling naughty.
I thought about all of these rules, and my experiences at school, and I thought about a friend who I know rebelled at school and how his response to so much of this would be “fuck that!” He would just see it as bullshit to be rejected. So I realised that I need to rebel. The rebellion I never had, it needs to happen now. A friend of mine recently told me I’m a hormonal teenager trapped in a 38 year old’s body. She is absolutely right, and I am happy to live that truth. And a part of that needs to be my teenage rebellion.
So if somebody could send me the rulebook on how to rebel successfully, properly and exactly to the letter I’d be really grateful. After all, I want to be good at it. I don’t want to be naughty.