When you are turning tricks the main objective is not to feel anything, to not be there at all, mentally. Sometimes I could do this but not always. There were times when I needed to be present to pay attention to someone who was trying to sneakily pin my wrists, for example. I learned how to hold my hips in such a way that the guy couldn’t really hurt me if he tried. This kind of hard won wisdom only comes with experience. Experience only comes from the necessity of addiction. But I did not want to analyze because nothing puts a damper on disassociation like self analysis. Instead of evaluating why I was at risk for being hurt and how to avoid this outcome altogether I came up with a plan.
Do You Know Ambesol?
Ambesol is the topical anesthetic you put on your gums to numb tooth pain. It does nothing to solve the problem but for a short period of time you don’t feel any pain. It is like novocaine, but you apply it instead of having it injected. Plus you can buy it over the counter. What if I applied ambesol to my body? Then I wouldn’t feel anything! What a brilliant idea! I berated myself for not coming up with the stroke of genius earlier.
I failed to consider the solution from all angles. Addiction heightens a person’s self-centeredness, almost making a person child like. Naturally I only thought of my own perspective. It did not occur to me that if I was numb then anyone who touched the ambesol on me would be numb also. Moreover, I didn’t remember the obvious medicinal, kind of menthol, smell of the product.
I had a date, the person who had inspired my ambesol idea. One of those guys who dated all of the women downtown and thrived on gossip from each of us. He was also one of the people who insisted that I talk and share my political views because he found my intelligence ironic and amusing. Since I was young, in my 20’s, I did not know how to set boundaries. I thought if I had said “yes” in general, then that permission applied to whatever he wanted. I would wise up and become the self-assertive, “difficult” person I am today, but back then, all I had was ambesol.
During the date, the guy backed off and said, “I can’t do this. Something is wrong.” He was completely puzzled about his inability to perform and would never have suspected what I had done.
I feigned ignorance. “Everything seems the same to me.”
“Do you smell that? It’s like some kind of mouthwash.”
“No, I can’t say that I do,” I said, sniffing for exaggerated effect.
“Did you put on some kind of perfume or lotion?” he asked, closing in on the problem but never being able to pinpoint it exactly.
I denied, denied, denied. He insisted on taking me back. I returned his money in a huff. Totally insulted. Actually I was mad that I had to start from scratch and was returning back downtown from his place still without money. The anger was real, the reason was fake.
It did not take me very long to see the whole situation as funny. I told the story to peers who could appreciate that kind of off color humor. Believe me, not everyone gets it, or wants to. I did not consider trying to reestablish myself as a person who could not relate. In a way it was kind of nice to have something in common with other people. I guess a lifetime of rejection can really skew a person’s notions of acceptance.