About Laura Denmar

Laura is professionally trained in Musical Theatre and has worked with some of the biggest names in the West End. She also is extensively knowledgeable within psychology and has written a novel about borderline personality disorder. Laura believes there is much to communicate to the general public regarding mental illness, suicide, abusive relationships and addictions in order to address our society’s stigmas.

Love Addiction: “I Hate You, Don’t Leave Me”

Ever loved someone to the point you would do most anything for them? Ever loved someone undeniably, irrationally, unconditionally? Did you ever think they could hurt you? No. Probably not. He is perfect most of the time, a ray of sunshine; charming, charismatic, kind, sensitive, receptive… he is your rock. Of course he would never hurt you. So what happens if one day… he just did? It was unwarranted, irrational and…impossible. Impossible? Really? Maybe it was your brother, or your dad… and now I hear you spit with utter contempt – impossible. No. Sure I get it – impossible, it was impossible in your mind and yet it happened. So what do you do? You walk, you say that’s it, over, c’est fini. That’s what you say, but how could you do it? He was everything to you…he was your family, he was your whole life…are you really going to throw a whole lifetime of happiness away over something that was, in the first place… impossible?

An abusive relationship never starts abusive. It starts as perfection. An endless honeymoon effused with invariable ingratiation, fulfillment, happiness.

Maybe it started from birth, a whole lifetime of affection and solidity. Thousands of women (and men it has to be said) experience this. This undying love that is all too apparent at the start of the relationship, too apparent to be true, and all too often, that’s just it – it is. Abuse happens very slowly, very subtly and it can happen to anyone. In reality when anyone is faced with that dilemma – where you thought it was just impossible, it becomes impossible to accept it ever happened… that time, and the next time, and the next. You may just start to consider your denial is rooted in something a little bit deeper than you were initially willing to accept… a dependency has grown… an addiction.

Love addiction is an actual ailment, rooted in fear and an extreme emotional dependence, an ailment today that our culture likes to glorify. The media, advertising proceeds to promote love addiction over healthy relationships. Right now as over a hundred therapy sessions take place all over the country, at least two of the people sat in the chair opposite will be a suffering love addict. Love addicts are people who are addicted to the feeling that love gives them, consequently they will stay in the relationship they are in at all costs in order to feed this “high”. Just like any other drug there are highs, there are side effects and there are withdrawal symptoms. When the drug (the person) supplying the love is absent the addict will deeply crave the drug. The drug’s absence will inflict self-destructive behaviour, often manifested in self-mutilation, imposed by the “low”.

So what about a love addict suffering an abusive relationship? Most of the time the two are closely interrelated: emotional co-dependents unable to relinquish control of their partner, or in the victim’s case, unable to relinquish the security of ‘love’ that the abuser supplies.

Our culture glorifies love, actually promotes love addiction, we project that idea of falling in love against all odds to get the “happy ever after” but this neglects all the actual groundwork involved in making a successful and happy relationship not to mention compatibility. Take Romeo and Juliet for example. Their love is what so many women might aspire to, an ever-lasting, undying bond, so strong you would die for each other. But in actual fact their short lived relationship embodies one of two love addicted people, both falling for someone very unavailable, both falling in love VERY quickly – at first sight – this idealised notion of love. When in actual fact if their relationship had managed to live out a week it never would have been functional. Romeo would have plunged a sword into every man who dared glance at Jules, whilst she would have tired of waxing lyrical all day, the desperation of her unsolicited feelings would have driven her to despair as to Romeo’s absence, the weighty fear of not knowing what he was up to, the question of trust, upon which they had nothing to base upon, given the short term of their relationship. They would have suffocated each other with control and with dependency.

Climbing up balconies, wooing, “fair Verona” and love at first sight are all very well for the fairytale. But as our dear ‘star-crossed lovers’ represent, they will not do for “the marriage”.

Images reproduced from cleo.com.au and shakespeareblogger1411.blogspot.com

First Date Alter Egos

dating-mindthis-caFirst dates are like interviews. They are potentially the most intensely judgemental examinations we can subject ourselves to, initiating an interrogation from head to toe on whether those genes you were so generously blessed or cursed with will correspond sufficiently with what he’s potentially looking for… whether your pheromones are the right ones to get him going…whether over the years you’ve accumulated the ‘right’ skill set that will integrate well with his means of life whilst not intimidating his modern integrity in supporting himself… but what is he about to invest in?

We spend so much time deliberating on making ourselves the perfect product we forget to shop wisely ourselves… often buying into the first viable option that comes along, lusting over gleaming exteriors when really as much false advertising occurs on the dating market as it does anywhere else… but we’re too busy swooning over the prices and how something appearing oh-so-perfect on the outside can come so cheap so easily, and we forget that they’ve adorned their own packaging as meticulously as we have ourselves.

Dating is quite simply the most shattering, exhaustive tests of life, and yet we subject ourselves to the same stress time and time again. What is it that drives us to want to risk the pain that comes with love? Deep down are we all just masochists? Why do we feel the need to project a façade on our potential mates in the first place? It’s like we’d rather manipulate them, trapping them into investing into something promising to be so much better than it really ever could be.

first-date-flowers

Have first dates not become mildly redundant now? If we insist on following the same script of pleasantries… sorry I don’t exploit my sex for the purpose of disillusioning a man I’m genetically and materialistically sufficient enough to be his mate. We go to every extreme in an attempt to conceal our real truths behind make-up and clingy vestige. Making all this effort whilst we remain oblivious to the fact we’re each soothing the same wounds, the same hurts, feeling the need to conceal how we really feel, projecting this façade until we’re happy enough with this ‘someone’ to let our hair down and reveal our inner demons, only when it’s too late for our captives to escape the clasps of the co-dependency they have now formed upon our unrequited souls. Are we partner ensnarers… just like black widow spiders and venus fly traps?

Is the reality that we are all just predators seeking the same thing? Are we prepared enough to pretend anything in order to achieve that status of partnership? We allure our potential mates with false promises of what they’re investing in from the start, selling the ‘I’m a culinary genius’ act on the initial date… but they can’t return the ‘recipe illiterate disaster’ after they’ve bought into ‘exhibition A’ already. There’s no refund policy on love… camouflaging ourselves within idiolects and fashion statements… changing colour to fit the scene when really we might belong backstage. Are we all just that uncomfortable in our own skin?

unmaskd-com

We’re surrounded by mutual masks day in day out. We might catch the same train as they do every morning or take our coffee the same way from the same store at the same meticulous intervals during the day and even acknowledge this but we’d probably never approach a familiar face without our own mask on, or some form of armour to protect us from the potential tug of rejection that we all feel.

We don’t go on first dates – our alter ego goes, that popular kid at school with the cool bike who headlines the band and has all the confidence in the world, she gets tucked away behind the extra supportive push-up bra making her boobs look twice as perky and the extra strength granny suck-in pants which makes her tummy look twice as toned.

First dates really happen the first time your partner encounters you in your pyjamas with bed head hair..the reality is that those two people that turned up at the ‘once upon a time’ first date won’t exist by the time it’s come to the big finale, marriage.

The Spanish have a saying – “Cuando se trata de amor, hablamos el mismo idioma, pero eligimos no comunicar”. When it comes to love we all speak the same language, and yet we choose not to communicate.

Images reproduced from mindthis.ca

Ecstasy – A Love Affair With Mandy

The “Drugs Live” show broadcasted on Channel 4 at the end of September 2012 provoked a prominent response amongst a large proportion of our society. To me, it struck a raw nerve as I recalled with reproach the fairly recent deterioration of a close friend upon succumbing to the drug “MDMA” (ecstasy). I felt somewhat infuriated at how flippant some of the doctors were, presenting ecstasy as something potentially harmless and even beneficial, when in reality, after what I had experienced with my friend, I knew this was far from the truth.

 

Adam went to University carrying expectations; “University is the best time of your life”, “These are the years of self discovery.” For Adam, it was the year he met Mandy – beautiful, comforting Mandy. Mandy was always there for him; when he was down, when he needed to just get away from it all. Mandy was loyal, Mandy was trustworthy, the only problem was – Mandy was a Class A drug.

When people often think of drug use, they think of people at a rave sharing a bottle of pills, a group of youngsters toking on spliffs in a dimly lit room. For Adam, MDMA was his medicine, his girlfriend to come home to when he had no one else. This is exactly the self-destructive behaviour that got him taking MDMA every day of the week for months on end.

Adam came across MDMA through a friend who had tried it and was raving about it’s effects. She told everyone how she felt “pure love” and just wanted to dance all night. Adam’s first response was weary as all he had ever tried was marijuana. Nevertheless, the next time he went out, without question friends had shoved it in his hand and told him to rub it on his gums. The taste was insufferably putrid. He was a little scared of what the effects would be. That night he did not feel the real effects of the drug. But it gave him the courage to do it a couple of weeks later – properly. More.

There were 6 of them. The six inseparables. One night they decided to stay in with MDMA and marijuana. They all took turns rubbing it on their gums and chugging down water to take away the taste. As time went on Adam started to feel the effects. His eyes began to widen, jaws began to clench, palms began to sweat. He noticed himself showering friends with compliments and love. He was having the time of his life.

Sounds kind of cool so far, right? Sure, it was – it’s renowned as a recreational drug for party people. But for the lonely – BEWARE. This drug sucked Adam in like the devil in a red dress. As the year progressed, his days got darker and lonelier. He went from taking MDMA once a month with a crowd to once every other week with a bunch of friends, to once a week with a few friends, to 2 times a week with one friend, to every day – alone. As the days got closer, the more depressed he became, the more in denial he became and the more attached he became to Mandy. He carried on taking it and as a result, the effect it had wasn’t as potent. So he went from buying half a gram for one night to two and then three grams per night. MDMA is known as a party drug. He took it at home. Alone. Everyday.

Eventually money ran out and life came to a complete and utter standstill. It was like for two weeks straight he felt totally comfortable and with a blink of an eye it disappeared. Reality dawned in a way that he didn’t know it could. He found himself snapping at friends, feeling heavy and dull and drinking a lot. As a result of drinking he would go into friends’ rooms late at night and beg them to buy him MDMA. It’s funny how drugs can make you act. They can push you to completely debase yourself and compromise your pride for the sake of a substance.

Adam’s frustration eventually led to a breakdown causing him to contemplate suicide. I had never considered him as a suicidal person but at that time the act seemed so conceivable, it was frightening he could seem so at peace with the notion. His moods were going from contented to extremely depressed and hysterical in a matter of seconds and he didn’t seem to know why. The more alienated he felt, the more his friends estranged him. They began to judge his unusual behaviour, it scared them.
He tried the doctor, he tried advice, but no one seemed to know what was going on. It was as though no one believed that MDMA could have such a psychologically damaging and addictive effect on a person.

It is now half a year later and after having to leave University to go and recuperate in extensive therapy, Adam is much better. I wont lie and say he’s completely rehabilitated. There are times we play songs that he associates with MDMA and it makes his heart pump faster and I can see him reminiscing over the feeling ‘Mandy’ gave him. I can see he still craves that feeling. He’ll even dream of taking it.

Nothing is good in large doses….. except maybe in the short time that ‘high‘ feels like it is. But then you look in the mirror and realize it has been a month since you’ve taken a shower. You’ve failed your course. You’ve lost your friends. Is any high worth it? Decide for yourself… “Drugs Live” conducted an experiment within a controlled environment to evaluate the effects of MDMA on the brain, it seemed like a pretty crazy experiment for people like Adam who knew the result.

Don’t decide based on the observers. Decide on the addicts. Decide on Adam.

Only Children and Drunks Tell the Truth – Part 3

I’ve seen enough anger turn to violence amongst the drunk and the restless to know that anger in its most basic form is a cry for help, a sad loss of control on one’s life. It’s a frustrating, difficult thing for someone to have to deal with and repress their whole life, a feeling of hopelessness – the pain that delivers anger stifled away in a box somewhere, until a few drinks down the line and someone opens the lid. As long as our society communicates that men like this will never change, they never will.

Identity crisis imposes this as inevitable, as soon as we start labeling someone as an abuser, an alcoholic, obese whatever, they will become and remain that person with those attributes if that is what they start to believe. And although I think it is partially very humbling to be able to acknowledge ones’ self as abusively inclined, it is very impractical to be labeled as ‘unchangeable’ as it were. What is one supposed to do then!?

We are not used to being punished for our own ailments, if we should want to change and struggle so to do so, then it obviously is a problem, an illness of a sort and where are these men (and women) supposed to turn when the whole world is prejudiced and judgmental of their ‘illness.’ They are, quite inevitably fated to be abusive for the rest of their lives, apparently it is something quite out of their own control – of course it will remain that way without help.

I suppose Chris Brown will be the ultimate test of this: if it really is true that no matter what a man may say – that he will change, that he is sorry beyond repentance, that the echelon of his love knows no bounds…that they will not change, then surely even Brown will not be immune to this, not even the guardianship of his fame will be able to protect him, if every abuser truly is ‘incurable,’ then Chris Brown will strike again.

He has access to the best of help though – suddenly in the case of a celebrity the whole scenario becomes a situation in severe need of help amongst all the criticism of course. So if Chris Brown continues along his path of righteousness and never strikes again will the world begin to recognise that perhaps the rest of them and us out there actually really could do with a bit of help? It’s such a classic case of the abuser becoming the ‘abused’ but it seems no one is prepared to stop the cycle, only inclined to judge and to punish. I think violence is within human nature, it has been a part of our culture for centuries, seen through hunting and competition, the real issue we face today is down to being able to control it.

And who’s to say…one day when I am inebriated enough and someone does just that one thing that tickles a nerve of mine just enough to provoke my inner child to jump out, I might find myself in just the same position, just as contemptible as the outburst of Chris Brown. But, I will be excused somewhat as I am a woman. I may spend the night in a cell, I may face a fine, prosecution, conviction even, if my victim happens to press charges but I will never uphold the same monstrous reputation as someone like Chris Brown will for the rest of his life.

Because despite the principle facing the matter, despite the fact I might have actually terrified myself (and my victim) upon how far my anger reached so unpreventable, I am not as threatening, I cannot be as dangerous. Even though my turmoil and hatred might be as great as his ever was, no one will ever view my outburst in the same light as his, and is that right? I might have the same inclinations to hurt, the same loss of control, but I will never be the labeled abuser upon my one attack as I quite simply do not have the capacity to be so damaging. I’m no child anymore, and on two glasses of merlot I wouldn’t exactly be able to claim right now that I am…drunk? But I reckon that’s the truth.

Image reproduced from wisegeek.com

Only Children and Drunks Tell the Truth – Part 2

A common reason for violence is deeply rooted in our dark subconscious, our genes, nature and nurture hand in hand, our past can often rear its ugly head when we are at our worst states, when we have the least control over ourselves, when we are drunk. And suddenly…we are children again: there is no censor on our behaviour, an angry man may not consider the damage his force could cause upon a weaker being, all he knows is that he is angry. All we can, is feel.

And this is hard, it’s hard for those of us who have always acted impulsively, bitten sofas, pushed little sisters and knocked out the playground bully with our fists – when all this has been repressed for so long under the restraints of society, it is only inevitable that it’s all going to come out when we are at our most vulnerable, at our most base, human level – when we are intoxicated.

Can it be said that when we are drunk we do the most dysfunctional crap unrelated to our character? I don’t think so…I think when our walls are let down we actually become exposed as to who we really are, no inhibitions and all that: the chastened virgin who likes to read erotic novels in her spare time suddenly becomes flirtatious, the clown progressively gets funnier and funnier…the angry become…just that – angrier and angrier and anger without inhibitions generates violence.

Now I cannot say that I am one accustomed to intoxicating myself and becoming consumed within the red mist of rage all too often, but I certainly am more inclined to slap a fellow or two if they step out of line on the dance floor, or even if their mere presence should happen to offend me once I’ve had a drink or two…should this be tolerated just because I am a woman, and therefore a ‘creature’ of this world that can impose no real threat? I do not see eye to eye with this.

It does have to be said that when I drink I see my inner child as it were, rise to the occasion to express herself – if someone steps out of line, I will, quite uncharacteristically of my sober nature confront that person and will not oppose to using physical force or threat if my adrenaline should so adhere to. I feel more physically assertive in both a sense of defense and attack, it is just a part of who I am. I have not experienced such as yet but if someone were to provoke me as much as my mother’s old sofa or my sister’s unsolicited arrival did back in the day, if I were to feel that same sense of anger grate at me again, I can only speculate whether I would be able to control my fists.

Rihanna interview by Oprah Winfrey

I started writing this with a somewhat differing, fairly controversial agenda in mind – the new Rihanna interview with Oprah that hit the world on Thursday the 19th of August struck a chord with myself on views of violence within relationships: On the 8th of February 2009, Rihanna was brutally attacked by her boyfriend, Chris Brown, following an argument they had in the car preceding the Grammy awards presentation.

Since, Rihanna’s character and her music has been seen to take a darker turn, her lyrics and image have become sinister and tainted, this has sung out to many women experiencing, suffering from domestic abuse. Her recent televised interview has revealed that she is still in love with her former partner, Chris Brown and has since forgiven him for what happened. I have to applaud her honesty here, her humanity and vulnerability is heartwarming, it is so easy to view her as a brand, an icon of sexuality within our broadcasted world, her whole ‘new image’ as a marketing device. And although, in many ways, she is amidst all those things, very much so, a ‘brand’ she is also human and she is a woman, same as any other. Personally, I absolutely love this woman, she is a huge influence for me and I think she is so brave to speak of her personal life so openly and expose herself in the way that she has.

“I guess I’m a fool in love, but I’m willing to look so stupid until I’ve had enough” – her lyrics have always communicated her reluctance to leave Chris Brown, she clearly understood the dynamic of their relationship had changed in this one night, by staying with him she was about to make herself a statistic, another one of ‘those’ women whilst he would forever maintain the reputation of being one of ‘those’ men. unchangeable. Maybe I shouldn’t be so abrupt to say this but I do feel sorry for him: He is forever condemned to suffer the label of a monster after one wrong turn, one night, one mistake. And for what? What did he get out of it? Did he enjoy it?…Who would? He clearly loved and loves the woman.

I mean, violence is obviously very damaging to the victim but also, these days, within our culture, to the perpetrator – it is very self- destructive! So what went wrong? His inner child revealed himself on this night…this inner, repressed, abused, hurt, damaged subconscious reared its ugly head at a time of great anger. And there are plenty of men like this. I am not ashamed to admit myself as a victim of violence, and no I do not advocate that society allows violent men to continue along their path of destruction, what I would say though, is although retribution is probably often desirable…punishment is not exactly a hand out for reformation…these people need help, I know that much.

Read the final part of Laura’s article on 4 October 2012

Image reproduced from bongo5.com

Only Children and Drunks Tell the Truth – Part 1

When we are young, falling down is second nature. We are taught to get up, brush ourselves off and try again. If someone pushed us down…we are taught to forgive, forget and that tomorrow is another day. As children, the whole world is a playground; some days we are suffocated with enemies, left clinging and isolated within our own walls of securities, whilst others are filled with familiar faces.

Our bodies may suffer hefty bruising; great falls from the heights of monkey bars, knocks to the head from a variegation of balls/rackets/Frisbees – paraphernalia of great perils which must be learned to be perceived within peripheral vision, and often blows at the hands/feet/legs or bodies’ of our mortal enemies of that day. As children, all other children, be it mortal enemies or just regular foes, are innocent. As children we are immune to the pitfalls and consequences of heinous sin, because as children, we cannot distinguish the nuances between right and wrong.

It is ironic really – I wish I had taken advantage further of my free ticket of emancipation from the law and morality when I was younger. I mean as a child, I remember with not such sweet nostalgia, being rolled down dirt hills in nothing more than an actual plastic barrel at about 100 miles per hour, hurtling full speed for the road ahead – basically todays equivalent of a fully-fledged adult being stuffed into a beer barrel and forced to commute via rolling along Queen Elizabeth Bridge – incredibly dangerous, albeit pretty amusing for observers.

As children there are no consequences, no censors to danger providing there is entertainment. Children are selfish, and the playground remains one of the greater places of evil I have ever encountered…it seems a precarious place for a little person to have to learn the ways of the world in, where temper tantrums and the wraths of other angry little people are endured to whatever extent under acceptance that these specimens of humankind are ‘children.’

So what is it that happens that forebodes ‘angry wraths’ and violence amongst the elders of our society? We are taught as we grow and mature that violence is categorically wrong and should not be expressed or reciprocated when we feel angry…especially violence against women or those weaker than ourselves. So what do we do instead? Lashing out, biting, hitting, pushing could actually be seen as a very natural reaction to take against someone who might aggravate, intimidate, humiliate, expose or hurt us emotionally, or physically themselves. It clearly is the reflex reaction when we are children.

I certainly recall a few sofas suffering the wrath of my toothless bite when they disrupted the path of my escapades. And when my little sister was born…on my birthday I might add, I was a typically very jealous child – bitter, resentful and…well…angry I must have been, I lost my temper on numerous occasions with her, managed to break her little finger once, bit her several times, I had a temper on me. Simultaneously though, I am told I was protective of my little sis, I looked out for her dutifully at school, I played harmoniously with her in the evenings, I let her borrow my toys and I guess she must have done something right because I do love her very much these days.

I know I was not the only child to experience such uncompromising outbursts within the playground or the home environment, I too suffered a few knock backs myself from anger ridden kids, violent attempts to knock me straight out my little boots on the climbing frame, I lost a few teeth of my own on the way. There were some of our ‘species’ I guess, who never took to this, it just didn’t seem to be a part of their temperament or nature – the timid, quieter ones, most notably the girls to be honest.

So what about the rest of us then? I honestly can’t say I recall if the ‘violently disposed’ ones of us were in the minority or not but I suppose we were excused from our sadistic behaviour upon explanation that we were children and therefore could do ‘no wrong,’ but it seems strange that society should condemn and punish something which is arguably quite natural, so highly.

Now, I don’t want to condone violence here…but it has to be questioned, – what is to become of those of us more prone to our…short tempers? Are we just to learn to get over it? Expected to pretend it’s not actually a deficiency of our character after the age of what…12? Are we to repress the pulsating desire to punch, bite our sofas and little sisters for the rest of our lives? Well yes, actually. And violence that has been inflicted unto us also, this is to leave no excuse for further acts of violence against others, despite whatever inner struggle of poor self-image, esteem, crippling psychological damage that may have been incurred – there is never an excuse for violence. And I agree…there is never an excuse for violence, but there is all too often a reason.

To discover what reason for violence Laura is talking about, check out Part 2 of her article published on 29 September 2012

Image reproduced from theparentszone.com