By Rose Cartwright

A tragicomic memoir about intrusive sexual thoughts

Friday, 31 October 2014

Is there anything scarier than a naked Betty Boop? Happy Halloween.

Extract from Pure.

I choose a world-renowned OCD therapist in New York. I’m due to have Skype sessions once a week for however long it takes. I don’t know whether it’ll be better than the other therapies I’ve experienced, endured, but I’ve gotta gamble. Things have never been more fucked. I am at the apex of fuckery and if I fall this time – I don’t know, I don’t know – je suis complètement fuckée. 

The sessions are £100 a pop and I can’t afford them. So I make money writing bullshit for bullshit web start-ups with bullshit concepts – mobile hive swapping and digital data hounding and social data-hive crowd-mapping – which will make someone a lot of money but which are dry and bodiless. The bullshittiest gig of all is writing self-help content for a media behemoth.

Self. Help.

On a typical morning I get out of bed in tears and eat brie straight off the block while contemplating not being alive, before sitting down in the dark to write a 1000-word piece of life-advice called ‘Be Successful’ or ‘Make Friends Easily’ or ‘Achieve Job Satisfaction’. At the height of its popularity the resulting e-book is downloaded 15,000 times a day. When I read a trumpeting email from my boss telling me that my job role now has an official title, I sit in my knickers laughing blackly, spraying clods of shortbread at the screen. I grab my phone to text Jack: ‘FYI, I am now officially a “Life Coach Editor”.’

But despite my professional whoring, the £400-a-month therapy bill renders me more skint than I’ve ever been, and I revel in it, delectably traipsing the aisles of the Turkish mart downstairs and counting out the change on the counter. One day they give me some BBQ Beef Hula Hoops on credit and I am thrilled. I don’t know. I guess physical discomfort offers a concrete-and-upright worry amid the mental dereliction.

The whole Skype thing is pretty awkward, given my paper thin bedroom walls and the mouse-like demeanour of my sweet and kind French housemates. Every Monday evening before the therapy session I put on the washing machine in the kitchen next door so that when they come home they won’t hear me over its whirring – won’t hear the throes of yet another boob-induced panic attack as they chow down on their tartes-aux-whatevers. I wash heavy denim items with buckles and rivets, for their superior clatter.    

Exposure therapy in the treatment of sexually-orientated OCD aims to gradually habituate you to anxiety-prompting sexual content. Over the months my therapist will feed me with more and more explicit images and video moving right up to hardcore stuff, sexual pandemonium, utter havoc, and right now I don’t feel like I’ll ever get there. But I will, I’ll be a diligent student, gold star-worthy. Eventually, towards the end of therapy, I’ll watch so much smut that I’ll be able to identify the production company by the luxuriance of the pubic muffs, or lack thereof. 

But for now my therapist and I have agreed that sexual pictures of actual humans will send my anxiety levels soaring too high, so we start with cartoons. This is when I feel most pathetic, when I slump down after therapy and don’t get up for hours because an amateur pencil sketch of a naked Betty Boop, drawn by some sex-starved virgin far away, has made me cry. 

Life Coach Editor. Fuck yeah!

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Stephen Roberts
 Stephen Roberts says:

Rose is a fabulous writer. Love her imagery & her wit shines through. Her writing is never boring & makes me smile. Very much looking forward to reading this book.

posted 1st November 2014

Rose Bretécher
 Rose Bretécher says:

Thank you, Stephen. Lovely to hear. I've been assigned a great editor - it's a wonderful experience having my work edited professionally for the first time.

posted 9th November 2014

Steven McKinnon
 Steven McKinnon says:

What a fantastic, sharp and witty blog post -- can't wait t see 'Pure' in all its glory!

I'm producing an e-book and heard about Unbound, and while I don't think it's for me, your book was on the homepage -- the excerpt was razor-sharp and the subject matter itself hit home with me (and isn't completely dissimilar to what I'm writing!), so I was compelled to pledge straight away.

Best of luck Rose, can't wait to read it (and trawl through your older blog posts).

posted 11th November 2014

Cherise Hurt
 Cherise Hurt says:

I swear.. it's like you are writing down my own thoughts! I love how you can add humor to the horror that is Pure-O. It helps me to put things in perspective when I am having a bad moment. Thank you so much for what you are doing!


posted 18th November 2014

Caroline Wilhelmsen
 Caroline Wilhelmsen says:

oh I'm sorry you are struggling too :*( I've had enough of it all but am hoping to get therapy from NHS but its taken a long time. its uncanny how i can help others and remind them its just OCD and give them advice and tell them to stay strong and have hope and they WILL beat the beast ...but how i can't take my own advice. its a battle Rose, a f*cking battle when you fall so many times and your convinced you can't get up again, the crying becomes so frequent and you feel like your broken, how can i break even more? I'm cracking and want to give up but listen to the tiny little voice in your head that says "come on girl, you can do it, its ocd ballsh*t!" listen to that voice, listen with all your heart to only that voice and trust there will be a day where you look back and laugh in OCD's face and tell it to F*ck off. ocd is a bully, a liar yet why do we listen to it? why does it seem so real and logical whilst being so illogical at the same time. see, I'm saying this to you now but i wont take any notice of my own advice. keep going lovely xxxxxx

posted 20th November 2014

Rose Bretécher
 Rose Bretécher says:

Hi Steven,

Just seen your comment here. Thanks ever so much for pledging. The editing's coming along well - almost completely written, then we get down to the fun cosmetic stuff.

Best of luck with e-book and thanks again for your support :)


posted 20th November 2014

Rose Bretécher
 Rose Bretécher says:

Hey Cherise. Thanks for your support as ever. Amazing to hear my work's of some comfort. Hope you're good. x

posted 20th November 2014

Rose Bretécher
 Rose Bretécher says:

Hi Caroline.

Sorry to hear your OCD's been doing your head in.

Your point about it being logical and illogical at the same time is one of the paradoxes that I find really fascinating (and frustrating) about it.

The right therapy can do wonders - it'll help break the cycle of obsession and compulsion you describe above.

Very best of luck with it, and thanks for your support.


posted 20th November 2014

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