oh to be young again….

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I went back to college today, and watched the students walk

Past my canteen seat, as sunlight filtered in.

They wandered past in groups of rainbow brights

With slogan shirts and torn up tights.

I wish that I could dress with such abandon

But now I’m welded to the rails I ride each day

And all I do is dream of youth again.

As part of my teaching course I go to the local college once a week to receive my central training. It’s a great opportunity to meet up with all of the other trainees and swap stories.

However, we share the campus with the teenagers who are there to do their A levels. For anyone not in the UK, these students are aged 16-18 and are enjoying the freedom of not being at school anymore.

Probably the biggest difference between school and college is that us Brits don’t have to wear uniform for the first time. And after twelve years of wearing a uniform it can be quite liberating to finally be free of it.

I had forgotten about this feeling though, and I was only reminded of it when I saw these students on their first day, as I sat on campus eating my lunch.

The clothes that some of these students were wearing were absolutely outrageous and I couldn’t help but laugh at myself as I remembered that feeling on the first day; the feeling that I needed to wear something that reflected my personality.

I sometimes wish that I could go back to that time, even though it wasn’t all that pleasant for me. But I would love to go back and experience that feeling of needing to set myself apart, and not giving a shit what people thought.

I hope that I get to reinvent myself with my new job. I may not be allowed to dye my hair purple and dress like an umpa lumpa, but I can become a more confident version of myself. I could become kinder and more forgiving. There are so many ways in which I could improve myself and now is the perfect time.

Much Love

Rachel xx

aaaaarrrggh!! part deux

The pressure chamber squashes minds

And also squashes shining lights

That started with the best intentions

And now they peel away to dark and gloomy places

Where their dreams will shrivel up

Because those stresses proved too much.

I feel like I’m internally screaming most of the time at the moment. Yesterday it was because nothing seems to go right and today it is because of outside pressures.

In case you didn’t know, I’m in my first week on teacher training and we have had a colossal amount of paperwork and reading dropped on us. It’s been a bit of a shock to the system and I feel like my head is imploding!

That said, the reason that I have started training is because I’m sober now and I have a whole array of tools that I can use to deal with the stress.

Ultimately, I know that the people who are running the course have our best interest at heart and so they want to see us pass. I know that making a mistake or asking a silly question is not going to get me into trouble.

When I was drinking I sincerely believed that if I made a mistake people would be willing to kill me for it. It sounds funny to write now, but at the time it was quite terrifying.

So, yes, I am screaming inside and I almost cried on my way home, but I’m going to be OK. I’m like a little fish that always tried to swim against the current and now I’ve learnt to swim with the river.

I hope you can do the same too.

Much Love

Rachel xx

aaaaaaarrrggggh!!!

composition of various sour sweets and dragees make up face of screaming person
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I think Alanis Morissette

Liked to sing that it’s ironic

When most of us would scream

Knowing how annoying it can be

When things are never going

The way we planned to be.

So I know that face masks are really important and I wear one every time I go to the shops because I like to follow rules. BUT I’m still struggling to get into the habit of actually remembering to take my mask out with me.

This means that quite often I arrive at any given place and have to turn straight back round without even going in.

Today, I was going to church for the first time since lock down happened and what do I go and do? I forget my mask.

I’m only picking out mask wearing as an example because this is something I’m sure a lot of people can identify with at the moment. But there are so many things that just don’t go my way in life and I find it really hard to keep my cool.

I think that a lot of people show their frustration in these situations through aggression. I, on the other hand, tend to take it out on myself and it was a big part of the reason that I relied on drink for much of my twenties.

I am learning to understand that I can never control people, places and things but I still want to scream any time that any of those things don’t do as I want them to.

But instead of beating myself up tonight, I’m watching an online service and then I am sitting down to watch a couple of episodes of Selling Sunset.

Not everything will go my way, but I can enjoy the journey that I am being taken on with all its twists and turns.

Much Love

Rachel xx

on having a nervous disposition

She’s nervous and really she must

Snap out of this behaviour today,

That’s what they’d always eventually say.

But how could I stop a train on its tracks

Careering through time and immovable space?

I would wriggle inside my tight bound constraints

And hope for a day when I’d outrun the train

And steady the sea that swells inside me.

I don’t know if any of you reading this have ever had extreme nerves but I was plagued by them as a child and, to a lesser extent, they have followed me through to adulthood.

As a child I was a competitive swimmer and before every meet I would start to feel nauseous and by the time I was about to be racing I would be vomiting uncontrollably.

It was detrimental to my performance and it was embarrassing. But what made it worse was the people around me who regularly told me that I needed to snap out of it, or get the nerves under control.

I would have loved nothing more than to get them under control, but the truth of the matter was that I had been programmed to believe that my parents would take their love away from me if I were to do badly. The terror I felt came from a place where I thought that my caregivers would stop providing for me, and for a child that means death.

I think that children who display extreme nerves have often had some sort of trauma in their life and my heart goes out to them when people say pull yourself together.

I know that as I embark on my new teaching career I’m going to come across so many children that are jumpy and nervous and my intention is to treat them with kindness and understanding, because who the hell knows what they may have been through?

Much Love

Rachel xx

remember those conversations

Remember those conversations

That lodge themselves inside your mind

With cold precision not expected at the time?

They’re with the lady on the train,

The one with pearls and purple coat

Who passed you peanuts in a packet,

Never asked for, but neither was advice.

And somehow ten years on you cannot shake

That thing she said, just slipped between

Some niceties that float away upon the breeze.

But ten years on it’s still right there,

Like a sentence whispered from the gods.

at least i got to meet you

two women sitting on vehicle roofs
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I got to meet a person who

Will always be a friend.

And what is better?

Money and a title

Or that connection

You know will never fade?

I started my last job about two and a half years ago and I found myself in a small team that remained the same for almost the whole time that I was there.

We were all women and so there was obviously a little bit of bitchiness and the team split into two very distinct camps. I didn’t have any issue with the ‘popular girls’ but I preferred the company of one friend that was a lot like me.

The other girl was an English graduate and had a real love of books and she got me totally obsessed with the Robert Galbraith books that JK Rowling is behind.

Because the other girls became a ‘team’ we ended up becoming firm friends and she left the company just a few weeks before I did. (I felt quite lonely in those few weeks with my little geeky partner in crime not there).

Anyway, because of COVID and people in her household losing their jobs she has had to move to her husband’s hometown to stay with his parents. I went to visit her one last time yesterday, and we had coffee before she moves next week.

It was really sad, even though she is only moving a few hours away; it felt like the end of an era in my little life. But as we said our final goodbyes she said ‘ at least one good thing to come out of working at **** was that I got to meet you, and I’ve found a really good friend.’

It was only as I was driving away, that I really thought how wonderful it is to hear someone say that. I don’t ever think I’ll be successful in a career, so my life has to revolve around the relationships I make. And what better mark of success is there than a comment like that?

I don’t think I’m a brilliant person or friend but to hear someone say that reminds me that I am to some people and that’s all that matters. I’d rather be remembered by people as being a good friend rather than a bit of a bitch who earned lots of money!

Much Love

Rachel xx

why would you purposely put yourself through so much pain?

I’m running 100 miles next weekend and it’s something that I’ve done to myself several times before. And the question that I get asked the most is why do it to yourself?

I’m a big fan of the pain cave and so I’ve found myself running 100 milers and swimming the English Channel on multiple occasions. I have spent time while doing these wondering what on earth it was that made me sign up. What has made up to 300 people all stand on the start line with me?

There must be something that is enticing to these people. I met one person who was on their 197th hundred mile run so it’s not like these crazy people are doing it to see if they can complete the distance.

I’m writing this because I recently watched a film on YouTube that touched on the reason why and it struck a chord with me. The guy on the film said that doing these events takes us to a dark place, and it is only when we are in this dark place that we learn about our true selves.

He said that we can learn more about ourselves in a twenty four hour event than we can in years of normal life, and I found that so true. I can go through such a journey that it can make me feel euphoric and that is quite addictive for people like me.

It’s the lows (and the highs) that I feel during runs and swims that inspire me to write and to create and that can only be a beautiful thing.

I urge you to have a go at really pushing yourself at some point so that you can really see what kind of person you are. It might just be a 5k, but push yourself to do it and really embrace the pain and the discomfort. You (probably) won’t regret it.

Much Love

Rachel xx

new girl

woman in red long sleeve writing on chalk board
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Walls that seem to loom in, menacing,

Warning her to watch her step and watch her mouth.

The test is taken only once

And if she fails her life could be a misery

Until the day she dies.

OK, it may be a bit dramatic to say that my life could be miserable until I die, but it is really important to make a good impression on a first day.

I’m starting my first school placement tomorrow and I have all kinds of feelings rushing through my brain. Nerves are at the forefront and I just want to make a good impression.

I lived in the same place for most of my life so I never really experienced being the new girl at school. I’ve done it at work before, but this time I have to deal with teenagers too.

One thing that is different this time around is that there is a confidence in myself now. I used to panic going into new jobs that I wouldn’t be good enough and that people will see straight through me. Then I self sabotage and completely kill off the job before I’ve even given it a chance.

This time, I know that there will be challenges but I know that I can deal with them. I’m a grown up and I trust in myself which is such an amazing thing for me to be able to say.

It almost brings tears to my eyes just thinking about how far I have come in this year since moving into my own place. I’m in my thirties and most people should be standing on their own two feet already, but for me, this is huge. And I’ll take that!

Much Love

Rachel xx

it doesn’t always work out that way

woman in bath tub
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I love to watch the Cinderella ending

Where the villain dies and the princess lives

A charmed and magic life

But I’m not quite so sure it works that way,

The happy ending is so rare,

And half the time there’s always someone there

To ensure that I will slither down

That hole into a burning hell.

I’m watching the Sheridan Smith documentary at the moment. For those not in the UK she is a brilliantly talented actress who has had mental health problems and she has made this documentary about becoming a mum.

It’s so sad to watch somebody with such talent struggling. We look at those successful people and think that they are living the charmed life, so it’s good for everyone to see that’s not the case.

But a lot of these shows urge people to talk about their mental health problems because then they will be supported if they have a wobble. I think that is beautiful advice when it works but I wish they would also tell everyone to be cautious.

There are some horrible people out there and if you are too free and easy with all of the details about your mental health and what can trigger you, you are opening yourself up attacks.

When I first got sober it was a massive mental health crisis that encouraged me to get on that road, and it was a management team that made the whole situation worse. I was very trusting and told them what was causing my anxiety and they went out of their way to put me in those situations.

There are people out there who find this kind of thing funny and I really wish that young people were warned about this. I ended up in hospital in the end and I wouldn’t tell an employer about my anxiety ever again.

Don’t mean to be a Negative Nancy but I just think that sometimes these documentaries paint a very rosy picture of the help and support you’ll get when you open up. I’m sure most people are lovely and supportive, but be careful…..

Much Love

Rachel xx

i only got a bunch of flowers

close up photograph of flowers
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Jealousy is green and decomposing in its hate,

A gangrene of the heart.

It spears through flesh and shows up weaknesses

Like spotlights on your ugly thoughts.

But jealousy can also teach us,

Show us where we need to grow

To stop the rot from taking hold

And slowly killing from the inside out.

I started this blog to be a little bit like a journal, so that I could tease out some of my deeper issues without having to fork out for a therapist. And so I try to be quite honest about my feelings, even if they are bad and uncomfortable to address.

I’ve noticed a bit jealousy taking hold recently and I’ve been turning it around in my mind and trying to learn where it is coming from and how I can better deal with it.

I left my job today and I got a lovely bunch of flowers and a card from my colleagues. This was so touching, but someone else left last week and they got a huge send off with loads of expensive gifts.

I could feel that uncomfortable stab of jealousy so I really had to sit down and think about why I felt this way.

I know that I work nights and she works days so she worked with a much bigger group of people who clubbed together for gifts. She has also been there for a year longer than me and she is a bigger character so people will miss her presence much more than mine.

These factors all help me to rationalise my feelings. But really I need to look at why I need the attention; what is that hole that I need to fill? It really is just a need for love and validation and I am sure that every human in history has felt that.

What this is teaching me is that I need to learn to be enough for myself without other people showering love on me. I got a lovely bunch of flowers which I am so grateful for. I need to remember that, and also remember that I am enough. I’m a beautiful human and so are you.

Much Love

Rachel xx