i'd like a large box of happiness, please

Can I have the largest size? I said,

Pointing to the boxes on the shelves.

I was often glad that I could buy my happiness

In the form of tablets,

Purchased from the chemist.

But the woman raised her eyebrows,

As though anyone asking for a large

Deserved her judgement heaped on thick.

Read the information leaflet carefully,

She said, handing over a box.

Only eight to be taken,

In any twenty four hour period.

An overdose on happiness is quite a dangerous thing.

And no more than three days,

She added rather sternly.

Otherwise you could become dependent.

I nodded as I paid, pocketing the pills.

The woman knew me well,

She knew I was addicted

And yet she still allowed the sale.

The shame I felt was great, reddening my face.

To struggle to get through a day

Without a bump of chemical

Was almost more than I could bear.

But still I bought and still I swallowed

In the hope that one day I

Would live a life where joy

Was something that I didn’t need to buy.

If you have ever suffered with any form of addiction I think you will be able to identify with the shame that is felt when you have to go into the shop and buy that thing that you are dependent on. I remember going to a different shop each time I had to buy, in the hope that the shop assistants wouldn’t recognise me. My worst fear was that they would eventually start to refuse selling to me.

The shame becomes so great that you are sure they are looking at you in disgust. You are sure that any health warnings they are giving you are a dig rather than just being something they have to say as part of their job. You become paranoid.

It is horrible, but as I was writing this, I realised that everybody has these addictions that make us feel better even though we wish they didn’t. For some it might be something as simple as a love of expensive makeup. It may feel harmless, but wouldn’t it be nice to live a life where happiness came from within and didn’t need to be bought?

If you are struggling with addiction, please do reach out for help. It can be deadly and there is so much support out there. And if you are just struggling to find some happiness in life, don’t think that buying something is going to fix it. You need to start loving yourself because no amount of makeup or clothes or cars or furniture will fill the hole that is causing you so much pain.

Take care of yourselves.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

the day the princess had a breakdown

Once upon a time there was a baby born

And before she could walk

There was a spell that was cast;

A curse of sorts.

For although she could feel with impeccable ease,

Her boundaries were stolen

And so her freedom was ceased.

She couldn’t say ‘no’ to a single soul

And soon she was lost,

In a swirling black vortex, in a bottomless hole.

She hoped that one day she’d be given a rope

To help her begin to claw her way out.

But for now she feels hopeless

With no dashing young prince

Galloping through forests

To save her from death.

The curse of no boundaries isn’t fixed by such notions.

A kiss or a pill or a magical potion

Won’t help her to grow a skin that is thick.

The rope that you throw her

Will find its way round her beautiful neck,

Because this dear damsel is really just sick.

I’ve pushed it too far and now I am suffering. I know that I’ have trouble saying no because I think that people will hate me if I do. I think it comes from my days as a child where I was told by my mother that if I didn’t live up to expectations then she would stop talking to me. When I was a teenager she once stopped talking to me for a month. I had blocked a lot of these memories out but during therapy I was told that this is neglect and is most definitely behind some of my weird behaviours as an adult.

This week I said yes to overtime when I knew that it was too much and now I have crumbled and let everyone down. It’s a familiar cycle that I want to break and I feel a bit pathetic in not being able to do so. I have turned off my phone so that the world can’t reach me and all I want to do is hide in my flat.

I empathise with you if you are struggling to say no. Don’t be an idiot like me because now I’m in a bit of hot water. Look after yourself and set boundaries that will protect you from going through this. It’s something that I’m going to have to work on, but at least I have an awareness now. I just have to grow a pair and do the painful bit of the process.

Love and light,

Rachel xx

sometimes i'm desperate for a vodka

I’m rattling like an empty pill bottle,

Just one tablet shaken up and down.

It clanks around inside this cage of bones,

No soft and squidgy organs there

To dampen down the noise.

I’m a drunk and what I really need is something chemical

In order to feel good.

I’m pacing round and round a room,

That’s brightly lit and bare.

Fingernails will scrape at walls to keep me sane,

To keep me sober, like a ‘normal’ person.

I wish, I wish I was a normal person

So that I could end this awful noise

That never seems to leave.

gardening for lovers

She pressed her palm to the window

And watched him potter in the garden.

Something moved inside her chest;

A jolt of pain, she thought.

What she did know was that it was caused by him.

She watched intently as he potted plants and cut the grass.

It looked like quite the idyllic Sunday afternoon,

With golden rays of shimmery light

Bathing every plant and every tree in warmth.

It should be framed inside a watercolour painting,

For everyone to see and to enjoy.

But underneath that technicolor surface,

The tranquil peace is far from being still.

A pebble has been thrown with force

And now the chaos ripples out with devastating ease.

She turns away in pain and love, a complicated mix,

And tells herself that nothing’s ever perfect.

Marriage never can be smooth, once the doors are closed.

It’s messy and it’s nothing but a tricky balancing act.

She’s sure he’s seething as he slices through the lawn,

She’ll give them time to both cool off,

And when the stillness is restored,

They can try this all again.

I was watching a programme today and one of the characters asked “Are all families like this?” and the other nodded sadly. I think that realisation can be both a heavy one to bear and quite liberating at the same time.

It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that nothing is ever going to be perfect. When we are kids we have this fantasies about marrying the love of our lives and living happily ever after in our beautiful houses and never arguing or losing a job or getting divorced.

And then we become an adult and realise that none of that is true. I drank a lot to suppress this because I still wanted to live in my fantasy world. Getting sober has meant that I have had to face these disappointments head on and it’s been hard.

I guess that what I wanted to say in this poem is that relationships and whole lives can look perfect on the outside, but normally there are little disturbances always rumbling away underneath, away from sight.

But don’t give up just because something has gone wrong. You can have an argument or a mishap at work and come back from it. This was something that I didn’t understand when I was drinking. I thought that I just had to throw the towel in as soon as something went wrong.

I hope that if you are going through a tough time with something, that you find the strength to fight through it and save the situation. Never make yourself miserable, but remember that some things are worth saving and pain does fade.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

chess, love and woodwork

I can’t make you love me,

I can’t reach across the table,

I can’t shake the hatred from you.

I’d love to be a bit like God

And be the one who’s able

To push around the people in my life,

Like little pieces in a game of chess.

I’d find a way to drill inside that fucking queen

And find a heart, deep within the wood.

I’d win the game and make you love

In just the way I think you should.

I have such a problem with acceptance and it’s taken three years of recovery and working on myself to realise this. While I was drinking I struggled to come to terms with the fact that I can’t make people like me. I can’t make them be nice. People are who they are and I may just have to disagree with them. And quietly, without an argument.

It’s still something that is hard because I am going through a difficult time with my mum and all I want to do is force her to like me. But I can’t and that really hurts in a deep way. But I will sit on my hands and keep my mouth shut. All I can do is be ready for her if she changes her mind, be ready to accept her and love her.

I hope that if you are struggling in a relationship that you can find the strength to be accepting and loving and patient. Just let go and Let God, because everything happens in his perfect timing.

Much Love

Rachel xx

just sit still.

i know it hurts and words cannot

express the million different ways

that every muscle, every bone,

is creaking underneath the strain

of what you have been through.

but now it really is the time

to stop, to breathe, to just sit still.

I know it feels a little like a crash.

the impact plays on loop.

the splintering and fracturing

of all we loved and knew.

it all went up in flames that day,

but still we need to sit with it.

we need to let the body heal,

the heart, the soul, the mind.

no more medicating

with the pills or booze.

just sit there with that pain you feel,

it is the only way to heal.

i know how hard it is to fill

the silence when you’re sitting still.

but just sit still, i tell you that you must.

i know it hurts but this will help

and in my words i hope you trust.

Just sitting with pain has been one of the hardest things to do n recovery. I would always have vodka on hand to anaesthetise the feelings that gripped me and frightened me. Now, I have to sit here, feeling the pain and the darkness and it’s really hard. It seems counter intuitive to sit still when you’re scared; why not run?

However, I do it because I know I have to and each day I see that I’ve made it through and it’s a cause for celebration. I won’t say it gets easier because that’s a lie. It never does. It’s always hard. But as yet I haven’t died and you won’t either.

Much Love

Rachel xx

pills and stuff

does anyone else take pills and stuff

to get them through the day?

to help them through the bits so rough

they can hardly lift their head

from the pillow where they lie?

let’s face it, so that they don’t die.

but really all those pills will do

is be the very end of you.

Learning the art of letting go

One of the things that you hear most when you are recovering from an addiction are the words ‘Let go and let God.’ It was only as I traversed the difficult path that is sobriety, that I realised just how difficult that is. At the beginning, I thought that it was just about letting go of the drink, then I thought it was just about embracing a God as I knew Him. But there was so much more to it than that.

Letting go is such an important part of being human whether you are an addict or not. We all tend to hold onto the things that are least good for us, even though we know that it’s only going to tear us apart from the inside. If we could let go we could solve so many of our problems. So why are we so reluctant to do it?

It’s because it’s scary.

It’s fucking terrifying to let go of all that pain because it’s used to shield us from future hurt. If I hold onto the pain of a broken relationship then I can protect myself from ever feeling that hurt again because I’m not going to get into another relationship any time soon.

But isn’t that kind of like living half a life? It closes off so many avenues even if it does protect you from some pain in the short term. And that is why letting go is so important. What’s the point in even getting sober if I’m just going to sit inside and worry about something that could go wrong? The fact is that it might not go wrong and then we could have missed out on something beautiful.

The ‘let God’ part of it is so important because it can help to ease some of the fear that we feel as mere mortals when we begin to let down these barriers. We have these barriers for good reason. They stop us from getting hurt or even dying. But by putting it all in the hands of God we are handing it all over to a power greater than ourselves. After all, I have no control over most of this stuff anyway, so why not hand it over to the all powerful? It makes sense to me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this phrase recently because my anxiety has been running high and that naturally leads me to feel out of control. I get them familiar feeling that I’m clutching at straws and if I don’t grab on tight I’m going to fall to my death. Clutching at straws, by the way, is the very opposite of letting go, hence the reason I’ve been thinking about this so much recently.

Today, for instance, my son’s bus didn’t turn up and he had to catch a later one. My head went into a spin over the impact that would have on both of our days and how it would absolutely ruin everything. But then I just took a deep breath and I handed it over. My brain still felt scratchy and my thoughts were still racing but it offered me an easing of my discomfort to know that it’s all in God’s hands.

A couple of hours on and I’ve now almost forgotten why I was so upset about the bus this morning so there really was no need to get so worked up. If I just keep it in mind that God has it all worked out, then I can just do my best to push things in the right direction and leave the rest down to him. I see it a little like swimming in a river. If I try to go upstream I won’t get very far. It’s much better to let the current take me downstream. I may still have to put some effort in to stay above water and I may not know exactly where it’s taking me, but the journey is a lot easier. And I know that the God that I believe in is a loving one and that means that I trust that wherever He takes me will be just fine.

If you are struggling with anxiety, I hear you. It’s crippling and painful and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. And I don’t think that it can always be wished away by positive thinking. Sometimes it’s best to go to a doctor and get counselling or medication. But letting go and letting God has worked for so many addicts and I know that if you have the faith to give it a try you can start to feel so much better.

Much love,

Rachel xx

Splitting: black and white thinking

Splitting or black and white thinking is something that we all struggle with to a certain degree. It’s a common ‘symptom’ of borderline personality disorder but it can be something that we all do from time to time as a coping mechanism. It’s when it starts to ruin our lives that it becomes a problem, and ruin lives it does.

My experience with splitting

I’ve never been diagnosed with borderline personality but my addictive behaviours have meant that I can identify with a lot of the traits that sufferers have to endure. And splitting is the one that has caused the most destruction in my life.

I have probably done this throughout my whole life but it really became obvious to me that it was a problem when I was in my late twenties and I was struggling to deal with bosses; particularly female bosses.

I would start a job and invariably the general manager of the site would be a woman. I would start to befriend her as much as I could and I would try to get myself in line for any kind of promotion I could lay my grubby hands on. I’m a straight woman but I would almost find myself falling in love with this person and my whole life would revolve around being noticed by her and being praised by her. In short, she was being idolised and put up on a really high pedestal.

And the story would always follow the same narrative. Once this woman was firmly in place on her pedestal she would do something to shake my faith in her. She would call me into the office because I’d done something wrong or she would overlook me for a promotion and then our love affair would be over. She was suddenly the worst person I could think of in the entire world and I wouldn’t have one good word to say about her. Eventually I’d hate her so much I’d have to leave my job and the whole charade would start again.

How big a problem can splitting become?

When my drinking was at its worst and I was in a place where I knew that I needed help, it was this problem that drove me to the doctor. I was convinced that the female boss that I had at the time was plotting to kill me or have me put in jail. Just a year earlier I had been pining for her attention; the process was swift and brutal.

Splitting caused me to end up missing work and hiding while I was at work because I was so terrified. I started self harming and at one point I took an overdose just so that I could stay in the hospital and be away from this woman. It was crazy behaviour but it still makes me feel anxious thinking back to that time so I know how real it was to me.

Some people will only fall out with a succession of people and then move onto the next. This is obviously not as frightening for the person but it’s equally as destructive as they are leaving a trail of broken relationships in their wake. These don’t have to me within the sphere of employment either, that just seemed to be prominent in my life. Many people have a string of friendships and romantic relationships that end in such a way.

So how do I stop splitting?

It might be worth seeing a doctor in the first instance because you may have something like borderline personality disorder and they will be able to help. Counselling is the best treatment if it’s a really serious problem for you because there are obviously some underlying issues that can be resolved by talking.

Here are a few other tips and tricks that I have learnt during my years in recovery and that have helped me stop this really damaging behaviour:

  • Don’t get over friendly with management at work. They are there to look after the business, not pander to your ego.
  • If you like somebody romantically, tell them. At least you can find out if they feel the same and move on if they don’t. I would make up stories in my mind about how we would get married and have babies and then they would get a girlfriend and I’d get angry at them. It would just trash a good friendship and leave everybody feeling angry and confused.
  • Remember that nobody is perfect. The person who you are putting up on that pedestal is going to make a mistake but that doesn’t make them nasty or evil, it makes them human.
  • Try to find your part in arguments. We sometimes forget that for something to go wrong in a relationship of any kind, we need to have played a part in it somewhere along the line. If we can accept our part it makes it easier to accept where the other person was coming from.

As I have said, this behaviour almost killed me so it’s important to seek help if you are getting worried for your own safety. But always keep in mind that people are complex and come to you with baggage of their own. Most of the time they don’t even realise they’ve done anything to hurt you so don’t let one slip up ruin something that could be beautiful with just a little bit of work and understanding.

Remember to show everyone the compassion that you would like to receive yourself. And have the most amazing day, you beautiful people.

Much Love

Rachel xx

Blackout Drunk: The Need For Oblivion

Do you ever feel like you just need to check out for a moment? Ever feel like it’s all just a bit too much and it would be lovely to slip into oblivion? I have felt this so often and the answer always used to be to drink until I was blackout drunk.

To some people, the complete loss of control and not remembering things in the morning is their worst nightmare. But for those of us who are wired a little wrong, that feeling of slipping away is one of the sweetest in life.

I used to love that feeling after about the fourth or fifth drink when my mind finally started to quiet and the scariness that life presents faded away. There was a window when everything was soft and lovely. But that window disappeared quickly, as did all of my memories.

It was such a terrible feeling to wake the next morning and not remember how I got to bed. I couldn’t remember the last thing that I watched on TV, or climbing the stairs to my bedroom. And worst of all, I could never remember if I had texted somebody or posted something on Facebook. The fear on opening my eyes in the morning was crippling it was so intense. The shame I felt was unbearable and I always wanted to just curl up and die. But I knew that I was addicted and so I would be doing the same thing again the next night. I was powerless and it was a living nightmare.

And that’s why it still confuses me that I miss that oblivion. I sometimes find myself sitting at home in the evening just wishing that I could go to that place. I have hard days and all I want to do is escape. But I’m not allowed to because I’m sober and I have to remain sober if I want to stay alive.

I’m writing this because I need to get it out that I do feel this a LOT of the time. And I’m sure there are lots of people out there that feel it too. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

If you are recovering from addiction or you know that you have a problem, it’s OK to feel this way because that’s the way we are wired. I just want to slip away, but I’m not allowed to and that sucks.

Bonus Poem

I wish that I could float away,

To that black and heavy cloud

Where what can happen, who can say?

Too many worries there to crowd

My mind and heart and troubled soul.

I’m scared of who I’ll crush tonight

When I am in my deep black hole,

A place where there is little light.

If it’s you that I will hurt,

I promise that I won’t have meant

To shout, to swear or even flirt

With a person God has sent,

To be within my precious life.

It’s just that I could really do

With a break from pain and strife

And all the things I’m going through.

I promise you that after this,

I’ll give the drink a worthwhile rest

So that I will never miss

A moment of this lifelong test.