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.

Am I too shy to be a leader?

As a person who is about as sensitive as it is possible to be, and also lacking in confidence, I have often worried that I’m too shy to be a leader. Is it possible for somebody like me to stand up and lead the way for others? Can I possibly inspire other people? Or would it just be best for me to keep in line and keep my mouth shut?

I think that this feeling that I cannot lead stems from the fear that I cannot possibly have anything worth hearing. It’s a total lack of confidence in myself and what I stand for and I’m sure that there are a tonne of other people out there that feel the same way about themselves.

Where does this lack of confidence come from?

I’m no psychiatrist but I’ve had enough therapy to know that it comes from childhood. I grew up always being told to keep in line. I was an athlete so I had a very strict and structured lifestyle and I just learnt to do as I was told. And I was also told that you can’t be a shy leader.

I’m not saying that this was bad or that it damaged me in any way. My parents were incredibly loving and gave me everything I needed. And my sports gave me an incredible amount of discipline that has helped me later in life. But it also taught me to just shut up and follow instructions.

What I wish somebody would have told me?

So it’s all very easy saying that this all stems from childhood, but how do I fix it? I want to become a leader. I know that I have so much to say and to give and I can’t give it from my place in the audience. What do I do?

The first thing to remember is that a place in the audience is not a bad place to be. It’s the place where you learn from others and the place where you join forces with others to make something great as a team.

But, sometimes stepping up on to stage is necessary and you need to know that you are capable of doing it. It is a scary place to be because all eyes are on you, but you need to tell yourself what you should have been told when you were a child.

I wish that somebody had told me that my voice does matter. Because it really does. Even if I feel like I have nothing to say, I actually have a whole lifetime of experiences that could help another if I just had the courage to step up to the microphone. Even if my voice is shaky and uncertain, there will be at least a handful of people who will need to hear it.

Do our insecurities make us shy and unable to lead?

I have always suffered from anxiety and in my twenties I used alcohol to numb it. My alcoholism was always something that I was deeply ashamed of and it made me put the brakes on every time I started to excel at something. But what if I could use this part of my story to boost my own confidence and that of others?

Having had some time to reflect on everything that happened in my twenties, I have realised that my difficulties could actually help me to be a better leader. People can relate to that pain and that struggling and it helps me to relate to them. And being relatable is one of the best things a leader can be. It’s not all about being loud and gobby. It’s about having something important to say, that can help people, and can inspire them.

So, next time you are thinking you aren’t good enough, or your past is too shameful or isn’t epic enough for people to want to follow you, remember that those bumps in the road are the thing that will make you a great leader.

Confidence is all you need and it only comes from really knowing where you come from and really believing that none of it can stand in your way. I believe that any one of you can get up there and inspire others. It’s just a case of finding your tribe and the cause that really sets your heart on fire. I wish you luck in finding it because I know that it will lift such a weight off your shoulders and that is something that everybody deserves.

Much love,

Rachel xx

On Losing Friends (a poem)

I am going to write a full blog post about this because it was such a hard part of my drinking days to deal with. I lost so many good friends who I ended up having some kind of misunderstanding with. I just felt so disconnected from the rest of the world and I didn’t understand the way that it operated. This made it really hard to hand onto the special people because I just couldn’t understand their reasoning and they couldn’t understand mine.

You hurt me more than words can say,

I did not do a single thing,

In the starting of that fray.

Everything was down to you.

The painful words and twisted face.

None of it was even true.

None of it was down to me,

I’d never hurt a loving friend,

Despite the fact we disagree.

But it is me who must be right,

I’m perfect, blameless,

But always ready for the fight.

I hope that one day I will find,

Another person on this earth,

Who’ll love my spotless drunken mind.

How to live your most authentic life (and be super happy about it)

I think that one of my biggest problems during my twenties was the fact that I didn’t know how to live my life as I was made to; I didn’t know how to live an authentic life. What I mean by that is that I spent all of my time trying to live up to everyone else’s expectations and then had no time left to explore what was important to me.

When I was at school I was a straight A student so I turned to my parents and my teachers for guidance in what I should do when I left. The feedback I got was that I should be a doctor because I was clever and that was what clever people did. However, this did not take into account any of the things that I enjoyed outside of school; it was a decision based solely on how well I retained information.

So, off I went to college to pursue this ‘dream’ and I came royally unstuck inside of the first twelve months. I dropped out of college, found myself pregnant and eventually addicted to alcohol, and that nightmare continued for a whole decade.

If I had paused for a moment and thought about what I really wanted to do with my life, I would have known that I liked the more creative subjects like English and Art. I may not have landed a job that held the esteem that being a doctor held, but at least I’d have finished college and started doing something that I was passionate about.

I think that a lot of people do this; my case not a rare one. Of course, not everyone finds themselves so desperately unhappy that they turn to alcohol, but there must be millions of people out there, stuck in jobs they hate because they didn’t listen to what their heart was telling them at crucial points in their lives.

So what would my authentic life look like? Where would I be if I just did as I pleased and didn’t listen to society? I’ve had a think about it and it’s a really fun game to play. It even gives you a starting point from which to start turning your life around; a goal to aim for that is more in line with what really makes you happy.

My authentic life would involve being a writer who is a little bit reclusive. I would just visit the shops in my local village and I would have a pug that I would dote on. I’d be super conscious of the environment and never be wasteful or drive a car. The most interesting thing to come out of my research was that I would like to live in slightly more unconventional lodgings. I thought a van or a tiny house would be ideal until I stumbled upon cob houses. They look like little hobbit houses and they can be built really cheaply and quickly. I don’t know whether I could ever live this life in reality, but it feels more true to me than the life I currently live.

If you want to find out what your authentic life could look like here are a few questions that you can ask yourself and a few exercises that you can do:

  • Does the work you are thinking of excite you? If it’s really true to you then you should actually feel a flutter in your heart when you think about it. You will know that it’s something that’ll never give you that Monday morning dread. It will inspire you constantly and never fade.
  • Where would you want to live? Some people thrive in the bustling city whereas I know that the Lake District would be far closer to my ideal.
  • Try free writing or journalling to see what comes out. When you’re not consciously thinking about the societal pressures that you have on you, some interesting things might emerge. For this same reason, meditation can be useful too because you’re not thinking about the hear and now and the bills that need to be paid and what the kids want for tea.
  • Think about what you can do to be of service to others. This is the cornerstone to a happy life because you get satisfaction from helping others rather than constantly competing. Even if you dream of being a CEO, the saying goes that if you’re not prepared to serve then you’re not ready to be a real leader. You won’t inspire anyone by just barking orders and the novelty will soon wear thin for you, so keep that in mind.
  • Be open to being vulnerable. It is not weakness and it will help you to learn a lot about yourself.
  • Don’t let fear stop you. You only need to make one small change at a time. If you’re scared it’s probably get a lot to do with being worried about what others will think. I’ve been scared to go and tell my family that I want to live in a hobbit house because I know they’ll think I’ve gone bonkers.

But most importantly, just enjoy yourself. Life is supposed to be fun and a lot of the time we force ourselves into boxes that don’t fit and it just makes us miserable. Other people don’t know what’s best for you; only you know that, so do some homework and find out what it is!

Much Love,

Rachel xx

Drunk Dial (a poem)

When I was in active alcoholism, the drunk dial was the bane of my life. I would wake up in the early hours of the morning feeling like I’d licked a carpet and having to reach for my phone immediately. My first thought was always about how terrified I was that I had texted a guy or emailed my boss. It was a humiliating and scary time.

But these days I am free of that and I’m really keen to help others who are struggling with the same issues that I did. It is a big part of the reason why I started this blog and I hope that it will also motivate me to stay on the straight and narrow. It’s a serious illness and it needs to be treated like one.

However, the drunk dial does have some comedy value and I think that everybody needs some fun in their lives so this is my take on a subject that used to bring me out in cold sweats.

I didn’t mean to grab the phone,

I heard the sound of that ominous tone,

But I won’t recall this when I wake,

I’ll forget the mess that I can make,

After one too many pints of beer,

When life’s all rosy and full of cheer.

I won’t remember that awful text,

Or the old flame that I rang next.

I’ll see it there upon the screen,

The words I wrote that were so mean.

The dawn will bring an awful pain,

And towards myself I’ll feel disdain.

I’ll wish that I could take it back,

And I know that I will get some flack,

For what I said when I’d had some wine,

and thought that texting would be fine.

Reflections on 3 years sober

Crikey! Where do I start? I remember my last drink like it was yesterday, and then at the same time it seems so strangely long ago. And that’s because I’ve grown; something it’s impossible not to do when you sober up and start living a real and fulfilling life. In reality, I’m still a newbie in sobriety terms. Three years is nothing next to the thirty to forty years that I have seen others achieve. But God willing, I will continue on this road and get there too.

I just wanted to write a little bit about what drove me to take that scary step into sobriety because I think that it’s an important message to carry and the purpose of this blog is to inspire, uplift and help.

So, my journey began in August 2016 when I was pulled into yet another HR meeting because I had acted out. I was never malicious but my social faux pas were slowly mounting and this just ended up being the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was so humiliated and angry and frustrated and depressed although I spent every night drinking to blackout so I had no idea what these feelings were, let alone how to articulate them.

I ended up getting into a total mess after this quite traumatic meeting and I needed to be signed off from work. Yet again, I found myself at the doctor’s office, crying over my anxiety and depression. I admitted that I was having trouble with my drinking but I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t even get help with my mental health problems because no services would touch me with a barge pole, knowing how much I drank (and quite rightly so, not knocking them for that in the slightest!)

This doctor that I saw turned out to be the person who would save my life from being the shit show that it was slowly becoming. She pointed me in the direction of an NHS drug and alcohol service and told me not to come back until I was sober (she wasn’t quite that blunt, but she was pretty straight to the point).

I went to the NHS place and it was terrifying. I was frightened and ashamed but they gave me a handful of tools and sent me off to AA. I didn’t go for quite some time because I knew that I had an all inclusive holiday coming up and there was no way that I was going to get through that without alcohol. I slogged through the holiday and then I decided that enough was enough. But midway through the following week I caved and bought another bottle of vodka. I was shaking, I needed it so badly. I realised that I had officially come to the end of the line. The next morning I woke up at about 3am feeling really sick. I was living at my parents’ house because I was too much of a wreck to look after my own place and I was so embarrassed to let them hear me being sick that I ended up vomiting in the sink in the utility room. That was my moment. I wouldn’t say it was my rock bottom. That was unfortunately still to come. But it was when I knew that I could never drink again. It was 3rd November 2016.

Life since then has not been easy but the changes have been amazing. AA promises you that you will have a life beyond your wildest dreams and at the time I thought that meant money and ‘success’. Now I realise that it’s something far more subtle than that. Now I realise that it means that I’ll have a much better chance of living to watch my son get married and to enjoy grandchildren. I have the money to go on an extra holiday or buy something nice for the house. I can actually live on my own and not run the place into the ground like I did before. I can pay my bills on time and I can be a much more reliable friend, family member and employee.

I still have anxiety and I’ll always take tablets for my depression but I’m constantly growing and learning so much about myself and the world that I live in. Now I just hope and pray that others can enjoy what I have and that hopefully I can inspire somebody who is struggling to reach out for help. Go to the doctor, speak to a friend or send me a message if you like! We’re all here to help if you are struggling so don’t squander this wonderful thing called life.

Much love ,

Rachel xx