just hang on

fingernails are used to dig

in the soft and fleshy ridge,

the final place to get a grip

before the long descent.

letting go is tempting me,

to land in soft and springy grass,

a place where I can fall asleep

and follow rabbits in my dreams.

I hate the phrase ‘trigger warning’ but I think that I need to put a little warning here as I want to write about the horrible thought processes that I used to slip into when I was drinking (and I still do fall into these patterns, even now).

I remember when I was coming to the end of my drinking career, I could feel that my liver was starting to hurt and I was really worried that I was going to die. But I couldn’t stop so I just prayed each day that I could live until my son got married.

After that point, I didn’t care. As long as I got to see Noah paired off with somebody lovely, I was quite happy to then go and drink myself to death.

Although I don’t ever want to drink myself to death anymore, I can sometimes run the risk of falling into the same pattern of thinking. It’s when I get stressed or upset of tired, I find I can spiral.

The last few months have been really hard with my mum kicking dad out and then turning on Noah and I. I feel like I’m bereaved as she has cut off all contact with me. And so, I have found myself occasionally thinking that I’ll just hold on until Noah turns eighteen and then I can take my own life.

I promise that I won’t do it, but it just goes to show how a few knocks can put us in a really vulnerable place. I know that there are a lot of people who are going to feel stressed over the coming months and I want you to stay strong if you feel yourself wobbling. I’m not telling you I struggle for sympathy, but to show you that we all like that from time to time.

Stay safe and talk to somebody if you’re not feeling good.

Much Love

Rachel xx

It’s for scientific purposes, I promise

I’m still finding my feet,

A teen in a grown woman’s body.

I find myself watching reality TV

In an attempt to learn what to do.

*

Some people turn up their noses

But I actually need those things.

A road map to help me through

A world that I once drowned out.

I have found since I stopped drinking that I’ve begun to watch a tonne of reality shows. I find that I’m absolutely fascinated by them and I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. I almost felt a bit embarrassed about the fact that I adored Love Island.

However, I think I now know what it is that keeps me hooked. I think that it’s because I’ve been drinking heavily for my entire adult life and now that I’m only three years out of it, I’m still trying to learn all of the things that everyone else learnt during their twenties.

Romantic relationships are completely beyond me because I’m emotionally about fifteen years old. So Love Island is a treasure trove of ‘information’ for me. I get to see all these people fall in love and break up all in fast forward.

You may all be laughing at me and being all judgey, but I promise, I’m only watching it for scientific purposes.

Much Love

Rachel xx

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