there’s always something there to stop you

cars on road with snow
Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Driving in the snow, with a foot down on the gas,

The tyres will slip and slide on the icy ground

And still I want to speed it up,

To feel the force that pushes back

Despite the fact I know it brings

A danger that’s not hidden from the world,

But from me,

It’s hidden in the darkness of the trees.

I haven’t had a drink in four years but that doesn’t make it any easier to not do it. I sometimes hate these people in recovery, who tell everyone how happy they are and how perfect their lives are. They may well be telling the truth, but in my mind they are lying. And that’s because I’m struggling; not because I want them to be miserable.

But, when I am struggling, I do sometimes consider reaching for a bottle of wine, just to soothe some of those pains. I won’t do it, but it’s very tempting to just do it.

However, there is always something that stops me. We are told to lean on a Higher Power; something that is bigger than us, and this will help us when things get tough. I think that my Higher Power stops me with little messages that get put in my way.

Today, I was feeling quite overwhelmed and I really wanted to take it all away. And then, I read a post by a woman who lost her dad to drug addiction. She said how lovely he was and how young he was when he died, and of course, how much she misses him.

Reading things like that hurts my heart. It makes me think about my son and what his life would be like if I was gone. And it’s awful. I don’t know what would happen to him.

That lady’s message was enough to stop me in my tracks and it felt like it was put there, in front of me, right when I needed it.

It also reminds me that sharing is so important. We can put all sorts of crap out there on the internet and a lot of it is drivel. But sharing real pain and warnings like the one I read, are important to hear. It takes courage to share things like that so I’m glad some people are brave enough.

I would never have gotten sober if I hadn’t read people’s accounts of their journeys, so I’ll forever be thankful to them.

Much Love

Rachel xx

christmas food

top view of table set up for christmas dinner
Photo by Nicole Michalou on Pexels.com

Salmon in a plastic film, as it swims

Through Scottish lochs in icy schools,

Followed up with chocolate fingers

Smeared around excited mouths that lick at lips.

Even the cat has something special

Served inside his silver bowl, a festive mousse

All dished out when humans eat.

We have turkey stuffed with sage,

Potatoes piled with gravy boats that sailed the seas

As we reach heaven on boards of cheese

That float until the cracker snaps

And all that’s left is cold sweet meats

To fill our bread for days to come

With cranberry sauce and stuffing balls.

The point of Christmas is the food,

Putting us into that festive mood.

I’m all about the Christmas food! Since I stopped drinking four years ago, the food has become the most important part of the day (aside from family, obviously).

I love everything from the meats to the potatoes, the pigs in blankets to the yule logs, the salmon breakfast to the posh biscuits. I adore every part of it. And I feel like it’s a necessary part of my day to stop me drinking.

Christmas can be hard, especially if you are sober and everyone around you is drinking. You need to hang onto every good thing you can to stop yourself from touching the stuff.

But I’ve done it four times now and I know that anyone who is struggling can do it too. Even if you haven’t had issues with alcohol, I do hope you have the best Christmas ever and really enjoy that meal.

Tuck in,

Rachel xx

christmas eve angst

family decorating their christmas tree
Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

Those angry thoughts that gnaw and chew

Like rodents feasting on the scraps,

They creep and lurk on Christmas Eve

When love and cheer are in the air

And angry words will have no place,

So shut your mouth and just pretend

That everything is fine….

Since I’ve been an adult I’ve always struggled a bit on Christmas Eve. Nothing too dramatic, but I find a lot of my anxieties and resentments begin to bubble up to the surface.

I got married really young and when he left me and our son, I struggled on the first Christmas that we were alone. I couldn’t sleep on Christmas Eve because I was so angry. All I could think of was the great time that he would be having and how awful my day was going to be.

That resentment faded over the years but I’m finding that I have the same feelings about my mum these days. She chooses to not be in my life and the rejection hits me like a juggernaut at this time of year.

I wish that the TV would stop telling us what a perfect Christmas looks like, especially this year. I know that so many people will be alone, so my situation is actually pretty favourable; I am in no position to complain.

Christmas this year is going to be different and it may be pretty awful, but I think we all need to remember that the perfect day doesn’t exist. Those sleepless Christmas Eves have done me no favours, all they have done is made me tired and angry.

Enjoy your day tomorrow, whatever it may be looking like. If you’re fuming at somebody, put it aside for the day. Listen to music, eat, drink, watch cheesy movies. Just do the best you can.

Much Love

Rachel xx

on christmas eve

man standing beside christmas tree
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

People push through crowded aisles,

Grabbing sprouts and Maris Pipers

In the hope they won’t forget

Important stuff like cranberry sauce

Or pigs in blankets, stuffing too.

And then there’s husbands and the dads,

Racing through the clothing racks

To buy the presents they forgot.

In silent bedrooms mums are wrapping

Like the Christmas elves they are,

Gin and tonic on the floor

With the paper, bows and tape,

Soon they’ll creep down to the tree

And lay down gifts in artful piles.

And as the midnight bells will ring

They gather in the village church

For Mass that’s lit my candlelight,

Remembering the baby’s birth,

The star, the manger and the inn

That started all this festive joy.

*

Have a very merry Christmas,

Rachel xx

the christmas party (a poem)

The wine is left on tables groaning with the weight

And Colin slugs the dregs of Chardonnay

While Lisa photocopies, industriously,

Boobs and bums, sniggering as sheets pour out,

A laser stripe illuminates the room.

And then there’s Carole singing songs

On the karaoke box, brought by someone in good faith

That it is fun and wouldn’t cause a scene.

But Charles and Millie barely notice from the dark

Corners of the office block, where they kiss

And grope and do unmentionables

While grown men cry into their beers

And wish they’d made a better choice in life

So this tragic night’s not burnt into their memories.

In another life they’d be the masters of their universe

And better parties, better women, better money

Would be why those rose each day,

Not this party we all know, that we all wish

Would disappear, with headaches left from too much booze.

the great staff christmas quiz

photo of christmas balls
Photo by Hert Niks on Pexels.com

Peacocks ruffle feathers as they show their might

In beauty and in knowledge, it’s their identity.

And without the winning streak they feel

Their power slipping through cold fingers.

They would rather die, or peck you to your death

Than lose to you as they take their dirty dying breath.

It’s coming to the end of my first full term and the excitement is palpable. And then it’s also Christmas so everyone is feeling a bit hyped up, despite the fact that we are all feeling so tired that it felt like we were hanging on with our fingernails.

But we’ve made it! And so we deserve some fun!

So enter the Christmas Quiz.

Staff were asked to stay behind and we were split into department teams. A box was delivered to each team ahead of time with strict instructions not to open it until we were told. And then we were asked to log onto Teams.

And so the quiz began. We had five rounds and we had to email answers in at the end of each round. We also had to build a paper castle in the time that the quiz took and we would be marked on all of the rounds.

Of course, the Maths department became ultra competitive as they always do. The English department sadly produced the worst example of a castle and we were late delivering it to the hall for judging.

We will find out the results in the morning when all of the Maths department will make a fuss because they are contesting answers that they got wrong.

But I love it. After a year of everything being really difficult it’s nice to see everyone coming together and having fun. I know that we were doing the quiz through our computer screens, but it felt normal and we laughed in a way that we didn’t really imagine we could nine months ago.

Aren’t we amazing creatures in the way that we can adapt? The Christmas quiz always needs to go ahead and the Maths department always need to win. And we’ve done that (although English will win, obvz).

Make sure you have as normal an end to the year as you can manage. Laugh at the people taking it seriously and also try to win yourself. We’ve learnt that we don’t know what’s around the corner so love every minute of it.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the comfort of a good CHILDREN’S book

Oliver Jeffers

The humble rhyme that threads its way

Through the frosty winter’s day,

The comfort that those pictures bring,

That make out hearts leap out and sing.

Now is when we need those books,

Read in cosy little nooks.

They soothe our tired and burdened soul

And make us feel completely whole.

Lauren Child

I have such a soft spot for children’s books and I follow a whole heap of illustrators on Instagram, even though I don’t have any kind of art background. I just think it’s such a skill to be able to put pictures to words and do it in a way that can touch all ages.

And Christmas is the time when I want to read these books more than ever. They’re like a bowl of chicken soup that just warms you from the inside. The story doesn’t even need to be Christmassy; I just need to get lost in the pictures and the words.

David Litchfield

Of course, as somebody who writes, I am partial to a good rhyme and there are so many books that rhyme throughout. I just feel like those words suck me in and pull me along in a way that no adult book can ever really do.

I keep meaning to write my own story aimed at really young children because I do love to create art too. Perhaps that could be my project for the next few weeks while it’s dark and I feel under the weather. So, I need ideas people. Anyone who wants to throw something my way, I’ll make it into pictures and words.

Pascal Campion

In the meantime, I wanted to share some pictures by illustrators that I absolutely love. I hope they bring you as much joy as they bring me.

Much Love

Rachel xx

how much do i need christmas right now?

Cocooned so sweetly in my one bed flat,

With viruses and ghastly acts,

Making cameos in every day of every month.

And so we’re ready for the lights,

The jingle bells and tacky songs

That float out on the frosty waves

And warm our hearts and minds.

In a year that’s plagued with certain fear,

And change that’s never been so dark,

A year we’ve held our breath throughout;

Now we’ve made it to the end

And so we need to wrap those arms

Around a world that’s healing fast

And enjoy that final week

Of festive treats and family love,

A gift that’s sent from up above.

i bloody love a good christmas advert

This Christmas is going to be a bit of a dud.

There won’t be the parties, and dresses

Covered in sparkles and spritzed with scent.

We’ll all be at home, eating sprouts

And hams that’ll last for days.

But we’ll be with a few, the precious ones

That we need in our lives.

And when spring rolls around

Those lives will return

And our world will be sweet

With kisses on top.

I have this horrible feeling that Christmas isn’t going to be very loud and raucous this year. It’s going to be all about games of cards and Monopoly with just two other people.

But that’s fine. If anything, it’ll teach us a thing or two about what’s really important. In fact, I’d even go as far as saying that I’m quite looking forward to it. I’ll be spending the day with Noah and my dad, and it’ll be fun.

I love spending time with them, with Christmas TV and food and the pretty lights. It just feels cosy and wholesome and we actually laugh so much. I know that I’m lucky, so my thoughts are with people who are having a difficult time at this time of year.

And the reason that I’m so interested in Christmas today is because the Christmas adverts are here at last. I can’t get enough of them and I’m so excited to see some of the offerings from John Lewis and Sainsbury’s.

I hope that you are having as much fun as you possibly can in the build up. Even if you’re not, go and buy some mince pies and double cream. You’ll thank me later. You are welcome.

Much Love

Rachel xx

impossible probability

As sure as the Titanic will sink

And as sure as it is that Jack will die.

As sure as the princess will marry her prince,

And as sure as the sun will rise in the sky.

So too, is it certain that I will be hurt.

It is impossible to please you

And so I could try to hang on

Or sink like that ship, or rise into view.

Whatever may happen I wish I could change

The way things unfurled like a roll

Of silver screen film, just slightly less easy

Upon my fragile, weak soul.

I’m hurting, I’m dying.

The impossible probability

Is that I’ll just give up trying.

Christmas was hard this year. I missed my mum. I texted her but I got no answer and it hurt more that I can put into words. However, it has made me aware that until I let go, I’m stuck. I have to accept that she is not coming back. She has made her position very clear and although the next few steps that I take are going to be very painful, they are very necessary if I want to begin to heal.

Sometimes the steps forward are the hardest as you tear away from the old and start something new. I see it a little like two sides of a sheet of corrugated cardboard being pulled apart. It is difficult and you will leave parts of yourself behind, still attached to the other side, but you can do it.

If you’re struggling to make that step forward in a part of your life then I know exactly what you are going through. Just remember that it’s not necessarily over forever. Jack may die in the movie, but you can watch it again from the beginning and there he is again. Just give it a while so that the plot is hazy in your mind, the edges are softened a little.

I believe in you and I hope that 2020 can begin to heal some of the wounds that you may have acquired this year.

Much Love,

Rachel xx