what can i say out loud, and what should i keep inside?

My words sit firm in awkward lumps upon my tongue

Making breathing difficult as sticky syllables

Clog the airways, leaving lips to render blue.

I know that without spitting up, I’ll surely die

But everybody’s staring at me, judging my behaviour.

Dirty habits go unnoticed rarely, punished instantaneously

And all I want is to be labelled ‘good’.

All I want’s that shiny badge of honour.

But what’s the cost of being loved by all, and is it worth

The loss of air that flows between my lungs and heart?

And has my silence robbed another of that air

I’m terrified of losing?

I’m one of those people that likes to be liked by everyone. I have opinions but as soon as I enter into what looks like it might be an argument, I back down. I sit on the fence and pretend that I don’t care, or just play dumb.

It’s served me well in most instances but recent events have made me think that perhaps I’ve done more damage than good. But then on the other hand, the same recent events have made me even more worried about saying something wrong for fear of being attacked from all sides.

I think that it’s obvious that we should be treating everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) with the same amount of respect that we would like to receive. And I think that people who have wrong done to them have every right to call it out. But I am left wondering where the line is. When does the retaliation just make things worse? Can you just go too far and become the aggressor yourself?

I’m often reminded of the famous line that Martin Luther King said: ‘hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’ It’s so true and yet I’m seeing so much hate being flung back and forth at the moment.

I think that my fear of wading into any argument would be entirely because of lack of education and I think that this is what we should be improving. Rather than spending all of that energy on anger, perhaps it would be better to sit down with each other and open up about our struggles with identity. Better still, maybe we should open up and look at the things that make us the same. We are all the same species no matter what our sex, gender, race or religion. We all struggle with the same emotions and hurts and fears so maybe we should talk about these?

Once again, Russell Brand explains it all rather better than I can so I’ve included a video of his that I watched last night. Watch it all the way through because it’s what he says at the end that made me want to stand up and applause like Meryl Streep at the Oscars.

Much Love

Rachel

the art of loving and letting go

Love isn’t a switch, it’s not like the gentle thump of the boiler

Heating up in an instant, and running cold once the flame is gone.

It’s more of a sliding scale, an elastic band that stretches

In every direction and snaps back when you don’t expect.

You can love and hate at once,

Isn’t that something worth knowing for now?

You can love someone and still choose to say goodbye to them.

Tara Westover

I heard this quote while I was flicking through YouTube the other day and it really seemed to hit me hard. Tara Westover, who wrote the memoir Educated, said this in an interview with Oprah when she was talking about her parents. These were parents who denied her a formal education and forced her and her siblings to live in a really unconventional way as they grew up.

There were some parts of her story that were downright scary and made you think that she had every right to hate her parents now that she had broken free. And she had chosen to run away from them and cut them out of her life, so it was surprising to hear her say that she still felt love for them.

My feeling was always that if there was a break down in a relationship, it was best to either try to forget about that person or just hate on them for the rest of time. However, I have learned that the energy this consumes is immense and I knew that there had to be a better way.

My relationship with my mother has been rocky over the past year and after several years of therapy I realised that she had been very manipulative throughout my life. I knew that letting her go could be the best option but it didn’t sit comfortably with me because I’m so grateful to her for all the good things she brought into my life.

Hearing Tara say these words felt like a light bulb moment because it meant that I could still feel love for my mum but I could also distance myself from her so that I feel safe.

These words showed me that it is possible to let go of somebody you love. I’ve always acted on fear and so I hold people tight for fear of losing them, then when they disappoint me I reject them and feel immense hate. I’ve slowly started to learn that relationships aren’t as black and white as this. You can live somewhere in the middle of love and hate and that makes my life far easier to bear.

Much Love

Rachel xx

moments to change by

They happen so quietly they they could go unnoticed

But those that are vigilant catch them at once

Like butterflies in nets over wildflower fields,

We stare at those wings in jars on strings

And wonder what patterns could possibly mean.

Only the wise or those that have waited

Can pull out the truth and make a huge difference

In lives that are touched by the messages sent

From the skies up above

And the powers that rule.

I’m really intrigued as to whether other people believe that God speaks to us through other people? Even if you are not religious, do you believe that there are higher powers or spirits that might be directing you?

And I’m not talking about huge, life changing events that push you onto another course. I’m talking about the little conversations that you have, that could go unnoticed but something flags it up in your psyche and makes you think that there might be something more there.

One of my most memorable experiences of this was when I was struggling with drink. One night I was really hammered and I was sitting in bed watching Netflix on my tablet. I was feeling completely sorry for myself so I was watching a really depressing documentary to match my mood.

The documentary was called Cristina and it was about a fit and healthy young woman who got cancer and it charted her journey through treatment. I was slowly drifting into another blackout when it happened.

It was near the end of the film and I was crying as I watched when Cristina came on screen and delivered a very moving monologue. She was near the end of her life and knew that death was coming. She was bald and so it was impossible not to feel drawn into her piercing blue eyes.

Into the camera she said that life needs to be cherished and then she said ‘wake up’. I think she clicked her fingers as she said it and I felt like she was a hypnotist pulling me out of a trance. As far as I was concerned, she was speaking directly to me as she told me to stop wasting my life.

I fell asleep but when I woke up all I could think about were her blue eyes and her strict instruction for me to ‘wake up’. I got sober shortly after and I still, to this day, see those eyes and hear those angry words whenever I feel like I’m caving in to the power of drink.

I could just be reading into it all too much. I was desperate at the time that I watched the movie and scared that I would die if I kept drinking so it follows that I might cling to her words. But I do believe that something more powerful was at work that night.

And I’ve had countless other experiences where the words coming out of somebody’s mouth seems so profound that they can’t possibly understand how powerful they are.

I’m sure that some of you think that it’s all a load of woo-woo, but I’d like to think that other people get some comfort from knowing that a loving God is speaking to us in times of pain, encouraging us to go on to happier lives.

Much Love

Rachel xx

what do the children think?

What do the children think

When they see the world we built?

Brick by brick we thought we made

A place we’re proud to hand to them,

But really is that what they see?

Can they understand at all?

The reason why we strangle, shoot

And brazenly abuse the world?

I hope they don’t for all our sakes,

Perhaps somehow we’ll turn it round

Before our kids can see the dark

And know that we have made mistakes.

Let’s start afresh and teach them how

It’s really meant to be.

things i find myself thinking about at 2am at the petrol station

Can I do better? I think

For probably the hundredth time in one night.

Why don’t I get a normal fucking job

That I go to between 9 and 5?

Wasn’t that what I got my degree education for?

I find myself sighing as another car passes

Without stopping for a sandwich

And two cans of Red Bull.

Am I wasting my life? I think

Biting my nails and scrolling through Twitter.

I think that I’ll start looking

For that elusive career

Just as soon I’ve slept.

I don’t make good decisions

At this time of night.

keep going even though it hurts

I kept my hat on as I slid into the musty library,

All dust and mahogany, not decorated in years.

I knew the place to go because he’d left me clues

So intricate in their design, a treasure hunt, of sorts.

All across the city, and this, the final clue.

He’d left the notes zipped in boxes once belonging

To biscuits that we had bought for anniversaries.

When he died, I thought that life would never regain colour,

Always drenched in black and white.

And then his handsome smile emerged again.

I followed words he’d written me, before that illness stole

His perfect soul away from me.

The library on the Old Kent Road was where we met

And so it’s fitting that he led me there,

Through the dusty shelves, running fingers over spines,

Remembering my hand in his the day before he died.

Wiping tears away, I pulled the book and flipped to ninety two,

The year we married, a special day that never fades.

The letter floated to the ground, landing at my feet

And when I picked it up and read, the tears fell faster

Than they ever had. Why?

Why would God have taken him from me?

I crumpled to the ground and took the poison from my bag.

Between my painful sobs, I sipped.

With my back back pressed firm against the shelves

I took the poison, slipping from this world in time.

I saw him reaching out to me, his hand was urging,

“Come, come with me.”

I gladly went with him and now I know

That life alone was worse than death,

The crushing grief too much to bear.

I’m sure that others know these ghostly fingers

That claw at hearts and minds.

And I respect the savage strength

That you display, day after day.

Keep going, even though it hurts.

where dreams go to die

There’s a room, somewhere out there,

In the ether, a place you can’t see;

It’s bare and it’s cold and clinical too.

It’s a room where the dreams go

When they’re ready to check out,

The dreams that were big and exciting

And so full of promise when they were young,

But things got hard and soon they would slip

And before it was realised

The dream had become old

And forgotten and tired.

Dream after dream would drift slowly away

To the room with no name

Where they curled up in corners

And finally expired.

I sometimes worry that things will slip over lockdown. It suddenly feels like just staying alive and sane is an achievement, so the idea of actually getting big things done and making dreams come true sometimes seems laughable.

But we do need to keep going because this is just a bump in the road and things will start to return to normal, even if that is a new normal. It’s important to exercise some self care, but don’t give up because things have got a little bit harder.

It’s so sad to think of all the dreams that might be going to waste in this time. I do like to think of my dreams as living things and I don’t want to neglect them and let them die in that horrible room. I might only do a little thing each day, but just the smallest amount of work is a step in the right direction and it keeps my dreams alive and kicking!

Hold onto you dreams too,

Much Love

Rachel xx

i’m leaving on a jet plane

I’m leaving tonight,

I’ve built a rocket

With my hands

Made from dining chairs.

I do not want to go

But also cannot stay

So shakily I climb aboard

And jet off to the stars.

The cooking pan

Upon my head

Was quite the perfect helmet

As I burned

Through atmosphere.

Once I’m there

I look back down

At planet Earth

And see the warring

And the greed.

A little tear

Escapes my eye

And in my heart

I hope that one day soon

I will come back

And live the peaceful life

I used to live.

we need a little faith, a faith, a faith

Lean,

Lean on something big,

Bigger than you.

Some may say it’s evil,

Tears the world apart.

Some may say it’s woo woo,

Just a hippy thing.

But I for one,

I need to lean

On something big

In scary times like this.

In the words of George Michael we need a faith, a faith, a faith. This whole situation that we find ourselves in at the moment is just too difficult for our human minds to comprehend. So it only makes sense that we find something bigger than ourselves to lean on.

I know that there are a lot of people out there that are extremely resistant when it comes to religion. There are wars fought over it and blood shed. But in everyday churches around the world a lot of people find a lot of peace and solace. There is community there and love and compassion. These are all things that we need by the bucket load at this moment in time.

And even if organised religion is not something you are willing to participate in, it’s so helpful to have something bigger than ourselves to lean on. We are all still like toddlers and we need a parent figure and God is that!

In addiction recovery, finding our own higher power is such an important part of keeping sober. We have proven that human power cannot rescue us and many will attest that handing everything over is so important.

And in the world today, so much control has been taken away from us. We can fight it and get angry and stressed, or we can hand it over and just accept where we are. It’s hard but it’s a beautiful process. We constantly slip and start to fight life again, but take notice of it happening and then get back on the right path.

Stay safe and love each other hard.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

i have a dream…

I’ve been thinking a lot recently

About where it may be that our dreams come from.

I don’t mean the ones about leaving the house

Without any pants, or missing the bus

Or any of those things we think most nights.

I mean the big ones that change the world.

The ‘I have a dream’ kind of dreams,

That shape a generation and do some good.

Do those dreams come from nowhere at all?

Or are they whispered into sleeping ears

By angels sent down from God Himself?

Or are they made in a factory and pumped out at random

And whoever is lucky (or brave as the case may be)

Can catch a dream and spread it around?

I guess that we’ll never be blessed to know,

But one thing I do know is that I will keep

Dreaming my dreams in the hope that I do

Make a difference in this world

Before I leave for the next.

I don’t want to be famous and recognisable; I don’t think that I could think of anything worse. But I do want my legacy to be that I at least tried to be nice and that my dream for the world is that it becomes a friendlier place to live for EVERYONE.

Mine is quite a vague dream, but I wonder where the more definite dreams come from and how someone gets chosen to have that dream? Is it totally random or are these people predestined to have this burden thrust upon them.

I know that I would be useless if the burden was placed on me because I find it really hard to stand up to people being nasty to me. So I really hope that no flashes of inspiration are wasted on me! Perhaps it would be alright if a poem went viral and I could just quietly retreat into a dark corner somewhere.

I do like to imagine that there are some elves tucked away in a factory somewhere and they are manufacturing loads of important dreams that are sent out into the world and are delivered by just the right person.

Or perhaps it’s totally random and the dreams float around in the atmosphere and if we wander into one we are in some way lumbered with it?

I think that maybe I’m thinking about this a little too much and I should just shut up and return to watching daytime TV.

I hope that you are all having a fabulous weekend and if you suddenly get a flash of inspiration and you think that it can bring some good into the world, then try acting on it. There may be a reason you were given that idea and you might change a whole bunch of lives. Don’t waste that opportunity!

Much Love

Rachel xx