resolutions.

this coming year i promise that

i’ll eat less chocolate, get more sleep,

i’ll be a lot less moody and

these promises i’ll keep.

Just a short one as I think about the end of the year and what next year might bring. I don’t know about you but I’m a tiny bit shit at keeping my New Year’s Resolutions. The amount of times I did Dry January with the intention of carrying on in the rest of the year is astounding. Of course, I did crack the drink problem eventually, but it took a lot more than a half arsed promise that I was making myself at midnight on 31 December.

Resolutions are so hard to keep and yet we beat ourselves up when we fail at them. I think that this year we need to promise to be a little kinder to ourselves. We over eat and over drink because we are stressed out and hating life. It is the immediate gratification that we are after and if we were a little nicer to ourselves we wouldn’t need it half as much.

This year, take a step back from the root cause. You may have an alcohol problem, in which case, go and get the appropriate help. But it may just be that you are pushing yourself a little too hard. Take your foot of the gas and you may find that you are only craving the drink at the end of the week rather than at the end of every day!

You can achieve so much in 2020 if you put your mind to it. But don’t stress yourself out by making some arbitrary goals at the end of this month. Follow your heart as the year progresses and see where it leads you. That marathon that you’ve always wanted to do might get done this coming year or it might not happen until 2025. Whatever the case, you will achieve SOMETHING this year and you should celebrate that as and when it comes.

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.

i bought him glasses today

i bought him glasses today,

to you it may seem like

something inconsequential.

don’t all parents do that kind of thing?

no, not me.

as sad as it is to admit,

i chose the bottle over the most simple of things.

i loved nothing more than to slip under it’s spell,

and leave this world that made me unwell.

i’d ignore all those things i was meant to do,

head in the sand so I could avoid the view.

but now i’m stepping out from that haze.

i’m doing it all by myself.

and whether you snort at my efforts

rolling your eyes at the fact that i’m boasting

about such a small, insignificant thing.

it really doesn’t matter to me

because i’m living my dream, of that i am sure.

today it’s just parenting but tomorrow it’s more.

that i can promise with my hand on my heart

because now that i’m sober i won’t fall apart.

today it’s just glasses that i’m lovingly buying,

by tomorrow i know that i’ll truly be flying.

I bought my son his glasses this week and it’s the first time that I’ve ever done it. We’ve lived with my parents for his whole life and they have done everything for us. Mum has always taken him to the opticians and had his eyes tested. I’ve never even set foot inside that shop because I never had to. It was always easier to get drunk and let her shoulder the responsibility.

But now we are on our own and I had to step up to the plate. I was terrified of something that most parents would just take in their stride. I didn’t know how we got his eyes tested or what to do about trying on and selecting frames because I’ve just never had to do it.

We did it though, like a little team. And it may seem like such a tiny thing but to me I couldn’t stop thinking about how I’m growing and learning after a decade in the fog of alcoholism. I feel like I’m finally learning how to do all the things that I watched other grown ups do so easily. It was mystifying to watch them go about their business when I had no clue. But now I’m proving to myself that I do have a clue! I’m doing it and I’m damn proud of that!

I’m not proud of the mess I’ve gotten myself into though. I’m in my mid thirties and I have a teenager and I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing. I feel like I’m about twelve and I’ve just been thrown into the deep end. It’s all my own fault that I’m here and that is heart breaking. But rather than be miserable or ashamed and wallow in those feelings, I choose to celebrate my little victories.

So today, I hope that you can also really bask in the nice feelings you get when you do something that either frightened you, or just plain bamboozled you. You deserve to enjoy every victory, no matter how small. For some people it might mean running a marathon while for others it might mean just going to the shop or doing a shift at work without crying. We all have our battles and nobody can tell you that yours is insignificant. You are loved and special and I say a prayer for you today if you are struggling with any of these issues.

Much love,

Rachel xx

What a dumb bloody question

“what are you wearing?” they asked

as i marched through the crowd of glamour and glitz.

dumbly, i looked down at the gown that i wore.

“a dress,” i said, feeling deflated.

why would they ask?

does it matter if i wear

a thing that i plucked

from the rails of forever twenty one?

does it matter that the blusher and lipstick is on?

i wish so bad that you would learn to see

that rather inadvertently

you’ve missed a golden opportunity

to open up a conversation

that would give you a sort of indication

that the world at large, it wants to hear,

less about the stuff that’s so nonsensical

and more about the things we loathe

and that we love and that we fear.

that’s what pulls upon the strings

that hold our hearts in place.

that’s what reaches inside our soul,

shining a light on all that is dark

making us squirm and scratch at the skin

until nothing is left but a thing that is raw,

the clothes that you asked about all tattered and torn.

so now it is time that i make you a pledge

if you ask where i bought the shoes on my feet

or who was the person that coiffed my hair

i’ll say something smart and incredibly deep

and i’ll do it with style

and courage and flair.

I saw this thing that was said by Jennifer Lawrence and just had to write something about it. It made me laugh and get angry all at once which is what all the best quotes should do. Nothing should be entirely black or white if it’s going to make us think and open up a lively debate.

On the one hand, asking her what she is wearing is the standard question we expect to hear on the red carpet. It’s what the designers put the dress on her for. But then she kind of has a point. Are we worrying too much about the things that shouldn’t really matter at all?

We are living in a world where so many people have depression and anxiety and so much of it is because we are scared that we are not good enough. There is a deep black hole inside some of us and it could be filled if we started asking meaningful questions. Better questions than “is the dress you are wearing really expensive and highly sought after?”

We should be seeking kindness and fun and a desire to love; this is what will make the world a nicer place to live in. I hope that today you spend a little less time judging people by what they are wearing, what job they do and what car they drive and a little more time getting to know the real them and what makes them tick.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

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

Gossip Girl (a poem)

It sucks you in rather like

The moment that the plug is pulled

And the old and dirty water drains,

Swirling and whirling from the bath.

There’s no escape, it’ll all go down.

You cannot stem the flow, no matter what you do.

The words are just the same,

Addictive, moreish and impossible to stop.

Ears prick as thoughtless words begin

To cross the lips of foolish girls

Who know not what they say or do.

They don’t know the pain they cause,

The syllables they think are silly bubbles,

Popping harmlessly before they reach that other girl.

But actually, they’re like a tiny army

Of barbed and deadly spears going on the hunt.

They gather speed and gather mass

Before they find their target.

When they hit they hurt like hell,

Crushing hearts and scratching brains.

Metal on metal screeching loudly

As she crumples inwards like

The messy car wreck that was never wanted.

It was harmless fun, or so they thought

Until that day the gossip killed.

I’ve had so much trouble resisting gossip over the years. It’s such a problem at school and in the work place and it’s so easy to get sucked into it. I’ve described it as being the same as water flowing down a drain; once the plug has been pulled, there is no escaping that pull.

Since I have become a Christian I am so much more aware of my flaws and it helps me to turn to the Bible so that I do not get sucked into these things. I know that if I stay well away then I am safe. If I don’t take those first steps by getting involved and even listening to the gossip, then I am in a much safer position.

I also wanted to use this poem to show where gossip can end up. It can be as destructive as a car crash, killing anyone in its way. What would you do if you found out that your words had been the cause of somebody harming themselves? I know that I couldn’t live with myself and yet we all do it. We all whisper in corners about people that we don’t like or we think that we are better than.

If you have been subjected to bullying and gossip then you will know the pain that it causes, so keep that in mind next time you hear someone mindlessly spreading rumours. Try and be the point where it stops. And if you are being bullied at the moment make sure that you speak to someone. If you’re at school speak to a teacher and if it’s at work go to HR. Nobody needs to put up with it so stay safe and never get to the point where you are considering harming yourself because of it. You are loved and special and you can hold onto that forever and ever.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.

Proverbs 16:28

Why ending therapy is f**king terrifying

I’m frightened. I’m terrified. And the reason? I’m ending my therapy sessions in just three weeks.

I started therapy when I was newly sober and still really mentally unwell. I was paranoid that my employer was trying to kill me and I even took an overdose and ended up in hospital just a few weeks after commencing my sessions. In short, my life was a bit of a shit show at the time.

Fast forward to almost three years on and I’m still not perfect. Far from it. But I have sat in that room, week after week, and I’ve talked and I’ve been open to learning. I’ve learnt so much about myself and where I was going wrong and where I can improve. And I say ‘improve’ rather than ‘fix’ because I don’t believe that we can ever truly be fixed. Perfection is unattainable and even when I’m ninety I will still be learning so much about myself and my fellow humans.

It has been an interesting journey, to say the least. And I’m nervous about where my life will take me after I leave the ‘care’ of my therapist. It’s the weirdest relationship that I’ve ever had with anyone, both close and distant all at once. I sometimes find myself wondering how I’m ever going to cope with nobody to hold me accountable in the same way.

I thought it might be helpful for myself and for others to just put into writing how therapy has helped me and just what it is that I’m frightened of in a life post therapy.

  • Therapy has taught me that we are all just winging it. In a way this is really terrifying because it means that I can never really find all of the answers. There is no instruction booklet for life and sometimes it’s all about a bit of guess work. Sometimes my decisions will be wrong and I just have to bear the consequences.
  • I’ve opened up to my therapist about some of my deepest and darkest secrets. I wouldn’t even tell my closest friends some of these things so I feel like I’ve let my barriers down in the extreme. Losing that relationship is like breaking up with a romantic partner. That makes me squirm to write, but it’s true, and it’s also a heartbreaking feeling.
  • I’ve discovered that some of my difficulties stem from past traumas and from my relationship with my mother. This has made for some uncomfortable realisations and I don’t know if things can ever go back to the way they were. I can cope with this, but it hurts.
  • I don’t have anyone to hold me accountable anymore. I knew that I had to check in with my therapist every week, and now I have nobody. I have to hold on so tightly to the fact that I have people around me who love me. I may not be able to burden them with all of my worries but they would be devastated if I was gone.
  • I’ve learned that when someone is mean to me, that’s their shit, not mine. People behave badly because they are uncomfortable and not because they hate me or want me arrested or dead. Holding onto this is so hard for me, but it’s essential if I am to stop myself from going down that rabbit hole I found myself in three years ago.
  • I’ve had to change my goals and my values. All I wanted was to be rich and successful because I thought that this would make people love me and respect me. Actually, it just made me bloody miserable. I need to do the things that make me happy, like writing and art and crochet. I don’t have expensive tastes so why the fuck do I need a job that pays me well but stresses me out to the point that I end up in hospital? I rest my case.
  • Just chill out. Life is to be enjoyed. If I die, then I die. But why not enjoy it while I have it?

I’d love to hear if you have had therapy and what you have learned from the experience. I think that it’s so helpful to learn what it is that causes you to behave the way that you do. I truly believe that we are all like little computers and the things that happen to us early on in life program us for the future. It’s fascinating and scary in equal measures!

Much Love,

Rachel xx

Ghost

Your ghost is always there,

It doesn’t matter how much time may pass,

Or where I am or who I’m with.

The swish of colours in the street,

It warps the faces of those figures.

Each and every one the same.

They all become the face I want to see.

It’s you.

How many crowds or queues

Do I search and find that ghost

The ghost of you who dances through

The other guests who fade away.

Because it’s only you that I can see

Since that day you left.

I want a partner in this dance,

But you are gone and no matter

How very hard I try to search,

How many times I think your face is there,

You’re not.

You’re gone.

It breaks my heart but I must dance

Alone.

I’ll see you all the time,

But they are ghosts who grace the parquet floor,

Waltzing and whirling.

One day I’ll learn, it can’t be you.

It’s just a ghost I want to see.

Ever lost someone that you loved so much it hurt? If you have then you probably know that feeling of seeing them every place you go. I got married when I was nineteen. I loved the guy so much and we had a child together. But then he left me and I was heartbroken. For years I thought that I saw him in crowds even though I knew that it couldn’t possibly be him. It was like there was a ghost haunting me every day of my life. If I’m being honest, I still sometimes think I catch a glimpse of that man and we are thirteen years on.

Sometimes people leave our lives and it’s a traumatic experience. This poem is about that feeling of seeing your loved one everywhere even when you know that it can’t possibly be them. For me it felt like I was in a ballroom and everyone around me was a dancer, swirling around, and I could just catch a glimpse of somebody with the same hair or the same eyes as my husband. It was haunting and ghostly and I hope that this poem captures this feeling.

I’m sure you have felt this at some point and I hope that reading about my experience can help you to feel better. We all miss somebody and hope that they are nearby, even if we know that they are far away or they have died. It’s part of the human experience to feel this pain and confusion. It sucks but feel comforted by the fact that you are not alone.

Much love,

Rachel xx

Work shy?

The fear of what can happen while I’m there,

It scrapes its talons through the juicy parts,

Of my brain that flickers with anxiety.

Its vast feathery wings beat against my body,

As I try to tell myself that this is all for money.

I need the money if I want to live,

Without it humans simply shrivel up and die.

It’s our lifeblood, it makes the world go round.

But me, I hate the stuff.

It’s crude papery body flutters through my fingers,

Never there quite long enough,

To make a difference in life.

It simply swoops into my line of sight,

Plucks all the happiness that’s curled inside my hand.

It tells me that I’m never good enough,

That my boss will want me out, or want me dead.

Eventually it pecks until there’s nothing left.

I’m just a shell of who I used to be.

Perhaps I’m shy of work, of effort and of toil.

Perhaps I am just trouble, a burden on the state.

Whatever the reason, I’m scared of what will happen.

I’m scared of what will rob me of the life I have,

I’m terrified of the lifelike claws that dig their way,

Inside my thoughts, into my life.

I’m holding on but I don’t know

How much longer this can last.

My grasp is failing.

I am falling.

It is done.

I work part time because I’ve had some horrible experiences at work that have really left me quite frightened. Some people might sneer and say that I’m being a bit of a snowflake, but I’m really trying and this is a poem about that battle.

Every day that I go to my job I have to battle internally with all of my demons and, quite frankly, it’s exhausting. I sometimes worry that I’m work shy, but I know from the amount of effort that I have to put in to just show up that that can’t be the case. I must be committed if I am going to this much trouble.

On a daily basis I have to tell myself that I am trying and the very fact I am getting in and standing on my own two feet is proof that I am winning the battle, little by little. It is terrifying and yet I still do it.

And then, I have the daily reminder that I need to work if I am going to have the money to eat and do the things that I want to. I sometimes worry that eventually it’s all going to dry up and then I will die. It feels like a wild animal is chasing me down and that is where this poem comes from.

If you are struggling with a fear of work and getting fired and everything that goes along with that, then I hear you. It’s horrible to fear something that is so important in life. I hate when I hear people say that they live for their jobs because I wonder what is wrong with me; why can’t I have that passion? Instead I am left with a crippling fear and a life that I feel is half lived. If you are like me then I would love for you to know that there are other people out there. You are not alone. Speak to someone, get counselling. Just don’t let it drive you to the point where you are done.

Much Love

Rachel xx

Just be nice to everyone!!!

Can we all just be nice to each other,

Even when the twat at the till who shouts really loudly at you,

Just deserves a punch in the face.

Because you are better than that.

And the really important thing to remember,

Is that you have no fucking way,

Of knowing what he’s going through.

He may not be as awful as you think.

He might be going through something hard,

He might be in terrific pain.

And you could be the one to ease that just a little.

You could be the one to make the difference,

In a really shitty day.

It could be your smile and hi and friendly bye,

That takes the edge of something terrible.

It’s not all about you and your feelings,

It’s you who has to get that ball rolling.

So roll it and see where it goes.

You may not get to see the final destination,

But I can assure you that it will be somewhere

Pretty fucking nice.