the supermarket frozen aisle

The frozen food section at a quarter to twelve,

It’s a lonely place to be.

The only sound, the humming of the freezers

And the distant beep of check out girls

Scanning chips and apples, loaves of bread.

It is the place I’ve always come

Since that day you left in June.

The cold it keeps me from expiring,

Earlier than I ever should.

The sad and lonely men who drift on by,

Holding empty baskets on their arms,

Are a sad reminder of what I have become.

Their vacant eyes and down turned mouths,

Reflect with painful accuracy,

The person who I’m bound to be

A few years down the line from now.

I wish that I’d tried harder,

I wish that I’d clung on some more.

And then I’d come on shopping trips

With other couples while the sun is up.

But now I’m destined to drift around

This ghostly version of the life that I once had,

Where sad and lonely folk all pass

Underneath the buzzing lights

Of the frozen aisle.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a supermarket in the middle of the night, but it can be a little bit depressing. If you compare it to the hustle and bustle of a Saturday morning, when all of the young families and loved up couples are out in force, there is a stark contrast.

I always think that the people who go shopping in the middle of the night go there to avoid these happy people because they are sad. They don’t want to be reminded of the happiness that they are missing out on. And sometimes I wonder if they are deliberately avoiding it because they once were one of those happy people and the pain of what they lost is too great for them to bear? Perhaps they went through a divorce and now they can’t even entertain the idea of going shopping in amongst all of those happy families?

I always wonder how people end up in the places they do and I feel a great deal of empathy towards the people who I think might have a story to tell. People tend not to choose to be alone and drifting around the supermarket at midnight. There is normally a story to tell and this poem scratches at the surface of this.

If you are alone and wandering around the shops at a ridiculous hour then I hope that you can reach out and find some companionship somewhere in this world.

Much Love

Rachel xx

to be like charlize theron

I’m thirsty for something.

I want to fill that gaping hole.

I want to find the thing that’s missing,

The piece that’s missing from my soul.

Perhaps I need to buy something?

That perfume they’ve been advertising,

That could be the thing I’m looking for.

Surely if I bought more stuff

My problems would all go away.

I’d be just like the models that I see,

The ones they use to show the stuff

To all of us who are upset

With where our lives have taken us.

If I was like Charlize Theron

And spritzed myself with damned Dior,

Then I could look like her, and be like her and have her perfect life!

I wouldn’t feel so thirsty

And I wouldn’t have that hole inside.

But I cannot afford that scent

So I’m not worthy of a place,

Among the blessed, the super models and the super rich.

Instead I’ll just go back to work

And spur the cycle on and on.

As humans we are thirsty for something and this world is so broken that we just chase all the things that give us instant gratification. I know that I’ve used alcohol to fill that hole in the past, but people can use all sorts and companies use that to their advantage. They know that we want to be happy and beautiful and by using a perfect looking model to advertise their products they are sending us a very clear message: buy this, and your life will be perfect. Buy this and all of your pain and your hurt will go away.

But I think that there is a way to fill that hole without chasing all this stuff. I think that we can fill it spiritually and it is far more effective. I know that not everyone agrees with organised religion but I think that a lot of people believe that there is something out there that is bigger than us and that offers people a lot of hope.

There is a reason that in 12 step recovery there is mention of a higher power, and that is because we can’t control ourselves without the help of something greater than ourselves. In times of stress and unhappiness, it is a great comfort to lean on something greater than any human.

I hope that you can find some way of connecting with your higher power because there is sometimes so much temptation in this world that it’s difficult to avoid doing yourself any serious damage. If you are struggling then maybe at least try picking up a Bible and having a read. I find that the Psalms are really encouraging. Even if the Bible is a bit scary, you might find that getting out in nature and connecting with a higher power is easier, or perhaps meditating. However you do it, I think that it’s worth at least exploring these ideas as we are bombarded with so many things that cause us stress.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

sorry seems to be the hardest word

In the dark, deserted loneliness

Of the place we once called home,

You whispered several thousand words,

That all expressed how sorry that you were.

But when the day crept into view,

Those empty words began to scatter,

Like spiders when they scuttle

For the safety of the nooks and crannies.

It seems that when the world awakes

And sunlight streams in through the cracks,

You don’t seem so sure you’re wrong.

Or if you are, you’re too ashamed

To admit that what you did, it hurt.

Better to pretend it’s me

That should be shouldering the blame.

Ever been blamed for something that wasn’t your fault? Or had someone change their story when they start to look bad? I can sympathise and I know that it hurts somewhere deep inside.

The problem is that as humans we all have our own story to tell and our own truth. A lot of the time we don’t even know what the truth is because we can make ourselves believe the story we have made up in our own minds.

What really hurts is when someone admits that they have hurt you and say that they are sorry, then when they get out into the public domain, they change their story and say that you have hurt them. It makes you feel like you want to go out into the street and shout so that everybody knows YOUR truth.

But as much as it hurts, it’s always best to remain quiet and graceful. Mouthing off in the street (or on Facebook) doesn’t do anybody any favours and it particularly reflects badly on you. It’s so much better to sit quietly, smile and make everyone think that nothing is hurting you. It’s the hardest thing to do EVER, but it’s so worth it.

Remember that if you are on the receiving end of this, you know your truth. The person on the other side of the fence has their own story and their own reasons for their behaviour. Just try to smile and send love their way. Keep your dignity in tact, you’ll be grateful of it further down the line.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

lost

I stared at the map, limp in my hands

It looked like a scrawl of red and blue lines,

Impossible to read with my heart in my throat.

You had your hands on the wheel,

Gripping so tight that your knuckles turned white.

“Tell me what’s wrong,” I said.

My voice wavered and it sounded like more of a question.

“Just keep your eyes on the map.”

I wished that I hadn’t told you the truth.

The set of your jaw told me just how you felt.

No words to describe the fiery hot hate.

The text was still open, the phone on the dash.

I wish I had known what strife it would bring,

Two people together, in a little tin box,

And yet acres between them because of this wedge

That’s been driven between them without his permission.

“Will you please slow down,” I begged as I crumpled the map.

He could scare me at times in an average day,

Glass hitting walls when those teeth start to grind.

Last time it started with a stain on his shirt

And ended with bruises on delicate eyes.

I held the map tightly and wished I could find,

The place where we were in this tangled up mess.

We weren’t slowing down and I cried out for help.

I knew that the end was almost in sight,

Closing of eyes and extinguish the light.

the mental health plague

Do you want to know why we don’t tell a soul?

Do you want to know why it is kept under lock?

Do you want to know why we scuttle through shadows,

Licking our wounds and patching up gashes,

With dirty, torn rags and useless, worn plasters?

It’s because we’re ashamed and it’s all down to you,

Making us feel like we’re meant for the corner

With the rats and the vermin,

The creatures that nobody wishes to see.

Because you are worried that we may infect,

That our weakness will claw at your shell that is cracking.

And once the disease is inside the body,

There’s no fighting the symptoms with rainbows and smiles

And all of the things you suggest all day long.

Better to turn a blind eye to the darkness,

Or maybe just shout at it, bully it out?

Because you are respectable and can’t have our kind

Clouding your doorways and draining your bank.

You are rich and above all this death and disease,

But herbs and spices stuffed in your nose cone

Will do nothing to help when the fear comes a-knocking.

It knows not the difference between master and slave.

So you’d better be kind while you still have the chance.

To take part in this deathly and gruesome last dance.

There is a lot of shame involve in telling your boss that you have a mental illness and many people choose to not divulge that information. Unfortunately a lot of people have had bad experiences and it is really sad that this means that they are then scared to get the support they need in the future.

I’m guessing that the reason some bosses are so unsupportive is because they don’t understand mental illness. They think that because somebody has anxiety or depression, they may be taking time off constantly and costing the business as a result. But many people who suffer are really hard and conscientious workers and it’s just cruel to treat them in a way that’s so disrespectful.

When I see managers treating their staff poorly because they have a mental illness, it makes me think of the illness as being a bit like the black death. I imagine these people being frightened of getting infected themselves and shunning the sufferers. I imagine them tucked away in their ivory towers thinking that they’re safe because they have money and power and status.

But the truth is that we are all vulnerable and it only takes one traumatic experience or a bad run of luck for a few weeks and we can all find ourselves on that slippery slope downwards. So if you are in a management position, show some compassion. Don’t just try and bully out the weakest link, because sometimes that ‘weakest link’ can be the one that is brimming with the best ideas if you just give them a chance and a bit of support when times are hard.

And if you are struggling at the hands of someone who is bullying you at work because they know you are weak, stay strong. You have nothing to be ashamed of and you never deserve to be put in the corner if you are feeling sad or anxious. I’ll say a little prayer for you today and I hope that some of that positivity reaches you in some way, shape or form.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

preservation

I’ve been thinking quite a lot

About the way that I might keep

Something fresh and new.

I’ve watched the love that once we had

Wither over time.

I hoped that there could be a way

To preserve what little’s left.

Maybe I could dry it out,

Rub in salt or stick it in a tin.

Anything to stop this pain,

To stop that love from rotting to the core.

If I can halt the process now,

We’ve got a fighting chance.

But any further down the line

And what we have, it will be done.

Make the choice and make it now,

Before we waste another day,

In this hurtful, hateful way.

Watching my parents go through this difficult break up has made me think about love and the way it changes over time. How can two people go from loving each other to hating each other in a matter of months? It feels like the love has an expiry date and once that date has been reached it begins to rot and quickly.

And even if you do recognise that the rot is setting in, is there anything you can do about it? I’m a strong believer in the power of therapy and talking about problems so perhaps that is the way to stop something from going bad? Whatever the answer is, I don’t think that things can ever go back to the way that they were. I think that even if things get patched up, everything will be fundamentally different. I guess that once something has started to go bad there is no undoing it even if you halt the process.

I just hope that it’s all over soon because its put me off marriage altogether and I’ve even heard my son saying that he never wants to fall in love because he thinks that it will hurt too much. It’s awful that somebody in their early teens is already scared of taking that leap of faith into a relationship.

If you’ve been hurt before or you’re watching somebody else go through the pain of a break up then I hope that it doesn’t completely traumatise you. I hope that you can move on and find the confidence to leap into a new relationship because it is a beautiful thing when it works.

Much Love

Rachel xx

just run the race

I guess it’s just like running in a race.

There’s a track that stretches out.

And just like life, I haven’t got a clue

If it’s straight or if it loops.

I just hope there is a line

That marks the end, the finish point

Where I can rest, collect a medal and a flag.

There’s only one attempt at this

And only I can screw it up.

But then again, I’ve practised hard,

I know that hurdles can be cleared.

This is my moment, never to be feared.

I used to be a swimmer when I was a kid and whenever I raced I would get so nervous because I was terrified that I would screw up. I don’t know why I got quite so frightened, but I know that I have always needed love and I was scared that a poor performance might make people hate me.

As I’ve got older I’ve seen that life is a lot like one of those races. There is so much opportunity to screw up, but there is also the chance that everything could go well and I become a raging success. But that’s life. It’s all a bit of luck and some things will go well and others will be terrible. You just need to roll with it and at least have a go. If you lose, you’re to going to die. It will hurt, but you will still be alive to run another race. Just learn from where you went wrong and have another go.

If you’ve recently tripped over a hurdle, get back up and keep running. There’s always somebody there who will help you up and get you across the line. The worst thing that you can do is let the fear cripple you and not even turn up at the start line. I hope that you enter the race this year and have some fun no matter what the result.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

makeup and mothers

Pots and vials and plastic tubes,

I had a few of each, spread across the table.

“You’ll be needing some of that,”

She whispered in my ear.

I shrugged her off dismissively,

But still I reached and grabbed the pot.

I felt her sneer, it burned its way into my back,

Both cold and hot, all at once,

A special skill she’d mastered long ago.

Dutifully, I smeared it on,

I covered every blemish, every pore.

That was what she wanted.

My mother always focused on my flaws.

Long ago I’d lost the confidence

To show my face without its painted mask.

She’d told me that it needed hiding.

The world, it didn’t want to see,

What was lurking underneath,

The building blocks that she had given me.

After all, it was her who formed me in the womb.

Half of me was all of her and that was more than she could take.

If I was less than perfect, then what did that make her?

Better fill my stocking with

The very best that she could buy.

To conceal and colour, to offer a foundation

On which a perfect lie is told,

A lie that paints us in a better light

And keeps our ugly secrets firmly out of sight.

Why the hell do we wear makeup if not to cover up who we really are? I was always getting makeup from my mum. There would always be a little something in my stocking each year even though I never actually wear makeup all that often. I sometimes wonder if the reason she wanted to buy it for me was because she didn’t like what she saw. Maybe she saw the bits of herself that she didn’t like when she looked in the mirror?

Mums do tend to have a way of being super critical and I think a lot of it is because we hope that our kids are going to be a better version of ourselves. But everyone on the planet is flawed and so we are always going to be a little bit disappointed if we put all of our hopes and dreams in another human being.

I do like to play around with makeup every now and then but I refuse to let anyone make me feel like I’m less of a person if I don’t wear it. We’re all beautiful in our own way and we should be proud of the people we are even though we have flaws in both our physical appearance and our personality.

Love who you are and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

flowers on the side of the road

I stooped and touched the drooping petals,

I guessed those flowers had been there

For several weeks at least.

Cellophane all cracked and crumpled,

And a greeting card that’s long since disappeared.

I wondered how the person these were for

Had died, had perished, lost their life.

I wondered if they had a spouse or kids,

Or anyone who missed them dearly, now that they were gone.

And then my thoughts, they trailed away,

To my own life and my own pain.

I missed her even though she lived.

But the breaking of those bonds,

Were just as violent and severe.

I missed her with the same intensity

That I would feel if I were taping flowers to this tree.

She’s gone, not dead, but vanished from my life.

Perhaps I need to buy some flowers,

Make a little grave to mark

The passing of a love that’s done.

Then perhaps I’ll find a way to put her ghost to rest

And remove this heavy weight that’s rested on my chest.

I miss my mum so much. She’s not died but she has cut me out of her life completely and I have found that some of the things I say to people make it sound like she is no longer here at all. I’m so sad about everything that has happened that I just want to put it all to rest. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t give up on the hope that I might get her back. I can’t have the ‘funeral’ because there is so much uncertainty. And I love her and would have her back in a heartbeat.

If you are mourning the end of a relationship I hope that you are staying strong and looking after yourself. Just be open and ready if the person does want to reconcile because hatred is a horrible and energy draining emotion.

Much Love,

Rachel xx

more doom and gloom and stuff about breaking up and having to get rid of the house you love

First to be tackled was the fridge,

I wiped away the crumbs that dusted the bottom shelf,

Do you remember making them

When you made me toast to eat in bed?

Then I turned towards the bathroom

To clean the toothpaste from the sink.

Do you remember standing side by side

Brushing teeth and smiling at me in the mirror?

We always brushed our teeth together,

It made me feel like I was in a rom com

And that I’d get my happy ending.

Then I reached that sacred room that housed our bed,

The marriage bed where the deal was sealed.

Do you remember how we used to giggle

Underneath the covers?

Our arms and legs all tangled up in such a loving mess.

And in the living room I dusted the spot where the TV used to be.

Do you remember putting on some MTV

And how we used to dance around

As we drank cheap wine and laughed and laughed and laughed?

I sit down on the couch with a heavy sigh,

Because that was then and this is now.

There isn’t any love, here within these walls.

It vanished with the closing of the door.

This house was where I wanted to grow old.

But now it’s just an empty shell, ready to be filled

With someone else’s love and happy memories.

I know that I am bathing in my bitterness

But I worry they will have to peel me from this sofa

Before they can embark upon their own adventure.