Alanis Morrisette as God.

“Let’s have a girlie night Mum. I can wax your face”.

Sorry what? Wax my face? I look at the ridiculously gorgeous non-hairy-faced 16 year old who stands before me all pretty and young, and glare. Wax my face? What do you mean? Wax my face?

Is this what lockdown has resorted us to? I’ll admit if a fine fuzzy look is the worst of my problems then perhaps I am not doing too badly, but still. I harrumphed, threatened imminent death and stomped off incredulously.

To be honest, lockdown for us in a house with a garden in a town with a beach and the Sussex Downs a short drive away is luxury in comparison to those without. Lockdown in early recovery? Not so sweet. I attend Zoom meetings to connect with other recovery fellows and I speak to friends daily but the reality of not being able to physically connect or have cups of tea in their houses is difficult when having an illness that thrives on isolation.

However one’s addiction manifests itself, it really is only symptomatic of a void that has lost its plug. You know the paddling pools with the plug in the bottom? The ones we buy year after year, that only last for a month before a cat punctures it or it gets left on its side until you can’t see past the slugs that have taken residence within it? One of them. It’s like trying to refill a slug-ridden, plug-less void with *insert addiction of choice* and constantly wondering why the gnawing never stops.

I remember sitting in a flat I shared with my EO (Eldest One) who was about 1 or 2 at the time time and wondering why it was I could never feel sated. I always felt like something was missing and here I am 16 years later slowly piecing the puzzle together and a warm glow is starting to build.

These last three weeks since leaving the treatment centre have been a rollercoaster. However, the good news is that this rollercoaster would have been out of place in somewhere like Thorpe Park and more suited to a toddler’s version at Lego World or whatever it’s called. The ups and downs have been more muted and less vomit inducing which for someone who can’t even watch someone else playing racing games without wanting to hurl, is a good thing. (Of note, I have never ever, and never ever will, go on a rollercoaster).

To help with mentally riding my toddler’s rollercoaster, I have been asked by my – let’s call her my ‘human’ guide – to pray and talk to my higher power. Now I have an issue with organised religion personally but completely get that it is a wonderful thing for lots of other people. For me, I believe in the power of energy, Earth, Mother Nature and Spirit. I have my own guides in the ether whom I talk to but I don’t have a particular God. So this makes praying a bit cumbersome. It takes quite a while to go through “Dear higher power, Mother Nature, mother goddess, spirit guides, animal guides, ancestors etc” each time I want to communicate so I decided that I needed a name. I immediately though of Alanis Morrisette who plays god in Dogma and I decided to name my multitude of higher powers the one name, ‘Alanis’. I was very excited about this and proceeded to tell all those who were remotely interested that I was talking to my goddess ‘Alanis’. Even my counsellor took it on board and managed not to laugh during our sessions when referring to Alanis (he did smirk but looked very chuffed at his lack of laughter). The problem I had was that every time I did my morning and evening chats with Alanis, it felt like I was addressing the Alanis Morrisette. And then it all felt wrong. I mean she may well have heard me telepathically, who knows how spiritual she is? She might have been buttering her toast in Canada or wherever she is from and suddenly out of the blue heard me waffling on about how I need to remain sober and could she possibly sort out the leaking overflow pipe…

In case you wondered, no, she didn’t answer.

So with that I have gone back to naming each of my zillion higher powers and just mix up the order so that none of them get jealous of who gets named first.

There are benefits to talking with an entity that you believe hold a larger power than yourself. I will write this more eloquently in another post, for now I am far too glib to describe with any justice. And I need a pee.

Little Chloë

It’s her turn to be nurtured. Her time to be reassured. Her chance to have her needs met.

One thing about intensive therapy is that stones tend to be uncovered. The lichen moss stripped back to reveal an intense, constantly shifting dark hard mass of unresolved pain; insecurity and agonising self doubt. The stones can’t be shifted but they can be worked upon. They can be softened, they can be polished so that angry, distorted screams aren’t reflected back and instead a quiet acceptance can be acknowledged. I cannot turn back time. The wounds which were inflicted, etched into my brain can only be changed in time. By me.

Trying to learn to love oneself more than another seems impossible. I can manage it part of the day, in increments. Then the self hate comes flooding back and I search, desperately, for validation and love from another. Yet these links I yearn for are so tenuous that they disappear before I can get a hold on them. These links are made with others who are also damaged. Also broken. They aren’t strong enough to hold my greedy little hands that clutch and grab for a lifeline. Instead I must turn these hands towards my own self and instead of grasping, they must stroke. They must be gentle.

The well of love I have within me seems never-ending yet at the same time empty. Slowly, slowly I am trying to tease out self worth and appreciation. Collecting it and giving it in small sips to Little Chloë. She needs it. I am taking her out to the beach so that we can sit and listen to the waves tumble into the shore. We garden so that she can feel the soil in her fingers and sense the life that is ready to grow. She sits with me as I paint and draw and make rudimentary clay sculptures in the shape of the Mother Goddess. I look at her photos and I tell her that I love her. That she was enough. That she is enough. That the 43 year old woman who looks back from the mirror can finally grow up and stop tearing chunks out of her being.

Tears roll down as I type. This growing pain hurts. It rips my insides apart, I feel the desperation as I wish for arms to comfort me. There are no arms, not only would the ease be short-lived, it would be vacuous. I must use my own arms and my own heart to learn to soothe.

Mother Goddess

Leaky Vessel

Sitting in my room on my bed in between lunch and a workshop. Reflecting on a) how much I cry and b) how I might be able to pull a sudden sickie and be excused from another excruciating hour of ‘let’s pull the addicts apart and bare their souls until they howl for mercy’.

Yes I am feeling a little dramatic and if I were a cat (which alas I am not.. I have never seen an alcoholic cat before so can safely assume I wouldn’t need to be in a rehab if I were one..), I would be painstakingly licking my fur so that every strand of hair was laying in the correct direction and then would sprawl out and knead my claws into the soft blanket under which I am currently hiding. Right now, being a cat would be the ultimate solution for my weary brain that has had enough of the constant barrage of therapy.

The thing is that I am fully aware that out of this pain comes growth. It’s just it hurts so fucking much. I struggle to sleep when I go to bed and then can’t wake up in the morning. My first thoughts as I stir are muted and fuzzy but within seconds negativity bombards the mind, like shots being fired from a gun. The idea is that I pray first thing and meditate. Unfortunately the fatigue is crippling first thing and I struggle to get down to the kitchen to make a cup of tea let alone pray to my higher power. Ideally I would pray to my higher power whilst simultaneously receiving a cup of tea but I feel that asking for tea and serenity might be pushing it.

Relationships throughout my life are fast becoming an obvious issue and I witness from my mind’s sidelines how I play out my role in relationships now. In fact I almost feel like I have just been thrown back to being a young child and I am having to relearn how to be a friend, a daughter, a sister as well as a mother. And god knows what hell being in a relationship now would manifest. Almost 6 weeks in and I have realised that not one of my past relationships have been healthy. Blood red ‘Codependence’ is stamped condemningly on each one, as I file them into the ‘LOVE – archived’ cabinet drawer.

With shocking clarity as I sat on a bus coming back from the Portobello market, I realised that each time I envisioned being with a partner, I was looking for someone who had the same values with a shared sense of humour, who liked the same things, adored animals, listened to the same music.. In fact, I was looking for me. I don’t actually need anyone else to fulfil me or make me whole.. I have already found that person. It is me. I have everything I need and now I just need to love her. The tears that threaten to drown me also come from the stark realisation that there is no person alive who can save the little girl who resides within, that critical time has passed. The loneliness and fear that stemmed from instances of neglect needed to be addressed between the ages of 0 – 16. They simply cannot be fixed now by anything external. That boat has most definitely sailed. Love, material objects, new hair styles or multiple piercings and tattoos.. it is time to accept that they are nice-to-haves. The only way that this vessel can be repaired is via a self-care manual that incorporates the instructions to fixing one’s container so that it is supportive, can bear rough seas and doesn’t leak. And to do this I assume I need to do a bit of work on self-love, self-care and self-esteem.

Through drawing and painting, meditating, writing and (my latest addiction) collecting house plants, I endeavour to create a safe space whilst I am here. My essential oil diffuser puffs out therapeutic steam whilst changing colour and the salt lamp exudes a warm glow. Fuck knows what the cluster of healing crystals are actually doing by my bedside but I do seem to think that shoving a different one down my bra each day may help with something. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

Its been a funny old day. A lot of ruminating to be done, which to be honest is pretty difficult as you are running around on a poorly staffed ward full of patients that are anxious, in pain and some with a little bit of dementia thrown in. At one point we ran out of commodes and that is never likely to be a good situation to be in, surely?

I haven’t had all that much time to think about the fact that it is our 8 year wedding anniversary today and I appear to have lost my husband by the wayside. I didn’t expect to be a single mother again either but with the addition of two more children. Our LO was adamant he wasn’t staying with me last night. After two nights at his father’s he was determined to stay every night with him. But eat at mine. (Possibly not such a good idea, as his father is a trained chef and I clearly, am not). He clung on to his dad who tried and failed to extricate himself. The horror reflected in our eyes at the screams and tears. Eventually I managed to stop him from following out of the front door but instead he tried to launch himself out of the front room window. I held him as he pushed and pulled away from me. Eventually he flung his little tear stained arms around me and buried his head into my neck, sobbing. the MO went out into the garden unable to cope and the EO fled upstairs, enveloped in her own PMT misery and anger at life. Tears silently fell down my cheeks as I told the LO that I knew, I understood and I was sorry.

 

Being sober has been my main weapon – I feel like a somewhat fatter and less fit Xena – belly bulging under my breast plates – wielding a shield purposefully. Being sober has been a godsend. An unknown strength has manifested inside and whilst I wobble from time to time, as some of the reality ekes out like a poison, I seem to have focus. My heart aches and I feel winded – how can I be without my best friend; my soul mate? – yet I somehow put one foot in front of the other.. and keep walking.

Emoanxidefidepressitis.

The time has come where I admit my brain has recently developed an updated malfunction error code. It can’t get past the start up mode. Instead of number and letters, I have compulsive and obsessive thoughts flashing by like some sort of sodding space storm. As a self-medicator I knew that not drinking would threw up some delightful debris but feeling compelled to do five things simultaneously constantly, whilst snapping at everyone in my family or bursting into tears combined with the inability to stop picking at every inch of my face or scalp, was not something I had bargained on. Yep, it feels that bad.

Fortunately (unfortunately?), it doesn’t look that bad to the outsider.. I can chat, laugh and function. However the cracks are starting to show. I have had to leave social events early or avoided doing things with friends because I can’t stop the chatter in my mind. I feel that unless I am constantly engaged in something, then I need to be on my own. I am unable to focus when watching TV shows so now it is only films or really good documentaries that I can sit still enough to enjoy. The good thing is that reading a book is my lifeline, even if I do have a bad habit of skimming the page before being able to read it properly. And I constantly forget who new characters are.

As I look back historically I have realised that this behaviour has always been there but it has been masked by alcohol. When people visit, I find it difficult to sit down and relax – unless I am pissed. When camping, I struggle to sit down because I can always find something to tidy and I remember when I went to Thailand in my early 20s, nearly having a melt-down because everyone was relaxing in hammocks – I couldn’t cope with the lack of stimulation. I thought that ditching nightly glasses of wine would mean I would be able to concentrate more, have less low moments and the Shitty Guilt Fairy would fuck off. Apparently, she is still knocking about.. only she doesn’t harp on about wine any more… just about my general level of shitness.

I think back to being a teenager and telling my mum that everything was going too fast.. my thoughts and my actions.. they were on a motor.. I used to have to turn the tap on to quieten it all down. Slowly I can piece it together.. the hours of crying when I was in my teens? I was bored. I couldn’t self-soothe, until I opened another can of cider.

I have mentioned before that I have been accused of a penchant for drama and more recently how I never stop.. that there is always a new project to undertake, be it diy/a new hobby/getting an animal.. I see the similarity between my MO and I. I see the despair when he is thwarted and how it is mirrored in my own behaviour.

The last four months, the irritability has worsened. The concentration levels are plummeting and I can’t find my off switch. My highs and lows feel even more pronounced; worry and guilt have taken top spot. So I have accepted I need more help, not just for me but to benefit my relationships too and also to ensure I don’t fall off the nursing degree wagon.

I have been to the GP, she will write a letter of confirming my ‘long term condition’ (ironic that we are doing that particular module at the moment 😉 ) to my uni so that I can buy more time for my essays and I can get a learning support plan in place.

Writing this isn’t easy. It’s not a cry for help (already done that at the doctors 🙂 ) – I am not heading towards an abyss but I am slipping and one of the most important things when you have somewhat sketchy mental health, is to recognise it. This post also has a purpose; to highlight that even those who appear to be doing ok, or maybe are just a bit eccentric, or neurotic.. they sometimes have an illness. A real bonafide illness. Mine was (unbeknownst to me) labelled by medics as a borderline personality disorder, (now known as an emotionally unstable personality disorder…how rude) – back in 2003 – combined with anxiety and a history of depression – these can cross over with attention deficit hyperactive disorders too.. which could explain a lot of things. Little did I know when looking at behavioural symptoms our MO was having, that on the adult ADHD screening sheet, I would resonate with the vast majority of them.

It’s difficult for my lovely family and wonderful friends and I love them so, so much for sticking with my highs and lows. My unpredictability. My new obsessions. I used to hate what I perceived to be judging comments but now I have begun to realise that unless you are in my brain (and thank the bejeezus you ain’t), you wouldn’t understand. So now I try and recognise their opinions for what they are; they come from a place of love and most probably, a place of innate frustration! As a parent of a child who is exhibiting these very same characteristics (if I have to listen to him harp on about fucking Joella one more time, I will explode); I now understand how draining it can be trying to support someone like him. And like me.

In the main I try and hide the majority of my ‘quirks’.. when I am really struggling I build my wall and camp down behind it until they subside, so that no-one sees how bad I am getting. For my husband and children though, they aren’t so lucky.. they are generally also stuck behind the wall with me.

 

 

Long, dull evenings..

I drank on Monday evening. I kid myself that I ‘like’ the taste of red wine. Yeah.. I do but as I drank it I realised that it is so obviously not just simply the taste. I like the taste of orange juice but I don’t drink glass after glass after glass. So, if it’s the zoning out I am after, those glorious evening hours of ‘fuck it’ land whilst I would watch tripe on tele and finally feel the muscles in my neck relax.. then I can honestly say, I am struggling to replicate that with anything else.

Up until about 3 or 4, I feel great… la de daa great… I’m killing this shit, great… then I start to panic ever so slightly.. ‘oooh noooooo.. I have hours before bedtime… what will I doooooo? How will I sustain this gleeful skipping? I have mundane crap to do.. and how will I turn off? How well I tune out?’.

A bath is great… for maximum half hour but then you have to exit said bath and find something else to do! Languishing in tepid water does get a little dull after the billionth night. So maybe reading a book? Yesssss.. but even that can get tiresome when it’s night after night. And sometimes I don’t want to be productive.  I just want to relax. I might not want to crochet, or draw, or plan, or sort.. I just want to switch off. I want my mind to get a bit fuzzy and to not care so much about everything. Meditating for hours may well achieve this but try doing that with kids coming downstairs every half hour complaining they are hungry.. it’s not possible.

So please, someone out there… have you got any magic solutions? Will this restlessness ever ease?

Shifting.

Some rather monumental changes have been occurring in 2018. I didn’t plan any of this; there were no pre-meditated goal-setting sessions or  earnest  recordings of my 2018 resolutions (which are never stuck to anyway). This has happened almost accidentally, but not quite. I planned to do Dry January and in doing so cemented the fact that I was seriously damaging my mental and physical health if I continued to drink as much as I was in 2017. To date I have drunk alcohol on 13 days out of 85 and as already established in previous posts, this is something short of a miracle for me.

During this time I have found the head space to meditate more. Still needing my hand held by using guided meditations, but nonetheless, learning to be more mindful is helping me in situations where I would normally let rip and decapitate someone, mainly my family – so at least they are appreciative of the new, sparkly, 2018 model of Chloë.

They may be less enchanted by my very new vegan status. This has been bubbling on the surface for a couple of years but due to my complete inability to maintain grand promises of change, I have – to date – been a proper shit vegan. As evidenced in previous blog posts, I have a tendency to fall of my various wagons on a regular basis. The vegetarian and vegan wagons appear to have particularly lose bolts and I tumble from them.. well… daily. I then run as fast as my legs will carry me, desperately trying to scramble back up, clinging onto my dreams of a more humane way of living, clutching at the sides of the wagon, hoping that perseverance will finally pay off.

I am a source of huge entertainment to my friends – they seems to simultaneously despair of and yet, almost appreciate these efforts of mine. For most of them probably, they think I am just making my own life (and possibly my family’s…) too difficult by trying too much at the same time and that if I only just calmed down and gave myself a break, then life would be a bit more peaceful. So, maybe I can explain what drives me:

There are two Chloës. Fuck it Chloë and Peaceful Chloë. We don’t get to see the latter very often because the former gets in the way. Peaceful Chloë often seems Frantic in her quest for Peace. But bear with, this is how I work:

know that ultimately there are things I need to do in this time on earth that will fulfil my spiritual expectations of myself. Often ego gets in the way but this is not what is happening here. I am not on a VeganTrain – this isn’t about fashion. Since I was a child I have tried to go veggie. I failed miserably because I literally kept forgetting and didn’t have the willpower to do it successfully, which is interesting because I was basically brought up a vegetarian in that my mum would only seem to cook quiche, pasta and omelettes. And all were without meat. In excitement on my school lunch breaks I would dig out a 50 pence piece and buy a sausage roll. I wasn’t given lunch money and was expected to go home and have a cheese sandwich instead. However, this wasn’t deemed cool and as we know, being cool has never been my go-to status but I at least needed to appear willing, so shop bought sausage rolls were bought and I nonchalantly ate them as if this were an everyday occurrence, forgetting about proclamations of being a vegetarian. I was a member of Animal Aid by about 12 and once pinned a horrific picture of a sheep in a slaughterhouse on the wall of my room so that I could macabrely remind myself and my friends of the horrors of what went on to produce the meat we ate. Since then I have tried and then failed and for as long as I can remember I have only eaten free range chicken and eggs and veered away from any caged or intensively farmed animals, clinging to the promises that the RSPCA assured us, in their blue stickered meats.

It wasn’t until I watched Earthlings last year that it was so effectively drummed into me that I was practising specieism. I loved my cats and my two chickens (but not all the other chickens I ate) and I wouldn’t eat that cow but I might eat that pig. Since watching Land of Hope and Glory last night, I kept myself in a joyful little bubble of thinking that UK slaughter houses were different. They are not. They beat piglets that aren’t thriving against the walls until they die, it’s the most cost effective way of culling. This isn’t hearsay. It’s filmed. Farmers are shown kicking the shit out of ‘free range’ pigs and torturing them for fun and a new born calf is kicked repeatedly whilst being called a ‘little fucking cunt’ and a pregnant cow kicked whilst lying down as she is ‘fucking useless’. These farms are in Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset, Kent.. up North, down South, along to the East and not forgetting the West of the country. These are the free-range, organic farms as well as the intensive ‘shit’ ones.

This makes my heart bleed, the tears that fell as I watched this, were angry tears. Tears that, we as humans, are plundering this earth,  in a bid to push ourselves higher and higher up the ladder of our preconceived ideas of grandeur.

I am not jumping aboard a vegan wagon in a bid to be fashionable. Just the same as I am not moderating my alcohol intake to prove a point to anyone else. This is my journey and there is an inherent need to calm my disquieted mind and soul. You see the frantic me is the scared me. If I want to see good in human beings then surely I need to see good in myself first? In order for me to make changes about mine and my family’s lifestyle, I need to have a clear head. So not drinking and practising mindfulness faciliates this. Without the ups and downs of hangovers, anxiety and depression, I can start making decisions and actually sticking to them. We don’t need to eat meat. We don’t need to contribute to the torture that animals are subjected to daily. We don’t need to drink milk, it’s not for humans, it’s for calves. Yes I will miss cheese. God I will miss cheese but I will get over it and if somehow I can also bring up children that might follow this train of thought in the future, then maybe we can contribute to lower levels of carbon emissions and less flooding and just maybe, we won’t be using as much water because the food we eat doesn’t need as much as the ‘free-range’, grass pastured cow, pig or sheep.

The Peaceful Chloë is actually starting to emerge and I want my children to feel this peace. They, too, love animals. They, too, want to live in a world that feels safe. We can’t control what everyone else does but we can control what we do. The EO watched some of the films, the youngest two didn’t. However, they  solemnly agreed as I announced that I wouldn’t be bringing anymore animals products into the house.

The Frantic Chloë is calming and the kids can sense it.. Fuck it Chloë is slowly being pushed to the side and, just maybe, some will start to call me Sanctimonious Chloë 😉 .. meh… whatevs… I am sure in time they’ll get used to my levitating ways ;-)…