Where I am now.

It’s been a fair while since I last wrote. This evening as I got ready for bed, the itch appeared and I realised that it was time to get my thoughts down. Update my (few) readers as to where I am on this, somewhat mental, journey I am on.

Tomorrow marks 9 months without a drink. The times I struggle is when I want to settle down and watch something in the evening. Especially after a shift at work. Or at the weekend, just to have something demarcate from the usual working weekday. I have set myself the challenge of not drinking until I have done a year. I shall explain my thought process..

I haven’t been to a meeting with the support group that I was part of for over a month. I have struggled for over 20 years to understand the ethos behind the workings of the program and as I am not able to talk in any detail because of it’s acclaimed anonymity, suffice to say there are a few, rather major principles that I can’t get past.

Whilst I was in the treatment centre, living and breathing recovery and the 12 step program – it felt like I was agreeing to things that I didn’t have the power to argue against. And this is exactly what is expected – admitting that you are powerless. Which is fairly easy when you have just devastated your life and loved ones by taking an overdose. I will never, ever forget the amazing support from the treatment centres I went to. It is through their care, understanding and expertise that I am able to sit here and type this, feeling more centred than I have ever done in my life. But.. and it’s probably a rather large ‘but’, the ever-gnawing feeling that I wouldn’t stay with the program became more and more acid-inducing and eventually I had to be honest that I couldn’t (and possibly more importantly, wouldn’t) pretend to myself or others any longer that I was willing to think/behave in a certain way that didn’t resonate with my views.

I have had nothing but love from peers and friends who are also in recovery, although I do wonder if there are wagers being put on how long it is before I am back knocking on the proverbial door, begging for mercy and help. Maybe, I will but for the time being I am sticking to what feels right for me.

I don’t believe that addiction/alcholism is a disease. The definition of disease does not fit as it does other diseases; cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons for example. Interestingly research has shown that alcoholism was named a disease by an American organisation, thereby helping the validation of insurance claims for treatment centres. Which, by the way, are an enormous money spinner in the USA. I would (and could) link the research to this post but if you just type in ‘is alcohol really a disease’ into Google, then you will get the same results as I did. If I still had access to my university research databases then I could probably come up with all sorts of data… but I don’t. And quite frankly, as I am trying to simply my life at the moment that is probably quite a good thing! Equally the figures for relapsers are high. Addiciton/alcoholism has a poor prognosis and that is even with treatment centres and the program.

My idea is that I will protect my mental health. If I am feeling centred and at peace, once Xmas comes, I will probably have a few glasses of wine. I also know that I hate hangovers and anxiety with a passion and if I drink too much then I will have both of those. And if I am honest, it is those two factors that keep me away from drinking. More than the horror stories; more than the looking back at past experiences where I have been an arse.

My life now revolves around the children, work and my mental health. I have so much more insight and knowledge now after months of therapy regarding the factors that have contributed to my (poor) coping mechanisms. My ‘addiction’ is craving love. Especially from those who are emotionally unavailable. Now I know that, I am concentrating solely on the most unavailable person I have tried to get that love from.

Me.

Daffs and vitamin D

It was the accent that gave it away. For the past few months my ‘external motivator’ voice hasn’t had an accent. It’s just been dreary and dull and well basically, my own voice but worse. Today I was ordering myself around in a (bad) Irish accent – think Brad Pitt in Fight Club – and as I told myself to ‘put da fockin kettle ahn’, I grinned in delight. Yes! Things were going to get DONE today… When I am being really stern with myself and trying to study, it is generally an Afrikaans accent and occasionally when I need to be a bit softer on myself, it’s either Brummie or West Country. (disclaimer: please do not think that at any point I am being judgy about countries/accents.. this is purely my own mental shit coming out.. bear with). Now, interestingly, as I did my second attempt at a bloody horrid medication exam, I spoke in my own voice. But very strict. Not until I had passed the 100% pass mark did any other fun accents deign to materialise. So, the return of them can only signify that the fog is lifting and I am on the mend.

The sun, daffs, Floradix and the miracle of high potency vitamin D3 spray on my buccal mucosa are potentially the components that kicked me up the arse physically and mentally. The relief at just doing, not thinking about doing and having a constant internal struggle as to whether I can muster the courage and energy to do… The problem with innate inertia is that the idea of even taking a shower just poses so many issues… literally, it’s less Midas and more Misery touch.

So think of my utter glee at not feeling like this today. Like someone turned the fucking light on! There I was skipping about the garden, trying not to tread on the mud-was-grass and stick to the stepping stones which must have been laid by an idiot (me) as you can’t walk on them without looking like a drunk pirate walking the plank.. in the end, (think fit pirate whatsisface Depp when he is pissed and trying to run), you get faster and faster and if you can make it to the end without falling off one of them.. it’s a Brucie Bonus. Admittedly this is much more fun (and less possible) when inebriated.

Things are settling.. Mr P and I are working things out and I feel blissfully happy about it. Plans are being made for the Spring and Summer.. the end of my course is in sight and all is looking good in the hood.


Surrender & Peace.

I felt it wash over me, a sense of peace. Contentment. Reminiscent of a time long ago as a child on a mediterranean holiday, lying in the shores on warm, wet sand, as the waves gently passed over my small, brown body.

The coils have been so tightly sprung for so long that I couldn’t quite work out what was wrong. The house was still in need of a good sort out, no miraculous dumping of millions had occurred in my bank account and I hadn’t lost 2 stone. So why on earth did I feel.. ok?

Surrendering isn’t something I do very easily, well not without mind altering substances and as they are officially off the menu, I am having to find alternative measures; meditation and yoga are my mind altering practices.

Meditation has been delicious.. there is something about the letting go; the shoulders gently relax; the tension melts and you surrender.

I suddenly ‘get’ recovery and the serenity it can bring; letting go and accepting; the tribe I have become part of and within which support freely flows.

The anxiety is lifting and my eyes are starting to smile once more.

The Curves of Learning

Today has been a wake up call. Not a huge massive resounding gong or anything.. more of a creeper.. but with a lot of thorns. Last night I relapsed which gave the Shitty Guilt Fairy massive pleasure and she did a complete rendition of the Riverdance on my head this morning.. it went on for hours. I learned some home truths from various corners of East and West Sussex and am still slowly waking up to the realisation that I am not who I thought I was and it’s time to toughen up.

It is a new day (like literally only 4 seconds old) and it’s time to re-saddle the horse and haul my hefty arse back on. Additionally, I have realised that my wagon isn’t faulty it’s just I keep vaulting over the side in a desperate bid for self destruction. Normally I’d be happy with any form of sporting prowess but it appears that Wagon Falling isn’t a bonafide sport and therefore the idea is to remain on board.

Finally, my higher self and I are about to have a bit of a conversation about loving oneself, not allowing oneself to be treated like a twat and how life sober really is a better option.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Learning

2018 was undoubtedly one of the toughest years I  have experienced as Adult Chloe. But aside from learning in depth about loss and fear, there is something that has come from it and which prepares me for 2019. A definite sense of self is forecast. As I itch and scratch and wish I could have a glass of wine, I remember the feelings last January as I became more adept at forgoing alcohol and as a result found my sober skip. This next year will hopefully see me qualify as a nurse and subsequently start a new career. The LO and MO will change schools and there will be a lot of transition to manage. Somewhere in the midst of this, I know that I need to nourish the broken Chloe, feed her some nutrients and watch as new shoots grow. In the last couple of months, there was a darkness that grew from the depths, like wispy smoky tendrils snaking around my ankles, steadily climbing and wrapping round my body, tight like an angry cloak. Impulsivity, anger, resentment, bitterness and an inability to ground left me drunken and craving for debauchery. Hedonism. And it’s strange, as the higher self looks on, almost in amusement, as she watches the unfurling of chaos. I picture her, leaning back against a wall, right leg bent and anchored, with her arms crossed. A wry smile worn on her face as she chews on a piece of wild grass held in her hand. Watching, waiting. She knew what would happen. We both did. It was the only way I would reset. Even the toxicity of the past few weeks has been a learning curve. I never knew I was susceptible to abuse. How the powers that be must have guffawed at that one. I am doing domestic violence for my dissertation and I stated to a few people in the last few months that I have never suffered from this type of abuse. And still I haven’t regarding the physical aspect of it but little did I know that via some random law of attraction, I literally opened the door to another form; emotional and mental abuse. I am lucky that I recognised this for what it was but there are some less fortunate. I am also fortunate that I have a good support system around me who also warned me early on that this behaviour was unwarranted and therefore manipulative. But it is strange how a sense of love can alter one’s perceptions. The pushing and pulling, like a dance, building up into a crescendo and as the wave crashes down, you realise that your body and mind are no longer joined, you have lost your sense. Lost your self.

Today, I felt a new strength. No longer did I want to play that game. Each time I felt a pang, I reminded myself of what I would say to a loved one, a friend. I am not perfect. I know this but equally I am not to be put down; lied to; manipulated or treated with contempt. A month was long enough. Long enough to remind me that no-one is exempt from this type of abuse, but equally it doesn’t take much to react. That there is, within each of us, a vulnerability that can give rise to bad behaviour. Reactive and angry. Thankfully, I have woken up, bruised from a bad dream but with the hope that out of this experience, new growth is born.

 

Spin 1400

abstract blur bubble clean

As you listen, as their tales unfold, you slip into a revery. Neural pathways in your mind sorting out what is relevant to you. Picking at my nail varnish, crossing and uncrossing my legs, shifting in my seat. Busy little synapses, ‘scrap that’, ‘nope, no recognition there’, ‘fuck sake that’s not me’.. until there’s a whir.. a little shake up, ‘Got one!! Got one! Store that shit!’.. excitedly the recognition is put into a little box, ready to be used later. There were a few tonight. The metaphor of the mind like a washing machine, except mine is stuck on spin.. 1400 rpm. As I walk home, it’s slowed but there is a definite residue slipping out of the soap drawer. I realise that these past few months, I haven’t cleaned my mind. Mould and gunk building up, slowing the release of the water to clean the insides of the machine. But still I poured more detergent, more fabric conditioner inside, in the desperate hope that those clothes would still smell nice and good and everything that they should. Until the machine broke. I feel like an excited washing machine purchaser who has just been to a conference about buying new washing machines and fixing the ones that can be fixed. I have a little skippity skip home clutching my new manual that has been so kindly bought for me and I, for the first time in months, can see a future that is not only bright but fucking luminous.

It is tinted with a sadness, so deep it aches. My insides churn at the thought of their pain. My pain. I have left someone behind, their machine is still broken and as we spoke tonight about remembering those with broken machines, tears slid down my cheeks. Apparently you can’t fix other peoples machines, they have to do it themselves. I don’t like that. In my Utopia I would be the Ultimate Repair Woman.. fixing machines with abandon.

But instead here I am, alone with Tarka And Qara, 2 of the Greatest Cats Known to Catkind, sitting in silence, recording my feelings about going to the first ever washing machine fixing conference where I acknowledged that I, Chloe, had a broken washing machine. Strength is building and whilst I know that there is a long road ahead, I am hopeful and grateful to be walking it.

Photo by Hilary Halliwell on Pexels.com

3 days later..

I have been found out. Yep, no longer able to hide behind functioning alcoholic… now just alcoholic. Intervention has been staged and I rattle inside my house as my mess is mopped up behind me. The MO’s birthday ruined by the dry retching he can hear and the tears that steadily fall. The kids still here but being looked after by a ‘sound’ adult. A GP review has confirmed I need help and I await to self refer on Monday to a local organisation. I can’t face an AA meeting tonight. Maybe tomorrow. I tried to discharge the brakes as I landed but they wouldn’t budge. The final blackout too much for my fragile mind to contend with. Like sailors on the dockside, watching their boat submerge “she’s going under chaps! She’s going under!”, my brain cells giving way. I can’t speak these words. Only write them. I can’t stop the tremors or quieten the heart but somewhere, in between those clouds, a glint of light catches my eye. This is my rock bottom. I have found it at last.

The Wrong Size of Xmas.

Today has been the first time that I have ever had the slightest inkling of what it is to experience Christmas when you don’t want it. When you aren’t ready for it and when it doesn’t fit.

There is a strange atmosphere in the house. Just me and the boys trying to be festive. The EO has been granted the freedom of staying somewhere light and airy until I collect her tomorrow (Xmas day). The feeling of guilt precipitates the urge for annihilation but is controlled by the frontal cortex. Most of the time. I wonder what mess I would be in if I was on my own this evening. To what lengths would I attempt to block out the screams?

I count the previous years when Xmas managed to fit. Sometimes a bit baggy or maybe on the toight side.. but fitting nonetheless. This year, it’s like it hasn’t even been sewn together.. the sides flap in the emptiness.

Now in London, it’s Boxing Day. I have spent some glorious time with my very funny younger brothers.. reducing me and the EO to squealing “Stop it! We have weak pelvic floors!”. Even watching Hereditary failed to scare, the constant narration in the room wondering why the 16 year old son looked like he was an adopted 30 year old instead. The most amazing food cooked by my stepdad.. I managed to forget my Shit Vegetarian status once more.

I drink, knowing it will be noted but not stopped. My stepfather quietly lets the reins drop – he never uses them – we both know that will need to change sooner rather than later. For my children’s sake, for the sake of my degree, for the sake of my sanity.

The anxiety still bubbling away like a pan on simmer. As the boys and I leave late to go to their friend’s annual Xmas day party, I feel the panic and wonder if I will have to leave. Instead I was greeted with such enthusiasm from their school hood friends, some of whom referred to me as the Illusive Sister. Getting back after 6am probably sums up how much fun it was. Discussing so many topics from North Pole marine conservation to how not to fall for inappropriate people with another girl, 10 years junior.. who is entering the similar whirlwind that I am untangling my battered emotions from . And now? Still crying. Happy that I could forget just for a short time, how raw and vulnerable I am but now the hangover adds to the agony. But I might just get to a meeting tonight. Sobriety, I hope will be less illusive than me.

And tomorrow as I drive home, maybe the longing to drive into a wall will be less demanding.

 

Where am I?

The tension mounts but the pressure drops and the sky darkens. Gusts blow post-winter debris along the ground and birds stop singing. I know that from somewhere deep within I am going to blow. Where’s my blue sky?? Where’s my fucking blue sky?! I am stuck in dark clouds, they are everywhere. Under my feet, above my head, they are suffocating. As the heart rate quickens, the tears prick the eyes and I feel caged within my own mind. I can’t penetrate the bubble that everyone else is in, the laughter so loud, so shrill. I can’t laugh. I don’t know how to laugh. What happened? How did this suddenly arise? At what point? Which comment? Which thought? And like a train bound to crash, I know I can’t get off. I grab at a passing reason. No, not that one.. that one doesn’t fit.. that’s not why.. what about that one? No, although it might be plausible than the other. Is it hormonal? Is it overwhelm? Am I tired? I feel anxiety and anger, I feel resentment, I feel fear..and at the same time I feel numb.

At this point I would reach for a drink. Drink through it… ‘just keep drinking, just keep drinking’; not sure Dory would approve. The paranoia continues to mount like some determined mountaineer. ‘Take a break’, I whisper, ‘take a fucking break’.. ‘Oh no young Chloe, no breaks for me.. we’re on a roll!!.. We are going to reach the peak!’. I don’t have the energy for the peak. Not enough sustenance inside of me, I didn’t pack enough protein bars. I panic, I run home and I hide.

These moments punctuate my life in fits and starts. Hard for anyone to understand, including me. I know from past experience though that this is my ‘me’ talking. This is gut instinct yelling at me that something is wrong. That I am not listening. I think I know but I don’t want to hear it. It used to be come-downs from alcohol, or not getting enough sleep, or pride, or ego. So how do I know what it is this time? Which me do I trust?

The more I strip back, the more I face, the more raw and vulnerable I feel. The problem with not self medicating like I used to, is that now I have to face all the Chloe’s in one. And that is no mean feat. I want to line them all up and remove the ones I don’t like. Slowly, I hope to merge the others I do like into just one. Like bits of mismatched play doh… all the same substance but different colours… moulding them together. Making a version of me that I love and am happy with so that in time, others can be happy with me too.

Clipped Wings

It’s just before 3am and LO has woken me up complaining he needs a cuddle from his dad. I pack him back off to bed unhappily (he has form) and then, wide awake now, I turn to check my phone. It’s in the boy’s room, by the MO’s bed. I had given it to him last night to listen to a mindfulness meditation in another attempt to try and calm his ever-increasingly bad behaviour down. As I look at the phone, I see an email from his teacher that arrived later in the night, after he had fallen asleep. We correspond regularly to try and keep on top of the issues that he has at school and at home. What I read, feels like the worst one yet; he spent another morning out of his yr 5 class and was with yr 3 instead. She is worried about how this is affecting him academically; I agree but equally I understand that this ‘low level’ behaviour has a ripple effect on other children’s learning and let’s face it, it’s downright wearing.

At home, we deal with the manipulation, the anger, the tantrums. Equally, there is humour, compassion and affection. I watch him flit from emotion to emotion like a butterfly, unable to land for long before being tempted elsewhere. Like a motor he is propelled by his thoughts and his ego, what can he do to impress next and if that fails, who can he mentally destroy? He somehow sets us all up, himself included; maybe a request to do something he knows he can’t do so that when he is declined, he over-reacts, a ready-made vent for his anger and emotions to pour out of; unrepressed steam from an engine. It’s like having a car that constantly overheats, you live in fear of being stuck in traffic on a hot day; eyes straining to see if there are tiny tell-tale wisps of steam creeping up from the radiator over the bonnet. A bottle of water lying in the passenger footwell, just waiting to refill the arid void but knowing that it’s always a bit too late. Everything is a bit too late.

I worry about his future. I worry about our future. How is he going to get through the teenage years? Will he get his school qualifications if he can’t even sit still during a class or is constantly moving to a different one? Will he get expelled? Will he make college? Will he hurt someone? Will he go to jail? What, to some, may seem extreme fears, for a mother who has watched, like a car crash, their child struggle with regulating their behaviour since they were two and a half, these fears seem real. He slips through the system like a piece of mercury. He hasn’t hurt himself or anyone else so CAMHS won’t touch him and he doesn’t ‘qualify’ for NHS help because he isn’t severe enough. Even friends and other parents of his school friends don’t completely understand what it is like to live with him because he is so highly functioning; so utterly charming and clever. Only those closest to us can see the cracks that show when he is denied. When his speech gets so bad that his voice becomes shrill as he forces his words to get out. I feel like inside this locked cocoon is this child desperate to break free of his shackles but unable to find the key. His wings are clipped.

We have strategies (which fail) and we have plans (which we hope won’t fail). I hope to get him on an intensive stammer course in London this Summer and I am waiting for another CAMHS referral to be refused but will push on regardless and we have other appointments in the pipeline, some NHS, some private.

In the meantime we shall continue to tell him we love him and we shall continue to ground him when he is mean. And until he can break out of his cocoon, I’ll continue trying to make his butterfly house the best it can be so that when he is ready, it is has all the nourishment he needs.