Published in Daring Woman magazine March 2018
He's woken me. Again. He needs another drink.
I'm tired and I'm angry but I make him one anyway. A pint of vodka and vimto. He drinks it in seconds. Tells me it's not strong enough before falling back asleep.
A friend of mine is writing a book - A compilation of personal accounts centred around the #metoo hashtag.
Because we share this in common, my friend and I. We've both experienced the devastation of rape, but thankfully, years later we've worked our way through it and come out on the other side using our respective coping mechanisms. Mine involved talking to a trusted friend at the time, seeking professional help, and eventually writing about it years later on my blog. My friend however, took a slightly less conventional approach....
We were chatting online. We talked about the book; discussed our own experiences, and I asked her if she had ever had counselling. After a minutes hesitation, her reply was "No.....unless you count talking to the fridge".......
Which she'd obviously been doing and which clearly seemed to work for her at the time.
It made perfect sense. Because the idea of my friend talking to that fridge was an absolute lightbulb moment. For reasons I've outlined below.
You see, a fridge is designed with a door that can be opened 24 hours a day, meaning that it's always there when you need it - anytime, night or day. A fridge can't talk....so it can't "give advice" or interrupt you mid-flow. It can't walk either...so it's not going to get up and leave halfway through your conversation. Its job is to basically chill the wine and keep hold of the chocolate for when you've finished off-loading and need consolation....
It's the perfect tool for the job.....
I'm nearly in the princess pad.
I can't fucking wait.
Because stepping over that threshold properly - no more to-ing and fro-ing between my old place and my new is cathartic. It means that when I close that door, I actually truly am closing that door.
I'm turning my back on five long horrible years and I'm starting afresh.
There's a bin-bag in my kitchen. It's full of 'old me' stuff. Things that reminded me of who I was before the madness started...things that make me sad if I try to hold onto them...stunning dresses I wore on red carpets - ditto shoes, photos, lipsticks... its all either going or gone.
I don't need them anymore...
I remember when I first gave up alcohol, feeling the need to have to explain myself to people...mainly about why I, a fully grown woman, was sat alone on a bar stool, in a trendy wine bar, surrounded by drinkers chugging back pints and sipping chateux neuf du pape as though it was going out of fashion whilst I self-conciously sipped from my glass of black-currant cordial.
It was because I was scared.
Scared of what people thought of me. Scared to even be in a bar, considering that my huge, fuck-off addiction to alcohol had recently very nearly killed me, and scared that, in giving up alcohol, that I had also somehow given up 'me'. The lively, 'life and soul of the party' version of me, anyway.
So I wore my sobriety like a dirty little secret.
And it showed.
I felt self-concious and awkward...And so I tried to compensate for that by probably disclosing far too much information than was absolutely necessary back then, by telling pretty much anyone who would listen, about the fact that I was newly in recovery.
To be fair, it worked out quite well. And my new found friends were protective of me. They made sure that no one thought it would be funny to spike me or order me a 'real' drink when they went to the bar for example, but I still felt awkward and quite a lot out of my depth.
The thought of consuming alcohol in any form now petrified me...but I'd lived most of my life around it... I needed to be able to be around it on some level, if I was going to have any kind of semblance of what was (to me anyway), a 'normal' social life.
Plus I hated drinking squash...it made me feel like a child. And so I decided to push my boundaries...by about a million miles.
And I had a can of shandy...
I remember going to a party, and sipping from that can of 0.5% lager for the very first time...and feeling nothing but trepidation. I was relieved that I could blend in finally, but I was also secretly petrified that it might tip me over...and that I would wake the next morning with both body and mind screaming out for a case of fosters for breakfast...
What actually happened was that I enjoyed myself immensely, and no, I didn't go sprinting down to the nearest off-licence the minute that my eyes were open the next day.
What that night did was show me that there were options open to me. Sensible ones. Ones I use in moderation on the rare as rocking horse shit times that I do actually go out now.
Ones that don't involve me looking or feeling as though I am 12 years old.
The damage that alcohol did, and could still do to me if I let it, still scares the shit out of me...so I show it respect. And I have lines which I categorically will never ever cross, no matter who I'm with, or what the situation. I found my compromise and I'm happy with that.
It may not be everyones cup of tea but it works for me and that's all that matters.
Obviously, with hindsight, now I realise that it's actually nobody's business but mine whether I choose to get absolutely shit-faced every night or sit sedately sipping a heineken 0%, but back then it was a difficult time for me... I was in a strange town full of strange people, and I was completely out of my comfort zone...and so me and my recent spell in rehab sat openly on the naughty step for all and sundry to see.
Giving up alcohol was tough. One of the hardest things that I've ever done in fact...by the time the decision was made I was both physically and mentally reliant on it, and so it was a huge, huge deal at the time...but now I've had some time to adjust, I've found that I no longer allow myself to be scrutinised or judged for making the judgement call that ultimately saved my life.
I'm 16 months older and wiser.
Now I embrace my sobriety. I'm proud of it...and if people want to point and speculate these days, well that's their bad, not mine.
Because this 'dirty little secret' of mine is no longer a cloak of shame that I wear whenever I'm out in public. It's a sign of what I'm made of.
Instead of hiding it away, embarrassed and awkward, I've stuck it in a vase and put flowers in it. It's a beautiful thing and it deserves my respect.
It's 11.10am. I've just finished work.
In my old life I would already be wasted. I wouldn't have a job.
But I'm not...and I do.
It's a sign of how far I've come.
I swapped Wetherspoons for writing and changed my life completely.
I don't need or want to get wrecked 24/7 these days.
I manage myself and all of my emotions by doing simple things. Non-destructive things. Things that won't harm me if I do them to excess.
Like hanging out in my caravan. Writing in Wonderland, surrounded by birds and sheep and a crazy little peacock who seems to have moved in too...
I used to want to destroy myself. I tried over and over and over. I was getting really good at it. A few more months and I would have nailed it I think...instead,with literally nothing left to lose, I gave up alcohol and in doing so was given a second chance at life.
And I'm incredibly grateful for that.
In order to keep it, I have just one rule...
Stay sober. So I do.
I live my life un-tipsy.
It's a small price to pay...it's not even a price. It's the decision that ultimately saved my life... and I get to have a peacock...
My boyfriend has Psychosis. It means that he sees, hears and talks to people who aren't actually there. At least if they are, they are very very quiet and very very small, as no-one else can see or hear them...I can't anyway.
It only happens when he's been drinking heavily and is therefore either dangerously intoxicated or starting to withdraw. Which currently is most of the time right now, and it's a worrying, and often disturbing experience for anyone around him, watching a fully grown man sit and have an animated conversation with people that only he can see.
During Psychosis he loses touch with reality. He only sees and hears the scenarios in his head that to him are real conversations, but to everyone else are the red flags that indicate that his drinking is once again spiralling out of control and that he is mentally and physically extremely unwell and in serious need of professional help.
Sometimes he talks to me too, but not very often - at least not to my face. In reality he talks to me all the time...it's just that I'm very rarely in the same room when the "conversation" gets going. I'll be in the kitchen or the bathroom maybe....he'll be convinced that I'm sat there next to him on the sofa in the living room. But when I try to say as much he accuses me of lying and playing games with his head...when in reality it's not actually me playing headgames at all. It's vodka and the copious quantities of it that he continues to drink that's busy distorting his reality.
It's upsetting to see and hear him like this. Talking away to himself for hours on end...having full-on conversations with these imaginary people that aren't actually there. But if I try to hold a conversation and tell him that he's talking to himself he doesn't believe me.
Especially when it's 3.00am and I can't sleep because his imaginary friends are keeping him up all night again...He's usually having a 'discussion' about me and how he's scared that he'll lose me if this carries on. Which he will if he doesn't get help. Because seeing and hearing him like this is excrutiating...I actually can't take much more. His alcohol induced mental problems are starting to consume us both.
The whispered conversations are horrendous...the look on his face when I try to explain to him that there is no-one in the room breaks my heart. Because he genuinely doesn't know what is going on around him.
It makes him paranoid.
He thinks that I have an agenda. That I'm filming him / recording him...taking photos. For the record I'm not. I wouldn't. Although I have to admit that it has crossed my mind...because maybe then he would see what everyone else sees...that he's talking to himself. But it would terrify him. The thought makes me sick. Its not an option.
My boyfriend desperately needs help. He's very very sick. He's been hospitalised several times because of his addiction. But he refuses to see the doctor more often than not...presumably because he will be told in no uncertain terms that he needs to stop drinking. Which he continues to do on a daily basis and which is slowly but surely killing him...because he physically and mentally can no longer do without it.
So the talking continues and every day he gets worse. He no longer needs me to talk to... his friends are all consuming. If they tidied up after him too then maybe I would be more tolerant. But they don't...they just continue to talk cod-shit, which he in turn talks back...24/7. Unless he's asleep...
It makes him incredibly hard to be around and even harder to listen to. I constantly have to leave the room just to breathe for a second. Ever increasingly I'm leaving the flat completely...because I need some space from him and some real conversation...with real actual people.
It's breaking my heart...I'm at my wits end and I'm ready to leave. I love him so much but I have no idea where to go from here. Except home. He doesn't even know if I'm there or not anymore... I may as well be invisible...except that if I was then maybe he would talk to me more...
My boyfriend needs help. Without it he will die. He can't carry on like this. His body is screaming for him to stop drinking alcohol. It can't keep up with the strain that he's under and his head is slowly turning to blancmange. Things have to change...because at this rate, as much as we all love and care for him, one by one everyone else will leave him too....for the sake of their sanity if nothing else.
So my boyfriends imaginary friends had better be loyal...because if he continues to refuse the help that he needs, then those invisible mates of his will be all he's got left...which is heartbreaking...
When I was a kid I loved Weebles.
These, along with Lego and Play-People were my absolute best things. I loved them. I didn't have a favourite, but if I absolutely had to choose between them all then Weebles would win hands down.
Don't get me wrong, Play-People were cool. They were better-looking for a start. They could do more - plus they could live in the houses I built for them out of my Lego bricks, so in the versatility stakes they pretty much nailed it... but Weebles? Well they were something else. In a league of their own. Because Weebles were hardcore.
It didn't matter how hard you flicked them or how rough you played, those badboys were indestructible. You just couldn't keep them down.......and believe me I tried - usually by flicking them as hard as I could, a manouvre which would floor a lego-man immediately, but which didn't phase my Weebles. A serious wobble for a few seconds - a minute at most, and they were up again in no time.....while my lego men and Play People lay in crumpled heaps on the floor. Totally K.O'd.
So Weebles are resillient little fuckers.
I've bought a house.
Well a caravan.....And now it's mine. I own it.
It's just for me.
Well me and Magic.
Magic is my cat.....the one I promised myself I would get just as soon as I got a place of my own. And now I have one. A place that is. Not Magic.....Magic comes later.
I have to move in first....
I'm finally starting to value myself.
It's hard work.
It goes against everything I've ever know or been told. It feels weird.
Like I'm pretending..... which I am. Obviously. But I'm secretly hoping that the 'fake it till you make it' approach rubs off......and then one day I won't have to pretend anymore.
Thats the cunning plan anyway. It's pretty much the only one I have to be honest. So I'm giving it a go.
Written for Ivory magazine.....published as 'The Self-respect Barbie'.
My Barbie was a Super-Model. No matter what I dressed her in, what accessories she wore, she always looked amazing. Because I had no doubt at all that she could rock any style / any colour / any combination - I believed in her.
In my eyes, Barbie rocked. I actually wanted to be her. She set the bar and all of the other dolls followed (in dolls world anyway)....
Published as "What happens in detox" - Ivory magazine. February 2018
I'm not pregnant.
In case I was wondering....Which I wasn't. Mainly because they hadn't told me that I was being tested for that when they insisted on me providing a sample. They were supposed to be looking for drugs....
Which they found. Obviously. There's not much that gets through a piss test in detox. Luckily for me they were prescription. Which meant no naughty step (always a bonus) - because I was so drunk when I arrived that steps of any kind were to be avoided like the plague....I didn't really trust my legs to be able to do the maths.
Instead I found a chair, sat on it and stayed there until the staff came to check me in... Safest option all round to be honest.
My feet are freezing.
They literally feel like two blocks of ice.
I have my heater on, I'm fully clothed. I'm huddled under two double duvets in my bed. I still can't get warm. Because my caravan it appears, isn't built to withstand winter.
Neither unfortunately are homeless people.....
I try to see the best in people.
Even when I know that it's futile.
I keep looking for the good in someone even when I'm being treated appallingly - I'm the kind of woman who would find something loveable about a rabid dog. In fact if I thought that I could get near it I'd probably take it home.....
But the last fourty-eight hours means that I'm starting to learn from my mistakes. So thats progress.
Published in Daring Woman magazine March 2018
Have you ever tried not to breathe?.... Even if it's just for a few seconds? It's harder than it looks.
Because it's pretty important, breathing.....it tends to keep you alive and stuff.....which leads me to this question.
If you thought your life depended on it.....do you think you could not breathe then??......
I'd only popped out to the shop.
The fridge and the cupboards were bare. We needed something for dinner and so I left him in charge of making the bed while I went on a quest to feed us both.
When I got back, my boyfriend was drunk.....I'd only been gone fifteen minutes.....
It's raining outside.
I have a day off today. Which means that I've made an executive decision to stay indoors.....mostly under my duvet.
I like rain.....so raining is good. Raining is progress. Two days ago we had snow....I'm not so keen on snow.
Because I live in a caravan.
When you live in a caravan, snow is not your friend. The drop in temperature freezes the pipes which means that there is no water. Having a hot drink or taking a shower is not an option.
Not so long ago I used to go for days on end without showering. But that was back in my breakdown days when my head had gone awol for a while. These days me and my Soap and Glory are besties.......and so the thought of not being clean now makes me shudder....
It's my coping mechanism.
It keeps me focussed. Keeps me balanced. It keeps this topsy turvy head of mine in check.
Because when I write from the heart it comes from a dark place. A scary place. A place full of turmoil and tears and regret..... a place I have to stay in until of this bad stuff comes out. Out of my head and eventually out of my mind......
It's going to take a while.
It's alright for Beyonce.....wriggling around blasting out "All the single ladies" and then scampering off home to Jay-Z.....but what about the rest of us? Us 'actual' single ladies, who don't have a Jay-Z or any other kind of guy for that matter, to get our groove on with or snuggle up to once the lights go down......what about us?
What if you don't even own a leotard? Or sexy shiny shoes like Bey? Well, maybe you did.... once. A long time ago......when you were still young and foxy, with the whole world at your feet and when you didn't give a shit about imaginary lumps and bumps or cellulite.......What if anything even remotely resembling foxy hasn't made an appearance from your wardrobe in a very long time.....because everything that does has been tucked away on a shelf somewhere gathering dust - along with your self-esteem and your confidence after the last disastrous relationship you had eventually bit the dust.....
Because I'm a single lady at the minute and trust me..... it's really not as glamourous or as exciting as Bey makes it look in that video.....
My boyfriend's in withdrawal.
He says he wants to die. Right now I will happily help him.
Thankfully for him there aren't any items suitable for the job in hand lying around. Instead I grit my teeth and my fists and walk back out of the bedroom before I say or do something I might regret.
I'm older than my boyfriend. By more than ten years.
I pretend it's not an issue, but in reality it is. On days like today for example, when he's ill and I'm looking after him. Because when I say "ill" I mean "drunk" and when I say "looking after him" I mean "doing everything".
I'm cooking and cleaning and making hot drinks. I'm checking that he's not too hot or too cold.....I am actually at times making sure he's still breathing...