This is a blog about my mum.
I don't write about her very often. Our relationship is complex and mostly non-existent. Which I hate... but that's how it's always been so now I just get on with it.
As a child, living with my mum was like trying to balance a handgrenade.
On a see-saw.
With no hands.
My little brother perched on one end, me on the other, and my mum the un-exploded bomb in the middle, in all of her unpredicable, chaotic glory rolling around between us, the pin constantly working loose but never quite coming out completely.
The fear of that pin coming out caused me to live my life in a constant state of high alert and high anxiety, which now I mostly manage, but back then was horrendous.
When I was a kid I loved Weebles.
These, along with Lego bricks 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 stuff - 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 completely, but which didn't phase my Weebles... A bit of a wobble for a few seconds - a minute at most, and then they were up...while my lego men and Play People lay in crumpled heaps on the floor. Totally K.O'd.
So Weebles are resillient little fuckers.
My friend Nathan knows me pretty well - We spend a lot of time together. A lot more time than we used to actually, now that I'm sober and capable of stringing more than just the odd sentence together.
Tonight we are talking about my drinking days. I don't really want to have this conversation but it's Nath and he was worried for a while and so I know that I should.
I take a sip of my drink, grit my teeth and prepare myself for a bumpy ride...
You don't need a degree in fashion to fit in in rehab....Because everyone looks the same in there. Tracksuits and hoodies by day, Pj's and hoodies by night.
We were one huge "blind date from hell" fest. Styled by W*therspoons and the stuff that J*remy Kyles wet dreams are made of.
We all looked rough as rats.
Because you're not out to impress anyone in rehab. Or meet the love of your life.... You're too busy trying to get well. And so for a girl like me who normally won't leave the house unless I'm mascared up to the max, not having to make the effort for a while was liberating.
The first few days I was in there, I did do the works.....habit more than anything. But then I realised that it would be much more productive to grab an extra half an hour in bed every morning, and rock up to morning check-in looking like a garbage pail kid like everyone else, than faff about trying to get my eyeliner straight for a bunch of people who actually didn't give a rats ass what i looked like.
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...
I'm in bed with my boyfriend... and not in the way that you think.
Because I'm writing this blog as a way to keep calm while I'm keeping an eye on him. While I'm upset and I'm worried and I can put into words just how heartbreaking this whole fucked up situation is.
My boyfriend is ill.
And he's struggling right now. He had a relapse three days ago. Quite a big one. It's knocked him for six. And now he's struggling to function again... and I'm trying to be supportive and I'm putting a brave face on things but I'm struggling too. Seeing him so confused and upset and in pain is breaking my heart.
The bucket next to the bed is a flashback for me. I used to have one too. For the inevitable morning sickness that came after the days and the nights before. For the times when I was too sick or weak to do anything except lift my head and attempt to rid myself of the contents of my stomach....basically to make room for more of the shit I was going to throw down my neck for the rest of the day...not because I wanted to but because at that point I needed to...
This is addiction. And I want to talk about it....
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.
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.
So I'm staying over. At his....... On Tuesday night.
It makes sense....It saves interrupting our evening, dicking around with trains and a walk home alone for me through pitch black fields, late at night, attempting to dodge cow pats and copious amounts of sheeps piss.
And I know this guy, which means that I trust him enough to assume that he's not going to jump on me or set upon me with an axe once I'm in his flat, behind closed doors.
So it'll be cool. It'll be fine. We're just having some food and catching up with ourselves. No biggie. Absolutely nothing to worry about - It's not like we're going to have sex or anything.....
Because then I would be bricking it....
I used to spend my life looking for elephants - Those hulking great things that weigh a ton and could squash you or I just as easily as either of us could swat a fly.
You know where you are with elephants. They do what they say on the tin. Plus, you can generally spot them coming a mile off...unlike the mice...
I used to think that mice were cute. Insignificant. Those teeny, tiny furry things, all quivering whiskers and curious faces. A bit of cheese here, some stray crumbs there and mice will happily hoover your carpet and be your new best friends forever...
Fuck that shit...because mice are motherfuckers. They are the ones causing carnage while you are busy hunting for elephants...
Imagine watching a car with no brakes about to hit a brick wall. At 100 mph.
Now imagine that behind the wheel is your best friend. No seatbelt, and seemingly oblivious to the danger in front of her and literally a split second away from self- destruction unless you can do something.....like stop the car.
Which is impossible.
And so all you can do is wait for the inevitable. And hope that she gets out alive....
I was driving that car. And I wanted it to crash. Because it had to. I needed all of the craziness to stop. And so I put my foot down. And kind of closed my eyes....
I have an appalling track record with men. It is truly, ridiculously, horribly bad.
Misogynists, psychopaths, sociopaths. You name them, I met them. Then I dated them.
I used to joke to my friends that I could pick out the badman out of a crowd of a thousand identically dressed, identical looking men....whilst wearing a blindfold. Only I wasn't actually joking. Because I really, honestly could. I can. I do.
Which isn't something that fills me with glee.
Because my bad men aren't exciting, or alluring like the ones in the films.
My bad men are trouble... spelt in bright red capital letters.
It's fucking freezing.
I'm sat in my caravan, layered up to the max, huddled beside the contraband heater that Nath liberated from work for me one day, and wondering if one extra duvet tonight is going to be enough to prevent me from catching my death of cold, because at the minute I can literally see my own breath in here.
I was supposed to be having an early night tonight, but thats gone to the dogs, mainly because my mind is on meltdown and I know from past experience that there is not a cat in hells chance of my head hitting the pillow before stupid o clock in the morning unless I sort this out pronto.
I've had a horrible day.
One of the worst that I've had in ages. My head is racing, my heart is pounding and my anxiety is going through the roof.
I'd love to be able to ask Nick Knowles and the boys to come round so that they can do a re-build. Starting with my head. Because right now this one really needs to go. And I don't care if the new one means that I have to look like Aunt Sally..... at least I won't have to listen to myself going over and over and over old ground.
But there is no "Diy Sos" rescue for me today. Because Billy and the boys are busy whipping up a miracle renovation for someone else who could use their help too.
And so it's down to me to sort it. Again. Because technically I suppose that I am actually the best person for the job....I've lived with this head for decades.
I live in a teeny tiny village somewhere in the deep South West of England. All thatched roofs and tractors and wellington boots.
It's chocolate box stuff.
We have a Post Office. A tiny pub, a chip shop and a Church. There's nothing else for miles. Unless we are counting cows and sheep here, in which case there are loads.
I have no idea how many people live in the village. I've only met a couple so far. Mainly the rude woman from the post office who won't actually talk to me because technically I'm an emmet and so I should go back to where I came from, instead of darkening her door in my attempts to buy chocolate or milk or stamps or whatever.
But apart from the (very) odd one like her, most people are pretty friendly. They are more than happy to talk.
I'm just not ready to talk back yet.....
So I go to the little church instead and I sit and talk to Godot.
Living with an addiction is horrific.
It's Groundhog day. Where the only thing that changes is the amount and severity of bad shit that happens to you.
I still can't believe that this is how I used to live my life.
Or that a typical 24 hours went something like this.
And that, believe it or not, this was what I would class as a "good day" ....(because I really don't want to talk about the bad)....
Welcome to a day in my life back then....
I've had better. But I've also had a hell of a lot worse.....
I have too much time on my hands.
Or maybe not enough. I'm writing constantly. But as fast as I finish one blog, another one appears, just waiting in the wings...The next in line to be called forward.
There is so much stuff in my head right now that my mind is a battlefield. Each new topic is trying to grab my attention by shouting louder than the last. I can't think straight.
So far I've had eleven hours of it....
I wrote about it recently. The article was published in a magazine.
It's called "Emotional Flooding". When the Pandoras box in your mind gets opened and all of the evils in the world come rushing out. So I know what I'm talking about and why it is happening now. For me it's happening now because finally I'm sober. All of this stuff in my head couldn't be dealt with while I was drinking. Because this stuff in my head was what drove me to drinking....
Things that have lain dormant for years are now slowly creeping into my mind. Like the scene out of "Thriller" where all of the bodies come alive in the graveyard. My train of thought is interrupted constantly by some long forgotten late-comer to this spontaneous house party in my head.
It's pretty traumatic.
Self-medication is no longer an option. I rarely take even an aspirin these days. It's been almost a year since I attempted any form of drowning out my thoughts with alcohol or drugs....prescription or otherwise and so all that i'm left with is processing. Which for me right now involves writing down all of this stuff as quickly as I can in order to get it out of my head and onto the page.
Because finally it all makes sense.
Hour upon hour of listening to my thoughts going around and around whilst I attempt to put them into some kind of order has led to me to this. And after all of these years of trying to understand what makes me tick, I finally know for the first time what brings me to my knees.
My lack of self-worth and my fear of abandonment.
It started at six with the death of my dad. Followed swiftly by my mum washing her hands of me too. Neither of them meant it to happen. But it happened anyway, and I was pretty much left to fend for myself.
So I thought that I was unloveable. That I was a bad kid. I tried not to care but from a very early age I was crushed. My priority was looking after my brother and trying to get through every day as best I could. But I was six trying to be a grown up and failing miserably. I couldn't reach the cooker without kneeling on a chair, let alone cook food on it. I was full of confusion, frustration and shame and I beat myself up on a daily basis as a punishment to myself for being so crap at it all.
I was in and out of hospital and psychiatric appointments. According to my mum I was a handful. I wasn't. I was a scared kid living in a volatile environment trying to protect myself and my brother as much as possible.
I self harmed and starved myself. It was the only control that I had at that time. My self esteem was on the floor. I craved affection but I was so desperate for it that I either scared people away with my neediness or I was used briefly and then cast aside. Swapped for someone more 'stable'.
Which made me hate myself even more....on and on and on it went. I toughened up. I rarely let anyone close to me.
But then I let my guard down. I married my best friend after twelve years of being in a relationship with him. Who promised me the earth. Who knew about my background and how much I craved stability. Who let me think I had it finally....but who then promptly ran off with some nameless floozy he met one weekend in Brighton.
And that was all it took to rock my world. My stable, longed for, lovingly built home that I had waited so long for came crashing down like a house of cards. He left without a backward glance. Taking my tiny shreds of self-worth and sanity with him.
It put me in hospital. Not that day granted. But it was the beginning of the end for me. Everything started to unravel. Slowly at first but then faster and faster, until finally, the fragile elastic band that was tentatively keeping me together all these years had reached breaking point....and I snapped.
Hospital helped me in a lot of ways. I needed to get sober. But I feel that a lifetime of me trying so hard to please and getting only knock backs and "no thank you's" in return has damaged me beyond repair.
I look like an adult and I talk like an adult. I work hard and I pay bills and I do adult stuff. But on the inside I'm 200% that lonely, lost and frightened little girl. Desperate for scraps of affection. Begging like a hungry dog and trying not to get kicked.
And I don't know how to fix that. It's soul destroying.
Having us compete against each other to see which team could build the best midget gem bridge using said midget gems and cocktail sticks, was the brain child of one of the support workers in detox - It was supposed to keep us out of mischief for an hour while the rest of the staff had a much needed cup of tea.
Unfortunately all it did was create chaos... for two reasons. One, we were none of us five years old - and told her so, and two, you don't give recovering addicts with an insatiable craving for sugar, sweets. Everyone knows that. It sent us crackers.
Haribo was literally currency in there. Tangfastics were like gold dust by the end of each week. It's all we ever put on our shopping lists. Haribo's, and tobacco if you smoked.
Anyway, three quarters of the midget gems were gone before she'd even got our attention. Which meant that we had uneven numbers of sweets to 'compete' with...which made it unfair...Which meant that it was a pointless exercise. We ate the rest of the sweets while I relayed this information to her when she came to check on our progress. Which was obviously non-existent - much to her dismay.
Her day got progressively worse when I refused to take part in her second genius idea, which involved "making a tower out of marshmallows and dried spaghetti"... again, because I am not five years old.
She tried to insist... told me to "let my inner child out to play"...to which I replied that my inner child had already consumed far too many e-numbers for one day thank you very much, and would therefore be much better off if left to read her book quietly on the sofa - in case all of the midget gems she'd consumed in record time earlier suddenly made her sick...
Long story short. I didn't have to make the tower.
Instead I was given a warning and sent to sit on the naughty step (aka the sofa)...which was kind of my plan all along...
Because up until this point I had been completely compliant in treatment. I hadn't dared to say no to anything...but now my inner rebel was starting to stir.
Which meant that I was getting better.
I was finding my voice.
Which meant that it was time to start thinking about getting the rock out of here and onto stage two.
I'd been a model patient in detox. But inner diva was stirring...
They were going to love me in rehab...
I walked out of hospital in a sundress and heels.
He was waiting for me. Told me I looked amazing. Played the adoring boyfriend card. I don't think the staff bought it to be honest, although they didn't like to say.
They didn't want me to leave. The bed was free for two more days they said. I could stay if I wanted to? Another forty-eight hours. Maybe that would have changed everything. Who knows? Probably not. I'd chosen my hand. I felt strong enough to go. It was emotional. Lots of hugs and thank you's and then I left. With him. I thought that I was well again.
I lasted a week. Im suprised I lasted that long.