How To Make A Mess Of Things
I've always had a perfect figure.
I could skip into any high street clothes shop, find exactly what I wanted, grab it off the rail and be on my merry way in minutes...no need to queue or faff about in changing rooms. I was a size 8. My clothes were guaranteed to fit.
But then a series of really shit things happened, I got massively addicted to alcohol, and in the process I lost a lot of weight. I went from an 8 to a 6. Then to a 4.
By the time I reached hospital I was size 0.
So I had to take medication.
Lots and lots of medication. Vitamins, and sleeping tablets, painkillers and anti-anxiety meds...I took so many tablets that I rattled when I walked.
Only my alcohol-addicted head and my now skeletal body had long since lost touch with each other and so my malnourished, chemically overloaded system struggled to cope with everything that it was now being asked to process.
Not to mention the fact that pretty much every single meal in detox involved white bread or pasta washed down with copious amounts of sugary tea.
So I gained the weight back that I had lost pretty quickly.
Over 2 stone.
And then I gained 2 more for good measure.
It really didn't matter while I was in there... I was far too ill too care...and we all wore pj's and jogging bottoms in there anyway so none of us stood out.
Plus there were no mirrors in there to speak of ... We all had bigger things to think about than whether or not our hair needed brushing...So I only saw my reflection for the first time in Primark months later, once I'd left rehab, and I realised suddenly why nothing that I held in my arms would fit me.
As I left with my head down and empty handed.
And I know I may sound shallow or self-absorbed or whatever it is that you may be thinking about me right now.
But I'm not. I'm really truly not.
If anything I'm actually the opposite...
You see, I wasn't crying because my clothes didn'tt fit.
I was crying, because standing in that changing room I could finally see the damage that I'd done to myself. The strain that I'd put my already exhausted body through by feeding it poison every day for years and blithely expecting it to cope.
The way that I just piled more and more shit on myself and took everything that I once had for granted.
That's why I cried.
Not because I was no longer a size 8.
I cried because I realised that my body had kept me alive despite every single rubbish thing that I'd done to it.
And I cried because I was grateful that I was no longer that sad, lonely, alcoholic girl sleeping on a sofa.
So if my jeans are a couple of sizes bigger these days, I don't actually care.
It's a small price to pay for simply being here today...because I could be in the ground and not needing any jeans.
And so i'll take everything that's happened to me these last few years on the chin.
This brand-new double one of mine...
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 sheep and cows 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.
I've always been a 'fixer'... I'm brilliant at it. Which is a shame, because up until now, this amazing ability that I have to pick people up, straighten them out and get them back on track again has seemingly never applied when it's my own problems that need to be dealt with.
The last few years have been ridiculously hard for me. An incredible amount of shit landed in my general direction and it's taken me a long, long time to claw my way out of the absolute madness and mess that that caused me and begin to regain enough confidence to attempt to rebuild.
I'm sat in the hotseat...It's my turn to go.
My turn to read out to the world, part two of my alcohol addiction homework...or, as we referred to it back then in rehab, our "Consequences".
We all hated this bit.
The bit where we are forced to see our addiction from someone elses point of view.
Someone close to us.
Someone who clearly cared about us, having taken the time out to write about how we made them feel back then...
And it's horrendous. Soul-destroying...and a teeny, tiny bit of a gamechanger.
Because it's every bit as excrutiating as it sounds ...
So I try to stop shaking and I take a deep breath and then eventually I start to read...
I'm sat in the sunshine with an old friend.
And so I don't see that he's walking through town until he's right at my table, telling me that he's had a drink.
And those words cut through me like knives and everything changes in an instant, as the grim reaper himself takes a seat right in front of me, grinning like a cheshire cat, pointing at his scythe and mouthing the words "I've got another one..."
Once upon a time there was a lost little girl, whose world was all scary and dark. Her father had died, her mum had hit the bottle and there was no one left to take care of her, so she would sit by herself watching cartoons, or reading her fairytales, and she would dream about the day when she would be big enough to fend for herself in the world and not have to worry about other people all of the time.
But she was shy and unsure and frightened of everything, and so she pretended that she had wings made of steel like her cartoon hero "Batfink" and then anytime she felt scared or alone, or lost or afraid, she imagined those wings of hers wrapping themselves around her, and she wouldn't feel afraid anymore.
And she grew and she grew, and her wings made her invincible, and gave her the confidence to overcome anything that she was unsure of, and people all around her wondered what her secret was...
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, because I never knew for sure if my day was going to be a near miss, or a series of expertly timed explosions.
It was excrutiating.
I’m black and I’m blue and I’m feeling degraded,
My hair is a mess and my make-up is faded
I look in the mirror, despise what I see, then I look at this man who means nothing to me
I creep out the door before he awakes,
I’m tired and I’m ill…there is nothing to take
I don’t leave my number, I don’t know his name,
I’m tired and hungover and burning with shame
I creep down the backstreets, avoid being seen, and I long for a shower, or just to feel clean
There’s no-one to turn to, there’s nowhere to go,
It’s just me and my head in this shit horror show
So I head for the basement and open a can,
And I drink to get shit-faced as fast as I can
I’m all out of options, I’m running on empty, I have nothing left now, I’m just how he left me
I’m counting the days now, I’m counting the hours,
Because soon I’ll be dead and be pushing up flowers
And I’m ok with that, I’m resigned to my fate, because I’ve tried and I’ve failed to keep spinning these plates
It’s too much too deal with, it’s too much to take, and I’ll tell that to God when I’m stood at his gate
And I hope that he gets it…that he sees that I’ve tried, as I drown in the river of tears that I cried
Because I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to stay, in this horrible head fuck of “Alcohol Day”
So somebody help me, or let’s get it over, I’m all out of hope, I can’t deal with life sober
So this is my story, and this is my shame,
Written here on my face and beside my real name...