Tag Archives: life

FOMO

I heard that acronym for the first time in years last week. FOMO: Fear of missing out. It struck a chord with me. A great big major C. It was the social disease that I had been living with since my teens. Always the good time girl, always at the party, always the life and soul ( as long as I was hammered), always the one that couldn’t say no to a drink out or a smoke, always just there, always frightened I was going to miss out. Although none of all that was ever really fulfilling. It was all just emotional and spiritual empty calories; unsustaining leaving me hungry and needing more and more to fill the void. A void that had no bottom because the fast burning energy was eating it up. 
I still had it though however much in denial I was about it. The fear of missing out. The FOMO. My week is split into two distinct parts. Four days full on single mum. Three days child free single woman. It’s quite an odd way to live. I’m not going to deny that three days not having to negotiate the logistical hell that is my Wednesday from 5pm to Sunday 10am is very welcome but it also makes for the arrival of the kids each week that little bit harder and the manic momentum which has slowed down for a few days is back up to full pelt again not to mention the loss when I say goodbye to them on a Sunday. 
It is during those child free days that the FOMO strikes. I suppose in the time I have freedom to do my own thing without having to check what the kids are doing first I want to fit in as much as possible. Meeting friends, going to the theatre or cinema, if I’m invited I’ll go. If there’s nowt happening I’ll create it. Even if I’m exhausted. And I am a lot of the time. Exhausted!

Then I heard it. FOMO. I heard it loud and clear and although I realised it still struck that old familiar chord for the first time I wasn’t frightened anymore of missing out on a party, a drinking sesh, or even just meeting up with people for a coffee I was frightened of missing out on me. By feeling the need to fill my child free days with activity it was stopping me from having time with myself and to recharge after the craziness of the other full on days. So I thought about the plans I had made that day and really checked in with myself. When I stopped to listen I heard it loud and clear, ‘ I want to go home’. So I did. I listened to what I really wanted and acted on it and didn’t feel frightened of missing out. 

Life goes by in a instant and before you know it another week, month and year has passed you by. I always burn the candle at both ends never stopping to take stock of where I am in my journey and what I need. What I need is time. Time for me. Time to just be. So saying goodbye to a lot of the old patterns of behaviour and feeding needs that were not healthy for me I will slowly but surely sense and believe that I don’t have the fear of missing out anymore. What I do have is something positive and much more empowering. I have the hope of finding me. 

Nighty night x

Ps 775 days 

Thus far…

2 years, 24 months, 731 days, 17,544 hours, 1,052,640 minutes, 63,158,400 seconds. No this isn’t the title of a musical theatre number but rather the numerical depiction of how long it has been at the stroke of midnight since I have drank alcohol. So much has happened in this time a lot of which I have documented here but there has also been a lot that I have kept to myself or only shared with those closest to me. Somethings we need to keep for ourselves. Some roads are partially walked. Some journeys are yet to begin. Some are too painful to openly share. Whatever the story, whatever the journey, whatever the pain the clarity I have now as a result of the freedom of the misuse of alcohol I had developed enables me to face life. Yes it can hurt, yes it can be acutely painful but in feeling it with all its devastation I am giving myself the chance to properly heal. I look back at my life from 1st April 2014 backwards. Self medicating with alcohol all too often when life became difficult or enhancing the party within me when life was good but never allowing myself to just feel. Scared I couldn’t live up to what was expected of me. Scared of feeling lonely in my fortress that protected me from pain. Scared of being me. 
Two years on I am still on my journey. In many ways I might always be but then aren’t we all on some journey. It’s not about the alcohol or any other substance it’s about choice. It’s about choosing to leave an overly trodden dead end path and forging a different one. One that allows the light in. One that is clear, open and directional. I’m still me but when I think about me before 1st April 2014 one particular songs springs to mind. This song could have been written about me. 

‘I want to swing from the chandelier’ 

Sounds very Oliver Reed. Bizarrely I share the same birthday as the late and infamous heavy drinking actor with a penchant for chandelier swinging. Swinging from the chandelier sounds liberating, fearless, exciting and exhilarating which are aspects of life too easily forgotten or suppressed. 

Yes I still want to swing from the chandelier but if I am I sure as hell want to bloody remember it. 

Nighty night xx

Fireworks

Today marks not only the near killing of King James VI of Scotland and I England ( let’s get it right) and destruction of parliament some 410 years before but also the two year anniversary of my divorce. Ooh the irony! Might as well go out with a bang although certainly not in the biblical sense. Today has been full of whizzing, crackling, zooming, firing and banging but inside my head. Today I have found even speaking quite a challenge. Well it’s not that I am finding I am unable to speak it’s more that with every word that comes out there is a tension in my throat, neck and shoulders which results in my speaking through clenched teeth with my hands spread out so rigid that the fingers are white like snow. Maybe I’m just tense? Maybe I’m just being glib. Today hasn’t been one of my finest but then in truth it certainly has not been one of my worst. Something I am realising is that even though I have abstained these past 19 months from drinking and I am working constantly on my emotional self that it doesn’t mean that I am not still recovering from the effects of them. That just because certain people or substances are not in my life as they once were does not mean that I am not still coping with the residisual feelings and emotions they left me with. That the psychological and physical renewal of myself is still ongoing and might always will be. That fills me with dread sometimes because I have always been impatient, wanting it to change immediately, to have a quick fix. Someone said to me today, ‘ as you seeked the quick fix of drink to distance yourself from what you were feeling, in turn you are now seeking the quick fix to stop you needing it.’ Patience. I am working on it. 

I used to feel quite sad when I watched fireworks. All that energy, light, beauty, expectation and joy exploding into a dark velvet sky only to burn out as quickly as it had appeared and disperse into the ether as if it had never even existed. The impatience for another to explode and light you up with a sparkling warm glow. Again the dissapointment when it fades to nothing. Another and another and another….. Wanting more, chasing the buzz. I never really took in the beauty of each colourful sparkle because I knew it would end and there would be a void and in that would be me waiting for the next injection of illumination. 

Truth is the void will always be there and the prospect of staring into it with clarity rather than a foggy mind is scary, terrifying even. I am edging closer to it but not in the sense of falling into it only to be engulfed by its cloaking darkness. No. I am getting closer to looking at it and naming it as mine. It’s ok to be sad sometimes. It’s ok to feel angry sometimes. It’s ok to feel you want to be on your own and indulge your negative feelings sometimes. They are real emotions that need to be given time to be explored, listened to and then released. Too often we bottle the negative emotions up because we must always be seen to be positive and happy but if we were smiling and laughing we wouldn’t feel bad about showing that so why be dishonest about the others?

Mindfulness fireworks now there’s a thought. It’s too easy to reprimand yourself for feeling negative. Oh I shouldn’t be feeling like this, I need to snap out of it. Why? Every emotion is valid but before we can get validation from others maybe we need to validate them ourselves. To really stay with the fear of clarity, to allow feelings of needing to weep develop, to punch a pillow or scream when angry, to indulge in crabbit behaviour or to just do bloody nothing. If I don’t allow myself  to remain in the darkness, truly feel it, understand it and accept it then maybe I’ll never be able to really appreciate the light. 

Nighty night and may your rocket burn beautiful and bright. 

PS 584 days 

‘There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in’, Anthem by Leonard Cohen.
  
 

500

I have reached a milestone today or at least I thought I had. I had it all counted out on my fingers and was sure that today was the day but I was wrong. It hasn’t been 500 days since I last drank alcohol today it’s actually 502. 502 days since I first took the step to make a life altering change in my life that would not only affect me but those close to me and beyond. It was one of the most daunting decisions I’ve ever made but one I knew I had to make and one that could be the difference in whether my life slowly slipped into a lonely mess or it found itself and with new strength and clarity could navigate a path unmarred by self doubt, self pity and denial. For me going out and getting bladdered or staying in ( my latter usual only option) and getting sozzled wasn’t working anymore. In fact it was slowly but surely breaking me. I knew inside my own self that the road I was on wasn’t one that would bring me any happiness or even allow me to see the potential in my life. I mean don’t get me wrong it’s not all bird song, tip toeing through the tulips and Mr Whippy ice cream these days. Some days can be hard, really hard but not because I’m not drinking they are like that just because they are. Life is like that. Stuff happens. Some good, some not so good. I know that I can’t go through life without hitting tricky, difficult times and I now see that wasn’t the issue. In a way it wasn’t so much that alcohol was stopping me from dealing with the hard stuff ( although of course to a certain extent it was) it was that it stopped me seeing the good, the potential, the good stuff worth pulling back the duvet placing my feet on the floor for. It had clouded my vision and had done so all my mid teen – adult life. 
Most people I know drink. Most people I know do so regularly. Most people I know have done so since their teens. Most people I know didn’t use alcohol like me. To get drunk as quickly as possible. To use it as a weapon. To use it as an anathestic. To use it as a sticking plaster. To use it to forget. To use it to feel good about myself. To use it to feel good about others. To just use it.  So I made the decision and I don’t regret it one bit. My Mum asked me only last night if I ever missed it. ‘If you were in a pub with people and they were all getting rounds in would you not feel like you wanted one?’ No I wouldn’t. I hardly ever think about me as a drinker now. It’s just something I don’t do. It’s not an option for me. It’s not so much those situations anyway that would bring on the desire to drink and let’s not forget for me this isn’t just a relaxing glass of wine but a definite need to be drunk asap. No it’s the emotion behind it that could illicit the overwhelming need to get a hit now and then again and again and again. 
I thought about it afterwards and this morning, what is it that triggers that need? Is there a common denominator? I think there is, me. Hiding from me and my reactions and responses to the emotion. I suppose it goes back to my relationship with my Nana one filled with enormous love but also heavily laden with criticism, judgement, unattainable morality, intolerance, hot temper, unmitigating ego and pride resulting in me at times insecurity, solitude, anger, frustration, coldness and an unbending ( to my detriment) need for fairness, tolerance and acceptance. I knew how much love there was but so often I felt I just wasn’t good enough. That that love was on condition. It’s easy to let that underpin you and on the surface be the funny girl, good time girl, everyone’s friend girl but underneath what I needed most was to just be alone, to be me. I was and never feel lonely but I like being on my own. I am very comfortable with my own company as well as with people. So what I’m trying to say is that when I hit a difficult spot it somehow brings all those negative emotions out and the way I learnt to deal with them was by drinking. 
I now see that me stopping drinking wasn’t ending  who I was but was changing direction of who I might become. I am learning to embrace me more and more and learn let go of things I can’t change but to invest in the things I can.

 In these past 502 days when I have ever felt sadness regarding alcohol it’s been because I recognise something that I previous associated with drink and each time I’ve have experienced a sense of mourning for it. I have created new neural pathways regarding alcohol associations which now result in me walking into a pub, club, party or concert and not feeling that twinge of grief. However, on Friday something very different happened. I was on the bus heading home. It was my stop so I pressed the bell and stood up ready to alight the bus. As I walked into position to get off I found myself standing beside a woman in her late 60’s sitting in one of the window seats. She was very respectable, hair neat, cream raincoat on. She looked up sideways at me then away again. I clocked myself give her one of those slight smiles you sometimes give a stranger when your eyes meet. She furtively took out oh her handbag a crumpled paper chemists bag which contained a 187ml bottles of white wine and giving me a sideways shot again swigged it back. I looked away as I didn’t want her to see me looking and think that I was judging her. The bus stopped, I got off and turned back on myself to walk to my flat. As I did so I looked at her in the bus again. She was swigging from the bottle again but her eyes locked on mine. Our glance parted as we naturally moved past each other and away in our opposite directions. I turned into the my street and felt myself well up. By the time I turned my key in the door I was crying. Why? What was it about this woman, this stranger that had affected me this way. I knew what it was. It was me. I saw in her me or what I might have become. Jesus who am I kidding. I had already been doing that shit so where do that leave me in 25 years or so? 

We all have our own story. We all do the best we can. That lady on the bus had her own journey but as I saw how my own journey could have continued I’m glad I rang the bell and told the driver I wanted to get off. I had a difficult choice which I made and for me I know it was the right one. 

So for now ( as I try to be realistic) I will tiptoe through the tulips,

  
enjoy a Mr Whippy ice cream with flake no less

  
and always try to listen out for the bird song. 

  
502 days

Circles.

I have come full circle. This time last year I started this blog and called it: My Angelic April. I honestly didn’t think that I would be here for round two of Angelic April but yet I am. I have named each month and now I am back where is started. Back at the starting point. I’ve come full circle. Truth is though I am not back at the start in my journey but I am moving into a new phase. If I look at life as a series of circles with some of them overlapping each other permanently or at varying times then some breaking away and drifting off completely then that is what it feels like. These little circles each with their own trigectory and story to tell. 

There are constant circles in life but there are also those circles that come into your life, penetrate your core then either stay or pass through, leaving but always fragments remain in memory. Whether it be a person, an event, a place or emotion these life circles move within each other, changing our life’s dynamic, bringing light and shade and forever evolving. Even when I feel life has stood still for a while it is now, in these times that I try to listen and feel to what is happening and to trust in the stillness and let life breath. Sometimes nothing is a good thing. Well maybe I wouldn’t call it nothing because within nothing there still has to be something surely? I mean space never stops does it. It goes on to infinity. When I say nothing I mean those times in life when we feel less is happening or that too much is and you have shut down because of the overwhelming nature of it or when we are waiting on something which seems so far away and out of reach that the circles spin but you are holding your breath and everything seems off kilter.

 Take my drinking circle. That was an integral part of me for all of my adult life and for some time even before but I have managed to detach that circle and let it go and although it will never cease to be it floats out with my core and stays just enough in the periphery for me to be aware of it and to strengthen my core circles if it edges towards breaking through again. So far it hasn’t come close even to penetrating the others but every now and then when I least expect it makes a sudden dash, a surge forward. It happened on Saturday night. I had decided to take me and the kids out for an Easter weekend treat of dinner out. We got ready and hopped on a bus excited with the meal ahead and a stroll around Edinburgh afterwards. As I sat on the bus I thought about what I might like to eat and then without warning I imagined drinking red wine. Now all I can equate this next circle of thoughts to is that of a soliloquy. One thought encapsulated in a long monologue full of metaphor, imagery, thought process etc. 

‘ I could have a drink, yes one glass of red wine. I’ve stopped for such a long time and really….. I mean …. I am an adult I could have one if I wanted to. Couldn’t I ? Just one glass of red. One large glass of blood red wine. Why shouldn’t I ? I am I in control! Of course I am !! Just a glass of red wine. That rich red liquid…. Oh I can feel it now warm and tingly. I can feel the sensation it would give me. Imagine sipping alcohol for the first time in over a year. Jeez! I would hardly need anything to feel drunk. Just a few mouthfuls and I’d feel all warm and glowing inside. I’d feel really tipsy. I’d feel drunk and not have had much at all. Yes drunk…. Oh to feel drunk! ‘

Then in a flash the desire to knock back the large glass of red wine and then pour up another and another another became very intense, vivid and in that moment seemed like a possibility. There it was. When the circle had edged forward I chose not to bat it away but stayed with it to see what it would do. It had behaved badly. Trying to trick me into a false sense of security that I was in control then as it felt me listening it went for it all guns blazing. It was clear straight away that I can’t just have one drink because it isn’t the drink itself I crave it’s the feeling it gives and that feeling needs to be accomplished as quickly as possible because then for that time I don’t care about life’s nothing parts. The grey areas. The times we need to be patient. The times when we need to trust in ourselves and in others. The times when we really need to take care of ourselves. The times we need to listen to what is going on for us and give ourselves a break. I know I need to feel all those things because if I choose to numb all that feeling up again then I really would be back at the start. That I would have gone on a journey and found that I had only ended up back at the beginning. Older, wiser and with more understanding but back at the beginning none the less. This journey for me needs to be one way with no going back only moving forward but always remembering where I have come from and remaining steadfast and hopeful of where I am heading.

Night night x

Ps 372 days  

       

My Marvelous March: Day 4

I love nothing more than a fad. Always looking to “improve” myself by changing something…. well correction denying myself something. It comes from a good place but invariably I find myself at the point of craving said thing that I have purged from my every day life and then ( like now) think bugger it! I’m having it! This years latest devil items are bread and chocolate. I have always been a huge bread fan. Eating copious amounts the stuff but rather than cutting down on the amount I consume I treat it like an addiction that needs stopped so I cut it out of my diet completely. It starts off ok. Full of optimistic fervour that this will revolutionise my digestive system and the knock on effects from not eating bread will be tenfold but then as the days turn into weeks, turn into months and I realise that I don’t actually really feel any better for it and no my weight is still the same and jeez I can’t even pretend to be gluten intolerant as the excuse I just want to feel crusty baguette and butter in my mouth and the pull towards it is overwhelming. So then we turn to my not eating chocolate. Now my reason for doing this is slightly different. I have given it up for lent. Lent! What a bloody monumental joke! I haven’t a religious bone in my body and now even the ” oh it’s good to give myself an achievable challenge by taking away something I enjoy” is wearing thin. Why do I need to do that? Can’t I just be happy with what I enjoy and just moderate its consumption?

The thing is I think I treat everything like my relationship with alcohol. It has to be all or nothing. If I were gluten intolerant then it would be very sensible for my well being to give up bread and possibly other food stuffs. That way I would lead a more comfortable and healthy life. If I was diabetic or dairy intolerant maybe giving up chocolate or at least some varieties would be a sensible thing to do also. Truth is I feel fine eating bread and chocolate in fact they are two food stuffs that are favourites and in moderation pose no threat to my physical or emotional well being. A friend was giggling at me the other day as I was talking about my new obsession of yoghurt raisins. Well truth be told yoghurt, raisins, peanuts, banana chips, pineapple pieces you name it if it’s cover in yoghurt I’ll eat it. She had a point. If I was giving up something for Lent surely you are meant to feel the loss and therefore have the reminder every day that you are going through the struggle of going without something not just substitute it for something else that’s a sugar hit with the pretence that it’s got fruit in it. So then I thought why do I feel I have to go through a struggle? What is it for? What am I achieving from it. Certainly not a healthier life as the bloody boxes of oatcakes and desert dipped crystallised fruit I am stuffing in my mouth is counteracting to any of that potential “wholesomeness”. The good thing about me ( yes there are some) is that I have never been the type of person who gorges on chocolate. I always have chocolate which I like as dark as possible 70-90% cocoa but a square (or if I’m really decedent) two squares is ample for me. A lot of my fiends would have to finish the whole bar if they opened it so there I have moderate tendencies. I can be in control of it.

Alcohol on the other hand does not hold that same moderation and unlike a bar of chocolate, when I opened the bottle I found it very difficult to put the cork back in after one or maybe two glasses. It was extreme a lot and getting to be most of the time. And yet I have stopped drinking. Unlike bread and chocolate for me alcohol was not a healthy choice for my body and mind and as time was running down the plug hole it was slowly but surely consuming me day by day, sip by sip and bottle by bottle. I had found my intolerance: alcohol. I think it’s time I proudly acknowledge saying goodbye to something in my life that was very unhealthy for me instead of constantly trying to attain a never ending affirmation with myself. It is well known that I cannot help but be self deprecating and I usually hate to fly my own flag but I am unfurling it this time because I’m happy with me. In fact I think I’m ok. In fact I think I’m bloody great! So what if I indulge in some chocolate, big deal if I like garlic ciabatta, stop the press if I eat a Cadbury’s cream egg with a teaspoon. I have achieved something that is life changing for me and now it’s time I celebrated it in all its greatness and life affirming joy. 

Nighty night and may all your dreams be covered in chocolate Xx



Ps 337 days 

My Joyful January: Day 26

Today it is 300 days since I last drank alcohol. It seems bizarre to have gone this long completely sober and yet at the same time if feel like no time at all. I am beginning to see the changes both physical and emotional. My skin appears more hydrated, fresher and I am no longer sloping off to bed in a fog and waking up with lasts nights make up on and as I am fast approaching my 45th birthday ( if I say it quickly it’s like it’s not really true) I won’t say no to that. My sleep is of a better quality although I could still make improvement on the quantity and I notice I am dreaming more. Well actually maybe it’s not a case of dreaming more but being clearer of mind to recall them.

More than anything though is the shift within me as a person that is the most significant. Without the devil on my shoulder that was alcohol I am stopping myself from having knee jerk reactions, allowing myself time to reflect on situations and in turn reacting in a calmer, more self assured and mindful way. I’m all for changing neural pathways and being sober for me helps me identify the pathways I want to change and taking positive action to do so. When I feel under attack my default position is to defend myself; pull up the draw bridge, raise the ramparts and place my defence in as many places as possible leaving no soft spot vulnerable. I then have to work exhaustingly hard to maintain the upper hand and never show I am bothered. I’ve reacted like this since I was eleven usually in response to one of my Nana’s vitriolic tirades and lack of parental support. I had to on principle. Someone had to. I felt like a lone renegade battling it out for the good of others but the battle scars took their toll. Drinking in a way helped me release from that warrior and made me feel more care free but in the morning it was all still there.

Being sober I am slowly but surely learning to choose my battles and that changing my approach to any “skirmish” can be both empowering, satisfying and kinder to me. Sometimes stepping back lets you see the insecurity, denial and lack of self awareness in others. We all have work to do but it takes courage and honesty to tackle it. Not everyone is ready, some might never be. I used to feel this sense of lack of completion, like there was a missing part. I now think maybe we all are works in progress. I will never be complete and that’s ok. Now that I am seeing with more clarity I am content to be incomplete. I want to have the freedom to change, grow and adapt. We all want to eventually leave this world feeling what we have lived has been worth something so I am working hard at accepting what life throws at me but knowing it is what I throw back that matters.

Nighty night x

Ps 300 days