PAMPER PARTY at your home !
Wednesday
Jun132018

Just Reach Out (or rather don't)

In the wake of all the recent celebrity suicides, there have been many articles about depression going around encouraging people to speak out and talk to someone about what they’re going through.  I myself, offer free ‘Empathy Calls’ to all of my reiki clients where they can call me up and speak uninterrupted for 15minutes. At the end of each yoga cIass, whilst explaining that Kundalini Yoga can bring a lot of emotion to the surface, I say a similar thing - encouraging people to stay behind after class to speak it out or reach out on facebook in the next 48hours...  All very nice offers but despite my intentions, I realised that these are probably THE most ridiculously naive requests I have ever made! Why? Because when we are struggling, the last thing the majority of us are able to do is pick up the phone and call a friend, let alone a yoga teacher who is sat at the front, all serenely dressed in all white looking like...and I quote...’An Angel’ who clearly looks like they’ve got their shit together !!

In all of the years that I have been supporting people and holding space I think only 3 people have ever taken me up on the offer of receiving an Empathy Call! And I realised that those three people are probably some of the bravest souls I have ever met. To actually pick up the phone and say ‘I’m struggling - could you just listen whilst I speak it out’ to someone they hardly know - wow that is MASSIVE ! I doubt I would be able to do it.

In the age of the mobile phones and social media we’ve just simply stopped talking to people...y’know like, OUTLOUD...and actually RINGING people up....on the PHONE....  Gone are the days of just ‘calling for a chat’.  Even when considering making a spontaneous call there’s usually the loop of made-up assumptions going on in your head: ‘Oh she’ll be busy with the kids/work/her hubby/too knackered’, which often stop us from hitting dial. 

So what do we do? Absolutely Nothing.  We turn the telly on.  We scroll. We watch Netflix.  We prepare our Cave with chocolate and crisps and wine and blankets and we settle in for the night.  Alone.

And if we ARE aware of our need for support from someone we disguise it in a text message checking in first ‘Are you in for a catch up later?’.  (When did we start announcing that we are about to call?- like an old school telephone operator connecting the calls. Or worse still, planning a call in advance like its a corporate meeting ! - asking your friend to provide you a list of suitable evenings in the next 2 weeks when she might be able to chat. ) Perhaps its the fault of Caller ID and having the choice to screen a call -which suddenly added an extra layer of vulnerability - the chance to be rejected when your name flashes up on someone else’s phone.  The thought of your friend hitting the RED button rather than the green is so juicy to the ego’s ‘See? I told you you were unlovable - even your friends won’t take your calls!’

But it is a basic human need to be seen and heard.  And we know this deep down but it’s so hard to ask for that need to be met.  You’re leaving yourself wide open to getting hurt.  In the middle of opening up about your fears/sadness/despair there’s the chance that the other might give you any of the following responses.

Dismiss you: “I’m far too busy right now to listen to you. “

Spiritually shame you: “Be grateful - focus on what you DO have in your life. Remember the Law of Attraction”

Steal the limelight/Interrupt you: “Oh god I’ve had such a shit week too - let me tell you about it... “

Force Comparison: “You’ve broken your ankle? Well my friend has just been in a car crash and she nearly died. People have it MUCH worse than you...”

The British reaction: “Pull yourself together - keep a stiff upper lip”.

Make a joke: “Lighten up at least you’ve got your health”

Or the more subtle forms of stopping you mid-tears by handing you a tissue - subconsciously telling you “Please stop crying you’re making me feel really uncomfortable’”

All of those possible outcomes are terrifying to our little vulnerable hearts. Add that to the fear that no one could possibly love me when I’m down so I have to always smile and keep up The Gameshow Host Act. So what do we do ? We keep quiet.  Telling ourselves that it is definitely not safe to share and tell someone how you’re really feeling. DO NOT SHOW VULNERABILITY. KEEP YOUR SHIT TOGETHER. EVERYONE ELSE MANAGES TO DO THAT. NO ONE ELSE FEELS LIKE THIS.

But internally we’re in despair. We have a need for support. To be cared for. To be listened to. To be accepted. To be heard and seen in all of our emotions.  So instead of asking directly for our needs to be met we do it subtly.  Or passive aggressively!  And things start to leak out anyway.  We might do some hinting.  We might start snapping at close members of our family.  The road rage might step up a notch where you’re swearing your unhappiness out to unsuspecting fellow drivers. We might shout at our kids a bit louder. And externally project out our pain AT other people (silently screaming for someone to SEE us). Or the opposite -we might stop all contact with the outside world.  We might not reply to text messages. We might stop giving eye contact. We might avoid contact with others and totally withdraw. 

But none of those things are working. In fact it just causes further distance and isolation from your Loved Ones.  So we stay depressed. We stay anxious.  We take antidepressants. We contemplate suicide. Christ, our cunning Ego has a million and one tactics to keep us separate and alone. And it’s working.

At the retreat I just took part in, 12 out of the 12 women (me included) admitted to sometimes feeling lonely and waking up in the middle of the night worrying about how to exist. EVERY. SINGLE.WOMAN. And no one is talking about this. Not even to our mates. So we end up thinking that we’re The Only One. The Weird One. The Odd One Out..

So even though we’re always telling people to reach out...  Or call the helpline...Or go to the support group.... we’re still suffering alone in shameful silence.

So maybe there’s a different way. The opposite way. Perhaps The ones in pain shouldn’t have to be brave to ‘reach out’.  Perhaps The Others need to be the ones to SEE those who might be struggling. To be more diligent for what’s going on for other people.  To notice the red swollen eyes - Christ to LOOK in their eyes in the first place. To see that a snappy comment might be out of character. To offer support in the moment.  To talk more honestly.  To call during radio silence and ask how you’re doing.  To send a text message or a card or flowers to say I’m thinking of you. To utter the three words that everyone longs to hear: TELL. ME. MORE.

What we need more than anything in those moments of darkness when we can’t see our own light - is other people, a friend, a partner -  someone to care and love us, when we are incapable of loving ourselves.

So I’m still going to offer my Empathy Calls.  But perhaps acknowledge that reaching out and actually PICKING UP THE PHONE is too fucking scary.  So I’ll suggest that you just text me the codeword instead. What IS the codeword? Erm.. it’s ARMADILLO...er... obviously (?)... Rather bizzarely, as my friends know- It has ALWAYS been Armadillo. For years ! If there’s a bad date happening - text me Armadillo.  If you need to meet me at the bar and do some shots it WAS Armadillo. If you’re trapped with someone talking AT you, mouth Armadillo. And I have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHY that became code for ‘HELP ME!’.  

So I just googled it now : Get this!: ‘Armadillos are barrel-shaped animals covered with natural armour. In fact, its name in Spanish means “little armoured one.” 

I LOVE THIS ! I got goosebumps reading it and tears welled up - because basically that’s what we are when we’re lost or down or sad or hurt or in despair - we become the little armoured one. Just like the Armadillo.  So perhaps instead of asking people to REMOVE their armour and open up...which let’s face it is bloomin hard (pun intended!) when you’re shut down, closed and protecting your little heart... So how about WE just care for THEM, protect them, notice them, listen to them and support them with so much love that EVENTUALLY they feel safe enough to take off the armour themselves?

 

Saturday
May262018

Mum's NOT the word (from Friday 4th May)

I had to go to the hospital today for further ‘investigations’ after the results of a smear were a bit ambiguous. ( It’s probably at this point that I need to point out to friends and family reading that the doctor  didn’t find anything sinister and everything was fine; a false alarm and I was reassured with a ‘come back in 12months’)

But during the examination, the doctor rather weirdly, asked ‘Do you want to have a look?’ and since I’ve never seen my insides and bless her, she was so enthusiastic I said yes.  But as I looked at the monitor and she pointed out my cervix and said “and that's where the baby comes out” - I promptly burst into tears.  I’d gone in there thinking about the cervical cancer that my mind had helpfully (and luckily inaccurately!) diagnosed me with, and in fact ended up being faced with the unexpected  grief of the realisation that no baby will ever come out of the teeny tiny hole the doctor had just pointed out on screen.  The harsh realisation: My cervix was redundant. Truth time.

I will never be a mother.

I will never be a mother.

I will never be a mother.

So I silently cried. And the doctor apologised and looked awkward.  But it was actually ok as I was ready.  I finally had to face it. I had to feel it. And grieve it. Partly because it was Time (- I’d just turned 43) but partly cos its hard to run away when you’re half naked with your legs akimbo in medical stirrups. ( I apologise - I’m making a joke cos this all feels very uncomfortable. And I’m sad. And embarrassed. )

Because the weirdest thing had happened in that room (as if 3 complete strangers looking at your bits, whilst asking about plans for the weekend wasn’t weird enough) I had looked at that monitor and WANTED a baby to be in there.  I knew logically this wasn’t a 12 week scan - but something in me had hoped that the letter got mixed up and the dodgy smear turned out to be a life growing inside me.  Yeh, I get it, you think I’m nuts -and of course logically I knew I wasn’t pregnant before attending my appointment, but my brain, (or heart?) was unable to process that.  For a split second I somehow found myself in a parallel universe expecting a happy future-based fantasy montage of ‘Congratulations Miss Roberts’ pregnancy talk.  So instead when, in reality, the chat turned to ‘nothing to see here’ reassurance about my imaginary tumour, I felt disappointed.  And sad. Because I knew I was never going to be pregnant.

I left the examination room and locked myself into the nearest toilet and cried at my feeling of ‘not good-enough-ness’. The WHATS WRONG WITH YOU ? Everyone Else has had children.  Or wants children. But I know I would be crap at it.  I wouldn’t be able to cope. I am too much of an Empath to care for someone else 24hours a day. I can’t even look after a kitten let alone a child. I am too selfish. I am different. I am not a real woman. 

And all these beliefs were highlighted by seeing my perfectly-intact cervix on that screen and I felt pointless at having been born as a woman.  What a waste. Like I hadn’t achieved what I was put on this earth to do. And I felt deep shame at that thought.  I know that sounds ridiculous in this day and age where women have so many choices but I guess that’s the point - It wasn’t EVER a choice.  I didn’t make an empowered decision to never have children. It was circumstance. It just didn’t happen for me.

But did I even WANT to be a mum ? The big question! Do I want kids? I don’t know. There’s not a soul shaking, bottom of my gut knowing.  There’s an ‘I’m not sure’.  And my brain isn’t happy with a grey area and the NOT knowing.  But I’m scared of finding out.  I don’t want to ask myself and hear the truth.  Because to actually hear the answer ‘Yes I want kids’ deep in my womb when I’m 43 and that chance has most likely passed me by, is just too difficult to face.  It would be too painful.   

So instead I like to protect myself by making up two versions of why I have never had children (whether I wanted them or not)

Theory ONE: If I wanted it THAT badly I would’ve MANIFESTED BECOMING A MOTHER:

Hypothesis:

The big things in my life that I had KNOWN I wanted (with every cell in my body) -  I MADE happen. I desperately wanted to go to Maui and despite having lost my job, I managed to raise £6k in three months to pay for. I went to Maui.  I wanted to run a marathon even though I couldn’t run more than 20mins. After one year’s training, I ran a marathon.  When I moved back from Amsterdam I missed cycling everywhere -so  I manifested not just ANY bike, a DUTCH bike- in Manchester ! You get the gist.  So I’ve convinced myself that I just wasn’t MEANT to be a Mother in the traditional form. 

Which leads me to Theory Number TWO: I was put on this earth to be a Mother in different ways: Hypothesis:

 Maybe my Maternal Instinct is playing out in different ways. Maybe I’m being a Mother when I teach my yoga or nurture my clients. Maybe I’m meant to just be a part-time step mum so I can conserve my energy. Maybe I’m meant to be the confidante to some 17+something year olds at my previous job so I can support them with stuff they definitely WOULDN’T tell their real mums

THEREFORE I WAS NOT MEANT TO BECOME A MOTHER. THE END.

Obviously I have reached this conclusion with the help of a lot of Spiritual bullshit and terminology like ‘MANIFESTATION’ (cos I’m THAT powerful and THAT in control of my destiny !!!) and sentences like CO-CREATION WITH THE UNIVERSE, like surely if I had wanted to have kids badly enough it would’ve happened for me, because y’know, ‘The Universe provides’.  But that just makes me livid, because there’s plenty of people out there who REALLY want to have kids and it didn’t happen for them, or despite them reading the ‘Calling in The One’ book - they just didn’t happen to meet the Right Guy. Or they were too old. Or they couldn’t have children. Or their partner couldn’t.

 I am certainly not about to use a Spiritual Bypass to disguise the fact that it is actually just really shit and extremely bad luck, not to mention painful and sad. It would be cruel and insensitive if I said to anyone else (other than me) ‘perhaps it wasn’t your Path’. Cos it’s fucking hard accepting your fate and rehashing every crossroad and sliding door that you missed, without someone else from the Spiritual Community telling you that it’s JUST NOT MEANT TO BE.

When I was a birth partner for a single mum friend, I was worried the night before the birth that when the baby arrived and I witnessed them instantly falling in love I would be jealous.  Like I already knew that that moment would never arrive for me in the future and that it might bring up some grief for me.  The grief never came. I was overjoyed for them both but the experience didn’t make me rush out to find a sperm donor either.  My womb wasn’t crying for my own child. But some friends have had that - they’ve desperately been trying for children to no avail and have experienced envy at pregnant women or gone down the IVF route.  But luckily for me I’ve never had that pull.  I’ve never felt my clock ticking or my ovaries stirring at the sight of a small baby

So in conclusion I think I want to WANT to have children. Which isn’t the same.

In fact if I’m honest what’s behind all this is that I WANT to be NORMAL.  Because I’m tired of feeling weird. Of feeling like the odd one out. And I just want acceptance that its ok to be different despite being, to quote Michael Jackson “not like the other guys”.  I am still enough without children and me and my unemployed womb will be ok. And dare I say it, happy, even if we didn’t fulfil our supposed purpose.

We’re all struggling with things we need to let go of.  Lost purposes.  Outcomes.  Future fantasies.  What ifs. Lifelong dreams. Getting our way. Control.  Daydreams, People changing.  Us changing. Things being different to what is.

But to do that, to accept the present moment - we need to get totally real and honest and brave.  I know to find my peace I need to feel sad and grief for the path I did not take.  For the things I am not.  And never will be.  And being ok with that.  So eventually  I can celebrate the things that I am. And become the things I’m meant to be.       

And until that happens being with the indecision and sitting with the ‘I don’t knows’ or the ‘What am I gonna dos?’ or the ‘I have no fucking idea what my gut is telling me’ and NOT knowing the answers.

I’ll leave you with this poem from a well known Guru; Gonzo from The Muppets (?!) which sums it all up beautifully -

‘I wish I had a coat of silk, the color of the sky.
I wish I had a lady fair, and then a butterfly
I wish I had a house of stone that looked down on the sea
But most of all I wish that I was someone else but me.

Now I don't have a coat of silk, but I still have the sky
Now I don't have a lady, but there goes a butterfly
Now I don't have a house of stone, but I can see the sea
Now most of all I know that I am happy to be me.
I'm happy to be me’

And by sharing this, I’m certainly not doing that other classic Spiritual put down which is meant to deflect our feelings where we are told to ‘focus on the positive’ or get out the Gratitude List for what we DO have.  No I am only suggesting that both verses can be true. That I can be grateful for the beautiful sky and feel gutted I haven’t got the coat of silk.  The Big AND.  That all the things can exist equally together at the same time. I want to be a mother/I don’t want to be a mother. I am in despair/I am full of hope. I can’t stand myself/ I’m happy to be me.

It’s the sitting in the middle knowing that all of it can be your truth and trusting (AND being terrified) that it’s ok because the contradictions are ALL part of you. And bringing love, acceptance and kindness to all of it.

 

 

 

Thursday
Apr262018

GUEST BLOG: Fatherhood by Spencer Jacobs (aka My Big Man) 

It is a joy to be talking about one of the most blessed part of my existence which is being a father.

It is the one aspect of my life that feels like the truest essence of who I am and who I want to be

I became a father at 45 after a long self-destructive period in my life

And Whilst my partying had slowed down I was still very immature

I was still held in the thrall of my inner adapted child. Sad, Self-centred and selfish

All of that began to change though on November 23rd 2012 at 12.23

As my son slowly floated up to the surface of the birthing pool in Crumpsall hospital

It felt like a hole in my heart had suddenly filled. I felt whole for the first time in my life

And what I’ve realised since that day is that what I felt within me was Purpose

a new purpose and I became richer because of that and I began to grow

I was, I am, still sometimes held in the thrall of that adapted child but something has changed in me

now when I think of who I used to be I feel compassion for that man

Before I became a father I held him in contempt

from the very first moment I saw Thomas it felt like being home

That may sound like a cliché but it’s a beautiful truth to me

Through my relationship with him I have learnt to experience Love with Trust

What a delicious phrase that is for me

Love with Trust

Loving with Trust opened up my eyes to how closed I had been in connecting with my fellow man

And Every day I spend with my son I learn something new about myself and about the world around me

One of the loveliest feelings I experience is when I connect to the nurturer inside me

My son helped me find it and through watching him connect to his when being in the world

I began to see we must all nurture each other in some way

Men must be fathers to everyone not just their own children and all men must nurture their fellow man

My son Thomas brings me Deep Joy

But. I’m only human and being a father and a worrier has meant that there is a darker side to fatherhood for me.

First there is The Fear

Sometimes I get so frightened by thoughts of the impending demise of either my son or myself that I have panic attacks.

I feel the fear flood my stomach like ice cold lava

Then there is the guilt

There are times when I’m so consumed with guilt about some mistake I think I’ve made

* Not being gentle enough

* Not being attentive enough

* Not being perfect enough

The guilt sits on my shoulders like bricks, weighing me down

Then there is the feeling of inadequacy

I see it in every perfect father I think I see. Their brilliance, their vitality is a light that shines on all of the limiting beliefs I have about myself

* I’m too old

* I’m too fat

* I’m nuts

This is when I feel the hole again in my heart

 

Ultimately though I know the truth is this

I have a son

Called Thomas Alan John Jacobs

He is 5

I love him

I feel blessed

I thank the Universe every day for him.

And I thank you all for listening to my truth.

Thursday
Mar082018

A letter of apology to the Men (On International Women’s Day)

I woke up to the Facebook posts about International Women’s Day and felt a mixture of confusion, mild sadness  and a huge SHAME knot in my stomach. The confusion is that I am one (a woman) and I LOVE the support all over social media towards women in our lives now and from history who have changed the way we get to live.  But I also hate it.  I am irritated by it.  And I feel protective of the men today.  Not ALL men, but the Good Ones.

Ok I know today is the one day it’s supposed to be about solely The Women and perhaps this blog is bad timing, but bear with me - Hear me out on this one.

There’s been so much bad press towards (some) Men recently where they are portrayed at worst as misogynistic abusers and at best pointless wimps with no backbone.  But that basically they are The Bad Guys.  Literally. So today, with the focus on ONLY women, I just feel this huge gulf of separation between us getting bigger and I actually feel this deep need to protect them too, to apologise for tarring them all with the same brush.  And actually give credit to the amazing men who love and support us everyday. And include them in the celebration of us.

And yet at the same time I am not trying to dismiss how incredible the Women’s Movement is.  I am terrified of publishing this blog for fear of being misunderstood by OTHER women- I feel so inadequate to be able to express myself properly- hence the confusion on this whole subject - I am nervous about coming across like I am somehow dismissing feminism and the women who have suffered in the past for me to be able to have the privileges I have as a woman now.  That this blog will come across as me thinking the #Metoo campaign is NOT a positive, powerful thing. That I am NOT supporting all the women working towards equal pay and equal rights. Because that is not  true and certainly not my intention here. I am excited about those things.  I celebrate women, ALL women but I also want us women to celebrate men and treat each other as equal HUMANS.  And stop with the ‘Them and us’ bullshit.

So I’m sorry to my Sisters, but this blog can’t wait - I feel TOO guilty for my part in this separation - hence the shame.  And I want to own it.  So as I write this I will try and make this personal to me and not speak for any of you. 

Because I don’t feel good about the way I have treated men.  I have deemed them as spineless, shallow, pathetic, weak.  I have fuelled the divide by lumping them all together with a dismissive ‘They’re all the same’.  I have been the abuser and the bully and the manipulator and I have absolutely no idea of what the equivalent term for ‘Mysogynist’ is in relation to men, but I have been that too.

So here is my apology. 

I am sorry.

For thinking you were all the same.

For continuing the belief that ‘you can’t rely on a man, so I might as well do it myself’ from generations that weren’t even mine.

For trying to match you pint for pint, talking about shagging, swearing, the banter, taking the piss- trying to fit in with some of you and pretending that was fun for me.

For showing you the tough exterior and hiding my emotions - for lying about who I am

For hating the Porn Industry but still acting like the Porn Star and pretending that was ok.

For the blame I carried towards YOU from MY ancestors towards your ancestors - not YOU.

For bitching about you to the Collective Sisterhood and contributing to the separation

For thinking we were superior because we cope with periods and have babies and don’t get ‘Man Flu’

For the time I dismissed your offer of help, with a derogatory ‘I’m fine’, when I struggled with my suitcase down the steps to The Tube. Then took great significance that I could do it myself. That I was just as strong as you.

For always taking the bin out myself and getting pissed off that ‘I have to do everything around here’ but not actually letting you take the bin out when you offered.  

For making you doubt whether to open a door for me, because you’d been barked at, or beaten to it with a ‘I got it’ so many times

For expecting you to be a mind reader, and punishing you when you weren’t, because I hadn’t learned how to state my needs

For not communicating properly, for answering ‘Fine’ then kicking into Ice Queen mode and giving you the Silent Treatment

For rolling my eyes when you couldn’t do something and saying ‘For Gods sake - I’ll do it’ rather than encouraging and empowering you.

For nagging and trying to get you to change who you are.

For Mothering you. For Smothering you.

For not looking up to you or acknowledging the things you do for me.

For all the times I judged you for letting me down, when I let myself down.

I especially cringe about the times when I wouldn’t back down when you DID show up. When I didn’t trust Your Glorious Masculine.   When you did dare to show it, I belittled it, I laughed it off, I refused to surrender -I met yours with mine and I tried to out-do you. Two masculines at loggerheads with each other - and remember, I was carrying the generational Warrior Women on my back who had to fight so hard, who WERE left alone to DO EVERYTHING- so of course you didn’t stand a chance.  You were always going to lose and give in first. ‘Anything for a quiet life’. Back down. And leave me smug that I’d won. But you failed the test.  And I am deeply sorry that I set the trap for you.  You backing down meant I got to continue The Story that ALL Men are untrustworthy. “See?, I have to be the Man AND the woman in this relationship”

So finally, and this is the hardest one to say - for all the times I screamed at you to ‘Man up’, when I couldn’t ‘Man down’ myself. I didn’t know how to.  I was never taught.  But I know now and I promise to do that, as often as I can catch myself. And when you remind me.

And for everything else that has passed between us where you have felt less-than, punished, hurt, confused and disrespected. I am deeply sorry. I chose Significicance over Love so I wouldn’t get hurt. Again. Protecting myself. Not letting you in. Allowing you into my body but never my heart.

But my core is feminine and yours in masculine. I want to relax into that Feminine as much as possible, now. I am tired of being Masculine around you. And herein lies the confusion. The Contradiction. The huge Grey areas. I need my Masculine to get stuff done, to face challenges, to do my work. I need my feminine to be in flow, to be creative, to trust, to recieve. As you do - as we have both parts within us. So we ARE the same yet at the same time, we are TOTALLY different.  But I commit to somehow celebrating our differences between us as beautiful, sacred, mysterious rather than as something to punish each other for and to further fuel the Great Divide- which only brings hurt, pain and more separation. 

I want Connection and Oneness.  We have to do this together. To use our polarity to return to our core. I want my Divine Feminine to continue emerging and at the same time empower your confidence that you are safe to return to your Divine Masculine.

Thank you for everything you are.  I see you. I love you. I’m sorry I hurt you too.

 

 

Sunday
Mar042018

Gonna have to face it, you're addicted to Love/Booze/Creme Eggs/Crumpets etc

Big Announcement: I have given up alcohol.  For a year. Possibly for ever.  Last night was my first Big Test:  Going alone to a fortieth birthday party where I only knew 4 people (all of whom are fairly new friendships) in a group where everybody else was drinking and in quite a big way.  I was clearly nervous as on arrival I immediately knocked over someone’s beer.  I didn’t know this person so was absolutely mortified and insisted on getting him a new bottle.  He promised to get me the next one which is when I told him I wasn’t drinking. Once he established that I wasn’t driving he tried to convince me to have a beer. I explained that I had given up for the year. He gave me a shocked look and then like that scene out of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, where the mother is horrified to hear her daughter is marrying a vegetarian and declares ‘That’s ok - I make lamb’ - offered to buy me a shot of Sambuca instead!!

But I noticed that it wasn’t just the other people that were freaked by it - I was also feeling uncomfortable- like I had to justify it.  When the barman shook his head when I ordered a water, I heard myself making a joke saying ‘Don’t judge me - I can be fun without alcohol’ and as other people asked why I wasn’t drinking , I heard myself talking about this Big Experiment I had embarked on for the year to see how it would be to not drink. There was only one person I actually told the truth to, which was ‘I don’t like myself when I drink’ which gave her the green light to confide that she was the same and whenever she drank with her fella it always ended in a big row.  This was early in the night and she told me she was already monitoring how many beers he was having and was feeling a sense of dread about how the evening would end. So much for ‘Drink and be Merry’... rather ‘Drink and bring out all your insecurities, cause a fight and say mean shit’!

I totally recognised this situation.  The expression ‘Demon Drink’ is defined as ‘Alcohol and its unpleasant side effects’ !! The word ‘Unpleasant’ seems a bit too tame to describe the many behaviours associated with me drinking in the past.  During my single days at best, I would end up DCGIT (Drunk Crying Girl In The Toilets), wailing about how no one would ever love me.  At worst, I was reckless, putting myself in ridiculously stupid situations with men I hardly knew to get the crumbs of feeling ‘loved’ through One Night stands. But even all happy and loved-up in my current relationship, during a moment of drunken rage and frustration towards my partner, after a night out - I somehow embodied the Demon of the Drink and smashed a chair into pieces. 

And I was never even a big drinker really. I would regularly go through phases of NOT drinking and was used to getting reactions from others ranging from mild bewilderment to actual aggressive demands for me to ‘stop being so boring’.  But then other nights out I would also ‘get on it’ with everyone else.  Why ? To fit in? To escape? To feel more extrovert? To be funnier? To get on the dancefloor? To feel confident? To lose inhibitions? To justify doing things I would never do sober? To numb my real feelings of sadness/fear/doubt etc?  All of those things.

So back in the day, before arriving alone at a boozy 40th, I would have necked a cheeky wine, but last night I had no crutch and went through range of different emotions during the night. I was nervous and awkward at first. Then I relaxed and enjoyed meeting the new people and had a laugh. Then I got up and danced and felt Significance that I could dance without booze. Like a superior smugness. Then when it became clear that Everyone Else was pissed I felt sad at the inevitable disconnect. I felt a bit lonely. I felt judgemental towards the drunk ones who kept repeating themselves or who smelt of stale ale. I felt judgey towards myself ‘Why aren’t you normal? Why are you doing this - you are alienating yourself ?’ Then I felt compassion when some people started to show insecurities and then finally amusement once the declarations of love towards me started and I decided to leave. 

On the way home I stopped to buy ‘treats’ in the form of Crisps, Cookies and Bread Products which I planned to gorge on when I got home as a reward for not drinking. I realised the irony of this - that I had simply replaced one addiction with another - albeit one that wouldn’t bring me the ‘what-the-hell-did-I-do-last-night Memory Loss! But it’s still the same thing.

We all have our insecurities and we all have our ‘Go To’ Avoidance Activities which society has labelled on a scale of acceptable ‘harmless’ behaviours (things like caning it at the gym, bitching about others, tv, sex, binge eating etc) to the unacceptable, ‘harmful’ things which are seen as obvious addictions (hardcore drugs, alcoholism etc) but what is the difference really ? There’s always something to block the Feelings. Plus, there’s also NEW numbing tactics to try - Lip Fillers seem to be the latest one. I know stunning 17 year old girls who are spending £100s on them each month trying to adhere to the new definition of what is ‘sexy’now. So we’re ALL doing it - we all have our Guilty Pleasures and ‘weaknesses’ whether its Class A’s or Buying Expensive Shoes.

But we’re not looking at the root of the problem. We’re not questioning WHY we choose a certain behaviour to try and avoid the pain.  So we shove a plaster on the gaping wound in the form of our Drug Of Choice and put on a brave face and ignore it.

So is there ANOTHER WAY ? Deep down, I think we secretly know that the only other option is to learn to love and accept ALL parts of ourselves...

And let’s be honest - that is surely IMPOSSIBLE!  - because I don’t know about you, but I AM fucking annoying and judgey and mean and when I’m angry I throw stuff (Greek heritage) and I’m sad and oversensitive and negative and insecure and bossy and so many other horrible adjectives....which I can’t stand in other people, let alone in myself ? so how the FUCK can I love all of that in ME?

But like MOST addiction treatments, surely the first step is to admit we have a problem. And rather than thinking the problem is Tequila or Emergency Twixes, we have to look at what’s REALLY going on. And we have to talk to each other.

Admit that we are struggling.  That we think there’s something ‘wrong’ with us.  That we feel unlovable and not enough. Say it out loud. And honestly admit that sometimes we ALSO feel like that..  So we don’t feel so alone. Like Group Therapy.

And me? Well, I doubt I will risk being seen as even MORE of a Party Pooper, by replying truthfully  if I’m asked again why I’m not drinking - ‘Because I don’t like myself...’ and actually leave the ‘when I drink’ part out of that answer. Might need a bit of Dutch Courage for that.

So perhaps  my Experiment is pointless and I’ll get bored of being the Sober One at parties and return to  the ‘If you can’t beat em, join em logic’. And anyway, perhaps the answer DOES lie at the bottom of the barrel since it’s definitely much easier getting Shit FACED than actually FACING your shit...?