The Inflatable Pool Toy

I’m feeling lacklustre. There are plenty of valid reasons why this might be but equally there are just as many that should be reminding me of how privileged I am..

However, I feel like an inflatable pool toy – one that is deflating slowly despite all the joy around it, splashing away.

think I know the cause of it.. if I picture it like a missile that has crashed into the pool toy.. but like a really tiny, tiny missile.. and then.. the shrapnel is the other causes?.. Right! Here I have it! So this is what happened……

There was once a shiny (bit drab), happy (reasonably cheerful at times) pool toy bobbing around amidst the screams and ‘yahoos’ of the pool people.. and quite often the toy would get submerged but would always eventually bob back up to the surface. Then one day a (tiny) missile struck and pierced the pool toy and very slowly it began to deflate.. the missile was caused Abstinence and could be a bugger. The Abstinence had hurt the pool toy and made resurfacing a little bit harder for it. The Abstinence was helped by pieces of shrapnel that were called AnotherHeavyPeriod, BulliedDaughter, TooMuchToDoGenerally, NursingDegree and MentalShit. So despite the current heatwave affecting the pool’s locality and the fact that really life in the pool was by many standards, pretty fecking awesome.. the inflatable pool toy started to sag and take on water. The End.

So basically the crux of all of this is that it is a wonderfully warm and sunny day and I would normally be doing everything that I am currently doing but would be doing it with a glass of beer/cider/G&T/fizz in my hand. This is unchartered territory, this not drinking in the sun malarkey.

For those that aren’t UK based, the Brits don’t see the sun very often. Not proper blue sky sun with heat. So what we like to do is use alcohol to celebrate it. In beer gardens, or with bbqs on the beach, or sitting in our gardens attempting to do stuff that slowly gets forgotten (the more we drink). It is unfortunately just part of our culture and like a fish trying to swim up stream, I am abstaining, albeit ungracefully.

By moderating alcohol, I haven’t yet got to the point of feeling completely 100% happy as a non-drinker. People who I have spoken to who are completely alcohol free say that eventually the restlessness lessens and the more comfortable you are with your sobriety, whatever the situation. I feel like I don’t know how to be if I spend time with drinking friends. I am frightened of losing my spark and being bored and boring if I go out with my husband. I feel like pressure is put on my relationships as I continue to look in at myself, like a kaleidoscope the image morphs again and again. The scariest part, not knowing where the journey is taking me and who will still be with me as I tentatively pick my way on stepping stones through the coursing stream.

The pieces of shrapnel have definitely taken their toll these last few days but I guess accepting things for what they are, taking some deep breaths and not giving in, will prepare me for (some sort of) success!

 

 

 

Surviving Tofu

I did it! I bloody well did it! I have eaten tofu and lived. I didn’t actually know that it was possible to almost (note the ‘almost’) like the damn, weird, curdy bean.. beany curd… stuff…

The featured photo is indeed featuring an entirely plant based lunch. AND I am drinking soya milk in tea now.. like all the time. We’ll conveniently forget the cheese pizza we had last weekend because I just can’t do pizza without cheese and right now I am not ready to forgo the lot. So, I’m proud to present myself as an almost-teetotal-nearly-vegan. I reckon it’s got a ring to it.

I have definitely skipped a lot today… mentally and physically. I am very pleased with my efforts to embarrass the MO at the docs as he needed his trillionth skin issue sorted out (he must have weak skin). We sat for far too long in the same spot and that’s when I began to fidget.. we both realised that we weren’t going to be leaving before I had done some damage, although maybe telling the doctor that once he had to sit on a cushion because the boil on his bum was sooo sore, was a little too far. To be honest, he usually proudly carries said cushion around with him but maybe it was all a bit too early in the morning.. and yes, constantly holding his fringe back so that the GP could actually see his face, was probably irritating but I like to think I made my point. And maybe reading the sight test card thing, with my head upside down, wasn’t necessary but I was getting bored.

After that I skippity skipped – ok, drove – to the gym where I tried to suck my belly in whilst using the bike machine and nearly passed out as a result. Lots of young, fit and nubile people walked past and I tried not to dribblglare, meanwhile repeatedly  forgetting that bouncing one’s head to the drum ‘n bass playing in my earphones was probably very un-cool. It is however, imperative.

I then returned via Tesco to home, where I am now sitting at the dining table which needs tidying (as does everywhere), writing this and not sitting in the garden office planning my next assignment.

The very, despite invisible, point to this post is to say, that one can come out of the other side of the doldrums.. even when nothing essentially has changed. Maybe it’s the sun. Maybe it’s self-love (not masturbation, just to clarify).. maybe its listening to my instinct.. who knows but today is a good day. IMG_1612.jpg

Long, dull evenings..

I drank on Monday evening. I kid myself that I ‘like’ the taste of red wine. Yeah.. I do but as I drank it I realised that it is so obviously not just simply the taste. I like the taste of orange juice but I don’t drink glass after glass after glass. So, if it’s the zoning out I am after, those glorious evening hours of ‘fuck it’ land whilst I would watch tripe on tele and finally feel the muscles in my neck relax.. then I can honestly say, I am struggling to replicate that with anything else.

Up until about 3 or 4, I feel great… la de daa great… I’m killing this shit, great… then I start to panic ever so slightly.. ‘oooh noooooo.. I have hours before bedtime… what will I doooooo? How will I sustain this gleeful skipping? I have mundane crap to do.. and how will I turn off? How well I tune out?’.

A bath is great… for maximum half hour but then you have to exit said bath and find something else to do! Languishing in tepid water does get a little dull after the billionth night. So maybe reading a book? Yesssss.. but even that can get tiresome when it’s night after night. And sometimes I don’t want to be productive.  I just want to relax. I might not want to crochet, or draw, or plan, or sort.. I just want to switch off. I want my mind to get a bit fuzzy and to not care so much about everything. Meditating for hours may well achieve this but try doing that with kids coming downstairs every half hour complaining they are hungry.. it’s not possible.

So please, someone out there… have you got any magic solutions? Will this restlessness ever ease?

Shifting.

Some rather monumental changes have been occurring in 2018. I didn’t plan any of this; there were no pre-meditated goal-setting sessions or  earnest  recordings of my 2018 resolutions (which are never stuck to anyway). This has happened almost accidentally, but not quite. I planned to do Dry January and in doing so cemented the fact that I was seriously damaging my mental and physical health if I continued to drink as much as I was in 2017. To date I have drunk alcohol on 13 days out of 85 and as already established in previous posts, this is something short of a miracle for me.

During this time I have found the head space to meditate more. Still needing my hand held by using guided meditations, but nonetheless, learning to be more mindful is helping me in situations where I would normally let rip and decapitate someone, mainly my family – so at least they are appreciative of the new, sparkly, 2018 model of Chloë.

They may be less enchanted by my very new vegan status. This has been bubbling on the surface for a couple of years but due to my complete inability to maintain grand promises of change, I have – to date – been a proper shit vegan. As evidenced in previous blog posts, I have a tendency to fall of my various wagons on a regular basis. The vegetarian and vegan wagons appear to have particularly lose bolts and I tumble from them.. well… daily. I then run as fast as my legs will carry me, desperately trying to scramble back up, clinging onto my dreams of a more humane way of living, clutching at the sides of the wagon, hoping that perseverance will finally pay off.

I am a source of huge entertainment to my friends – they seems to simultaneously despair of and yet, almost appreciate these efforts of mine. For most of them probably, they think I am just making my own life (and possibly my family’s…) too difficult by trying too much at the same time and that if I only just calmed down and gave myself a break, then life would be a bit more peaceful. So, maybe I can explain what drives me:

There are two Chloës. Fuck it Chloë and Peaceful Chloë. We don’t get to see the latter very often because the former gets in the way. Peaceful Chloë often seems Frantic in her quest for Peace. But bear with, this is how I work:

know that ultimately there are things I need to do in this time on earth that will fulfil my spiritual expectations of myself. Often ego gets in the way but this is not what is happening here. I am not on a VeganTrain – this isn’t about fashion. Since I was a child I have tried to go veggie. I failed miserably because I literally kept forgetting and didn’t have the willpower to do it successfully, which is interesting because I was basically brought up a vegetarian in that my mum would only seem to cook quiche, pasta and omelettes. And all were without meat. In excitement on my school lunch breaks I would dig out a 50 pence piece and buy a sausage roll. I wasn’t given lunch money and was expected to go home and have a cheese sandwich instead. However, this wasn’t deemed cool and as we know, being cool has never been my go-to status but I at least needed to appear willing, so shop bought sausage rolls were bought and I nonchalantly ate them as if this were an everyday occurrence, forgetting about proclamations of being a vegetarian. I was a member of Animal Aid by about 12 and once pinned a horrific picture of a sheep in a slaughterhouse on the wall of my room so that I could macabrely remind myself and my friends of the horrors of what went on to produce the meat we ate. Since then I have tried and then failed and for as long as I can remember I have only eaten free range chicken and eggs and veered away from any caged or intensively farmed animals, clinging to the promises that the RSPCA assured us, in their blue stickered meats.

It wasn’t until I watched Earthlings last year that it was so effectively drummed into me that I was practising specieism. I loved my cats and my two chickens (but not all the other chickens I ate) and I wouldn’t eat that cow but I might eat that pig. Since watching Land of Hope and Glory last night, I kept myself in a joyful little bubble of thinking that UK slaughter houses were different. They are not. They beat piglets that aren’t thriving against the walls until they die, it’s the most cost effective way of culling. This isn’t hearsay. It’s filmed. Farmers are shown kicking the shit out of ‘free range’ pigs and torturing them for fun and a new born calf is kicked repeatedly whilst being called a ‘little fucking cunt’ and a pregnant cow kicked whilst lying down as she is ‘fucking useless’. These farms are in Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset, Kent.. up North, down South, along to the East and not forgetting the West of the country. These are the free-range, organic farms as well as the intensive ‘shit’ ones.

This makes my heart bleed, the tears that fell as I watched this, were angry tears. Tears that, we as humans, are plundering this earth,  in a bid to push ourselves higher and higher up the ladder of our preconceived ideas of grandeur.

I am not jumping aboard a vegan wagon in a bid to be fashionable. Just the same as I am not moderating my alcohol intake to prove a point to anyone else. This is my journey and there is an inherent need to calm my disquieted mind and soul. You see the frantic me is the scared me. If I want to see good in human beings then surely I need to see good in myself first? In order for me to make changes about mine and my family’s lifestyle, I need to have a clear head. So not drinking and practising mindfulness faciliates this. Without the ups and downs of hangovers, anxiety and depression, I can start making decisions and actually sticking to them. We don’t need to eat meat. We don’t need to contribute to the torture that animals are subjected to daily. We don’t need to drink milk, it’s not for humans, it’s for calves. Yes I will miss cheese. God I will miss cheese but I will get over it and if somehow I can also bring up children that might follow this train of thought in the future, then maybe we can contribute to lower levels of carbon emissions and less flooding and just maybe, we won’t be using as much water because the food we eat doesn’t need as much as the ‘free-range’, grass pastured cow, pig or sheep.

The Peaceful Chloë is actually starting to emerge and I want my children to feel this peace. They, too, love animals. They, too, want to live in a world that feels safe. We can’t control what everyone else does but we can control what we do. The EO watched some of the films, the youngest two didn’t. However, they  solemnly agreed as I announced that I wouldn’t be bringing anymore animals products into the house.

The Frantic Chloë is calming and the kids can sense it.. Fuck it Chloë is slowly being pushed to the side and, just maybe, some will start to call me Sanctimonious Chloë 😉 .. meh… whatevs… I am sure in time they’ll get used to my levitating ways ;-)…

 

Bitter Lemons

Sometimes I just want to write and write and write. But I can’t because too many people know me and I have to censor what is written. I don’t want to drop any huge bombshells or go on a rant about friends or colleagues, I just want that freedom to share some of the things that lay hidden and buried, like an unfermented piece of lemon at the bottom of the compost- too bitter for the worms to swallow. I can’t talk my words if that makes sense. The moment my mouth opens, the words sound whiny and empty or maybe that’s just because they are linked to my face. Maybe it’s my expression as I speak, which nullifies the true depth of what I am trying to express. I think it harks to childhood. The desperation to be accepted and the anger at feeling pushed away. The strong entities in my life that I hated and adored at the same time. Their ability to turn (in my mind) totally justifiable protestations into mere whinges or at best, petulant tantrums. That feeling of never being quite good enough.

The EO is living this currently. She, too, has the luxury of these same figures advancing upon her self-esteem with the ferocity of the Queen or Bishop on the chessboard. Don’t look away, they have crept up closer. She, too, is battling with the horrors of rejection and I see her sink lower each day. I don my armour and stand her ground but I am invisible, to her and to everyone else. ‘Not my battle Chloe’, I remind myself, ‘not my battle’.

What I am trying to teach her is that these are lessons. Really shitty, shitty lessons. We both have the tendency to over-dramatise. I think it is probably one of the crappier legacies she and I have been left.. fed down from my grandmother if not before her. Strong women but harbouring a fontanelle the size of a fucking lake. Knowing what, but not knowing how. How can she reset this so that she doesn’t follow this same self-destructive path? How can I guide her without leading? How can I teach her that the views of others are not worth a lack of self respect? She sees the changes I have made but like a missile on a preset route, she continues on her way.

The one thing that (almost completely) giving up alcohol has done, is forced me to really scrutinise why I drank. In the last few months, flashbacks of memories long suppressed, jump in my view as I turn the corner on my way home. A sharp intake of breath and panic as I see a scenario play out before me and I quickly swot it aside so that I don’t crash. Encounters I can never, ever take back.

I think back to being 16, living in a student flat share and drinking at some ridiculous time in the day because one of my college mates had witnessed shocking behaviour the night before and laid into me about it. I remained on my own in the flat, polishing off half a litre bottle of vodka, cider, wine.. anything that remained. I took about 14, apparently harmless, tablets and I passed out for nearly 2 days. I woke up in my own urine, fading in and out of consciousness. I wish that sort of story was a one off but it isn’t. There are so many painful and heart-rending, not to mention fucking stupid, situations that I put myself into. Situations I refused to believe were bad at the time. That I argued were ‘my choice’. And now, like a proper pissed off lioness, I prowl the maze of my daughter’s mind, trying to do what I know cannot be done.

Alcohol has not been good for me. If I think back, I can attribute pretty much every stupid thing I have done, down to alcohol and a lack of self esteem. A false sense of bravado. Fun at times maybe.. but also so full of danger, for me and others I have been with. I can’t and don’t want to stop anyone from drinking, unless they have that tiny little inkling… that they too can link alcohol to a large percentage of errors in their lives. If that’s the case.. comment below. The more people that admit there is an issue, the stronger we can be.

To stop myself from going completely insane, I am practising mindfulness meditation using this book. in the hope that I can create enough space between my thoughts and my actions. I’m basically hoping that a sense of serenity will pervade our house (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA) and that in time, I will no longer need feet because I will simply glide…….. yeah.. wish me luck on that one 🙂

Brace Yourself..

After much to-ing and fro-ing I have come to a decision. I am going sober. No more postulating, no more indecision. There will be those that question my decision and I haven’t yet gone out out but here are the whys and wherefores that have contributed to this conclusion.

(Disclaimer: this has frank accounts of my past alcohol driven behaviour. I am ok with this).

To those that say “but you weren’t that bad”, “it’s not like you were an alcoholic or anything”, let’s pick that apart a little.

What constitutes as ‘that bad’?

Being raped at 21 by someone I knew because I was so drunk I had passed out and fallen asleep? And those close to me at the time, told me that it was not really likely to be rape, because let’s face it ‘that’s the sort of thing you do when you’re drunk’. A little bad?

I reckon the time I nearly lost my now husband due to being drunk, was pretty bad.

Or the time that I was 22, living in the Santa Cruz mountains and working for an American friend with the sole responsibility of looking after her 8 months old baby at a conference she was attending (she was pretty high up in the company). I had gone to the bar and had a few more than just a couple, ended up singing in a karoake with her work colleagues and then had to be led back to a hotel room by a security guard as he was worried I was about to disappear with some dodgy bloke who was giving me a light for a cigarette. I have no recollection apart from attempting to sing an Eurythmics song (ridiculous I know, who the hell can manage to sing like Annie Lennox?). The shame the next day was dire. That sparked off my first foray to AA. Again, quite bad.

Or the time in my mid 20’s when I passed out on the Bakerloo line and must have travelled the entire route from Wembley to Elephant Castle about 4 bloody times before I was kicked off the train. I couldn’t see or walk straight and had to sit in a shop doorway. A strange but kind man who lived up the shop came down with a duvet and radio and sat with me until I realised I really had to try and get home. I then managed to put 2 and 2 together and got to a phonebox, I rang my then (also verging alkie) much older boyfriend who told me to get a cab to his and he would pay. Something clicked and I realised there was a bank. And I had a bank card. And I had money in my account. This resulted in a lightbulb moment (took 2 hours to reach) and was able to pay for my own cab back. There were also quite a few ‘waking up on a cold bench in a closed railway station’ scenarios. I’d like to think that not only was that bad but also pretty fucking stupid.

And more recently, well yeah I would agree that more recently I didn’t binge drink that often, but the thoughts of wine were frequent. I would rather sit at home and drink than make the effort to go out and drink. I felt safer drinking indoors (due to aforementioned ‘bad’ behaviour). I would look forward to getting home and having some wine. If we were at a friends it would worry me if the wine was running out. I would check to see if I was drinking too fast. Thank god for the friends who would drink more and faster. I would struggle not to drink wine every night. And if I did manage a few days then my god did I go on about it.

The thing is, I want to move on. If I make a mistake or sound like a tit, then I am going to own it! A sober tit if you please.

To the “just cut down, don’t drink so much” crew?

Er.. no. Because that means I have to constantly self moderate. Is that enough? Do I want more? Can I have more? Am I being an arse? Would I have said that sober? When you have to put that many thought processes either before, during or after an event such as lifting a glass of alcohol to your lips, then I don’t think that event is worth it. I’m getting older, I need my brain cells to actually fire and connect. I want to feel mentally and physically fitter. When I drink alcohol, even for just one evening out of seven, I feel dumber. The next day I am tired, emotional, stressed and anxious. I have three children and I don’t want them thinking that my drinking patterns were normal. If we are in a society where the amount I drank and the thoughts surrounding my drinking, are considered ‘normal’, then we really need to get a grip. My MO’s friend asked.. “what happens if you go to a really big party, won’t you drink then?”. My MO replied, “she doesn’t need to get drunk to get crazy, she already is crazy”.  My eldest two have told me that they prefer me sober. That speaks (painful) volumes.

Some might say that I am very brave to put this to paper on a public forum. Yep, probably. They might add that I will regret doing so. No. I don’t think so. Our country has some of the worst statistics when it comes to the drinking culture,  However, this is apparently lessening according to the Office for National Statistics. There are certainly more alcohol free drinks in the supermarket aisles than I have ever seen in my lifetime. Public Health England have a campaign about reducing alcohol consumption, and most are aware, that should alcohol be introduced as a new drug, it would be banned.  So if my ‘sharing’ is uncomfortable for you, then ask yourself why? Coz I am ok with it. If reading my blog means that just one person is tempted to look at their own drinking behaviour, then it means some good has come of it. Will I now go around bleating rhetoric every time one of my friends drink? Don’t be daft! I might be a little envious that they are still able to enjoy it, I might leave a party a little earlier (“how is that even possible?” I hear my friends laugh… yeah okay, you can have that one) but at least I won’t be passed out. Getting The Horrors the next morning, wondering who I have offended or what twattish thing I have done now. So if I am there with you whilst you drink, don’t worry that I am judging you, but equally don’t judge me for being sober because I am happy with my decision. I feel relieved and ready for my new chapter.

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This has nothing to do with my post.. I just like the fact that Tarka plays the Xbox