Detox and dreams (stream of consciousness incoming)

You never realize you’ve hit roads’ end until you run out of air and slam into the metaphorical brick wall that was always waiting beyond sight.
They tell you that your years of self destructive inclinations and the years spent wasted in all senses have paid off, as you began to value the idea of life.

That you’re damaged inside, that the next drink you take to quiet the voices inside could be your last when the stomach ruptures as a gorged larvae and floods the body with self made poison.

And you miss the poison.

Without it the colours are too bright, smells too loud. The world flip flops between being a place of wondrous beauty and a dark pit ready to swallow you once again. Your mind is set alight where before it remained chilled thanks to the bourbon or vodka; whichever was closest.
You recall every mistake, each word you could have taken back and the days you lost to the emptiness that is as comforting as it was frightening. When the dark times come you long for oblivion again, because oblivion is the absence of everything.

Regrets scrawled onto the stones in your pockets, you long to walk into the lake. Your body shakes and trembles despite the medication and the nightmares are once again vivid and very real. Each door in your head swings open in tandem to release the demons you’ve been hiding from since you picked up a bottle.

You consider the world that was and the world that is, and wonder at the years left behind and those you could not bring with you. You become aware of how short the days are and all endeavours become frantic and rushed, as though you’re in a steeplechase and the other horse is death himself wielding hooves as knives.

In the brighter moments you feel alive and for the first time remember the smell of snow; the feeling of cold water on skin, what it was like to be real and laugh and dream. Imagination begins to creep in, quiet, urging you to hang on to the pieces of the person you once were and find a way to patch yourself together again.

But it’s a nebulous thing, hope: the chemicals in your brain slosh the way the liquor did in a glass and soon enough you swing back into the darkness and the unending battle with an urge both painful and irresistible. You find yourself at opposite ends of the rope; pleasure or pain with no middle ground.

The non existent health service tell you that things will settle, then hang up the phone. Why ought they care or show sympathy after years of neglect and malpractice? Why ought they care when the damage finds itself done and you have become another lost cause. Another statistic, a name on a label one day.

So you fight to spite them. You fight to see a better day, to be better than you were before the world had stained you with indelible ink. Blood that won’t wash from your hands; the heart pounding panic each time a car backfires or fireworks go off for a solid half hour. The terror you feel that this second chance cannot last by any means, that you are as weak as they believe and will again succumb to the night that awaits within.
The darkest night is the one blooming within ourselves.

The only way it ever falls is via giving in or giving up. Others will call you a failure, tell you that addiction was a choice and you should have been strong enough to win battles alone. Such people lack empathy and life experience; they tend to live in a comfortable bubble and rarely do they stray from the ignorant sanctuary they’ve walled themselves into.

In some ways they suffer more than you, but the difference is that they brought such despair upon themselves. The only way to conquer an addiction or illness is to plunge through it, and the only way to conquer fear is via knowledge and compassion.

Whether you’re one day sober, one week into the hell of detox like me or you’ve been fighting for years you should be proud and know that you are not alone. You have slain a dragon while they were throwing stones from glass houses. You have found yourself burned and scarred, beaten down and bruised but the wounds will heal and leave you able to bear what they cannot imagine.

The only way to fail is to give up. To stop living, to fall into a spiral of excuses and squalor, to build a bubble of delusion around yourself and continue to repeat the same destructive patterns a lifetime over.

To grow and overcome, you cannot lay down and curl up at the foot of the wall that lies before you. You cannot go over it, under it or around. You have to find a way to punch through. It isn’t an easy road and it happens at a slow pace, baby steps that sometimes feel as though you are walking in reverse.

But there’s no other choice. You must find a reason and a way to live again for yourself, because nobody can save you or take the journey on your behalf. You can fight or yield, and there’s no other choice and no one else to do the work even in the darkest moments. You can have the most fantastic support network in the world and still have to do the heavy lifting: the majority of this battle is waged in the mind and heart, not upon a bloody field.

Find your reason, find your will. When you’re going through hell keep going, or fall and burn where you stand. Hold onto the glimpse of hope, to each sign of beauty you see. Do not forget the past lest it be repeated, but do not allow yourself to suffocate on quicksand of your own making.
This is a war, and not everyone will make it out alive. Wars are won with the will, by standing tall when your head is so heavy it may fall off. You will find no help in those who handle you with kid gloves, those who enable your negative thought patterns or accept your excuses. You must learn to master the art of self control and apply discipline to every aspect of life, and it is tiring.

You must learn to let go of those who wallow in despair and would drag you back into the pit that devours all with them: if you are devoured, you lose. All life has meaning and where there is a heartbeat there is hope, but you cannot save everyone and trying only leads to a vicious cycle of grief and destruction. Letting others go is never easy; change is always scary and the fear of failure multiplies itself when backed up by past misadventure. Be brave, and fight for yourself. Or fade.


Note: this is my second detox merry go round and I’ve recently had to cut a few people out of my life. It wasn’t easy but it was the right thing to do, as I’ve realized that the people we surround ourselves with tend to influence our beliefs and actions on a subconscious level. It’s a difficult choice but there is nothing shameful about doing so. We exist in a society where to let go is seen as callous and cruel, even if it means saving ourselves. We do not owe others anything: not our time, not our love, and not our energy. I am no longer going to allow toxic influences to impact my decision making process at such a delicate time, and neither should you.

When someone says they do something that hurts you because they love you, that is toxic.

When somebody values their feelings over the well being and safety of yourself, that is toxic.

When people treat you as a crutch and refuse to change it is exhausting, and it is toxic.

Do not be afraid or ashamed to cut the toxic elements from your life and reach out to surround yourself with better things. I’m very lucky to have the support network I do and I’m aware not all possess such, but change and growth require proactivity and interaction with people to find those who truly resonate with you and want you to be all that you can be. That’s what everyone deserves, but you cannot save others without first saving yourself and building fresh foundations from granite, not sand.

Do not feel ashamed to let go of what drags you back.

Moving on (and out)

*A brief disclaimer: I praise the current actions and service of the police force in this post, but despite this the actions of the past are not erased. The actions they decided to take in the past (or rather not take) will not serve to bring the dead back to life, nor mend the wounds of the past.

Whatever they do now does not excuse past action/inaction and those broken by past incompetence and the inability of certain individuals on the force to fulfill the job description provided will have consequences that will not impact only this generation, but the ones to follow.

Last night things at home reached a breaking point and my father made the decision to toss both I and the puppy out. In summary because I refused to maintain an entire house when I only have the use of one room, I confronted him about allowing my brother free access to further traumatize me and had my own money transferred to my account.

I suppose it must suck to realize that a person is not your personal Cinderella, nor do they intend to repeat the mistakes of their mother and let you run them into the ground. He was angry that I had obtained audio evidence of him gaslighting me, saying horrific things relating to my PTSD then flat out denying them. I didn’t take the recordings with the intent to publish or extort and will not: I simply took the step needed to confirm that I was in fact not going crazy or becoming ‘worse than your mother’.

The depths people who behave in an abusive fashion will sink to in order to maintain some kind of control shouldn’t surprise me any longer, but here we are. I’m grateful for the conduct and humanity of the police, who listened to everything that has been happening recently and behaved with compassion. The less said about the psychiatric nurse in their employ who fled the room after she laughed at my eating disorder diagnosis and I informed her it was by no means funny, the better.
You cannot find good help these days.

Suffice to say that on top of other circumstance my housing application is being expedited, and I imagine come monday the phone will be blowing up with my psychiatrist and various other organisations. He was not the first to suggest I find my own place in the world but has been one of the most vocal, and my father spiraling out of control because I wished to have some form of stability and reliance upon my own has proven the doctors’ sentiments wise.

Of course it’s not a simple or easy matter. I haven’t lived alone in a long time and there are the practicalities to consider, but I no longer beat myself up over whether or not my father will be able to care for himself. I have sacrificed so much in the past year and a half, not least my health. I have put my physical recovery on hold and been incapable of resting. He has enabled me and enacted emotional abuse to the point of telling me I could have my detox meds or a bottle of vodka, and I know that I will never be able to get better or clean in this house.

As long as I remain, he knows which buttons to push and how to put me in a position where there is no good choice. He does this because having someone running around after him at their own expense is preferable to being alone, but I have always been alone. Aside from my own bedroom I am basically unwelcome in any other part of the house, yet it is a given assumption I will take care of everything.
Despite my brothers’ emotional and mental abuse, I am supposed to bear the brunt of it without complaint and he is given unfettered access to the house despite never lifting a finger nor contributing a damn thing to my mothers’ care or funeral expenses. Once upon a time I believed my mother crazy and paranoid: but I now realize how right she was. My father is a person who on the surface appears to be charming and caring and he retains that mirage, like the flat surface on a pond.

Until something that shatters the cool reflection happens and his sense of order and entitlement are disrupted. It’s possible that it’s not entirely his fault; he comes from an older world where women knew their places, and mental illness was something to be cured with electrodes and a long stint in the hell of the local asylum. He has spent fifty years having my mother cater to his every whim and tantrum, and now he finds himself without control. Perhaps it is even a natural response for him to fling himself against the bars of the cage he has built himself: if you want to be loved, you don’t do it by demanding everything of others and offering nothing in return.

You do not respond to emotional distress by walking from the room, because feelings make you ‘uncomfortable’ and then expect the person you have abandoned to do everything short of wiping your own arse. Care is a two way street. Will my dad be alright without me here? Who the hell knows. But battling physical and mental issues while trying to resolve yourself with the past, being embroiled in a huge police investigation while living with someone who makes terrible remarks about rape survivors isn’t it.

Trying to recover from an addiction and an eating disorder while living with someone who habitually throws verbal abuse at any woman who doesn’t live up to his size zero ideals, who buys you vodka instead of food and responds to every negative sentiment you express with ‘it must be the drink’ is not sustainable.

The fact is, he’s not my problem anymore. I’m no longer going to hold my breath under the surface, and suffocate to avoid causing unhappy ripples. I deserve a life and the chance to move forward and finally begin to heal, which is something I cannot begin to hope for here. I asked for some space, independence and a basic modicum of respect and in return I was shown the true colours of another. It’s not easy or simple by any means and the future remains uncertain for now, but it won’t be the first time I’ve had to move on or rebuild things.

This time I’ve learned my lesson, and whatever I build will be mine alone.

What we take with us

The world is ending, and life has become a whirling storm of memory. In a time when travel and socialization has become a memory as distant as the time we fell onto the hot asphalt of the playground and busted our knees, we find ourselves on an different journey.

One that we find infinitely more difficult than stepping onto a train, or trying not to let sleep lull us into eternity lest we miss boarding a plane.

At a time where the outside world is blazing with ‘do not cross’ tape, the mind turns inwards. Besides the odd excursion or adventure which consists of mingling around shops with others bearing no face or name, we find ourselves offered an epic trek inwards.

For some, the sudden turnaround has come as a blessing in disguise: the chance to relax, create and return to themselves. To uncover parts long forgotten, engage in new hobbies and evaluate what matters and where their own truth lies.
For others still it offers worry and chaos, particularly for those of us disabled and/or confronted by the immediate lack of proper mental health care. I could list petty injustices and fill books with stories of careless chavs who refuse to wear mask lest they find themselves unable to chug kangaroo piss on the bus at 9am (fosters is not booze).

Instead I choose to find myself at a crossroads, with two paths laid before me: I have a middle class support worker who likely drinks wine from boxes with dinner telling me that if I do not sober up, my care will cease. Yes, I am an alcoholic. I am not an angry drunk, nor do I stumble out of clubs at three a.m. or begin violent brawls.

I’d go as far to say I don’t drink as much as some, and far less than most. I detest being ‘drunk’ drunk and will put the bottle away when I am feeling tipsy and numb to the worlds and lives I left in my wake long again. That’s the root of it all: the trauma. The mental health services’ total inability to provide any kind of helpful therapy or a single drop of compassion even in a pre-covid era.
Their insistence that my drinking is the root of all problems when I was suffering with PTSD and severe social anxiety long before I turned to the bottle is condescending and to be frank dangerous. I find myself wondering how many of them return home to their McMansions in their high class cars and pour out scotch most could not begin to afford.

(I personally suspect my own support workers’ fondness for terrible boxed wine has deluded her into believing she can claim to be thirty two, while boasting of a career in mental health spanning two decades).

I sort of wandered off there.

I am of the belief that every person on the planet has a coping mechanism, and while some could be argued as healthier than others, too much of anything is toxic. Fact. The issue is that as the world falls apart and people lose their hope, those limits begin to blur. It begins with a small step and winds with us so far over the line we started from we can no longer see it in the distance.

I do not believe the judgement of those who sit on their laurels when they ought to be saving lives is helpful. You hear stories about the NHS heroes but I could tell you about people who’ve died of OD’s in front of everyone in the A&E. Of how a man who’d swallowed a box of rat poison was waiting for help twelve hours later. Of how, after my most recent episode they didn’t bother to put fresh stitches in or even bind my bleeding wounds. Instead I found myself tossed into the middle of town at 3am in a dressing gown, after I informed the nurses that if they were going to make remarks about psych patients ‘slashing themselves up’ they ought to do it in a voice more quiet than the pop music they had blaring.

According to the doctors, the ensuing investigation into staff conduct is causing pandemonium, as it should.

This pandemic has brought out the best in some, and the worst in most. At the end of the day, as we find ourselves in a period of self reflection there is but one thing to wonder: do you want to be remembered as somebody who stood up for yourself and others, or as one of those who behaved as a cat does with a bird?

When this is over and the dust clears, we will have changed. Immeasurably, irrevocably and not necessarily for the better. As the world turns and we begin to put it and ourselves back together, what do you want to take with you?