So many choices. 


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One extra hot, one shot, small, skinny, latte please; there are five decisions to make just to order my favourite coffee. That’s how I like it, add a sachet of sugar and it’s just about perfect. I do have to wonder however if it is a good thing to be able to have so many choices to make over something as simple as a coffee. Especially when I’m in the queue at Costa behind a queue of equally demanding coffee drinkers, whilst the barista is run ragged making up ever more complicated orders. I notice in Starbucks you can now pick which continent you would like your coffee beans to come from. Even I’m not that fussy!! 

Growing up there was a choice of black or white coffee. Occasionally, if you were lucky you might be offered a filter or instant but normally it was the latter. I remember it being the height of sophistication to go to Wimpy with my Mum to have a “frothy coffee”. 

It seems standard nowadays to be able to personalise pretty much anything…put an address in your sat nav and you might have to choose between the shortest route, the longest, the fastest; do you want to avoid tolls, or maybe you would prefer to totally avoid main roads? 

Even posting a letter is complicated; working out the sizes and the difference between signed for, tracked and special delivery requires a diploma at least, maybe even a degree; with honours! 

Picking a school for your children had become a trauma beyond most people’s comprehension. It begins with picking childcare, do you get a childminder, send the kids to a playgroup, a Montessori nursery, or a standard nursery. Then you have to pick a school. Do you want a church school, an academy, a voluntary controlled school, a state school, a primary school or an infants school? Perhaps a church school would fit your child (and you) better? It moves on to secondary; sports academy, or science? Grammar or high school?The lists go on and on. Gone are the days when you went to the local school. Nowadays there are so many elements to consider that it makes my head hurt. My poor befuddled brain struggles to make sense of it all and the differences between them. 

The same happens when you try to buy a phone, do you want an iPhone, a Samsung, Nokia or a Motorola? Android, IOS 9 or Windows? Which provider? There are so many to choose from.

There used to be 4 TV channels, now we can pick from hundreds. Sometimes the stress of it all means I just switch it off. 

Some of the reasons we have so many choices are good; I currently have choice of 5 different bins for my waste: food waste bin, paper recycling, plastics and glass recycle bin, general waste, and garden waste. Whilst being complicated it makes sense that we can’t keep chucking everything into landfill, we need to recycle wherever we can, however it doesn’t help to keep things simple! 

Even mundane things have so many choices. I’m pretty sure my washing machine has at least 50 different cycles I can choose from. The result? I use one; the same one each time. I know where I am with that wash! 

Do we really need all these choices? Was the world that bad when we went to the local school along with 95% of the kids we grew up with?  Or when there was only a choice between watching The Waltons on a Sunday morning or going outside to play?

Is it any wonder then that so many of us are stressed and anxious all of the time? Under pressure to constantly make a choice, the right choice, often without fully understanding all of the options we are choosing between (especially in the case of phones, or is that just me)? 

Is the world that much better because I can choose between 120 different ways to make my coffee? We live in a world full of people living constantly in the angst of maybe making a bad choice, the wrong decision, getting it wrong. Whilst it might seem a small thing to pick out a coffee, when you add up all those small decisions that we make everyday it starts to get mind blowing. It’s hard enough to make big decisions let along to constantly have to make choices about what, in the grand scheme of things are relatively trivial. 

Just because we can have so many options available to us doesn’t mean we should always consider offering them. 

Still it’s nice to know that those other 49 wash cycles are there if I need them…


In 5 years. 


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It’s one of those questions that parents ask their children whether they are 3 years old or 25 years old; “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Actually it may start off as as that but gradually, over the years, it might change to be said in a more accusing tone, with the implication that person being asked is somehow whittling away their life. That they should know by now, should be working towards it. 

It’s asked in a different form at job interviews “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” And the expectation is that you will have a plan, a route forward, marked out with incremental markers along the way; earn more; work less hours; get a promotion; run the company. 

I’ve always thought that it was an extremely difficult question to answer. It’s also one full of pit falls. What if I say I want to be running my own business, earning lots of money and yet in reality in 5 years I’m still in the same job that I’ve been in since I left school, because I actually quite like it and it suits my lifestyle. Have I somehow failed at life? 

What if I say I want to get a degree in maths, and I enrol and then halfway through I realise that it’s just not adding up for me? That I’m bored, that I’ve changed my mind, actually I rather fancy doing anything, as long as it doesn’t involve me having to do sums? Am I a drop out? A failure? Or have I just decided that for me failing would be sticking at doing something that I hate, in order to fulfil everyone’s expectations of my answer to a question I answered 2 years ago, in a different time, a different place? 

 The past few months I’ve had more than one reason to look at what I want to do in relation to work, I love my job but sometimes I despair of it. I wonder if I could do something else, but one thing is for sure; if anyone had asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer wouldn’t have been the job I do now. Not because I couldn’t imagine doing the job I do now, but because I didn’t even know it existed. Or the job I had before that. Or the one before that. 

Why can we not just see where life takes us? What’s wrong with trying a few career pathways/lifestyles before we find the one that suits us? And why does it have to be one thing? I currently have two jobs, both very different from each other but both I love. They fulfill me in different ways. Neither would I ever have put myself in as a child, nor 5 years ago. We are under pressure from such a young age to plan and know what we are going to be/do when we grow up, but surely that’s just limiting ourselves? Sometimes there’s nothing like waiting to see where life takes us, because inevitably life takes us on the path it chooses, not the route we planned aged 3. 

Under a microscope. 


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I’ve got a bikini bridge, a thigh gap, what looks like a fairly flat tummy with no stretch marks and a BMI of 18.6. That’s just in the healthy section for those who don’t know (I had to Google it myself); if I lost just over 1lb I’d be considered underweight. I wear a UK size 8. I’m fairly tall. So according to the popular websites and magazines I have all of the ingredients of “the perfect body.” 

This is me fully clothed the way others see me:   
I get told I’m lovely and slim by people I hardly know, as if it’s something I should be proud of, but I’m not. If asked to describe my body I would, like nearly every woman I know immediately reel off a list of things and it would go something like this: 

  • No boobs (despite them being covered in thin white stretch marks!?!)
  • I have bingo wings 
  • My teeth are too long
  • I have big feet and very skinny calves
  • I have saddle bag thighs
  • My nose is crooked 
  • One eye is higher than the other
  • I currently have a huge spot brewing on the side of my face
  • I have ugly hands
  • Did I already mention my saggy boobs…?

In fact if asked to draw a picture of my body (I daren’t attempt a face) it would look something like (excuse my appalling drawing skills) this:  

Hardly the image that the magazines would have you believe you will look and feel if you had all of the attributes that they infer that perfect women should aspire to be.  

I think there are a number of reasons for this, not least being the overly photoshopped perfection that we are constantly bombarded with. But also because when we look at ourselves we don’t see what others see; we concentrate on specific areas, like me with my saddle bag thighs; in my head they are huge, but unless I point them out people don’t really notice them. 

And my knees, well, where do I start, I had never really looked at them until fairly recently when I suddenly noticed that they seemed a bit saggy. I’m perfectly sure I’d never looked at them before and thought how unsaggy they were, but all of a sudden I am mildly obsessed with the fact that they might be making their way down my ultra skinny calves to get into a loving relationship with my ankles. 

No one has ever told me that I have ugly hands, I have just seen lots of nicer hands in my time, I’ve also seen lots of worse hands but I don’t compare myself to the ones who’s hands are worse than mine, I compare to those who s hands are beautiful. No one has ever recoiled from the sight of them, except me. 

In all reality who on earth else is looking at me in that kind of detail? Maybe a few, but I seriously doubt that even my husband, who has seen me naked more times than he can probably care to remember, would have written a list of my body faults anywhere near as l did above. My other faults maybe, but not all those specific areas of my body! 

The problem with the way we look at ourselves is that we almost never see the whole picture. We focus in in tiny detail on specific areas that we don’t like, thereby ignoring all of the other stuff that counters it. Like the fact that my  eyes are a nice colour and shape (or so I’m told) which is probably counterbalancing the fact that they are slightly crooked. 

Personally it is very rare that I would look at someone in that sort of detail. Generally I see them as a whole, and that doesn’t just mean their body part shapes or individual facial features, but to the whole including their personality and also their mood and emotions. I’m much more likely to refer to someone as “brown hair, always smiling” than I am to say “tall, with crooked teeth and saggy elbows, you know the one”. And in my experience that is how others see things too. My eye is drawn to the good parts and my feelings a about someone, and not one small imperfect part of them that I’ve examined in detail. In all honesty, who has the time to examine others as much as we do to ourselves? 

So in future, I’m planning on stopping examining myself under a microscope and instead I will try to view myself as I would anyone else, as a whole. 

      A tiny fraction. 


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      I went to see Justin yesterday. I actually didn’t want to. I was terrified. Silly really, given that I’ve been around dead people before, I know that they can’t harm us. But I have never seen a person 3 weeks after they have died, and certainly not after the circumstances in which Justin died. 

      You see he died of what they assume was a heroin overdose in someone’s flat. That somebody, didn’t call the emergency services, instead they panicked. They set about pretending like it didn’t happen, they cleaned and tidied and they left it 2 days. 48 hours. They did nothing for 2 days. And then they called the police and ambulance. By then it was obviously far too late. In all honesty it probably was by the time they realised that he was dead. 
      Anyway, in my head I couldn’t really get it sorted out. Despite being close to Justin I’d not seen him for months. He lived hundreds of miles away. We’d spoken via text and Facebook and had phone calls but I didn’t see him regularly so I was used to him not actually being there. That made it hard to register that I’d never see him again. That he was gone. Forever. And then the circumstances of his death haunted me. 48 hours. That’s a long time in death. And three weeks had passed since then. I didn’t really build a picture in my head of how he would look, but I imagined that in death he would not be my Justin. The man I have known for nearly 2 decades the man I cared for, who looked after me, who saved me despite not being able to save himself. My mind played nasty tricks on me and it made me scared of someone that I loved. 

      Anyway Justin’s eldest son was the one who made me go. He was insistent that he had to go and see him and he couldn’t be persuaded otherwise. And so after a few phone calls the mortuary said they would let us visit before he got taken to the funeral home (who coincidentally charge an awful lot to go visit your loved ones). We booked a slot and I picked up the boy and his mum and we went together to the hospital and I was nervous and terrified and didn’t really know what to expect. 

      The lady at the hospital was amazing. Caring and loving and sympathetic. She took his son through and his mum and I sat sobbing and holding each other admitting that we didn’t want to do this. And then his son came out and instead of crying he was smiling. He called us in and told us it was ok. And so we all went in together and the minute I saw him I knew i had done the right thing. 

      He looked like he was sleeping. So much so that I almost imagined I could see him breathe. He looked peaceful and calm. Most of all he looked like Justin. And we all laughed at the fact they had clearly taken his dentures out which we’d discussed on the journey there that he looked like an old man without them. And we talked to him and admired the lack of grey in his hair, pondering whether he’d dyed it. We joked about the fact he’d accidentally shaven half an eyebrow off before he’d died and it hasn’t grown back. He told him he should have shaved for our visit and we told him off for leaving us. 

      And it was a whole bunch of things; funny, sad, heartbreaking, comforting, reassuring and cathartic.  None of which is how I expected to feel; but the one thing it wasn’t was scary or distressing. And it helped me to heal. Not a lot, but a tiny fraction. Enough to let me know that in time I will not only feel the acuteness of grief, but the warmth of the light and love he gave to me. That the things we did together and laughed at have not changed in value just because he has gone. And I am glad that I went. 



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      Crushed. I am crushed. 

      The grief comes in waves, great big tsunamis that don’t just knock me over, they throw me off my feet with a staggering ferociousness, ripping chunks out of me. 

      To the outsider perhaps, I have too much grief. Too many tears. But they just cannot understand the connection that we had. The shit that we went through.they don’t know the times that I just had a feeling that he needed me, and I tracked him down, sometimes just to check that he was actually alive. 

      Then today, out of the blue, the ending I half knew was coming but fought at every opportunity materialised . And the finality is almost too much to bear. It’s not fair. How come so many get to live, hateful and cruel and yet you, you who loved so much despite all the reasons not to, weren’t given that chance. 

      And I’m raging at the insanity of a world where evil lives and kindness dies. Where you don’t reap what you sow. The randomness of it all is baffling.

      And it terrifies me, because there was never anything I could do.  And I tried. I honestly did. Me; who’s job it is to help save addicts, albeit not personally, but through my work; I couldn’t even save you. And if I can’t do that knowing how much I cared, I don’t know how I can help others. 

      But I know I need to try. I know that you would want to give anyone the chance to be free of addiction. And if I can’t save you maybe I can help someone else. Maybe it will be their turn even though it was never yours. 

      You told me so many times how proud you were of me, but I want you to know that I am proud of you too; for being you despite of all the pain. For living in the face of despair and continuing to love. 

      Most of all I want you to know that no matter what happened I love you, in our own fucked up way we loved each other despite not being a couple. Despite everything I hope you know I still cared.  

      A new dawn. 


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      It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. A lot has been going on and I just couldn’t seem to decide on which thing to focus on; however this morning it became blatantly obvious. 

      I am one of those people who wakes up and is ready to go. I don’t need to slowly waken and set lots of different alarms. Most mornings I’m awake before my alarm even goes off. And I savour those moment when the kids come in for a cuddle and tell me they love me. This morning the youngest told me that he is most comfortable “when I hold him”, which just about melted my heart. Those kids are awesome. 

      So why is it that nearly every day, or so it feels. I end up just about ready to nail said child/children to the wall!!
      Take this morning for example; lovely cuddles completed, I tell the boys to go get dressed. This shouldn’t be a problem, after all last night I laid their clothes out for them. It should just be a case of putting them on, a feat that, on a good day they can manage in under a minute. So why, today, did it take nearly an hour? An hour interspersed with me alternately sending youngest to the naughty step to get dressed, to me screaming at him to just get dressed, only to have him wander in 5 minutes later, wearing a pair of pants and s single sock, moaning that he can’t open the can of soap he just found in his room?!  WTH were you doing in your room, I ask? Why aren’t you dressed? “Because I want to wash my dirty hands” came the reply. Perfectly reasonable you might think, however, there was nothing dirty on his hands 5 minutes ago and now, when he was supposed to be getting dressed, somehow his whole hands are covered in red pen?! So, swallowing my rage, I squirt some soap into his hands and tell him to be quick about washing them and then, GET DRESSED. 

      10 minutes later, he is back, this time he has two socks and a filthy school T-shirt on, that is most certainly not the nicely cleaned and ironed one is laid out for him the previous evening, and instead looks like he has used it to clean off a homeless guys bare feet. “Why aren’t you wearing the t-shirt I left out for you? Why aren’t you dressed? Where did you find that thing?” I ask astounded. To which the reply is that this was all he could find?!?! I damn near rip the filthy t-shirt off his head and walk into his room and pick up the neat pile of trousers and t-shirt I left sitting, prominently RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF HIS ROOM!!

      I send him back to the naughty step to get dressed. 

      5 minutes later progress appears to have been made; well he now has a clean t-shirt on, however now he has a new gripe! Last night in a clearly weak moment which I have regretted from the moment the words were out of my mouth, I agreed that he could have a packed lunch today. This is a rare treat that he is rarely allowed (I mean at his age they get free school meals, why would I do a packed lunch), so you’d think the child would be grateful, but no, not a chance, even the sandwich filling turned into a battle, him wanting PB&J and me insisting he couldn’t. Anyway, this morning he has decided that he wants to swap the contents of the lunch box I’ve made for him as there’s not enough in it!! Arrgghhh, GET DRESSED!!! And give me that lunch box so I can launch it out of the window! 

      The flip side of this is that as he can see me getting increasingly frustrated with his younger brother, the middle one takes the opportunity to shine; he is dressed with no prompting from me, brushes his teeth at the first request, prepares his packed lunch and sits in the front room all ready to go calling out to his younger brother to stop being naughty. Yay. At least one of my children can behave thinks I, prematurely as it turns out. 

      The next time I come downstairs, miraculously the youngest is now dressed and comes out of the kitchen carrying a bag of chocolate, which I happen to know was in the back of one of the top cupboards, asking if he can have it for breakfast. No. You cannot, and GET YOUR BLOODY SHOES ON!!! I scream as I grab the chocolate and slam it into the bin, “no one is having any chocolate in this house ever again!” A perfectly reasonable response I feel! 

      It is then that the middle one, decides to tell me that when he had climbed the cupboards to reach said chocolate, he “may” have broken the door on the cupboard below! Closer inspection reveals that the cupboard below no longer actually has a door, it is more that a door is leant against the cupboard at a jaunty angle, and that the hinges have ripped out so spectacularly that there is no hope of ever securing it again. 

      At this point there is no stopping the rage which I have been swallowing back nearly all morning. Both boys are dispatched to sit in the front room and behave until I’ve made my coffee and we can go.  Do they think this is good behaviour? Do they think I want to give them nice things and a new house if they can’t look after this one? I spend two further minutes berating them before I go off to make the much needed coffee! 

      We leave the house without further incident (if you don’t count the daily squabble over who gets to sit in the front) and once we are all safely strapped in the car, I look across at them both and my heart melts. They are both grinning at me, and the youngest cheekily pokes his tongue out and tells me he loves me. The middle one leans forward to plant a kiss on my lips and a hug round my neck. They apologise.  Peace is restored. 

      I drop them off and we have a hug and a cuddle, and as I drive away I am determined that tomorrow it will be different. Tomorrow I will be calm. I will not shout, I will be the perfect mum. It won’t happen though, I’ll try, they will try, but they are two mischievous boys and I am an overtired, harassed mum of three. Whilst it may not be ideal, and I’d  prefer we didn’t have the rows in the first place, the fact that we all forgive and forget so freely, that despite everything we all leave with a kiss and a cuddle, feeling loved surely says a lot more about our live than the fact we were at loggerheads 5 minutes before…doesn’t it?! 

      Anyway tomorrow is a new dawn! 

      Normal people. 


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      I’ve just read back over my last two blogs and I’ve noticed a theme arising; normal people. I’ve mentioned them a few times in a number of blogs and I’ve started to realise that I’m jealous. Or deluded. One of the two. Let me give you some examples:

      I’m currently laying on my bed, having just got out of the bath. I am surrounded by piles of clothes that need ironing (see picture), and tonight is the only night I have available to do it.  I really cannot be bothered. Last week I got halfway through a massive pile and decided that actually I couldn’t be bothered to do it and who needs this many clothes anyway? So I put what was left into 2 bin bags and I took it all to the recycle point outside a local supermarket! I didn’t even look through it to see what I was throwing away! I didn’t care! Are these the actions of a normal person?  Even worse I’m considering doing the same tonight!!

       One reason I can’t be bothered to do the ironing, is that earlier today (in my unerring idiocy) I decided to finally take some time to clear out the kids room. Big mistake. I have got as far as creating a huge mess that started off as piles of things to keep, things to put away, and things to give away, and has ended up just becoming a mixture of random stuff that I can’t decide what to do with. Or I did decide but the piles have merged into one. I’ve just been toying with the idea to get the bin bags out and chuck it all. That will sort it!! However I can’t actually summon up the energy to even do that and now I have a pile of ironing and  whole room of crap sitting here waiting for me to do something! 

      As I say I’ve just got out of the bath. Prior to getting in the bath I looked on the mirror and realised that it was domething I should probably have done much earlier on in the day; like before I set foot out of the house! Perhaps that way I might have noticed that I had forgotten to brush my hair since washing it last night, perhaps I’d even have noticed the bit of sellotape that was stuck firmly to my chin, I’ve no idea how long I have been walking around like that. I know I have a propensity to the dishevelled look but blimey, I’ve excelled even myself! I’ve even been shopping like this. 

      Speaking of shopping, I joined the Cycle2work scheme at work this week, giving me £500 to spend on a nice shiny new bike. So, naive as I am, I thought I’d pop to Halfords to pick a pick, maybe a few shiny accessories, to make me look the part. Who knew that buying a bike could be so bloody difficult? So many decisions, about things I know nothing about. Do I want hydraulic brakes or cable ones? Mountain bike or road bike; actually perhaps a hybrid would suit me better? 20 inch frame or 18? Cross bar or no crossbar? Suspension or not? The questions came out of the salesmans mouth like he thought I might be a person who would know the answers to these questions, or at the very least understand what on earth he was saying! Seriously, had he not noticed my hair?! I spent half an hour doing both of our heads in before politely excusing myself and saying I would do more research online prior my return tomorrow with a decision!! Yeah right! Decision? That’s not going to happen. 

      Today the kids are at their Dads. I am always saying how lovely it would be to have time alone and yet the minute I drove away from dropping them off, I came over feeling all desolate. Like I am alone.  Turns out I actually quite like having the little sproglets around. They make me feel complete, no matter how badly behaved and demanding they can be. The thing is I know that within 5 minutes of them returning tomorrow, I will be fed up of the bickering and moaning and wonder what it was I missed exactly whilst they were away! 

      So, I ask you is it any wonder i appear to be obsessed with being normal? My life would surely be so much easier. No one else I know seems to struggle so much with the basics of being a grown up as I do! Surely at the ripe old age of 36 I should have mastered the art of brushing my hair and checking the mirror before I leave the house? I should be able to pick out a bike, or clear out a room? Shouldn’t I? 

      Send help!!!

      Open letter to an addict.


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      letterI’ve been asked to write to you; to say something that will make you realise the error of your ways and to stop the madness, the craziness that is your world.

      I can’t though. What they don’t realise is that there is nothing that I can say that will do that. There is nothing anyone can say, that in a moment will flip a switch to turn off the craving, the need for that drug or that drink. It doesn’t work like that. If only it did. If it did you would likely have stopped years ago. Perhaps you would never have started. Who knows.

      What I do know is that the world of an addict is tumultuous. People, and by people I mean non addicts, those “normal people” we are supposed to strive to be,  would like to think it is one of misery and of desperation. There is no denying that is true, but it is also a world which is exciting and slightly or sometimes a lot, dangerous. A world where rules are there to be broken and adrenaline flows in abundance. There is a certain attraction in the lifestyle, in fitting in where many wouldn’t, you can be someone that you couldn’t be in the “normal” world; respected, strong. It is not always grey in the world of an addict and it is important to remember that. To deny it would be to deny the truth.
      In a world that you’ve never completely felt at ease in, you have, as an addict, carved a niche, a place where expectations are few, or at least are ones that you can live up to. If you don’t live up to anyone’s expectations you have an excuse, a reason; what do they expect? They know you have problems don’t they? They shouldn’t expect so much from you.

      So next let’s think about your children and your family. If you loved them you would stop. If you cared enough it would be easy. Every addict has been told it many many times. What they don’t realise is that in some way this is the only way you can be a parent. The only way you can get through the moments where you feel helpless and useless. That the drugs have nothing to do with you loving your children or otherwise, and much more to do with the fact that you need them to even function as a human let alone as a parent. The drugs or drink are what allow you do as much as you are doing. And you are doing your best aren’t you?

      And the criminal acts? They are just necessities in the lifestyle of an addict. How the hell else are you going to earn the money you require to feed the hunger of your addiction? What do people expect from you? That constant ache that grumbles constantly lest you forget that soon it will need more fuel. It’s constant demanding to be fed. It’s like a constant voice in your ear, whispering at you incessantly, warning you of the consequences if you fail to fulfil it.

      But I want to tell you this: it can be done; that switch is there, it’s just not possible for anyone else to flip it for you. You have to find it yourself. And right now that might feel like a fumble in the dark, but hopefully, you will find it. Actually, in some cases it is more like a dimmer switch that slowly turns off, gradually you will realise that there is another way to live. A way that is more than survival, and perhaps a little bit more like living.

      And life can be exciting in different ways. You can get an adrenaline rush from the simple act of being able to lay still on your bed without the incessant chatter of your addiction whispering in your ear. You can wake up and realise that you didn’t think about drink or drugs all of yesterday and find yourself smiling that you went a day without thinking of it.

      And you can learn a whole new side to your children. A side you never knew existed due to your previous unstable state. You can see the pleasure in their face when you lay in bed in the morning, snuggling up to them rather than making excuses to leave, so that you can feed the hunger of the addiction. You can get to know them again, on different, fairer terms. You can love them for the amazing people they are rather than just because they are your children.  And it may take a long time to build the bridges that you didn’t even realise you had burned, but it will be worth it. Every moment.

      And perhaps one day you will know the pleasure of paying a bill with your own hard earned cash. Not stealing it, not begging for it or borrowing. The feeling of doing something so mundane and simple that you are surprised to realise that you are doing something that those “normal” people do. It may sound stupid to you right now, but maybe not, but it’s true, one day it will be an achievement.

      The main thing I want you to know is that you can do it. You and only you can change the path of your life. It won’t be easy, and it will not be a straight path. More likely, it will be hilly, and rocky and the road will not be straight, but there are many routes along it that you can take, there is not just one road to follow, you can do it your way.  And you can make it. I know you can. Because if I can make it, the pathetic person that I had become, you can make it. Don’t expect it to be easy. Nothing worth it ever is; remember the things you’ve had to do to feed your addiction, it wasn’t always easy, but you did it anyway. All you need to do is put one foot in front of the other and grasp every helping hand on the way.

      The best laid plans.


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      Some days it is like I wake up and it just doesn’t matter what I do, what good intentions I may have,  I mess it up. Every thing I touch turns to crap.  In my head I will see a picture of how something is going to be; it could be anything,  a day out with the kids,  a meeting at work,  and yet no matter my intentions it all goes to pot.

      Take a day out with the kids for instance. The kids might all moan about getting their shoes on when I ask, they might sulk and whinge that they can’t find them,  or they don’t want to go out they’d rather watch TV. And I’ll get pissed off. Don’t they know that this is supposed to be fun?  Don’t they realise that I took a day off work to spend with them. How ungrateful are they?  So what do I do?  I shout at them,  they don’t understand how this is supposed to be fun and so I tell them; In no uncertain terms I shout at them and let them know how they are ruining the day. They are selfish and ungrateful and they should appreciate me wanting to take them out.

      They will then,  9/10 times all jump up and get moving and apologise to me. We will get going to wherever we were going to go,  but the day will feel slightly tarnished,  slightly forced and I will spend most of it chastising myself for being a terrible person/mother.

      It happens in other areas of my life too. When I am tired or feeling low and all I actually want is to feel loved and needed and wanted,  I often seem to express it in extremely unlovable ways. I might pick a fight with a loved one,  then end up in floods of tears because,  actually the last thing I wanted to do was alienate them. I just needed something from them (love,  reassurance, support) and couldn’t express it in a way that showed how much I needed it.  Maybe I tried to be loving and it was missed,  or I’m sad and want to know that someone is there for me and so I behave badly. It is a child-like response that I am aware of but seem to have little control over it. I want the dream. I want it perfect.

      And yet it’s almost like I self sabotage things that are good in my life. Seriously, why am I so bothered by the fact that kids would rather stay home watching the TV rather than come out and do something that I think is better for them. They were happy, perhaps I should have been happy too. But no,  I have an image in my head as to how the day is going to go and so I relentlessly pursue it against all opposition.  I need to learn to chill out more. To let things go. To know that the way things are in my head isn’t the way that things have to be. If anyone should know that it’s me.

      Its not just me that does this though,  I see it or hear it all the time from my friends, or people on the street. Somehow we are conditioned into thinking that things are always going to be perfect,  that we will get married and live happily ever after,  that our friends will drop everything because we need them, our kids will be beautiful and angelic and well behaved. And maybe that is a reality for some people.  Maybe all of my friends are as bat shit crazy as I am and actually there is a whole community of “normal”  people out their living the lives of their dreams. 

      Whatever. I honestly don’t think I care,  because do you know what?  Sometimes it is from the shadows of our failings that the best things happen. Perhaps if I didn’t feel that guilt for shouting at the kids I wouldn’t have made the extra effort to ride the zip wire with them. We wouldn’t have made those memories that hopefully they will remember forever. Perhaps I wouldn’t have reached out to a friend and reaffirmed our friendship over the stories of my fuck ups and their commiserations and affirmation that I am, indeed bat shit crazy.

      The Good Deed Feed. 


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      A few months ago I took the decision to do something nice for someone everyday. It seemed like a big deal at the time, I mean, I’m not normally horrible to people, but having to do something nice everyday felt like a big task. Especially given that I have the worlds worst memory; how was I going to remember to do it? 

      So I started out on this good deed journey a little daunted, thinking that possibly this was going to cost me a lot of money, because one of the easiest ways to be nice is to buy someone something, and I’m all for the easy route! 

      Sometimes it does cost money, but not the bucket loads I was expecting.  In January I asked for 5 friends to let me know if they wanted a random gift from me at some point in the year. I signed them up, and I’m gradually going through them sending them small gifts that are not for any reason but that I was thinking of them. So that’s 5 days of the year sorted. 

      There being another 360 days in the year to account for, I started to look out for more opportunities to do a good deed. Things like helping carry a buggy up the stairs at the train station, or going out of my way to open a door for someone struggling with bags etc. 

      Some days no specific opportunity to do a good deed arises, or maybe I have just been tired, and can’t see for looking, so I have had to think of other ways in which I can do something nice and I soon realised that I don’t actually have to do a lot to be nice. For example I might just tell someone that they look lovely (only if they actually do), whereas maybe in the past I would have just thought it. I stopped to check that someone at the tube station was ok, when I noticed they were so drunk they couldn’t stand. He was fine, waiting for friends, but I was glad I’d checked. 

      In our services we have Peer Mentors who work with others to help them achieve recovery from addiction. At a couple of meetings I’d seen and heard what a fantastic job one of them was doing, so when she told me that she was moving to another one of my establishments I told her that I would email them to tell her of the good work she was doing and that I’d love it if she could continue it after her move. I wrote a 10 line email to the service. It took me 30 seconds or less and I copied in her manager. The next day I received a lovely email thanking me for putting myself out to help her. That she was amazed I’d bothered and it meant a lot to her. It made me think about how the little things we do can have a ripple effect. 30 seconds of my time could mean the difference between her sinking or swimming in the move to another prison. It reaffirmed my commitment to being nice. 

      This good deed feed has had unintended consequences too. I stopped to help someone broken down on the M25 and unbeknown to me it was an old friend I hadn’t seen for years, we had a quick catch up before I jumped his car and he went on his way. It did my soul good to see him alive and well. Another time I helped someone with some work and they helped me out when I desperately needed it. I like to think of it as a kind of karma. 

      I’m no angel. Some days I go to bed thinking of all the harm that I’ve done by arguing, shouting or my other actions. I struggle to cope, I feel like crying; I’m sure that I am a terrible person. Poor C may think I’m actually a slight psychopath what with the neediness I portray. At times like those I cling onto doing a nice thing everyday, no matter what else I’ve done, hopefully I’ve made some one smile, or their day a bit easier, even if only, sometimes because of my complete stupidity.