Sunday, 9 July 2017

414 - Smirnoff Apple Vodka

Hello, is there anyone still out there?.......

As I approached the end of what I still hope will be my drinking history, I got truly addicted to Smirnoff Apple vodka. Even just typing that makes me a little ashamed as "vodka" is real alcohol, no more hiding behind middle class wineaholic status that is somewhat accepted and almost unrecognised. Vodka is doing business, vodka is the advancement of the alcoholic journey. Anyway I LOVED that bloody apple flavoured vodka and it didn't even taste like real vodka so the effect was worse as I was able to drink it even easier.

The dabbling with vodka started, oh damn, I have no idea when it started. Anyway the 'idea' behind having a vodka was to start the evening off with an aperitif (cannot believe I am writing this down and actually believed it at the time) Lets skim over the fact that somehow my body knew the wine wasn't cutting it anymore and if I started too early I would be out of wine with too much evening left. So I crazily thought I would have a vodka tonic to start and the move onto the wine after. Somewhat unbelievably, the first time I planned this, in my trundling about the aisles of the store I forget the tonic. Here is the first clue about my deluded thinking, I thought it would be OK to 'just this once' to have vodka on the rocks. That's basically a martini, right? Right! This first toe dip into the vodka was with a small 25cl bottle, enough for a couple of nights - ahem! Wrong, I so enjoyed the first glass I followed it up with a second and then there was only a dribble left so had that too. Only then was it safe to open the wine as it could be spaced out until bed time aka blackout.

Not sure how long this routine went on because some nights I would come home from work and force myself to do chores <angrily> or eat dinner and do dishes <angrily> or watch a tv show, you guessed it <angrily> until 7 pm when I could the race to the shop and buy only a bottle of wine, knowing now I could space the wine and evening in equal measures. But......... I was antsy, not quite satisfied, I realised some level hadn't been achieved. The hardship of the day, my job, heck my life was still palpable and so I would retire to bed with mixed feelings of happiness that I hadn't needed to have the vodka but also sadness that my life was so sad and sadly there was nothing that could ease the sad, sad, sad feelings of sadness. Hmm, maybe stop drinking?

Routinely the vodka became a new daily staple with only the odd day where resistance won out or I had faced the panic that ALL this drinking was going on my credit card (even more shame) and I couldn't let it continue. I would start with my two aperitifs and move on to the wine, at least 13% vol. If you ever wonder if your drinking is not completely under your control, note if the first thing you do when you pick up a bottle is flip it over the see what percentage/strength it is (under the bullshit pretence of reading its region or distinctive notes) to see if this wine will do the job it's intended for.

Back to the vodka infiltration.  So nearly every night I would have my vodkas and was successfully blocking the fact that my drinking had suddenly escalated quite significantly.  I started weighing the financial effects and decided one large bottle per week would be more prudent - yes I can hear how bad this sounds now. So the 70cl bottle appears in my trolley each week but apparently I miscalculated how much that is and actually one more run to the store by the end of the week to pick up a small bottle. Enter APPLE VODKA the killer of all restraint. Up until that point I had been enjoying just regular run of the mill vodka with increasing volume but now this was a whole other story. This apple vodka became the slippery slope that finally - hallelujah - brought me face to face with how bad things had become. The first time I had some I managed a third of a bottle and shocked by this immediately stopped, for the evening. The second night was the same, and I was equally shocked and moved onto my wine. Day three the bottle is gone and I still gave FOUR days til I should allow myself to buy another. Newsflash - I didn't make myself wait the four days.

To wrap a very long slow decent up quickly, within weeks I was drinking a 70cl bottle every two days but had managed to decrease my wine to half bottle per night. What an achievement! Not! I knew I was in real trouble but because I was holding down a job, running a house, getting up and out every morning with the dogs at 6:30 am, I looked like I was doing ok. I kept hinting to my therapist that I was getting worse but I think he thought I was overreacting and it was only when I said I was up to about 150 units alcohol per week that he blanched, probably shit himself (I can't verify that) and realised that yes I was really drinking to excess and he had better change how he responded.

The Saturday night that was to be the last night I don't know if I was trying to go out with a bang but from about 5pm until maybe midnight I polished off the whole bottle. A brand new low, the lowest I had ever been and not surprisingly the drunkest I had even been. I was a mess. Since I am in the shame shower already with this tell all, I might as well go the whole hog, I was so drunk I crawled up the stairs on my hands and knees. I couldn't even stand up and writing that fills me with such a fear that I cannot even explain now. Needless to say my body not being too pleased with this gargantuan volume of alcohol did what bodies are designed to do with poison - I threw up. Not once, not twice but at least 4-5 times that evening before I passed out completely until about 4 am when I woke up throwing up again. That continued for about 3-4 hours and every time I threw up my poor head was filled with a thousand hammers bashing in my brain.  To say I was a mess is an understatment to say I was very severely poisoned by alcohol is still mild, whatever the case it was absolutely clear in my mind that I was on the road to ruin and I needed to take immediate action. Later that day I walked my dogs 1. because I wanted to punish myself further and 2 because why should they suffer because of me. On that dog walk I felt so dreadful walking up a hill I had a genuine fear that I was going to have a heart attack then and there and no one would find me for hours. I was literally scared out of my whits. I survived and made it home back to bed and was finally able to keep a glass of water down.

Unfortunately........ I did one more experiment somewhere between day 152-163. I was in sabotaging mood and drank for one night back to the 2 vodka aperitif and a bottle of wine level - enter the killer hangover again. Not quite the 'crawling up the stairs' level drunk or the fearing for my life next morning but certainly enough to remind me what a fools game this is each and every time we do it. I have not had a really strong craving since.

The reason for this sudden tell all is that my brain went into a unexpected state of delusion yesterday and I started thinking  about drinking which is something I never do these days. "I don't drink!" slips off my tongue as easily as "I don't eat babies" would, it's just not something I consider. Until yesterday that is. I didn't really want the alcohol, I wanted the experience, the taste, the convivial feeling and I wanted the apple vodka. Not in a craving way and I don't know if I can recapture the feeling well enough to convey but it was definitely rebellious, sabotaging, believing this time would be different (yes that old chestnut), wanting the taste, searching for the sensation, being daring, being the old me and being like everyone else. Luckily I run the movie to the end at times like this and remember the harsh reality of thinking I can have one or two like everyone else. Actually I just remembered that part of my genius was to go to a pub and order a vodka rocks cos then I wouldn't have the bottle to tempt me but then I thought I should make it a double or triple, enough for a 'decent' drink not just a measly thimble and that's when *KAPOW* it hit me that even in my imaginings I had gone from wanting one and thinking I was normal to three in one glass at one time which would probably awaken the craving monster that we were back in business.

Today I am back to not wanting to drink or even really think about it but I wanted to share it with y'all so you might know that it can and does happen to those of us who truly never want or plan to drink again. I have been mercifully spared real cravings and frequent desires to drink like I see elsewhere in blogs so I feel all the more surprised when it does happen. What I can say is that as part of that hijack yesterday there was no sense of urgency about it. I was able to stay in observer mode if still a little taken in by the idea but at no point did I feel threatened or fearful I would succumb to the call. Today it does seem to have an almost dreamlike quality to it which is good cos dreams fade and then vanish.

Having said that though...... if I could just stop the nighly potato chips/crisps that would be some real progress.

That's the end of today's tell all. I have such mixed feelings about oversharing warts and all truths and often will regret how much I  put out there. It's the internet and it never goes away and Google will deposit this in my little file and it will be there when I suddenly become a global superstar and journalists will be able to write vile things about me knowing that its all true. OK I digress, I will save the internet conspiracies for another day.

Stay sober everyone and if you are not sober today be sober tomorrow.

Ginger Groundhog

Sunday, 21 May 2017

365/365 - One Year

I have written a thousand posts in my head for today and marking one year.

The irony is, like this time last year I woke up feeling nauseaus and like I was dying. Like last year I spent the majority of the day in bed feeling sorry for myself. However, this year I know for sure this was not my fault, not something I brought about myself and is probably a 24 hour bug rather than  lazy years alcohol poisoning.

Whatever it is/was, as I am still a bit poorly, it has taken the big TA-DA! out of my day.

All that aside, I have made it here with only one hiccough along the way. It can be done and you will feel so much better for it. Believe me, if I can say that today then anything is possible.

Today felt a bit of a damp squib compared to how I expected it to be but in some sadistic way, it was an excellent reminder of how so many days, mornings were spent feeling sick and sorry for myself. Before I used to try and fight through it and appear normal so no one knew, today I just let myself feel ill because I had nothing to cover up.

I will save my celebratory post for another day but I had to at least confirm that I made it here and with no regrets. The only regret is that it took me so long to do it for real.

Ginger (or should that be green) Groundhog

Sunday, 16 April 2017

330-1/365 Easter Sunday update

Happy Easter everyone

Today finds me feeling, well, a bit "normal" This is quite mundane for you to read but life changing for me. Me? Normal? Is that even possible? Well yes seemingly so. Today I woke up after a huge sleep and felt well rested, revived, content, dare I say happy and feeling like at this moment I have nothing to be upset about. I honestly can't remember a time when I didn't wake up and think something negative varying from "the house is a mess" to " God I'm so fat I need to do something right now" to " how have I ended up in this life, what did I do wrong?" And that old familiar " why did I drink so much last night?"

Today I woke up and really believed all is well in my world. I also can now accept that this is not a permanent state, for some it may be a relative constant but for me it is a happy moment, specifically that moment meditation promises - PRESENCE. I just feel so content today, lucky to be alive, proud of who I am and what I have achieved. I feel GREAT. Even the voice that normally chirps up saying "don't acknowledge that, you'll jinx it" is quiet.

Hands down I can honestly say I do not remember feeling this good for years, in fact I cannot remember the last time at all. I also can recognise that this feeling comes from a state of acceptance and today I am clearly able to see, understand, acknowledge and (this is key) accept all aspects of my life as they are in this moment. I am still as fat today as I was yesterday but today I accept it because I have done so much this past year that I can only thank my body for all it has dealt with, coped with and provided me with.. I have a bad temper sometimes and that has caused me problems in life, at work, in friendships, with my lovely daughter but I also accept it and recognise that sometimes anger has served me and helped me clean the house in fury or dug up weeds in a snit etc.

Currently there are dust bunnies under the dining room table, the garden needs work and I still haven't fixed the bath panel that mocks me every time I sit on the loo. But....... I quit drinking 330 days ago and the change to my life has been transformational quite literally it has turned my life around.  Maybe there are dust bunnies in plain sight under the dining room table but go into any of the rarely used rooms in the house and there are no great shameful secrets hiding like there were a year ago. You can no longer write your name in dust on the dresser in the spare bedroom. Walk into my house today and I will gladly show you around, opening every door to every room including the "junk" room tucked away in back [side note, soon to be repurposed as a laundry room] The mere fact that I have allowed you over the threshold is monumental in comparison to 3 years ago when no one except my very best friend was allowed in due to shame and embarrassment. Truthfully, for approx 6 years only a scant few people were allowed inside lest I be judged beyond all imagination and the shame shower that followed would have scalded the skin off. Now I will give you the grand tour and maybe comment only once that I am not the worlds best housekeeper. Even saying that, I know that my standards are higher than I am representing here but old habits die hard.

Up until 330 days ago I drank waaaaay too much, I drank to blur not only the edges but the sum total of my life. I was trying to blot out the dissatisfaction of who I was, how I looked, how I behaved and how I was refusing to take responsibility for my life. I have only drunk once in that 330 days and that highlighted to me in one night all that was wrong with my life and how it would be exactly the same if I drank again. This new way of being ie sober, has its ups and downs but I see now that that is what life is, everyone's life is, not some character flaw or universal punishment of me for being "wrong". Today, Sunday I feel amazing and like I could take on the world but Wednesday at work I was sad, scared and "acting out" which is how I feel when my mild personality disorder is triggered. What I will say is that on Wednesday I was told something very unsettling about work/my role by senior management and I said "I need to walk away right now" and long story short I walked away translating what was said into the worst case scenario, I catastrophised it to the max and put all kinds of meaning and interpretation on it that wasn't necessarily real. Breakthrough moment- I called this manager (like you other grown ups would do) and said 'I am really blowing what you said to me out of proportion and I'd like you to explain it some more.'  In that moment I changed the pattern I always revert to when stressed, by realising I needed to change the way I ALWAYS deal with things I changed in that moment. I was very vulnerable with my boss and explained how I had translated what had been said into worst case scenario. Turns out I was wrong and had picked out only the negatives none of the positives. How many of us do that all the time. What I have understood this week is that both Wednesday and today are normal days, extremes of normal very bad and very good but normal.

My last post in contrast to this post shows how my moods can fluctuate, both are normal ways of being but so hard to put in context when we are drinking to levels that blunt connection to correct interpretation. I am beginning to understand and accept my reactions to things both good and bad and then just sit with the feeling.  No doubt I will have some really crap days ahead, I will react badly to things again, I will argue with my daughter and have days of hating my body and maybe myself but....they will not be my everyday, they will be part of my life but not the norm like they used to.

Don't get me wrong, its not all plain sailing. I would love to drink a massive glass of wine on this beautiful Easter Sunday but that lovely glass of wine would only be the gateway to a whole bottle (or more) of wine and then undoubtedly some vodka too. I would probably have a great day/night drinking and it wouldn't be disastrous or some Hollywood version of alcoholic drinking but it's how I would feel tomorrow, cut off from my feelings and inauthentic. I would have lost connection to who I feel I am and I no longer want to do that. Ironically feeling all those negative emotions would lead me to come up with the only solution perceivable- to do the same thing again that night and the next and once more I would be on the roller coaster of hating the majority of the ride only for the fleeting pleasurable moments. That is the reality of that fantasy one lovely glass of wine.

If I could give a gift today it would be the assurance that your life will be so much better without alcohol. It is one of the simplest things to say but the hardest to convey and the hardest to convince others still struggling. It is all too clear a memory for me sitting with drink in hand reading sober blogs and crying into my wine "why can't it be me". Well it is me now and I have done it and no it wasn't easy but it is possible to stop and just stay stopped no matter what. Easter Sunday would have been one of the days I would have decided to make my last day drinking, probably several times to be honest. Now I see that there aren't lucky days or significant days like I had been convincing myself for several years. In the end I stopped on some random Sunday in May because I had just had enough and I didn't want to keep going the way I was any longer. I slipped up once somewhere between day 150 -162 and drank for one night but luckily for me that proved drinking was out of the question ever again. It's hard typing that as I know so many people lapse and relapse  after years of sobriety but as I type this today I can honestly say I never want to drink again and I know my life is all the better for it. To think about drinking again is like saying "Gosh I wish my life was miserable, uninspired and the same old depressing outlook every morning" the thought of going back to that again is reason enough for me to dismiss the fantasy of being an occasional drinker.

As always a long waffley post from me but that's just how I am and in the spirit of all I have said above,  I am quite alright with that.

Ginger Groundhog

Saturday, 18 March 2017

301-1/365 The Pressure Cooker

It's Saturday morning and I am lazing relaxing in bed at 10am, make of that what you will. Some of you early risers will be worrying I am wasting half the day.  I have had a stressful week, well few weeks, well months really. Life is days and days of 'all is well, everything is working out for my highest good, I am at peace' rapidly followed by 'the sky is falling, the sky is falling, panic and run for the hills'  I kid you not, I am all over the place.

The reason for all this angst is work. Our company has won a tender to be the sole provider in our area for certain courses. We knew going in how much the contract was, we won and now the staff lose. The company made a big deal about how we won on merit and reputation, I just found out that the other provider said they couldn't meet the contract requirements unless the budget was increased by another two million! So we didn't win on merit, we were the only ones who said we could do it for the money. We now have to lose 60 employees!! There will be no redundancies!! The plan is cut everyone's hours (therefore pay) in half and tell the "Hooray, we have avoided making any of you redundant. We are doing this to keep you all employed. We are fabulous employers"

The thing is I am not alone here, I need every penny of my full time salary, half pay is not an option, I have no cushion, no fall back, no family to help out. I am part of the majority at work and we feel it is the most underhand dealing ever.  I have been stewing and simmering away, struggling through headaches and upset stomachs due to stress and worry. I manage to come home decompress, remotivated, try and get back into the mindset that everything happens for a reason, all will be ok, it's always darkest before the dawn, every cloud has a silver lining (please add your own expression in comments) and by morning I am centred and calm. I drive to work purposely listening to my favourite uplifting music, I arrive happy and then as soon as I walk through the door the collective anger, depression, fear and resentment hits me and I become engulfed in the maelstrom of emotion. I spend my morning riding the wave (I'm sticking with the water based analogies) of bitterness and by afternoon I am mellowing out and accepting once again that I have no control over the situation and just have to keep going until a path becomes clear.

I thought I was aware of everything I was feeling and how much it was affecting me. I have had anger, sadness, regret, worry and allowed tears to flow several times, acknowledging the feelings that I am scared and feel powerless.  I thought I was dealing with it until last night, my daughter ended up being the detonator and I was the bomb. What started out as a pleasant exchange about our respective day ended in me going cataclysmic and actually screaming/growling at the top of my lungs <flood of shame> I literally sounded like a grizzly bear. At which point I promptly grabbed my bag and keys and exited stage left. I was raging, ashamed, embarrassed, furious, distraught, adrift (I am using up all the emotion adjectives in this one post) I was shaking, how dare my daughter do this to me, how can she be so thoughtless. I know even then that I am just looking to assign blame and not take responsibility for me, my action, my behaviour but in that moment all I want to do is lash out. I want to make the world sorry for how it's treating me, I want to........... I KNOW!!!! I want to DRINK!!!! That's what I'll do! Yes that's it!

I don't drink. I see how stupid and futile that would be. I think of the last (please let it still be the last) hangover I had, the pounding head and 20+ times I threw up, the shame and regret I felt and the knowledge that nothing had been achieved, solved or made better by doing that so why would this time be different?All the same shit will still be there tomorrow morning but with a hangover on top. I am starting to calm down stood in the aisles of the grocery store, realising I have felt this coming and that I knew the pressure was building up. I knew it was going to happen and I also knew that I still haven't found the safety valve, the steam release that spins around frantically letting out all the pressure before the lid blows. I am still exploding when things go wrong, I haven't worked out when I tip over from being stressed and need to relax into I am rattling around on the stove and some how we've got to get the lid off. It's a fine line I can see now I know has been crossed only once it's too late. A friend offered some very good advice about what I needed to do but in my head I imagined me punching her right in her face, cartoon style with stars circling her head. Today in my calm state I look back and can't believe I let myself get so high on stress, so high that I cannot get myself down, so high that my daughter must think I am insane. Maybe I am a bit insane, aren't we all but I can't help wonder if people will read this and think I must be slightly psychotic. In truth I probably am since I temporarily lost touch with reality, albeit very briefly.

I am delighted I didn't drink, I can't help but think if I made it through that ring of fire I am pretty strong in my sobriety but I also feel similar emotions to when I did drink. Remorse for how I acted, shame that I was out of control, a desire to be a better more in control version of myself. It seems a little harsh that the harder you work on yourself the harder you have to work on yourself. Is there ever a day you can just "be"?  This is me warts and all and I am happy? I'm not there yet.

This Ginger is still under construction.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

274-1/365 Remembering Relapses

I have gone off the boil when it comes to blogging and reading blogs, I still plan things I should blog about but then just don't sit down to do it. It's all ok though as my life is moving along merrily with barely a thought of booze or even sobriety (well booze sobriety anyway). I just am me who doesn't drink or even think about it much. Who knew this was possible?  Well loads of people, I just never really believed them.

One thing I can say is that I am feeling a great sense of empathy for those out there struggling with lapse and relapse. I am not struggling with alcohol but I have been on and off the sugar wagon this last few weeks and it's just the same feelings, addictive behaviour, regret, remorse, self hatred etc etc. One day I was sneaky eating some sugar laden product in the living room in the dark, eating it quickly in case my daughter came in and saw me. I suddenly came back into my body (not sure where I had been in the past 5 minute lead up) and realised oh my goodness -sugar is the new booze! Well not the new booze but a more intense version of the food issues I've had all my life. Suddenly this issue has be promoted from bothersome overeating, especially when under the influence of alcohol, to full blown cross addiction.

I have recently done a 30 day reset on all potential allergenic foods along with sugar. At the end of 30 days, which was amazing FYI, clear headed no sinus issues, not a single headache, feel lighter, feel better, feel satiated after eating, no bloating, (I could go on and on) you are supposed to reintroduce foods one at a time for 3 days and see if you have a reaction. Well on day 35 I think it was I decided to give it a go. I was holding out to see how long I could go without any of the forbidden foods but it was mixed with a slight fear about eating them and what could happen. How prophetic.  In reality I think I had a craving so thought ok I'll test it out. Well I had some chippy chips (from the fish and chip shop) big fat juicy British chips not skinny crispy fries. I shared a small portion with a colleague who unbeknownst to me like cheesy chips and ordered our (shared) chips with cheese. I didn't make too big a deal of it and thought ok so I guess I'm trying dairy today too. Disaster!!

There are many of you who may not believe in food addictions in the way that normal drinkers think we are just overly self indulgent lushes who need to tighten the reigns on wine. Let me assure you that for some people food is like crack and I have realised recently dairy and sugar are bigger issues for me or have become bigger issues for me than I ever realised. That cheese gave me licence to eat more cheese, buy cream for my coffee and butter for my........ 'Oh I'm not supposed to be eating gluten or even gluten free products' (that was the voice of reason trying to speak up) BREAD a whole loaf of lovely expensive white crusty bread cut thick. And the gloves were off.

This last few weeks has been a backward slide into addictionville with the calorie count some days being stratospheric. The mood has dropped and that ensuing sense of failure, self hatred, self pity, shame and promises to get back on track. Self sabotage to the nth degree. Not to mention bloating, stomach pain and oh my..... the heartburn, oh wow I had forgotten how bad it could be, plus the shakes from all the sugar. It really is like wine or crack or heroin. Ironically I am also doing today as the "last day" like I used to with booze. Today I'll have all my favourites to one last time get them out of my system and "say goodbye" forever. Anyone relate???    FFS it all seems so infantile and deluded, like a big lie I am telling myself that I know is a lie but I still feel I need to say it. I think it's because I need to say goodbye to some things forever like gluten and dairy which I have known for years have caused me issues but because the reward was in my perverted brain better than the punishment (digestive issues and headaches) I kept experimenting,  eating them in smaller portions or only every few day or often in blow out binges. Having gone 35 days or more without them and then diving head first into them in overdose form, the kick back this time has been way more pronounced, the pain worse and the punishment all the more noticeable and frankly not worth it. I am still stuck with the fear I won't be able to get it bank under control though and food is everywhere these day.

This is what happens when you quit drinking for a decent amount of time and then relapse. You now know how much better life can be without alcohol, how good you can feel, how much more alive you can feel and what a sense of achievement and accomplishment you have. When you relapse all you want to do is get back to that happy state, why did you fuck it up, throw it all away, go back to your stupid addictive behaviour etc. It's the worst kind of cognitive dissonance there is and you know it yet it can sometimes takes us weeks or months or worse YEARS to get back on track. In my case it was  about 14 months before I was able to stop drinking after completing my first 100 days, 137 days in fact but one "fuck it" moment caused me over a year worth of misery and truthfully decent into truly escalating dangerous drinking. This recent blip with food is bad for me but on the grand scale of things not comparable to my drinking days. I will potentially have to put my grown up shoes on and take control again as the petulant, deprived lonely child seems to have taken over and run the show for the last few weeks. I see that now and I need to change it.

My food issues are mine just as all of our issues are our own but alcohol bleeds heavily into the lives of others, those around us, our kids, our partners and potentially innocent bystanders if we are out on the roads. If you are still drinking take solace in the fact that you can beat it but it takes hard work and determination to get through the first 30 days, after that you just need to keep going to 100 days and realising you are at the start of a whole new journey in life. However, if at any time you think it's worth testing out your addiction centre in your brain to see if you are cured, chances are you are not the exception to the rule and you may find yourself face first in a bucket of disappointment or cheesy chips in my case.

DON'T TEST YOUR SOBRIETY EVER! It truly is just not worth it.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Good News

Thank you everyone that took time out to comment and keep Celeste in their thoughts. She has been found and reunited with her mum.

She is physically relatively well but extremely fragile and emotional. I am sure there will be a few hard days ahead.

I genuinely do appreciate the kindness people show here and that we are so supportive of eachother regardless of the subject in this little corner of the web.


Sunday, 5 February 2017

260-1/365 Say a little prayer

07/02/2017 Update: Celeste has been found

Does anyone out there still pray? Do you offer up your thoughts to your higher power? Do you implore 'something' out there to help you when you are in crisis whether you call it God/god or not?

As a 'recovering' Catholic I still use the word God when I feel beyond desperation and I implore God to please help me. I also thank God or the universe or some higher version of myself when things go right or when I feel grateful for something in my life. Being raised Catholic, not just Catholic but Irish Catholic and not just Irish Catholic but small village, backwater, staunch, hell fire and brimstone  Irish Catholic, RUINED religion and God for me and has left me angry, confused, conflicted and bewildered sometimes in life. However, like so many others I have cobbled together something that works for me using elements of religion, spirituality, mindfulness and some kind of natural wonder to help me when life doesn't make sense and when I feel alone and in need of some ethereal assistance. In short at times I need to plead PLEASE HELP ME GOD I CANNOT GO ON LIKE THIS.

I often wonder how people with no belief system cope. When things go wrong and life seems to be hell bent on destroying you how do they invoke assistance or do they not ask for help outside of themselves. I genuinely have no idea as to me having been indoctrinated from birth I cannot imagine any other way. AA advocates calling on a higher power to help you get sober and certainly I have asked my version of a higher power (whatever that combination is) to please help me stop drinking. I also use it at other times when I am in distress, feel out of control and when I have no strength left. Just last week when I was in the depths of despair for both myself and my daughter, feeling personally devastated at her words yet equally upset that she was in so much pain that she was lashing out I sent out an utterance about please help me.

This is a rather convoluted post as so many of mine are which differs from the writers out there who plan posts logically. I am trying to connect all the dots in my head which make such sense to me but don't translate so well in an orderly comprehensible form.

Today and in fact the last two days I have been thanking this god creation of mine as well as imploring it for assistance. Last week my daughter hurt my feelings so badly and I thought horrible things about her like I wanted her to move out, I hoped she'd have 4 girls, each giving her as hard a time as she gave me and I hoped in truth that one day she would feel the pain she had caused me so she could feel bad about it. Yep, I am a bitter mother and shocked and ashamed that I thought those things in the moment. In very quick succession I asked the god thing to please ignore those ridiculous pleas and don't let any of them happen, please, please I had spoken in haste and was speaking from hurt feelings. I do not want my daughter to suffer. Days later as my daughter is in my bed leaning on me crying still sad and confused I felt nothing but love for her and shame that I had ever even let such shocking and abhorrent thoughts come into my mind. This was especially poignant when she came another night, sad and upset that she was worried and deeply concerned over Melania Trump and that she feared Melania was being unkindly treated in her marriage and now social media was attacking her. At that point I glimpsed the compassion in her that we all hope to instill in our children. Thank you whoever, whatever for giving me this girl and for making her nicer than me. Thank you for keeping her safe and for keeping her loving me and coming to me when she needs my help but most of all for her faith in me after I have let her down so many times.

Mothers of teenage daughters are part of a club, only we can understand the myriad of emotions our girl teens take us through. We bitch about them, laugh about them, feel hurt by them and like so many of you helped me with, console each other about them and offer the assurances that they will be ok in the end. I have several friends and colleagues I can do this with and I myself have been the voice of reason for them when their daughter is tearing a hole in the universe.

My colleague's daughter is missing. She has been missing since Tuesday. No-one has heard from her including her friends and family. My colleague came to work two days thinking this was a teen angry at everyone or life or her mum. On the third day she couldn't continue working, the enormity of her daughter still being missing was too much. Then an appeal was launched.Then the police labelled it a HIGH RISK case, then.......they found out from one of her friends that she had just learned she was pregnant from the boyfriend she split up from. Then the story went national. I know what my colleague has told me over the years, the good, the bad, the arguments, the pain, the love, the understanding and the normal everyday bits and bobs. I find myself hoping and praying more than ever that this girl is ok and somehow unaware of the panic and media storm. I am terrified that this will not be the case. This girl is my daughter's age, her mother is my colleague, never has a story been so close to home for me and so consuming. For once this is not a family I feel sorry for but cannot relate to, this is in my bubble and could easily be my family story.

I so want to believe in the power of prayer, the power in numbers, the collective, collaborative focusing on a problem but realise this is one drop in the ocean of sadness in the world. For today I want Celeste to be safe and go home to her family, I want a small miracle for this family that would be the biggest gift they could ever have, tomorrow I can try to send out prayers for the rest of the world but for today I can only focus on one.

I didn't know where I was going with this post and I haven't ended up anywhere concrete. I guess I just need to share. If you do pray, please do. If you don't, please just think a positive thought for this family.