Why I Hate My Birthday 

I hate my birthday. It’s taken me a lot of years to realise this. It has always felt crap and then a few years ago I realised: hey I actually really fucking hate my birthday.

Realising that helped.

Unfortunately husband hasn’t got the memo. In fact he thinks I love a big fuss on my birthday, that I like to drag it out over several days, that presents and surprises are important to me. Yes, of course I’ve told him but he says that I’m wrong and that if he didn’t make a fuss I’d be unhappy. Ummm….

So here we have the classic dialectic. In some ways he’s right. Birthdays are supposed to be special days and therefore yes, I would like some acknowledgement. However, it’d be really in keeping with the spirit of the day if said fuss was something I could actually enjoy. I mean, if I was listened to, rather than having BIRTHDAY!!!!! thrust upon me then that’d be great.

A few years ago I started being quite specific with what presents I’d like from the husband. I did this because it really hurt my feelings that he would choose stuff that wasn’t me at all. How can my best friend, the person to whom I am closest to in the whole world get it/me so wrong?! Even now he always buys me Ferrero Rocher chocolates because that is his Mum’s favourite. I like Ferrero Rocher – don’t get me wrong – but it’s not what I want, not what I’d choose and, after 14 years, you’d think he’d have noticed that but you’d be wrong. Anyway I let the chocolate thing go. Chocolate is chocolate so it doesn’t really matter. Husband agonises saying that I need to have surprises as presents. Nope. Again I’ve told him that this just simply isn’t true but again, apparently I’m wrong. 

Whilst we’re on chocolate this is often what sparks the Birthday Argument. The Boy has real issues with jealousy so he will go on and on all day about how he doesn’t have any chocolate. If I share it out (after all I’m desperate to get rid of it) then he will loudly, repetitively and really rather specifically check that my sharing is equal. He will go on and on about how I could divide up the remaining chocolate fairly. He will ask when I’m going to eat it. He will talk about how much he wants chocolate (and how unfair it is that he doesn’t have any), he will want to discuss the healthiness of it. I’m short he will go and on relentlessly. Some years I snap at him. Sometimes I leave the room and cry. It always ends up with the husband shouting at the boy over chocolate I didn’t even want. DON’T  YOU KNOW IT’S MUM’S BIRTHDAY?!

Mum doesn’t want a birthday. Mum wants to be dead. If I had never been born then all of this stress wouldn’t be happening. I was never supposed to be born. My core belief right there – my birth was an accident, a blip in the Universe. By being born I brought chaos, stress and a badness into the world that was never supposed to be. My existence is all wrong. Why the fuck I’d want to celebrate that I don’t know.

Anyway, my parents usually send a gift. This is also unrecognisable as chosen for me. Of course it is because they don’t see me. To them I’m not even a real person, I’m more of an idea. I hate unwrapping their gift. If they have wrapped it at home then it comes with their smells. The smells that make me want to vomit. Happy fucking birthday? What a joke. More often than not now they’ll just randomly purchase something online and send it. This has the added bonus of not having their smell. However it will come without any note. I mean why add a Happy Birthday message that would be a lie right? We all know that day ruined everything but society demands these niceties. 

My parents used to forget my birthday sometimes.

Well, they had a lot on didn’t they? Oh, they deny that this happened but I was sure. Utterly, utterly convinced and I found a photo as evidence. Me, aged 9, wearing pyjamas because it is bedtime. I am posing in front of a defrosted Victoria sponge with 9 candles. Back in the 80s it was harder to get cakes so when they realised they had forgotten to sort one out they went to Asda, stressed the fuck out, bought this frozen thing and then had to wait until bedtime for it to defrost. I absolutely remember this happening. They deny it. The photo confirms it. It’s no wonder I’m fucking mental.
Quite often over the years my dad gets the date wrong. Easily done I suppose. Who remembers the day the first child, their only daughter, was born. Easily done. How selfish I am to want to occupy some brain space. I remember one year he went on holiday with the boys (my 3 brothers). I stayed at home with home. She was drunk and cruel the whole time. The house was dark and had its usual stink of vodka, cigs and piss (ah! There’s no place like home!). Dad rang me to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY! 2 days early as he’d gotten the date wrong again. He said there was a present hidden for me somewhere in the house but he couldn’t remember where. Gee, thanks. Anyway, Mum was so awful that I packed a bag and headed to join him on holiday in a caravan somewhere in Scotland. To this day I have no idea how I achieved this. I must have had money. There was no internet for looking up trains etc. I had to get a ferry. A fucking ferry! I mean, just how?! But I did it. At least two trains and a (fucking!) ferry and I arrived. I had escaped.

I used to ask for a chemistry set for birthdays and Christmasses. However I was never given one as my parents told me that I didn’t really want one. Ummm…ok. One chemistry degree later…god, I am so fucking sick of people telling me who I am. It’s no wonder I have no sense of self and instead was given the gift of a personality disorder. No, I really didn’t want that!

Birthday parties were a no go. Obviously. Who would I have invited anyway? Friends weren’t really my thing were they? Or certainly that was something else I was brought up believing.

Anyway, you get it. I hate my birthday.

This year to navigate the upset I’ve provisionally planned out the day. Apparently this is quite demanding? Well, I’ve only done it to try and minimise the upset and arguments and to try and take pressure off of the husband. Sigh. How is it that I’m so misunderstood? 

And there’s the food of course. I’m having a bit of a difficult time with food at the minute. I certainly don’t want to eat loads but heyyyyyy it’s your birthday so you gotta! No, no, no thank you. Please don’t make me explain. Again I’ve planned somewhere for lunch where I’ll be happy with the food (oh how demanding!).

Fortunately no one outside of close family ever remembers my birthday. I say fortunately but yes, it hurts. It’s not unknown for husband to buy a card from the kids and then forget to write it. I’ll find it, still in the cellophane and tidy it away.?I most likely won’t even get texts from the 3 brothers I raised. God, I hate my birthday.

So, I guess I do want a little fuss. I want the people that I love to show me a little bit of extra love and to help me enjoy the day, as I want. 

On the plus side it’s only 24 hours and then it’s done…until next year.

What he doesn’t ask

He doesn’t ask if I’m ok.

Instead, he asks if I’ve taken anything. I haven’t. I can’t blame him for asking that I suppose…but… I wish he would ask if I was ok. Maybe he doesn’t need to. He knows I’m not ok, hence the ‘taken anything’ question, so maybe he thinks there’s no point in asking. 

It’s such a shame because it feels like he doesn’t care. He obviously does. Obviously. Thing is that it feels like he cares more about his to-do list than my wellbeing. “Have you taken anything?” feels like his way of asking “are there other things for me to have to do” (on top of all the other things…and not because he wants to do these things…) I feel like a spoilt child. 

Ten minutes earlier when he arrived home I asked if he was ok, he coughed something. This cough means ‘I’m not fine but we won’t talk about that because of you‘. Sigh. This isn’t how I want our relationship to be, so I tentatively said he seemed tense. His words: “I’ve just arrived home and I’m trying to assess what I need to do”.

Right. Whatever. Sorry for existing. Perhaps  I’ll just crawl in a hole and die?

It’s not like I’m fucking useless. I’ve done so much today. I was up before 7am to clean up the puppy mess in the kitchen before the family came down. I took pup on a walk. I had a shower. There was a huge stress vet emergency with the puppy this morning and I dealt with it. I also generally tidied up. I did a lot of online stuff that needed doing and required information and passwords (not easy with a broken brain). I fixed the hoover. I cleaned the window sill. I cleaned the carpet over and over. I vacuumed. I handled my son coming home with two friends. I conversed with one of said friends’ father. I made myself dinner. I sorted out dishes/dishwasher and cleaned surfaces in kitchen. So tell me this – why am I painted out to be fucking useless?!?! I’m not useless. Sometimes I struggle. Ok, quite often I struggle but I also achieve so much. Why is that never celebrated? Why is it only the deep sigh and what he needs to do?

I very nearly snapped back was he looking for an opportunity to call me stupid? After all, when I actually did overdose that’s what he did; he called me stupid, asked me who was going to take our son to football and left me to ring my own ambulance. I’ve been over this a lot with various mental health people and they always urge me to see it from his point of view. I don’t know why because I can already see it from his point of view given that BPD comes with the buckets of empathy. I must admit though I do struggle to get my head around his concern for our son’s football training over my own survival sitting there with a lethal overdose inside of me.

No matter.

He said to me this evening “I feel like you analyse everything I do and say as soon as I arrive home!”. Hmmm. I suppose I do, a bit. I mean he refuses to be open about how he feels so I’ve got to try and suss it out. I couldn’t resist a dig in reply so I said “it’s called hypervigilance and is a pretty standard part of PTSD…” Then I gave up. DBT tells me to not make things worse so I left the room and came to bed. Yes, I caved in and came to bed. You’d think I spend my life in bed as he talks about it every day. It’s actually very rare that I come to bed now. Yesterday on top of general functioning I ran 4 miles because, y’know, I’m so weak.

Well fuck it. He wants to make out he does everything then let him. 

I get the sense that I’m being incredibly unfair.

I love him. He is a good man and so kind and caring to me. He just doesn’t get how to support me and that is frustrating for us both. And then there’s splitting. I must be mindful of that love/loathe coin that flips inside of me. I wonder if he thinks he doesn’t need to attend to my emotional needs because that’s what therapy is for? Holy crap I hope not! 

I just don’t know if I can trust my own feelings, thoughts and judgements and that is scary.

If only he’d asked.

I would have told him.

Totally Screwed

I want to vent. I want to rage.

Why the fuck am I in this situation? 

I tried to buy my husband a Fathers Day card from the kids and ended up completely triggered thinking about my own Dad:

Dad you’re my hero”

“Best dad in the world”

And my favourite, “Dad without you I’d be screwed” (obviously with picture of father and offspring screw haha). Yeah that one really got under my skin because yes, Dad, without you I was screwed. Left to deal with the venomous malicious unpredictable entity called Mum. And look! Over 2 decades later I’m still screwed, totally fucking screwed. So screwed I’m nuts. It is with cruel irony that right now my own husband is away in Manchester overnight, one of the places my Dad used to go when he was away on ‘overnighters’. 

So here I am triggered by cards and triggered by the stupid PTSD of being left alone to care for ‘the children’ – sorry, obviously I mean my siblings as I was a child too. How silly of me to forget. How silly of everyone to forget.

I’m not a child now though. I’m an adult and a mother and it is absolutely my responsibility to care for my children. I can’t describe the loathing I feel for myself that I struggle to do this most basic thing. I dropped my daughter off at nursery this afternoon and when I arrived home I opened the front door, threw my keys down, glanced at the staircase in front of me and thought ‘right, now go and hang yourself’. It was as solid and unremarkable an idea as say ‘right, let’s put a washing on’. Clearly I have not hung myself nor do I intend to but it’s difficult managing with such urges. 

I try and stifle all the rage that burns, bubbles and boils inside me. The pressure builds with every demand and the poison leaks out. I snap and snarl and hate myself for doing so. No. I must never hurt the children, must never ever be cruel to them. The slightest look of upset on their faces cuts me so deeply and the rage is accompanied by shame. More shame, like I need anymore of that?! 
And all I can think is how fucking useless I am. I will try to atone by doing lots of housework and being ‘good’. I feel a bit jealous of the kids, they get to go to bed and be away from me whereas I’m stuck with me. I’m so tired. And confused. And afraid; the fear of a little girl in a grown up lady’s body. 

I never managed to buy a card. 

Eating

Yesterday I picked my son up from football and another mum said “You’ve lost a lot of weight haven’t you?”. I agreed that I had. “Have you been trying to lose weight then?” she continued. Well, I’ve been watching what I eat so yes a little bit. “Right then. How much have you lost?” She asked. I’m not sure how much weight I’ve lost but I am sure the specifics are none of her business so I just smiled and said “a bit”. She wasn’t to be put off. She started trying to guess. She told me, no offense, but it must be more than a stone because you wouldn’t really notice a stone so it must be a lot and how much was it. Awk-ward. Eventually she gave up and we chatted about dogs. Much easier.

Everyone comments on my weight loss. Mostly complimentary. My mother-in-law, bless her, hasn’t acknowledged that I’ve lost any weight. No, instead she keeps giving me tips: hot water concoctions and Slimming World recipes. I’ll confess these are kind of mixed messages but she means well, I presume.

It’s frustrating as hell being on Quetiapine – a drug known to cause weight gain – and trying to lose weight. I fact I don’t think any more will come off. Nothing significant. I know I can’t eat any less really so here I am stuck, right on the bmi borderline between healthy weight and overweight. Is it so wrong to want to be a healthy weight? Why must everything in my life revolve around the word borderline?!

I’ve been exhausted all day, just mental wear and tear. The sedative effect of Quetiapine won’t be helping either. Once dinner had been sorted, and I had built my daughter a scooter I just lay flat out on the living room. I joked to my husband that I could fall asleep right there. He stood over me. He was wearing shorts so I was trying to perve up his shorts. “You need new pyjamas” he told me. I agreed. Mine were all far too big now. He told me that my bum looked tiny in the pyjama trousers I wore last night. I laughed. As if! As he continued it took me a minute to realise he was actually concerned. He told me he had concerns about my eating, he doesn’t know if I eat when he’s at work, he even used the word anorexia. I didn’t stop to tell him that it’s a physical impossibility for someone with my bmi to be anorexic as that might look like too much knowledge. I reassured him about my bmi and funnily enough he told me that he wasn’t concerned now as he’d checked me out in the jeans I had on and, apparently, my butt is big enough to dispel any concern! “Oh right so it turns out I’ve got a fat arse after all?” I laughed but I was confused again. 

Really all I want is a healthy bmi and it frightens me that people are starting to get involved in something that is actually very private to me (she says posting on the internet!) Surely I should be able to choose how, what and when to eat without feeling that this is also something I do for other people? Christ, does even my eating have to be for other people?! 

I wonder if there is any bit of me that is just for me? Now I’m exhausted so I really must sleep. 

Morning has broken

Good morning!

I want to be dead.

Same old, same old.

Got to be a good parent this morning though so activity scheduling it is.

How to stay present? How to stay as a mum? I’ll have to use all my skills. By the time I drop her at nursery this afternoon I’ll be exhausted. I’m tired already and there’s 5 hours ahead. Then I’ve got a one-to-one with Monica. Night-mare.

I already feel like a failure. Because I am.

But I’ll try and we’ll get by.

Transference is a Bitch

Transference is an absolute bitch. I get it bad with older men in authority. Always have, starting with teachers back when I was a kid in school. I feel like I’m in love with them and all I crave is their desire back. If they wanted me then I’d know I was doing it right.

*sigh*

Knowing what it is helps but, despite knowing that it’s an illusion, it still feels real. I’ve never acted on these feelings. I couldn’t. That’s the whole point – he has to choose me; so that I am seen, worthwhile, not invisible. So that I can believe I have good qualities or attractive features it has to all come from him. And then there’s the White Knight part of it all. He will see the good in me and come and rescue me and I’ll be saved. 

None of my White Knights have ever approached me. Once…just once…there was one and he created a situation which felt very much like he was testing the water, saying come on… It was terrifying so I ran away! I could never act on these feelings! I don’t actually want to! Not really.

I love my husband. I hate that I have these issues. In my defence they were there long before I met him, just hidden away like all of this crap in my head. I know I don’t deserve my husband. He is a good man. Not perfect, of course, but good. He gives me a solidity and predictability which is reassuring to me after such a chaotic start in life. He shows me affection in a way I’ve never experienced. He was the first person to love me for who I was. He believes he loves me although I’m not so sure. I doubt sometimes that he really knows me but he definitely saved me. He is steady.

Transference happens though when you want to have a need met doesn’t it? My husband doesn’t really do emotions. That might seem odd given my BPD but actually that’s why it works I suppose. I have all the emotions for both of us. It used to drive me crazy in the early days e.g. He wouldn’t be excited if we booked a holiday but I’d be soooooo excited and want to chatter away about it but couldn’t because he just wasn’t feeling the same thing or even close to the same intensity. What I’ve learned though is that that just isn’t him. I’ve accepted that. I’ve accepted that he’s brilliant and marvellous in lots of different and important ways; ways that mean we function well as a couple and as parents. There is balance.

However that doesn’t stop my need for a man (has to be male) to see, and appreciate, my emotional side, or my creativity, or my love of music or art etc. My husband doesn’t see those things. He comments on his appreciation for my breasts and/or arse on pretty much a daily basis but never anything else. My empathy? Or way with the children? My sense of fun? Or my adventurous attitude? And I want those things to be seen, to be acknowledged spontaneously by someone else (because that makes them real. I can’t trust my own opinion of myself!). 

So when a man, an older man, does acknowledge some of those qualities – completely spontaneously – then wow! Wow! Just you try and stop the transference! He sees me! 

It’s not real of course. It’s all just in my head although Dumbledore did say to Harry Potter:


Transference is a bitch. Real feelings for an illusion. And real consequences too. Just another secret to carry around and feel ashamed about. 

Fear of Abandonment 

I’m not afraid of abandonment. I expect abandonment. No one enjoys being abandoned do they? So why would I be any different?!

It’s funny because people always like to reassure me that I have nothing to fear and then, somehow, they leave. I’m not cross with them for leaving (usually) but I do wish people would take on board what I say!

I’m feeling really quite abandoned at the moment. Nursery Nora left me about 4 weeks ago. She retired so it wasn’t personal but neither was it a surprise. She helped me, really helped me so I knew she would be leaving me. We spent 8 months developing a relationship and I trusted her. She seemed to understand me(ish)! And then she was gone. 

I could really use Nora right now seeing as how my relationship with DBT Monica has also broken down. I refuse to see Monica again after her cruel character assassination of me. So that’s that then. I didn’t see it coming but hey, I knew she’d leave one way or another. It wasn’t self sabotage. Quite the opposite in fact. So that was my 2 main support people gone, both within a month.

I had a 3rd arm of support; my GP. Yeah, that’s over too. Again it’s nothing personal (I think) just facing reality. There is nothing they can do for me. My meds can now be requested online so fingers crossed they’ll barely have to see me anymore. Great.

And all of a sudden I’m abandoned again. Not surprised but I’ll admit I’m bitter. People shouldn’t act like I’m unreasonable when I expect this to happen. 

But now what do I do? Who do I lurch towards now? I’d much rather I didn’t need anyone. That would make it all a lot simpler. They want me to trust them each time…because it’ll be different… and it never is. 

I humour them, of course. And wait. And then, out of nowhere, they leave again. And sad and painful though it is, at least I get to breath a sigh of relief whilst silently saying told you so.

Another Crisis Survived 

Another crisis survived. It’s a victory but a quiet one. No one cares. They’d have cared, presumably, if I hadn’t managed the crisis. Although when I say cared I mean be angry at me for being selfish etc. 

But I did manage yet another crisis. I’ve had a lot of these crises over the last few weeks. Each time I get through it, without professional help, without much of a fuss and, I suppose, that may invite judgement:- these can’t be real crises if I’m managing them on my own. Hmmmm. I disagree. When I can’t leave my house for fear of buying pills to overdose, can’t care for my children, just can’t manage much at all other than crying, or being vacant, or sleeping? When I have a constant narrative to harm myself or to be dead? When I find my hands moving to my own throat to choke myself? I think that counts but I guess it doesn’t because I am managing it.

I was very depressed yesterday. I went to DBT group and that was quite good actually. We started Interpersonal Effectiveness and I think I need this more than I had realised. I enjoyed the session because I felt like I was learning. I enjoy learning. If something interests me then I just want to soak it up. Pretty much as soon as I got home the emotions became intense. Although I was alone I felt harassed. I had so much to do, too much to do. Every time I tried to tick something off the list it created another job. I was totally overwhelmed.

By evening it was too much. The emotion was overwhelming. Be dead, be dead, be dead. Urges. So I started thinking about my crisis plan and recognised that it was pretty pointless. The crisis team can’t do anything so no point ringing them. My husband can’t help, he gets emotional and overreacts and makes it worse. I looked at the NHS Suicide section on their website. It suggested emailing the Samaritans. I could do that! So I did, I emailed jo@samaritans.org I knew that they couldn’t do anything but listen but, to be honest, that in itself was hugely helpful. It’s funny how many professionals I speak to but rarely feel listened to; they have their specific questions. Everything is lead by want they want from the appointment. 

After the Samaritans I chose self-soothing. I had a little Graze box treat and a hot chocolate, took my quetiapine, made a hot water bottle and retreated to bed. I put lavender on my pillow, cuddled up to my blanket and bunny. Then I took 3 cocodamol for good measure and downloaded an audiobook (The Humans by Matt Haig). With my headphones in I drifted into the safety of unconsciousness. It’s the next best thing. 

My night was full of vivid dreams of the past. Some of it was reliving abuse and some of it was comforting. The important thing was how I woke up and I woke up ok. Ok. Tired, mentally bruised and battered, but ok. Another crisis survived. It’s a quiet victory and no one will celebrate it, not even me. For me the feeling is relief. I know that this is temporary. I expect that I’ll hit crisis point again in the next few days so I’ll try and make plans now with the aim of avoiding crisis. I get scared. How many times will I successfully negotiate these urges? I’m so used to this; to having to survive. I do get resentful about it, about having to fight so hard for something that I’m not sure I want. Having to fight for something that other people want (my survival) on my own.

Still, survival brings options, death doesn’t. So quietly I’ll just go about it. Invisible. 

Is It True?

I’m confused. Was that therapy? 

I was terrified going into my one-to-one with Monica today and I told her so. She briskly went about business, about how this therapy wouldn’t work unless we were more specific about my behaviours. It felt like being told off. I wasn’t sure what I’d been doing wrong. She asks questions, I answer them and that’s how it goes. How could I be doing that wrong?

She told me that she hadn’t read all of my letter, my chain analysis I had sent her. I was embarrassed. I had opened myself up and it was viewed as the warbling of a madwoman. She hadn’t even read it all. God I’m so foolish. 

She said we had to be more specific about my behaviours. I was confused. I thought she knew but I answered as we matter-of-factly went about creating an itinerary of the awful things I think and do. It was shameful for me. Trains, guns, throat cutting. She categorised each thing in front of me. I felt disgusting, like I was standing naked and being evaluated. 

Then it was therapy interfering behaviours. This is hard to explain. She spoke about the way I am and that this causes problems in our sessions. I felt my trust drain away. I don’t understand. I am who I am and I’m trying to change. In our last session she had sensed my stifled anger and it had made her want to be away from me so I needed to change this behaviour for therapy to work. Now I was beyond confused: but I was trying to keep the anger in as best as I could – what else could I do? She suggested I let it out. No, I can’t, I’d destroy the room, smash it all up, be vile – how is that not therapy interfering? If I shouldn’t keep it in and shouldn’t let it out then what the actual fuck was I supposed to do?! 

I changed my posture to a slouch so she told me that was another thing I do: slouch and become wilful. Then she mirrored my posture. I laughed but it was awful, like being mocked. She criticised my behaviour but I do these things subconsciously whereas she was choosing to behave in that way. She said it was like talking to her 16yo son. I said I wasn’t being wilful – I was disagreeing. There is a difference. 

A different tack – she reminded me how in one of our first meetings I spoke about my lack of friendships, and that I hadn’t understood why this was. Well, if she got the urge to leave the room because of how I was then that would also be happening in my other relationships. I think this was supposed to motivate me to change. I’m already motivated to change! I didn’t need a fucking character assassination. My sarcasm so unpleasant. This confused me too. I’m never sarcastically horrible to anyone (but myself), it’s generally my dry sense of humour which is actually quite a bit part of my character. 

She said I looked despondent. Well, seeing as how we’d already categorised how fucking suicidal I was and I’d just endured a blow by blow account of how bad I make others feel despite only trying to be good YOU BET I’M FUCKING DESPONDENT. Instead I told her it was a lot to take in and I needed time to process it.

Well, I’ve been processing it for a few hours now and nope, I still feel despondent. Worse than ever. I had always hoped that these bad things I believed about myself weren’t true but they are. And I don’t know how I can live with that. 

One Mindfully Flashback 

Mindfulness is at the core of DBT. We learn the what skills (observe, describe, participate) and the how skills (one mindfully, non-judgementally, effectively). Personally I find these formal labels really confusing and tie myself up in knots trying to figure out which mindful skill I’m using, or trying to use.

Anyway, at the end of each module we revisit mindfulness. None of us in group like this. We all bitch and moan and roll our eyes about fucking mindfulness. Still, yesterday’s session (week 20 I believe) was about revising the how skills.


So, I still find DBT group extremely stressful and I’ve discovered that if I sit and colour in then it allows me to concentrate on what is being said, stops my mind wandering and allows me to participate much more effectively. I am calmer and remain an adult. This is good. Everyone in group gets it so they’re fine with me doing it. So yesterday I was sat colouring in, participating and all was going well. Psychologist Amy then says the whole group are going to do some colouring in and we are each going to focus on this work one mindfully. Awesome! There is an initial scrabbling for pictures, pens and pencils. I have my own so I just carry on and internally have a rueful little smile to myself; they remind me so much of the students I used to teach. Amy is teacher so gets everyone settled and instructs us all to focus and be one mindful. And we do. The room falls silent. The only sound is the rhythmic ticking of the clock.

Amy, being teacher, is now a bit lost. She doesn’t want to disturb the silence, the focus, the concentration so she starts getting bits out ready for the next bit of the session. I know exactly how she feels. I have felt that way countless times in front of my classes when they are absorbed in a task and I have become surplus to requirements. Yes I know that feeling very well and I see it in Amy. She is the teacher and I am the student…the child. Uh oh

I won’t have that sensation of leading a class because I am not a teacher anymore. A great sadness arises within me. A sense of loss. I used to be a teacher but now I sit and colour in. I let the sadness come, acknowledge it and try and focus back on the colouring one mindfully.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

Just like my gran’s grandfather clock. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. It’s warm like my gran’s house too. Gran’s house; a place of safety. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Focus: which colour for these berries? Gran was a teacher too. I wonder what she’d make of this. She’d probably quite like it, she liked arty stuff. 

Then the smell – the smell of gran’s house. Comforting. A place of safety. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Sometimes when things became too dangerous at home I would take the kids round to my gran’s and we’d stay there. She only had a tiny flat and the grandfather clock was in the hall. Sleeping there was always so special. She would make tea and toast before bed, she would make us brush our teeth and wash our faces, we’d be tucked into a warm, cosy and clean bed. We’d say our prayers (like that helped) and then I could read. Gran had loads of books. They were old. Old book smell (yum!), tucked up in a safe bed listening to the tick tock of that grandfather clock. The rarest of moments for me, feeling safe, feeling cared for. 

But I wasn’t at my gran’s house. She is dead. Long dead. More sadness at the loss. Made so much more bitter by her dying 5 days after my son’s birth. This prevented me attending her funeral. I never said goodbye. I was given nothing of her possessions. Our relationship not even acknowledged by the rest of the family. I was out of sight, out of mind. I am no one to anyone. Every year the family travels back to where gran is buried, to remember her and to keep the family ties. I can never go because I have my son’s birthday stuff going on, which no one thinks of. To be honest I often wasn’t even invited. That hurts. A family gathering of my parents, 3 aunts, 1 uncle, their partners, my 3 brothers, my 11 cousins (and their partners and children too as they’ve grown) – but not me. And no one misses me. 
And I know it’s all part of the fucking Universal balance thing. I fucking know it. Every year I am punished. Special was she? Ha ha ha. Take her away in a way where you can never say goodbye and be always excluded. Ha ha ha. Know your place. And not to be outdone, exactly 7 years after she died (5 days after my son was born) my daughter was born. Her birthday is my gran’s date of death.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

I’m supposed to be colouring in. Pick up another pen. Focus one mindfully. Fight the flashback; my vision is going dark and grainy and I feel faint – this is often how flashes come for me. But I fight it. I breathe deeply and mindfully. I fight the urge to run out of the room. God, the sadness. It’s overwhelming. If I start crying I won’t stop. I look at the chimes they use to signal the beginning and end of each mindfulness practice. I’m willing Amy to chime them. Please, please, please. 

Finally she does. With a peaceful smile she asks how we found that. I speak up. I share the sadness, the wanting to run, the near flash but I don’t share the details. Amy asks how I am now. I shyly bring my hand out from under the table. It is shaking violently. I feel faint and sick. I’m sweating. This is fear. I know this. There is no insight or conclusion about what happened and I manage it skilfully. 

When group finishes I am still shaken. Another ghost has been awakened. And I feel alone with it. Again back to the psychotherapy argument – why won’t anyone help me with my ghosts? They awaken them with their stupid mindfulness bollocks and then I am left with them. As if I didn’t have enough to manage already. 

At home that night I want to obliviate everything. Instead of taking all the meds that I want I make, what I consider to be, a wise mind choice. Instead of taking an amount of substances that would be dangerous I take 2 cocodamol, drink one beer and pop my quetiapine. Good night.

No doubt I can look forward to being bollocked for doing that later today. Sometimes I think…wilful? Wilful?! You have no fucking idea how wrong you are. Since when is fighting for survival wilful?