Shame Will Kill You – By Nicola O’Hanlon

I’ve had a revelation, just this morning actually, that most of my life has been spent trying to avoid shame. I’m not alone in that pursuit either. It seems that most of the world is running from it too in one form or another.

I have also been angry most of my life. The seed that created all of that anger is absolutely, unequivocally, shame, and every time someone attempts to shame me still, an anger rises up that I can’t resolve easily. The two emotions are intrinsically linked.

Someone told me the other day that what I do is not actually real work. I was rooted to my chair, unexpectedly. Usually I’m not afraid of an argument. Usually I’d have defended myself and my work, but the person calmly walked away from me after saying what they said. It was clear that the comment was meant to put me down, make me feel inferior and shame me for my chosen career path. I don’t understand their thinking, but despite that, it still rendered me paralyzed.

I immediately became aware of that familiar raw feeling in my chest. Devastation. But why such an intense reaction? The anger rose in me later that day the and was released in an hour long crying session. During that hour, I remembered the other occasions of shaming throughout my life and how it left me too afraid to move forward, or try new things.

Four years old, learning to read and write; my teacher would thump me in the back and call me a dunce for not understanding where to put my full stops. I’d write my little story, and then place dots randomly throughout the words. Feeling very pleased with myself, I’d take it to the teacher and instead of teaching me, she thumped me. As a result, I struggled my entire life with learning and it took me thirty-five years to let anyone else see my writing.

“You have a fat arse.”  “You’d be so much prettier if you lost weight”…….I heard it over and over again. I then spent my whole life hating my body and being ashamed of every inch of it. It’s funny, because when I look back at old photos I don’t see fat. I just see beauty. I wasted my entire youth hanging onto a perception of myself that wasn’t mine.

Shame is in me deep. Right in my bone marrow. There have been endless instances that I don’t care to recall. It made me want to give up on myself, and I felt the same way the other day. What’s the fucking point, I thought. I even feel it’s presence right now, feeling shame because I’m voicing past experiences, which I should have forgotten about and gotten over by now. Right?

I know many of you will relate to these instances or some like them. You will recognise the shame associated that created the bars of your cage and held you hostage. You will also understand the daily struggle to release yourself and convince your tired mind that being you is absolutely worth it. Sometimes you can’t convince yourself though.

It has sent some of us quite mad. We have lost our minds from the exhaustive pursuit to be good enough, worthy, acceptable. We become depressed, bio-polar, psychotic. We have sought out alternative reality through drugs, alcohol, food, sex, to find some relief and to convince ourselves that we are all that they say we should be. It has even killed some of us.

But who are these, they?

Well, they are you and I. We do it to each other. We judge and condemn because of skin colour, religion, politics, age, tattoos and fat arses. We judge and condemn inside of our tiny boxes, from inside our tiny minds until we make each other crazy and so afraid of other people, places and things that we become enslaved…….by shame. We make up rules about appropriate behaviour, right and wrong and forget about basic kindness and respect. We live half lives because our notions about societal appropriateness and acceptability cannot under any circumstances be trespassed upon. Until we stop living altogether.

So for fuck sake, write the story and put the full stops wherever you want, get the tattoo, embrace your big fat arse, wear your burka, or don’t wear it, wear a miniskirt at 60…..even if you’re a guy, speak your mind, stand up for yourself, dye your hair Octarine, travel the world, do whatever the hell you want and don’t let others fear induced shame infect you.

You may be hated and looked down upon and declared mad for living your life free, but one thing I know for sure is, you will not hate yourself! You will wake up every day very fucking pleased with yourself, knowing that you are conquering the most insidious and lethal weapon on this planet. Shame. Shame cannot breathe if you like yourself.

So keep cheering for yourself. Know contentment. Be happy. Be free. Be SHAMELESS.

Intolerance In The Recovery Community

This post, originally written for http://www.iloverecovery.com, has caused the biggest shit storm of my writing career. It’s been so bad I just stopped reading the comments. However, the reaction completely proved my observation, on one hand by the utter narrow mindedness and arrogance of some and on the other hand by the amount of people with similar experiences as mine. However, I shall continue to follow what works for me and applaud all others who choose their own path, regardless of what that is. I’m pretty much done with the constant put downs and nastiness. It’s truly amazing what people have taken from this essay. It gave some hope, it made others so angry they had to try and ridicule me, and others got things from it that aren’t even written in there. All I can say is, thankfully I’m recovered enough to be solid in my own perception, with my own thoughts and opinions and experiences and that no amount of bullying can drag me into dogmatic ideals.

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It occurred to me this past week, that the level of intolerance is rising within the recovery community at quite a disturbing level.

It seems to be stemming from the fact that people are choosing for themselves what their recovery process will be and especially because of the new thinking and concepts that are arising around recovery programs.

In some quarters, you’re always sick, you’re always selfish and your own thoughts, decisions and understanding is completely unreliable. And you are told that on a constant basis.

But thankfully, people now have access to a plethora of information and possibility to learn and understand from a vast array of teaching, philosophies and concepts. There’s no limit to what we can access when seeking to overcome our difficulties be it from addiction or any other self-harming behaviour.

I’ve been a member of the Addiction and Mental Health Recovery Community for over seven years now. At one point, as I’ve written about before, my perception of addiction and ill mental health was a limited one and my recovery options were even more limited.

So I decided to educate myself a little more because some of the stuff I’d come to define myself by was no longer true for me.

For example, I don’t see myself as diseased or having the disease of addiction. That just doesn’t sound or feel true for me so I don’t identify with it any longer.

I also don’t go to certain 12 step meetings anymore nor do I think it’s healthy to reinforce negative labels over and over again because of the type of person I am. That never worked for me and I feel a great freedom and empowerment from detachment from that no cure idea.

If these things work for you then it’s absolutely fantastic. I totally support you in that and applaud you for taking care of yourself your way.

I engaged in 12 step recovery for a few years and learned many great tools and met many great people. It was just time for me to move on to a broader concept.

I also know people who were in AA for years and now have a drink every couple of months and are living completely normal and productive lives.

I know people who were addicted to drugs who have an occasional drink without adverse effects and again, are living superb lives.

Shock. Horror. What is this blasphemy! How dare they find their own way.

I must stress, that these people, who are my friends, have done deep intensive mental, emotional and spiritual work on themselves. I am most definitely not advocating for anyone to go back to drinking or using again. Total abstinence is a must for some.

I as a person am progressive. I move forward constantly. I can’t read or learn enough and new ideas and concepts are what keep me alive and hopeful. They excite me beyond anything, and they make me want to care for and treat myself with the highest of respect.

What really disturbs me within our community of late, is the lack of tolerance for people’s growth and expansion and choice to think and do differently. It reeks of my childhood Catholic teaching that if you step outside the box, hellfire is gonna get ya. Everyone is wrong. We are right. You must repent.

Radicalised thinking at its best.

So here’s my understanding; most addiction and mental health issues are based in some form of trauma in our lives, and the results, if not dealt with effectively, manifest as addiction and for me depression and anxiety.

Trauma and the use of chemicals and obsessive behaviours change the functioning of the brain, which by the way, can be reversed and healed.

I didn’t make that up either. The healing part. That’s scientific fact.

Dr. Gabor Mate is someone who’s philosophy rings true for me and he has said that if we do not understand trauma then we cannot understand addiction. And pretty much any professional I’ve spoken to concurs with that notion.

So for me it’s been way more positive to understand that my brain has been disordered and that it can be fixed rather than telling myself that selfishness is at the root of my problems and that there’s no cure.

And I completely accept and respect people’s choices and viewpoints that are contrary. I absolutely love to engage in conversation about these topics, because that’s how I learn and discover and find out what truly works for me on a deep level.

And then you have this guy:

 “ Lol…ty for your concern Nickyo! Not that it’s a competition, but believe me, I’d stack up my service efforts, and how many suffering addicts are positively affected, against yours any day of the week. And, mine happen in the real world free from the shackles of advertising dollars, and ego attachment of being “in charge” of something.

You go on painting me as the “bad guy” if you need to :).”

This was in reply to me standing up for someone he’d torn to shreds with pissy, personal attacking  comments because she had the audacity to suggest that it was better and more productive for her to not identify with the disease model.

I’ll let you come to your own conclusion about what recovery path he engages in. Apparently love and tolerance is the basis of his much treasured programme. Oh, and don’t forget humility!

I will say also, that I know wonderful genuine people on this same path who would never treat others like this. They must have read the part in the literature where it talks about open mindedness, compassion and empathy.

And this woman, in reply to a comment I made on an artilce “Safe injection sites are a radical new approach to battling addiction”  saying I agree with the concept to save lives and there’s strong evidence in European countries that it’s effective. I mean if addiction is a recognised medical issue,  why not treat it as such and give addicts equal, sufficient, medical care like the rest of the sick people in the world….right?

Apparently, I’m completely off the wall!

“And that kind of thinking is so off the charts nuts it takes my breath away. For Gods sake, they are not all using dirty needles, in dirty drug dens. Engage a junkie? Go ahead I’d like to see you try. They have to hit rock bottom, they have to want to stop. Enabling them is a solution that works somewhere in the atmosphere. Look, I am sure your heart is in the right place, but I wish you do gooders would just shut up.”

These are just two of many this week alone.

Believe me, I’m used to this kind of personal attack. It’s part of the job for most writers and especially those who go against the cookie cutter social thinking. But recently it’s coming fast and hard.

I do know one thing. A high presence of aggressive ugliness and lack of tolerance, empathy and basic politeness comes from deep fear. Perhaps a subconscious knowing that your perception is weak, and that you are so attached to that perception you need to guard it violently regardless of the consequences for others. Pretty basic philosophy.

It cannot be denied that this low energy, aggressiveness is extremely prevalent in society at large. The world is most definitely engaged in revolt. It’s just really sad that this same revolt seems needed in a community that is supposed to support and promote the growth of others.

But it does show that change is coming!

When The Outsides Don’t Match The Insides.

Originally Published on http://www.iloverecovery.com

I find myself lately, missing my house. The house I lived in ten years ago, when I was married. The place I thought would symbolise a functional, abundant, happy life. It was spacious, and decorated how I liked it. It had a big kitchen that I loved to cook in and a dining room that could seat all our family members.

It had a huge garden that backed onto fields, with hedgerows abundant with different plant life each season. Snow drops and bluebells in Spring. Flowering wild fruit trees in Summer. Crab apples and slows in the Autumn, and even in winter the red holly berries appeared like little red jewels against the receding greenery.

And the peace. Oh the peace and quiet. Sounds like an episode of Little House On The Prairie. But reality was, we were far from the Ingalls family.

One day, it was necessary for us to leave. I packed what I could into my car, along with my two children and we left. While our home appeared beautiful and peaceful, our lives were not. The external picture of our world most definitely didn’t match the internal.

We left, and we never went back. I still cannot drive by that house to this day because it is too painful. I’m grieving still for my home. For a home. And I’m continually searching for ways to have a permanent and secure place for my children and I. It is the last raw space inside me. The part where I feel most vulnerable, most inadequate and where I am still letting my children down. Yuck. The shame I have around it is sometimes unbearable.

This area of my life is a work in progress…..and all that stuff.

There are times in everyone’s lives when something happens that we perceive as bad. We feel like the bottom has just fallen out of our world and we are in a freefall tailspin to impending doom. But often, the doom we are so sure is coming, never actually arrives and we find we stay in unbearable situations because of the great job, the gorgeous house, and the illusion that without these things we cannot survive.

I have a meeting tomorrow to discuss plans for a new business venture. Yes, it’s another attempt at security for us. I’ve gotten to know this person over the last few weeks, and it looks like a promising project. I’m excited about working with her. I’m excited about the possibilities and a new adventure.

As I spoke to her on the phone this morning giving her the address of the house we live in now, I found myself apologising for it. I heard myself saying, “it’s just rented, and so it’s not very pretty”….yadda yadda yadda.

Immediately she said that instead of berating myself, I should be very fucking proud of the person I am, the lessons I’ve learned and the experience I’ve gained in the past ten years and that no amount of external fanciness can depict that adequately.

And you know what?…she’s 100% right.

Despite what I see as a grotesque failing in me, what I have gained following the loss of our home, is quite astonishing. Where loss is, there is also opportunity. A void is left that you can fill with absolutely anything you want. It leaves space for things that perhaps there wasn’t an inch of room for before.

Once, I was obsessed with curtains and matching cushions. When all that was forcefully taken away, it left room for my writing, which led to travel and meeting people I never dreamed I would meet. It opened endless opportunities, most of which I’ve grabbed with both hands. It afforded me a choice of expansion in my thoughts and experience and the development of myself.

Sometimes, what we attach ourselves to, what we identify ourselves with, limits our growth and expansion. Be it houses, jobs, people, places or things, the external is worthless without the internal being solid.

Most days I don’t look so shiny on the outside, but the inside is doing better than I give it credit for. I guess that never judging books by their covers is something I should pay more attention to.

Lessons In Love

“You’re Gonna Have To Face It You’re Addicted To Love”

I really love that song. But it also kinda makes me cringe because it reminds me of how I used to think about love. I wasn’t addicted to love. I was addicted to being owned, admired, shown off. Plastic love with no depth. I’ll preform how you want me to and then you’ll love me. Yuck, I feel ill. Real love is not an addictive thing in my opinion because it is not remotely attached to anything negative…including addiction.

In our obsessive, all consuming desire for the ever illusive true love, so many of us lose ourselves and fail to even understand what love is. It’s Impossible to define because it seems to mean different things to different people. I’m not an expert on love in any respect, but I can guarantee you, love from another person is not ownership, control or conformity. Neither is it admiration of your ass, your breasts or diamond rings.

We all have a need to find deep, respectful, mutual connection with another person. But for too many of us, that connection never gets past the first layer of makeup we apply to try to make ourselves remotely visually acceptable, in our visually obsessed world.

So what is real and healthy love and how do we connect fully to another person?

It’s not hard to find the answer to that one. There’s a million articles and another million books written on this topic. But instead of recounting what these articles and books tell us, I’m going to share the things that I have learned about love along my path.

You come first: It is that simple. Self-care, self-realisation, self-awareness. I could go on with the self stuff. Somewhere along the line caring about and developing ourselves became a negatively selfish act. This is more crapola that should be totally disregarded. You do you!

Narcissistic control is not love:  This is an issue not talked about enough at all. I’ve seen these relationships destroy people to such an extent they never recover. These relationships become so crazy that the victim doesn’t talk about it….because nobody would believe them. Well I believe you. If you are questioning your own sanity, your own sense of reality, your self-worth and your abilities since you got into a relationship, then you’re probably dealing with a Narcissist. You cannot win with a Narcissistic Personality. I strongly suggest you educate yourself on this disorder, starting with this.

Make your boundaries: If you have boundaries in place, you are less likely to become consumed and obsessed. If you have boundaries already and they aren’t working, then raise the bar. It is so important to know what is acceptable to you and what is not. If you keep accepting things that are just not ok with you, you will end up resenting yourself more than the other person. You must be able to trust yourself. Making boundaries and sticking to them helps that internal trust and self-respect.

 Abusive behaviour is never ok: I’ve learned the hard way, that when someone shows you who they are the first time…believe them. It doesn’t matter if it’s mental, emotional, verbal, physical or sexual. Do not, I implore you, ever accept any kind of abuse. The recovery from it is long, arduous and sometimes recovery is incomplete.

Your instinct is everything: Listen to it well. Oh how many times have I ignored my churning gut when I met someone for the first time, only to pay dearly for it later. Your instinct is flawless, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

Lust and love is not the same thing: But we already know that right? Or do we? The intensity of lust is addictive. It is my experience that lust, not love makes us do stupid, insane stuff. Now a mixture of love and lust, is of course, Heaven on Earth….which will still make you do stupid, insane stuff. Caution is advised.

Kindness is the foundation: You cannot put a price on a kind partner. Kindness is in the little things. The cup of coffee in bed in the morning. The unexpected herbal remedy from the health food shop when you’re sick. The phone call first thing in the morning to see if you slept ok. And you notice that they practice kindness towards other people too. In other words, genuine concern for you and the world. If there’s kindness there is the potential for happy ever after. But a word of warning. There’s a big difference between kindness and point scoring!

No change required: You are perfectly acceptable to them on your worst days and your best days. They encourage your mad schemes and support you when they fail. It’s not an issue that you cry or laugh at inappropriate times, or that you swear incessantly. There are no conditions required for them to love you. That’s the real deal!

To listen and to be heard: If there’s a lack of or ineffective communication then there is nothing. Believe me. To have someone really hear you and to be able to really hear someone is a rare thing. To have mutual understanding means a deep connection is possible.

Compromise: There has to be ongoing give and take. However, when the other things I talked about are in place, in my experience, compromise is not a big deal.

Sex…the good kind: YES YES YES…..It totally has to be there. That is all.

I don’t believe there is a one size fits all formula for navigating relationships but I do think that if we keep what is most important to us a priority, then we can be fully present in our own lives and have a happy life with a partner or partners or part-time lovers. However you want to role is your choice.

What I am sure of is, that if we know and love ourselves deeply first we are on the right path for a great love relationship, whatever that looks like for you.

Seven Years Without A Drink

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Today, 23rd January 2017, marks 7 years for me without drinking alcohol.

The celebration of my sober anniversary is a weird thing for me this year. It feels different than any other year and I think it’s because the dynamics of my choice to not drink has shifted in my consciousness. Now, it just doesn’t seem that big a deal. Celebrating it seems a bit too luxurious at this point.

Not drinking alcohol has become just a small part of life my life. I’ve settled into it comfortably and it is now my normal. If I’d been asked several days before I stopped drinking if I’d be booze free for the next 7 years, I’d have laughed hysterically, or been so appalled at such a thought I’d have fainted.

But now my life has become enormous. Simple, but enormous.

Then, drinking alcohol was my normal. It served many purposes in my limited experience of living. It was my motivator, my tormentor, my joy, my pain relief and my laughter. And I saw nothing wrong with that. The bars and clubs were full of people doing exactly the same thing as me. And peoples living rooms were occupied in the evening, by wine drinking mothers, just like me all over the globe.

Numbing.

Just totally normal….right?

At some point, everyone is forced to face themselves. That point for me came when I basically had no choice. My life was catastrophic at best. But something else had changed too. The desire in me to excel at life became much stronger than staying in that wasteful, pitiful limbo I was in. Peace was not available to me. I was stuck between either facing crippling pain, or forever numbing it with alcohol.

I had to make a choice.

I chose to face myself.

Choosing to face ourselves brings with it a great freedom. We then have a choice about what we do with what we see. If we find ourselves in a situation where we need to be picking ourselves apart with microscopic precision, then there’s definitely been some prolonged and very uncomfortable occurrences and realizations to bring us to the greatest challenge of our lives.

The challenge of change.

I had nothing to lose. Whatever I chose was going to be painful. The difference between one path and another was that quitting drinking and facing my malignant, internal pain was going to lead somewhere – probably a fulfilling and functional life. Not quitting and continuing to numb was going to lead to – more pain – that would require further numbing.

Numbing is expensive, life threatening, wasteful and creates the need to be a complete asshole to contain the pain. Who the hell wants to live like that? That’s not living. It’s maintaining existence. The street light outside my house exists. The pavement exists. My house exists. At least they all serve a purpose. Me living in a substance abuse bubble served no purpose, except to self-destruct.

I wanted more than mere existence.

And now I have it.

But sobriety is so much more than an abstinence from chemicals. If that’s all it was about I’d be eagerly waiting to celebrate each anniversary. It would be just about counting and accumulating days of being booze free as a signifier of success. Sobriety for me has to be about insatiable joy or it’s just not worth it.

My successful sobriety is defined by what I do with those abstinent free days. I’ve filled those days with purpose and passion towards the things that matter. My children, my writing, my passion to help other women empower themselves and my own self development is what life is about for me now. In short – liberation is the theme of my life.

Joy.

The forward momentum of growth I have created rapidly detaches me from my past and towards liberation. I’m grateful for that detachment. But I will never conveniently forget how hard the past was.

Anniversaries used to be a big deal for me. Something that I defined myself by. I used to be a sober alcoholic. Now I’m Nicola O’Hanlon, a strong, driven, compassionate, empathic, fierce woman who happens not to drink.

I also turned 42 on January 20th. That is far more significant for me. Being 42 and the kind of woman I used to admire and aspire to be is a big deal. Looking at myself in the mirror and liking what I see is a big deal. Trusting myself is a big deal.

Could I be that woman without removing my alcoholic anaesthetic?

Absolutely NOT.

I highly recommend it.

 

Originally posted on http://www.iloverecovery.com

Does Advocacy Like Carrie Fishers Really Reach The Ordinary Person?

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Despite being born into movie star fame and wealth, Carrie Fisher still didn’t manage to escape addiction and ill mental health. She was an outspoken advocate for both throughout her life and wrote books and screenplays about the issues. Carrie Fisher was the daughter of movie star Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, some of Hollywoods most elite. The often associated situations seen as contributing factors towards addiction and ill mental health, such as poverty, lack of health care and access to life’s basic needs, were not present in Fishers life. Of course there were other issues, most notably the breakup of her parents, apparently because of Eddie Fishers affair with Liz Taylor.

A line from one of her books, Postcards from The Edge, a semi-autobiographical and comic story of a girl in rehab stood out for me in relation to the false notion that certain conditions need to be present for ill mental health or addiction to occur. The Line is “You know how I always seem to be struggling, even when the situation doesn’t call for it?”

That line highlights for me also, the awareness Fisher had regarding her own mental illness and those of us who struggle will relate on a deep level. When ill mental health afflicts you, even the most mundane tasks, like brushing your teeth, can be a monumental struggle whether you live in extreme wealth or extreme poverty. Ill mental health and addiction are not ruled by socio economic backgrounds, movie star names or dollar signs. Unlike many in her industry at the time, Fisher chose to speak out about her experiences, crushing the idea that glitz and glamour protect humans from the reality of being human. Even for someone like princess Leia humanness was an unavoidable thing.

And still, despite the efforts of people like Carrie Fisher, in almost 2017, we still absolutely know that stigma towards ill mental health and addiction is suppressing and killing those who suffer. But is it easier for the famous and accomplished in our world to speak out and advocate for such universally and still socially unacceptable topics? Is the fact that the people speaking out loudly are largely from the entertainment or sports industries and therefore leaving a divide where the ordinary people still cannot relate to them?

Of course it is helpful when we see huge stars get real about their issues. They get important  conversations started and bring awareness. They encourage others to speak out and seek help and are hailed as heroes for their bravery. However, they are also afforded the best treatment and support available. They don’t have to worry about how they will feed their children or who’s going to take care of them next month because they need to go away for 28 day treatment. That’s if they can access treatment in the first place. They don’t have to worry about being shunned by society for being nuts, because well, the greatest and most talented artists are the whacky ones right?

The contrast of consequences pertaining to the same illness between the rich and famous and the ordinary person is stark and life altering….and usually not in a good way. The fact of the matter is, that for a normal person to speak out openly, the negative consequences often outweigh the positives.

Lets say you’ve been through and survived some of the most horrific experiences due to addiction or ill mental health. You decide to start a blog or share some of these things on Facebook in the hopes of helping others. You may receive great support and “well done you” from your friends and family. Or maybe not. On the flip side, your new perspective employer decides someone else is now more suitable for the position they offered you last week, and wishes you well on your career journey. I’ve been asked many times to remove articles from The Café by writers because they didn’t want employers to see them.

You start to notice that people aren’t so friendly anymore. They avoid you on the street, your phone stops ringing like it used too and suddenly you realise that people don’t want to be associated with you anymore. It’s not that they don’t like or admire you, but being connected to someone who had addiction problems or mental illness makes them look bad. You become one of the untouchables.

The reality on the street is that telling your story impacts your life in uncontrollable ways. It impacts the perceptions people have of you, your children and your extended family. You could be in the best health you’ve ever been in, but the general public will still look at you in a different light. The one thing I do know for sure is, that many people will quietly and privately relate to your experience, but they may never admit that. It may encourage them to seek help and feel a whole lot better about themselves. And if like me, that is your goal in life, then it is a remarkable thing.

However, the life of the rich and famous, despite sharing a similar illness, is still not the reality of the lives of ordinary people. Prejudice regarding certain social taboos do not apply to those who are already in high standing and hailed as icons. If you have struggled with addiction, ill mental health, domestic violence, sexual assault or any other horrific life experience and it’s known by the wider public, it is a rare occurrence to be hailed as a hero or receive awards if you are just another person. Most often the experience is one of rejection, exclusion and intolerance.

This is not to take away from the monumental work that has been done by the famous in relation to the plight of addiction and mental illness. Nor is it to diminish the struggles famous people have with getting well. Their demons are as dark as any other persons and so often they are enabled to self-destruct rather than helped to get well by those who profit from them. I have friends in the entertainment industry who use their talents and past experience in the most wonderful ways to help others and they are to applauded for that.

But we do need to get a reality check regarding the stark contrasts of the famous and not so famous when it comes to the most tragic of life issues. Really taboo subjects are where we as ordinary people struggle to connect. We are fighting stigma still on the ground level of society where we need to address it in solidarity and unity. Stigma will continue to kill until the ordinary human can wake up to their own prejudice and false pride. We love to talk about how open minded, inclusive and accepting we are. But are we really?

Carrie Fisher was undoubtedly an incredible woman who has taught many to live with mental illness without shame. Her legacy both personally and professionally, is one that will remain, hopefully for a long time. She will be greatly missed.

What’s This Then?

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There’s newness hanging around

spreading it’s peacock feathers

in great displays of eager hope.

I’ve been inspecting it of late

with fifty foot long inquisitive glances.

The unfamiliarity is so very comforting

exciting

full of possibility….

despite my hesitance

which is easy to explain,

because the oldness was a torture,

just repetitive, relentless, torture.

I became so accustomed to it

that I knew what was coming….

so it left.

I ceased to be its narcissistic supply

that is so very necessary for oldness to survive….

and thrive

unable to deal with the lack of control.

I’m not sure who got bored first,

It or me.

I think it was me.

This newness has me stumped though,

like do I stand and face it

or beside it?

Do I sit on it

spit on it

or take it in and love it?

It just one day appeared from nowhere,

apparently homeless.

Strays just fucking love me….

stray cats….dogs….men….bits of paper

all seem to find their home

beneath my covers.

Never newness though….

this is a first for me.

MAD MARTHA

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Their whispers say her insanity is beyond anything imaginable

and many stories are told around coffee cups of civilised gossip,

of how she got to her mad place.

Some say she is not of this world at all….

A Witch perhaps, who wouldn’t die in the flames

or a Faeire who got tired of pretty wings,

“A Gypsy maybe from the desert?”…they utter over plates full of properness.

She cares not for the opinions of the inferior informed

for she’s far too busy communing with her own kind.

She rolls in the dirt and wades hip deep in the water….

singing at the top of her voice….she sees their terror,

hidden behind comfortable, clannish smirks of condescension.