Emotional Exhaustion

I’m fucked.  Totally mentally and physically exhausted.  I feel like curling up into a ball, getting under my doona and crying my heart out.  I was wondering what the hell was wrong with me but I guess it’s been a pretty emotional couple of weeks.

Last week and beautiful young soul in our community took his own life and I can’t stop thinking about it.   Today I finished up my 8 week relapse and support program at St Vincent’s and I’m going to miss the incredible people there, not to mention having a purpose beyond my home and children for 2 days per week.  Tuesday the segment of Insight I was on was aired and the feedback I have had has been incredible but the whole thing has been pretty emotional — not something I really put much thought into before I did it.  Just like other people my age, I’m also watching my parents struggling with illness and general age-related shit.  Being an only child, I’m starting to feel quite alone in that aspect of my life.  I’m stressed about finances, my Exhole isn’t doing so well with his own mental health, which not only worries me with regards to his personal safety but also that if anything did happen to him and he wasn’t able to contribute financially to the kids, we’d be fucked and have to move out of this house.  I know that sounds callous but it’s the truth and I can’t help but think of what might happen if the shit hits the fan again.

So I guess that’s enough of a list of reasons to make me feel emotionally drained, exhausted and teary.  Despite the plethora of incredible feedback after Tuesday’s program, the old ‘Fat Girl Story’ is still playing in my mind.  If only I were beautiful, if only I were skinny, if only were good enough, if only you were worthy, if only… It’s so fucking exhausting when you spend hours each day telling yourself what a piece of shit you are.  Granted, not all days are like this and I am well aware that the old chestnut called ‘self-care’ has been lacking but that doesn’t make it any easier to sit with.  Ahhhh, ‘sit with’ — a beautiful term I have learned over the past 8 weeks.  Sitting with feelings that are shitty and allowing them space within my body.  Something I never used to do, something I used to drown with litres of wine, something that I now have to face, like a normal person.  Actually, I’m not sure how many people are actually comfortable sitting with discomfort, if our nation’s drinking habits are anything to go by but that’s another blog post entirely.

So, I’ve gone into mummy survival mode.  The kids had toasties for dinner, as did I and I cannot wait to crawl into bed.  I’m already planning going back to bed after school and kinder drop off tomorrow and I feel like I could sleep for a decade and still want more.  I can feel waterfalls of tears coming my way and as soon as the kids are in bed, I’m going to let them flow.  I’m sad.  I’m hurting.  I’m tired.  I’m stressed.  I’m glad I can identify how and why I’m feeling like this instead of running to the bottle shop and sending myself back into blurred tornado that was my life for so very long.

Hurry up kids, go to bed.  I need to check out.  x


Excerpts #1

**TRIGGER WARNING — Eating Disorders**

“She pondered what it would be like to be one of ‘the beautiful people’, as she forced her fingers down her throat, purging the evening’s misery and shame. Oh to walk freely, without the piercing, judgement riddled eyes burning ferociously into her flabby flesh. To hold her head high in the aisle of a crowded store as people passed, instead of sucking in her bulging gut and apologising for her hideousness. Staring through her tears into the disgusting pile of emotions, she wondered what ‘the beautiful people’ were doing…”


Where Were You?

I’m not entirely sure why I’m sitting here, ruminating about this and getting so upset but I am, so I’m writing.

In Sydney last week, something really struck me.  Every single one of the women I met, who had various alcohol issues, had stories of partners who had, at one point or another, made comment on their drinking habits or tried to stop them.  One beautiful woman had her husband sitting in the audience, watching on, as proud as proud could be.  In her comments on the program and then again in private, it was evident of the love they shared and the absolute commitment her husband had shown when she was in active addiction and then in recovery.  Another lady spoke of how her husband would suggest she’d had enough to drink and the story was pretty much the same across the board.  All of these stories got me thinking about my own situation.

When I met my Exhole, I was the life of the party and he would happily join me.  The girl who could out-drink anyone — men or women — and was always a laugh a minute.  He’d come down from Melbourne to stay with me on the coast every weekend.  He’d bring flowers and grog and we’d get shit-faced for the entirety of his stay.  If I ran out of grog, he’d get me more.  If I had no money, he’d pay for it.  If I fell over drunk, he’d pick me up.  When I behaved badly, he fobbed it off.  When I was unable to recollect the night before, he’d happily fill me in so I didn’t look stupid in front of our friends.  What a fucking legend, right?  A guy who would do whatever I want, whenever I want and doesn’t care if I mouth off all fall down drunk.  A guy who doesn’t care that I’m far from thin, broke and completely out of control.  What more could I ask for?

As the years went by and I neared the end of my drinking, I would often make promises to myself about how or when I would drink.  The greatest challenge for me was to stay sober on a Friday night.  If I could achieve that, I could achieve anything (so I thought)! Every day on his way home from work, my Exhole would call and ask if I needed anything.  Wine or groceries but mainly wine.  Frequently, especially on a Friday, he’d call and I’d say ‘no, I’m not going to drink tonight’.  ‘Are you sure?’ he would reply.  ‘Yes, I’m going to try not to drink’ I would say.  ‘I’m happy to get you wine, I don’t mind‘, he would again reply.  If I managed to stay strong and not give in to his offer, I’d more often than not get to about 8.30pm and say ‘I wish I’d got wine’.  On more than one occasion, he’d jump out of his chair and exclaim ‘don’t worry, bought you some, it’s in the car’.  At the time, I thought this was loving, thoughtful and kind but a couple of years with a clear head and I realise it wasn’t at all, it was enabling.

I recall hungover days where I’d call friends and shamefully explain the events of the night before.  Nights where I’d fallen and torn ligaments, the night I had tripped over backwards and subsequently broken my ankle, the night I’d consumed well over a cask of wine and couldn’t remember a thing.  In my mind, my confessions were a cry for help.  I mean, if someone came to me and relayed the same stories, I would be asking if they were okay.  But I was met with giggles and flippant responses of ‘oh Kate, you’re hilarious’ or ‘we all do silly things when we drink’.  But how many silly things do you need to do before someone steps in and tries to help you?  How many times do you need to reach out for help before someone realises your behaviour is out of control?  How many times do you have to relay horrific stories before someone stops laughing at your antics and points out that this sort of behaviour isn’t ‘normal’?  I don’t want this coming across as hateful, because I have so many beautiful friends around me, all of whom I love dearly, and perhaps they just didn’t realise the enormity of the situation.  However, my Exhole was living with it.  He saw the falls, he witnessed the behaviours, he drove me to the emergency room, he knew EXACTLY what was going on, yet he didn’t say a word.

Despite him ceasing to drink around me when I decided to stop (for which I am grateful), on my hundredth day sober, he turned to me and said, ‘you’ve changed.  You used to be so much fun.  You used to drink and know how to have a good time.  Now you’re just boring’.  After I recovered from the shock of what I had just heard, I questioned him briefly.  ‘I’m not able to get up for our kids in the mornings.  I’m driving to school, probably still over the limit from the night before.  I’m wetting the bed most nights.  I can’t function any more.  If I don’t stop, I’m going to die.  I’m scared.  Aren’t you worried about this?’  His response was, ‘I really don’t see a problem’.  That was the day I asked him to leave.

So after listening to the stories of the other women in Sydney last week, I’m feeling sad, disappointed and angry.  Where was he when I needed help?  Where were the people who cared, reaching out to have that uncomfortable conversation with me?  Why were people laughing at these ever increasing behaviours and fobbing them off as funny, or silly.  I know my Mum (and probably Dad) were extremely worried about my drinking and my health but I’m not sure they knew exactly how bad it was.  I hid a lot from them, for many years, not wanting them to worry.  I wish I had reached out and been honest with them earlier.  As it turned out, only one woman, who I hadn’t known for all that long, actually sat me down and asked, ‘are you an alcoholic?’  I openly said ‘yes, yes I am‘.  So I’m sitting here today, wondering why it isn’t like in the movies where people stage interventions, pin down their loved ones and insist they go into rehab immediately.  Why wasn’t my Exhole worried that I was killing myself?  In fact, I just sent him a text and asked him that exact question.  His reply was ‘Kate, I could never help you with your drinking, you are the type of person if I told you to stop drinking you would drink twice as much, it happened when you realised you had to…’  Why didn’t he even try?

I know my sadness and anger are superfluous but to quote the saying I detest the most, ‘it is what it is’.  I guess, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter that nobody reached out to me and the important thing is, I came to rock bottom, completely and utterly broken and desperate, all by myself.  I reached out for help, all by myself and although my recovery is mine alone, I have support around me to keep me going.  My family, friends and colleagues all know my story and support my recovery as much as they possibly can and for that, I am eternally grateful.  Dwelling on what could have been is pointless and getting it out of my head by writing it here, certainly lifts the weight a little.

If you are struggling with alcohol or drug issues, please contact your GP or reach out to the wonderful people at Alcoholic’s Anonymous Australia or Narcotics Anonymous Australia and please remember, you are not alone.

The Longest Shower

Yesterday I flew up to Sydney to appear on the SBS program, Insight.  The segment was titled ‘Wine O’Clock’ — about women who drink.  Specifically, it was around women in their forties and older whose drinking (in our society) appears to be on the rise.  It was an interesting experience, listening to women with varying drinking habits, from a few drinks a night to full blown alcoholics — such as myself.  At one point, the host, Jenny, asked one of the ladies if they thought about alcohol, during the day, before they started drinking.  I was instantly reminded of the relief I felt as my recovery moved past the early stages and became less painful, when I realised my head was filled less and less with the conversations I used to have with myself about alcohol.

Mornings were usually the same.  Wake up with my head throbbing, unable to open my eyes, desperately trying to recollect the night before.  What had I done?  Who had I called?  Had there been an argument?  Had I broken anything (including myself)?  Had I slept in the same bed as my partner or was he in the spare room?  Questions came flooding into my mind as the anxiety built in my churning gut, before I could even contemplate facing daylight.  Once my eyes were open, I waited for my head to catch up and then into the shower.  That’s where the conversations started.  Every morning, while the water poured over my head, I would berate myself for yet again, fucking up.  Even if the evening before had been non-eventful, I had still fucked up.  I’d had a drink, or perhaps even 18.  I’d been so drunk that I’d passed out and was now struggling to remember kissing my sleeping children goodnight or getting myself into my pyjamas, if I’d even bothered.

Pounding head and the sharpness of the water falling over me, while I argued and promised and cried, criticising myself for not being stronger.  ‘You’re fucking disgusting.  You’re a shitty mother.  Your children deserve way better than you.  You’re ugly.  You’re fat.  You’d be better off dead.’  That was the usual gist of the morning conversations in my shower.  Eyes closed, tears pouring down my face, the sound of the water running, preventing anyone from hearing my pain.  It felt like hours that I’d stand there, tearing myself to shreds, knowing that inevitably, I’d have to turn off that water and step into the reality of the day.  Promises were made under the purity of fresh water, only to be broken over and over again.  Each day bringing with it a new set of arguments, a new mass of scorching self-accusations and an even deeper, darker desperation.  I’d do my daily routine, usually feeling hideous both physically and mentally and as the day went on, the next conversation would start.  ‘I’m not going to drink tonight.  Look at what happened last night.  Remember how fucking awful you felt this morning?  You can do this’.   As the hours went by, and the night before grew less and less vivid, the conversations again changed.  ‘Okay, so maybe tonight I’ll just have one bottle (as if that was okay!).  I’ll definitely not drink more than 2 bottles and I’ll go to bed before 10pm.  If I start drinking about 5, I should have finished by then and it’ll be too late to go to the bottle shop for more.  If I’m in bed by 10pm, I shouldn’t feel sick in the morning.  That way I won’t be driving to school hungover… Yes, I’ll just do that’.  

Insanity.  Complete and utter fucking insanity.  By the end of my drinking, this was my daily routine.  Starting the day filled with regret, shame and contempt for this person I had become, followed by hours of negotiating with my inner demon, rationalising the reasons for repeating the same thing, night after night after night.  In the rooms of AA, they talk about the insanity of alcoholism and addiction.  This is it.  How could any sane person, living free from addiction, possibly think this was normal and repeat it daily, FOR YEARS?

The entirety of my days were filled with these conversations.  Not an hour would go by where I wasn’t either living in regret, censuring myself or revelling in the task of buying and consuming the poison that was slowly but surely, destroying my life.  Looking back now, with just under 1000 days sober (yes, I count them), I realise just how freeing sobriety is, if in no other way but this.  The hours in my day are now mine, to do with as I please, to expend on thoughts, feelings and actions which bring with them positivity, inspiration and a movement in the direction of a life that is authentic and clear.  My time in hell is over — but I am ever mindful that the darkness is only one fuck up away.  Being surrounded by people whose stories are not unlike my own only reinforces that.  One day at a time, always.

If you are struggling with alcohol or drug issues, please contact your GP or reach out to the wonderful people at Alcoholic’s Anonymous Australia or Narcotics Anonymous Australia and please remember, you are not alone.


Saying Goodbye

Goodbyes are hard and I’m feeling sad — again.  Two days in a row now, not my best week.

My Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) worker went on placement as part of his further studies back in May and at that point, we kind of ‘broke up’.  I had been sober nearly two and a half years and really, unless I was at risk of lapsing, his time was going to be better spent with others who needed him more.  In saying that, although my file was officially ‘closed’, the option to come back in and see him at any time after his placement finished, was always there.  This week, he returned and we decided that a ‘maintenance and follow up’ appointment would be appropriate — even though we probably only wanted to catch up for a coffee.  What I didn’t realise was that this would most likely be the last time we’d sit together at the community health centre, because he’s moving on.

I started working with J in November of 2014, when I was still drinking heavily.  When he first contacted me for an intake interview, I remember thinking I wouldn’t like him much.  He sounded flippant and rushed and I couldn’t possibly imagine having any sort of connection with him but that changed the day I walked into his office.  From day one, I felt free with him, able to talk, to share, to be honest, without fear of judgement.  During that first appointment, he drew me a diagram of a little boat holding two people, going back and forth between two shores. He said that he and I were in that boat together and that our journey would continue back and forth across the water until one day, I was ready to get out of the boat and continue my journey without him.  I was always working towards moving on alone but never really imagined my world without him.  

Maybe this sounds dramatic to some.  I mean, it’s not like either of us are dying but to me, he is and always will be, one of the most important and impactful people in my life, no matter what the future holds.  He gave me hope, courage, strength and a safe place to talk about my darkest thoughts.  He stood by my side during the breakdown of my relationship and guided me through hideous amounts of stress and uncertainty when my life would have otherwise fallen apart.  He listened to my parenting woes and supported me as a mother and as a woman in recovery.  He shared with me some of his own amazing life experiences and inspirations and fuelled the fire within me to choose the path I have taken into the world of social work.  He lifted me up when others knocked me down and never once doubted my ability to get sober, get my life back on track and be the best person and mother I could possibly be.

I know that people change and move on and I know that his time has come to do just that.  The path he is taking is beyond courageous — choosing to work with people at the end of their days — and to be honest, if it were my time to close my eyes forever, I could think of nobody else I would rather have by my side, guiding me to the end of the journey that is life.  There are no words to describe how thankful I am for the impact he has had on my life, which is beyond frustrating.  But how could I possibly thank someone who literally saved my fucking life?  My post feels tenuous in comparison to the emotions flooding through me today and perhaps I’ll need to come back and add more to it when I feel able.  But for now, I’m going to sit with the sadness and revel in the world around me, which would be vastly different if it weren’t for this remarkable, kind man.


I’m feeling fucking sad today.  I suppose there’s a few things going on in my life right now but the jolt back into reality this morning as we ‘checked in’ at group, really rocked my world.

I started a ‘relapse support program’ 3 weeks ago — both as a client and also as a student with a view to become a peer facilitator of the program.  I thought I’d cruise through it but I must admit, I’m finding it somewhat confronting — each day being a gentle reminder of where I’ve come from and how easily I could go right back there.  But today was far from gentle.  Today, two members of our group admitted to busting over the weekend, or lapsing as they call it.  One of them didn’t shock me as he’d busted before but the other one, well, it blew my mind.  This guy had it all going on, had his shit together, his mojo working, his map to recovery was planned out, organised, passionate.  He was smashing all the goals he’d been asked to set at the start of the 8 week program — nothing was going to stop him.  Until it did.

He said he’d already decided his fate in the days leading up to the bust.  Drug and drink dreams and fantasies, that fucked up little voice that sits on the shoulder of an addict and tells that how wonderful ‘just one’ would be.  The ‘stinking thinking’ as they call it in the rooms, the influx of insanity

that tells you ‘it will be different this time — despite decades of evidence that shows you that it won’t.  He was at the supermarket, doing some grocery shopping, with that demon on his shoulder, jabbering on, up and down the aisles.  The mental wrestling match getting more and more vicious as he collected groceries.  The bright lights of the bottle shop seeming ever so appealing as the bottles twinkled like stars, only metres from the toilet paper aisle.  Before he knew it, he’d gone through the checkout, two bottles of Coke amongst the groceries.  ‘There was only one reason I was buying that Coke’, he recalled.  A quick swing to the right of the checkout and there he was, surrounded by the twinkling bottles of seduction.  The bottles that will carry the world away, if only for a handful of hours, and will land you back in the middle of a hellish combination of regret, shame and despair.  Why would you go there, I hear you (the non-addict) ask?  Because for us, the feeling of crawling skin, aching teeth and bones and a desire that, at times, feels more powerful than the universe itself, is just too great to conquer.

So what was the big deal with this member’s bust?  Why did I drive home with tears pouring down my face?  Why do I care?  I barely know this person really but deep, deep down, we are one and the same.  He is no different to me.  Although he came from a vastly different background to me, had seemingly more struggles than me, has moved dozens of times more than me and is 10 years older than me, we are the same.  We are addicts, we are alcoholics and no matter how much sober or clean time we have under our belts, we can never, EVER, let our guard down.  So what made me so sad?  The reality that no matter how well I may be doing, how organised my life may be, how many goals I appear to be smashing or how many fucking super powers I think I have on board, it’s only a short walk from the checkout to the bright lights of the liquor department.

After the initial discussion about this bust, our facilitator asked ‘is there somewhere else you can do your shopping?’.  The answer is no.  And what the fuck is the story with that?Last week I went to the pub for dinner with the kids and my Exhole.  As we walked in, we were confronted by a darkened room, hidden by frosted glass and big warning signs plastered all over the doors.  ‘No children allowed’ and ‘gamble responsibly‘ were two of them.  I could see the twinkling lights of the poker machines behind the glass doors but only when someone walked in or out.  It certainly wasn’t inviting, it wasn’t easily accessible and if I’d wanted to go in there, I would have had to leave the kids with their dad, or if it had just been me, they wouldn’t have been able to be with me at all.  As we waited to be seated at our table, I looked across the multiple bars at all the alcohol.  Alcohol on tap, alcohol on shelves, alcohol signage and advertising, special prices on alcohol, free alcohol with certain meals purchased and extra large glasses to hold far more than your standard drink.  My children were by my side, also waiting to be seated at our table, experiencing the exact same thing I was.  Alcohol, alcohol, alcohol.  So now I ponder the question, why is the gambling section so off limits or taboo yet alcohol, which kills over 155 THOUSAND PEOPLE each year in this country, so openly available, if not glorified?  Why is it okay for my kids and I to be confronted by this drug, en masse, yet the poker machines are hidden away as if they were toxic waste?

So, back to the facilitator’s question, no, there is nowhere he could shop so as to avoid the temptation of this insidious drug.  He, nor I, can’t even walk into some supermarkets without having to walk by walls of wine bottles, used as the store’s ‘eye catching’ entrance feature.  We can’t go to a cafe for a coffee without the option of buying alcohol and even hairdressing salons now hold liquor licences!  Only last week I tried out a new cafe in town and noticed they had a huge notice of ‘apology’ on their window because their liquor license was yet to be approved.  And the sad part is, people are generally pissed off if alcohol isn’t available to them at restaurants, cafes, sporting events, weddings, parties, funerals, kindergarten picnics, Cub camps and I’m sure the list goes on.  I understand that for MOST people, drinking isn’t a problem, and that’s fantastic.  But for some, it can destroy everything they hold close and leave them with the following options:


And no, I’m not exaggerating.  These three places are where most alcoholics and addicts will eventually end up, if they can’t get clean.  These three places are why today’s story of a weekend bust by a fellow addict, cut me to my core.  These three places are not so far away, should I happen to walk into that bright and inviting bottle shop one day after doing my grocery shopping.  Frightening?  You bet it is.  Possible?  Incredibly.  Cured?  No, we are never cured.  This battle is forever, one day at a time and our society’s unwillingness to recognise the seriousness of this indiscriminate drug, only makes it that much harder for us to fight.

A moment’s silence for all those addicts who are suffering as I write this.  May your tomorrow come and bring with it renewed hope for recovery.  

Serenity.  Courage.  Wisdom.   

The Tornado

Here I am.  A total fucking mess.  It’s 6.52pm, Billy has been home for just over an hour, Charlie since lunchtime.  After spending the weekend with their father — my Exhole — they have come back exhausted and emotional.  Charlie became hysterical over where she was sitting to have dinner and Billy followed shortly after because he could see me not coping and quite frankly, her screaming was doing our fucking heads in.  Both have refused to eat dinner, Billy has told me his father is better than me and has screamed for half an hour demanding I call my Exhole to come and collect him.  He called his father, who, as predicted, refused to come and get him and couldn’t for the life of him work out why both children were hysterical.  The dog got their meals and I have called upon the expert opinion of a dear friend to see just how many pills I can pop so that I don’t pick up a drink but also don’t die.


So, here I am.  Tears pouring down my cheeks, starting to feel the wave of chemical relief, roaring quickly to the rescue.  Tex Perkins is filling my soul.  One pill couldn’t work quickly enough and the next one will definitely knock me about.  In fact, I usually only take a quarter.  I know my time is limited to type.  I can feel the heaviness in my fingers as my hero pulses through my body.  I feel defeated and ashamed but I am still sober.  Alerts are popping up on Facebook and private messages are coming through.  I know people care.  I am surrounded by amazing humans.  I hesitated in posting how I was feeling but I want people to know that some days, this is absolutely fucking shit.  Some days, my teeth start to ‘itch’ or ache and my skin crawls.  I want to rip my own fucking face off, just to stop the hideous desire to drown myself in hell again.  People need to know that they’re not alone in these feelings and just because I’m here with 2.5 years clean time, life ain’t no picnic.

What sets me off?  It depends on the day.  Sometimes it’s the sunshine, sometimes it’s the rain.  Sometimes it’s the stale smell of alcohol on someone as I pass them in the supermarket.  The other day, it was seeing the local motel and remembering all the times I’d book a room at dives like that, just to get fucked up in peace.  Some days, it’s my kid telling me their dad is better than me and they’d rather live with him.  Some days it’s because I’m broke.  Other days, it’s nothing.  It just is.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  You can’t avoid life and life will happen.  It’s learning to live life on life’s terms and that can suck ass sometimes.  All these things are going to happen, whether I’m present or not and I need to learn to deal with them with a clear mind, instead of inside that swirling world of liquid numbness — which never makes anything better.  Ever.

Oh how I wish, at times like this, I could fall into someone.  Just to hold me and tell me everything was going to be alright.

Fuck you today.  You caught my by surprise.  7.05pm — writing game over.