Phoenix Fights

Fighting the FEAR, depression and BDP on a daily basis AND making my own bread. Bring it on 2016….




Today I have been mostly sighing.

I reiterate – sighing.

Not crying.

Despite things not going so great of late, I was doing OK.  I’ve been doing a bit of buddhist meditation and trying to accept my fate and was staying on a relatively even keel, until I went to my first Schema Therapy session.

To clarify, whilst this was my first session, it was the group’s second meeting, because, after all that angst filled waiting, I managed to miss the first one because I’d got the dates mixed up.  I’m pretty sure they (the two shrinks) thought I’d done it deliberately but I hadn’t.

One day seems very much like the next when you don’t have a life.

So, when I rocked up last Thursday, they were very effusive when welcoming me to the flock.

But I don’t trust them.  Partly because (as the scorpion said to the frog) it’s my nature, and partly because I haven’t forgotten them pretending my financial situation didn’t exist and that this would ensure that I was going to be there for the entire two years.  I was quite frankly amazed that someone so intelligent and well qualified would resort to behaving like an ostrich.  Well I’ve told ’em and if they still choose to pretend that my imminent departure isn’t happening, that’s their funeral.

Also, the list of participants they showed me were women and there are men in this group. That’s going to be awkward further down the line.

The first, my first, session started with the ‘bubble’ exercise where we had to close our eyes and visualise being in a lovely bubble that none of our worries or anything bad could penetrate and where we were safe, at least for the 90 minutes we were at the hospital.

My friends, there are only so many things that a bubble can repel.  And an gang of burly baliffs would smash that motha to pieces, so I stared at the carpet by way of compromise and played along.

We then did this thing with a ball of yarn where we had to say our name wrap the yarn around our hand then throw it to someone else, until everyone was tied together, thus illustrating the unshakable bond between us.

Oh God, how I itched to take the piss out of it, so when they asked us what it looked like, I kept schtum.

But then they had to ask me, of all people, what I saw.

‘It looks like a pentagon.’

‘Ah yes’ enthused Shrink No. 1, ‘I can see that, so it’s like we’re points on a star?’

‘No.  A pentagon.’  As used in black masses? Fortunately I managed to keep that bit in my head.

Then, ten minutes in when one of the girls got emotional, Shrink No. 2 broke out some lengths of felt fabric for us to cuddle and link between us to signify softness, and a comforting bond.

What the absolute fuck?  Is anyone actually falling for this shit?

Well yes they were.  From what i could tell, I was the only cynic amongst them.  And that’s when the penny dropped.

Even in an entire group of misfits and outsiders, I’m the outsider.

That’s no mean feat is it?  Practically something to be proud of.

Except all I felt was despair.

I have nothing in common with the others.  I’m older, from a different area, a different background, and I’ve had lots of therapy over the years, whereas all the jargon, tools and visualisations seem to be new and wonderful to these people.

It’s not their fault but my trust in them is zero.  How can I bear my soul here?

On the plus side, I kind of feel that I might be able help them, and in that sense, help myself.

At one stage I pulled out my bottle of water for a drink and copped a worried grin from No. 2, then when one of the girls asked if she could drink from her flask of tea, everyone froze.

‘Um…’ said No. 1, ‘well, what does the rest of the group think?’

Everyone shifted uncomfortably.

‘Yes’ chimed in No. 2, ‘I think this should be a group decision.’ She nodded gravely.

Sorry?  It’s green tea, not methadone!

I had to pipe up.

‘I’m sorry but it didn’t even occur to me that drinking wouldn’t be allowed’ I said incredulously ‘I get very dehydrated from my meds, and can’t go 90 minutes without water, so as long as it’s not a can of Guinness, I don’t see what the problem is?’

The group burst out laughing and even the shrinks allowed themselves a faint smile.

‘Yes, well if everyone’s OK with that, we’ll agree that you can bring drinks into the group.’

Oh, goodie, goodie gumdrops.  Am I going to have to put my hand up to go wee wees too?

I reported back to Aunty C and she laughed.

‘Try not to rubbish it too much and see what you can get from it.’

I took that on board and congratulated myself on surviving the first session.

Except I haven’t.

Today I watched brave, ballsy Lynda Bellingham’s (British actress) final interview, when she spoke of her incurable bowel cancer and her resigning herself to imminent death, but was planning one last Christmas with her loved ones before popping her clogs.

But it never worked out that way as she died on Sunday.

And here’s me planning the most Scroogy Christmas I can because I feel unloved and let down by my family.

If I had to describe that moment, I don’t think I can do it justice, but I felt a combination of shame, sadness, anger, envy, shame, resentment and pain.

I didn’t cry but I can feel all those unshed tears lodged in my thorax again, and I keep doing those big shaky sighs that you do when you’ve bawled your eyes out.

Maybe it’s a matter of time.  I just pray God that it doesn’t happen there.

Maybe I’ll go and see the Munsters at Crimbo after all.

Namaste x



Oh shit.

This one was always going to be the hardest challenge for a variety of reasons, not least because I can’t use ‘their’ song lest I blow my cover.

The song that goes round and round and round in my head on a loop as it did all those years ago in that over warm nursing home bedroom, waiting for the worst to happen.  That in itself is a story begging to be told, but right now, I just wish it would just fuck off and get the hell out of my ear hole.

Not now.


Time to choose a less revealing alternative.

But what?

And more to the point, who do I dedicate this to?

Mother?  Maybe Foreigner’s ‘Cold as Ice‘ would fit the bill?


Father?  Chas & Dave’s ‘Sideboard Song (I’ve got my beer)‘?  Not that he ever stayed in to drink. That might have been a nice compromise as at least we’d have got to see him more…

Nah.  This is no time to be flippant.

Or is it?

Ha!  Inspiration has finally rewarded me with a doozie!

Not that either of my parents ever heard of him, but I think Tom Waits’ ‘Warm Beer, Cold Women’ fits the bill nicely.

The first line goes:

‘Warm beer, cold woman, I just don’t fit in’

Sounds like the perfect epitaph for my long lost childhood methinks.

Plus I love Tom Waits, and my dad always loved honky tonk, jazzy stuff, so he has lucked out here.

My mum and I never really shared the same taste in anything much, let alone music, so she’s just gonna have to put up and shut up in this instance.

Day 3 completed, box ticked, crisis averted, job done.

RIP bitches. x



Daily Prompt: Green-Eyed Lady – SHINY HAPPY PEOPLE

We all get jealous from time to time — what wakes the green-eyed monster for you?


OK, so let’s get one thing straight, I’m not a jealous person.

When one has such low self esteem that they don’t think they deserve to live at all, I don’t think I ever had the nerve or chutzpah to take something off someone, or demand that they not have it.

But I do occasionally suffer from bouts of the next best thing.

It’s what I’ve dubbed, courtesy of that ’80’s legend Jilted John, ‘Yeah, Yeah, It’s Not Fair’ syndrome.

I’m also occasionally prone to envy, but this (as my friend Helen has already outlined most ably in her fabulous Scribblefest), is a tad more forgivable as all you really want is the tiniest slither of the pie, and not to snatch the entire thing out of the hands of the current recipient, hurl the empty dish at their head afterwards then lean over and burp applesauce in their face.

Well not usually anyway… 😉


I should know what jealousy looks like; I had and do have a couple of green eyed monsters in my life at present.

One cannot bear for me to have anything she does not, even if she can’t feasibly have it in the first place, one example being a hot date when she’s ‘happily’ married, a vintage bargain bag when she has a wardrobe full of new Pradas or a party invite that she cannot attend anyway.  But she’s a psychopath, so it’s not that surprising really (

When I was younger and more attractive, another now ex friend once hinted very heavily that life would be much easier for her if I were to put on about 3 stone in weight, as she was sick of her horrible, deadbeat boyfriends hitting on me, something I would always get it in the neck for, and not the HDB’S.  BUT if I was safely ensconced in a relationship and she was on the look out, she would have no qualms in asking me to be her wing woman in order to attract more men to our table for her.

That said, whilst YYINF syndrome is not quite as bad as jealousy, it is, I have to admit, mean spirited, whiney, pathetic and not all that different at the end of the day.


So regarding my particular (pale) green eyed character flaw, when does this terrible affliction kick in?

When I see the happy, the lucky, the fortuitous, the beautiful, the loved from the moment they were born, getting on splendidly in every aspect of life you’d care to mention.

‘And who might they be Sista?’ you may ask innocently.

And I say to you, ‘Oh they, and maybe even YOU, know who you are dear!  Don’t think I haven’t noticed, y’hear?!’

Because I SEE YOU pretty much every day; all glowing, confident and appreciated courtesy of your perfect parents, coasting gracefully through life, getting everything you want, meeting your soul mate at exactly the right time, having the wedding of your dreams, popping out 2.5 model kiddies without even so much as gas and air, climbing the corporate ladder with grace and ease and looking stunning in the bargain, blah, blah, fucking blah.


You always get a seat on the notoriously crowded 7.45 am train from Guildford to Victoria, and even in a heatwave, sans air con, you arrive on platform pristine and box fresh whilst the rest of us are sweating, dishevelled, cursing wrecks.

You can go to the January sales and never get jostled or flustered, and always nab the best bargains as you walk, no glide, through the yielding, parting crowds like a cross between Moses and the frigging Timotei girl swishing through a field of daisies on a soft, summers day.

If you’re male, you’re everyone’s best mate, super masculine, but stylish, and a decent sort too, generous (shit, you can afford it!) excelling at all sports, and you’ve been told more than once that you look a bit like a cross between Davids Beckham and Gandy.

Your folks adore you because you were the perfect child, and you adore them back because they did everything for you and are just the best parents ever!

You always get a green light, never a red.  And I’m not just talking about driving.

You always get upgraded to first class on the plane, even if you’re in your oldest jeans and tattiest t-shirt.

You’re the must have dinner party guest in your circle because not only do you shine, but you have the ability to charm, make everyone feel comfortable, are attentive even with the most boring neighbour and you are guaranteed to entertain everyone into the night with your hilarious anecdotes and cutting edge opinions and knowledge about, oh, just about everything.

Despite walking everywhere you have never ever scratched the leather off your stiletto healed Jimmy C’s.

And of course, it goes without saying that you’re also anything from attractive to extremely good looking.  How could it not be so?


Doors open for you.  Packed restaurants miraculously find a top table for you.  Flowers grow, soufflés rise, the stubborn bend, and legs do part.

And the hardest thing of all for someone like me who had a hideous childhood, was never loved, has mental health issues, struggles to keep friends (whine, whinge, whine…), and never, ever had or will ever have what you have?

You’re usually a bloody nice person and I would no doubt like and admire you if I knew you, when I so long to hate you.

Because IT’S NOT FAIR!

Who decides who has a great life and who has a shitty one?


All joking (kinda) and ranting aside, i know that I’m luckier than most and things could be a whole lot worse, but sometimes I look at these shiny happy types and wonder how things might have turned out for me, had I been lucky enough to have the chances they’ve had.

I guess we’ll never know.

In the meantime, I try and fight my irritation and caustic, destructive, corrosive jealousy, sorry, envy, stop bloody MOANING and make a mental note of which queues to rise early for when my next life is due.

And if Holly frigging Willough-booby gets in my way in the Looks Department, there’ll be HELL to pay.

Back off Blondie, haven’t you had ENOUGH blessings?  You’re INSATIABLE!!

Oh Gawd, I feel yet another rant coming on….Here we go, two, three, four…..

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This year, I decided to go and stay with my family for a few days over the Christmas period.  I don’t always go, and we haven’t always been in touch at Christmas, but this time, it turned out to be the gift that kept on giving.

In it’s way.

There has been a lot of turbulence within what’s left of my tribe, but in the last couple of years or so we have worked hard to get on and reform bonds, and for the most part, we now get on pretty well, but despite our silent resolution to shove past recriminations under the carpet, little reminders have a habit of rudely popping back up when I least expect it.

Christmas gift shopping for them has always been an anxious task for me.  Making sure I buy for all family members and their broods, buy stuff that they’ll like, take along enough food/drink goodies to please/appease and not appear like a freeloader, whilst, especially this year, trying not to break the bank and get myself into debt over a celebration that is all but over come the end of Boxing Day.

I have no kids and no partner, so there is no his/hers sharing the cost comfort zone for this little black duck, but I give because I want to, I enjoy getting it right, and don’t keep tally.

I arrived on Christmas Eve to warm hugs and appreciative noises for my home made offerings, so it was all so far so good. The younger family members swamped me with hugs, warming my physical contact starved body, and my Grinchy little heart expanded in gratitude.

We ate a light meal, then went to midnight mass, then instead of going to bed, ended up playing a board game until the wee hours.

And then as Christmas Day started in traditional drunken form with a Buck’s Fizz breakfast, I blearily watched my sister’s family’s animated antics, and I could see where my largely suppressed, more exuberant side might have come from, had I felt safe enough to express it.  Everyone pretty much laughs, banters, berates, bickers, scolds and insults another at a deafening pitch, and whilst the more negative exchanges have her casual cruelty stamped all over them, it is fascinating to me that no one takes offence for very long and all friction is usually over in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.

It was very different for the two of us.

Maybe her hubby’s slightly saner, more chilled out genes makes for forgiving hearts and sturdier psyches.

And after lunch we play another round of Risk (oh, the irony), and as the competitive, combative screeching reaches eardrum popping proportions, the poor little EMO soul who is dating one of my nieces locks eyes with me in amused despair as it to say ‘Sweet Jesus Christ, is it always like this?’.

We grin amidst the pandemonium and I shrug and reply telepathically.  ‘Yes!  But it’s fun, and only for a few days.  Have another drink, it’ll help!’

Then my brother in law comes in with a tray of snacks and the grin freezes on my face.

I bought that tray over thirty years ago.

‘Sista!  It’s your turn!  Not that you have much to play for now!’ jeers my sister, and I turn back to the table and focus on getting my arse kicked for another hour or so.

And when I pass their bedroom on the way back from the bathroom, I spot my sewing basket.  The one my second boyfriend bought me for my 20 something birthday.

I avert my eyes.

I don’t want to think about this today.

I don’t.

I return to the battlefield, have another drink and forget all about it.

The next day we have the Cinderella panto to go to (

Oh  God.

In all honesty, pantomimes are really not my thing but I didn’t want to appear anti social, so I agreed to go along.

Cue lots of ‘It’s behind you!’, men dressed as ugly sisters, women dressed as princes, z list soap actors and X factor stars, ‘Oh, no you didn’t!’, aged back in the day TV entertainers, cheesy jokes and terrible chart song covers, boob jokes, slapstick and audience participation.

The kids loved it.

It went on for three hours and I found the whole thing absolutely gruelling.  This is one of those times when I have to fight hard to look as if everything is alright, when inside I’m dying and desperate to run outside, hijack a passing farming vehicle and head off down the M40 home.  I know this sounds dramatic and to all intents and purposes I just have to stay on my seat until it finishes and not kill anyone, but my clan are now hyper vigilant to any negative changes in my demeanour, so I have to act my socks off, laugh, sing and look like I’m having a marvellous time and not wishing I was somewhere, anywhere else.

If I’d know it was going to be this grim, I’d have offered to babysit my eldest niece’s cute but snot nosed little son, or at the very least licked his sipper cup in the hope that I’d contract his cold and be allowed to stay at home and down port in front of the TV.

But I did it.

As we head home, I’m not the only one who’s drained.  The boyfriend decides to crash, so a duvet is brought down so that he’s not too cold on the sofa.

Again, I go a bit cold.  It is MY duvet that I bought for my first ever flat share in London, all those years ago.

There are also more recent things that have been left at Chez Big Sis, and never seen again.

Books, hats, earrings, and tupperware boxes that I know I’ll never get back.

And who knows, the place is such a mess half the time, it’s easy for a visitor’s odd possession to get lost in the swirling magma of shit on the floor, unnoticed until they eventually arrive home, but I know some are accidentally kept and absorbed into the household, so I am careful to remember to take everything home with me nowadays.

But losing the odd thing doesn’t bother me that much.

It was the en mass ‘possession is nine tenths of the law’ confiscation of pretty much all of my worldly goods in the late 80’s that was the most devastating thing for me.

I had been abroad for a few years with a boyfriend, and with their permission, had left my stuff in their attic for safe keeping until I got home.  I think they had thought, or indeed hoped that I’d emigrate our there so when i arrived home three years later, after pretty much having a trail run version of my recent woes, jobless, skint  and on the verge of a breakdown, they met me at the airport and I sensed that they weren’t exactly pleased to see me.

When I arrived at their house, I realised why.

Everywhere I looked, I saw my own household items, books, furniture and ornaments embellishing the rooms of their new home.  I was shocked but when caught staring at them in disbelief, their faces would set like stone in grim collusion as it to say ‘And?  What’s the problem exactly?’

I’ll never forget how cheated, alone and unwanted I felt at that moment.

I did however get about a quarter of my possessions back in the form of clothes and shoes (probably because they wouldn’t have fitted her), but fashion had moved from early 80’s glitz and excess to late 80’s Doc Marten and torn jeans casual minimalism, so were of precious little used to me.

I stayed with them for the maximum of four weeks as I had no money, and as soon as I got a job, I was chivvied out to find a place to stay.

And on leaving, instead of receiving a big hug and the rest of my things back, I was presented with a bill.

A bill, if you please.

Consisting of a cost per day of how much it would have cost me at that current market rate had I rented a room from them (which inadvertently I had been doing), plus food, plus a share of all the household bills.  They didn’t even allow for their own children, it was all divided between the three of us.

I’m amazed that they didn’t add VAT onto it.

And a month to the day of leaving and within hours of receiving my first pay check I was not only chased for some payment but also asked to buy my father a new video player because his was broken and essentially it was made clear that it was my turn to pull my financial weight and pitch in.

And unlike my sister and father, I didn’t own anything other than the clothes I brought back with me.

I literally felt that I had escaped from a frying pan and leapt into an incinerater, as if I’d thought I’d been lonely in another continent, it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the way I felt in the boney, cold, reluctant embrace of my family.

An embrace that quickly withdrew when I refused to buy the video player.

Thirty years on, after years of anger, angst, estrangement and eventual reconciliation, I’ve tried to put it all behind me and move on, but it doesn’t help when I see constant physical reminders on my sister’s shelves and in her cupboards.

I think they love me now, or as much as they can, and they have a four storey houseful of stuff, so why the continual obsession with my  things?

Christmas was nice though. Genuinely fun, warm, loving and kind.

Let me make it clear that I don’t think I was entirely without fault during those turbulent times.  I was angry, resentful, bolshy, had a vicious tongue and was pretty much out of my mind.

I just wish I understood what was going on here. Do they think I’ve ponced off of them in the past? That I’m a secret millionaire?  That after all these years, I STILL owe them?

I know that sis used to be a bit obsessed with one of our aged aunts, and would wonder out loud as to whether she had any money stashed away.

I wonder if she and her husband ask each other the same question about me? Do they really care about me or am I just a potential cash cow for them and/or their kids when I kick the bucket?

Fucking chilling isn’t it?

Or maybe I’m just being paranoid.

Then further clarification comes to light.

My middle niece moved into her first flat share this summer, so the last time I was here, I dropped off an old video player, a nice old blanket box and some soft furnishings for her as she didn’t have much by way of possessions.

So on Boxing Day, we were all watching an old Christmas movie and I asked her how the flat was going.

‘Oh I love it Aunty Sista!  We all get on so well and it’s nice having a bit of privacy from this lot’ she replied, shoving her brother off the sofa with a slippered foot as he howled in protest.

‘And did you get that stuff I left you?  Hope it all fits in with your deco?’

There was a momentary uncomfortable silence, then she left out an awkward pealing laugh.

‘Oh, you’ll have to ask Mum about that’ she chuckled, ‘she decided to keep everything for their bedroom!’

And as they all chortled along, silently urging me to share the joke, I fake laugh along with them, vaguely appalled.

For God’s sake, it’s the kid’s first flat! She barely has a stick of furniture to her name!  WTF?!  You can barely see their bedroom carpet for stuff, it looks like someone has upended a car boot sale onto it!

They’re starting to remind me of a domestic version of ‘The Thing’; I sit tight thinking that if their dog to start whining or heading for the door, I’ll be seconds behind it, presents in one hand and car keys in the other.


And then I realise that whatever this shit is about, it’s not about lack of love.  My sis and her husband adore their brood, and only want the best for them, so who knows where it stems from.  Our impoverished childhood, years of scrimping and saving to support and raise four kids, some kind of psychological disorder, who knows, maybe they’ll end up on one of those ‘crazy hoarders’ documentaries, burrowed under piles of newspapers and surrounded by tut, but a warm rush of hope suddenly cascades over my scabby, old trauma wounds.

Maybe their taking all my stuff wasn’t about me.

Maybe they genuinely thought that they weren’t doing anything wrong.  That if I planned to stay that I’d have offered it to them anyway.

Maybe they have always loved me after all, even if at the same time, they resented my freedom and ability to go away and travel, and couldn’t wait for me to come back, if only to be able to pitch in financially.

I sucked my teeth, rolled my eyes and shook my head reprimandingly at my sister whilst replying to my niece ‘Charming, hey? Don’t worry hon, next time I’ll deliver stuff to your door and not leave it here with this grabby lot!’

My sister adopted a look of mock innocence whilst winking at her daughter and heading out to the kitchen to put the dinner on.

It’s time I got over this painful memory.

It wasn’t and isn’t personal.

It’s behind me.

But if she so much as glances at my new blender, before I get it safely into the boot of my car, there’ll be hell to pay.