Episode 137 – The Poet of the Family

It’s now 2.30am and I’m about to drink the smoothie in the photo in an attempt to offset any biological repercussions that may arise in the morning from the 1/3 bottle of red wine that I drank. And because I’ll use any excuse to blast my NutriBullet.

I am not a drinker.


I’m having a glass of wine: a small glass of red. I bought a bottle earlier in Tesco while picking up the coconut milk and masala paste that Lidl never seem to stock. It was on sale – the wine, not the paste: €9. I used to dislike red wine intensely, I drank only white or the lethal liquid of bubbles they call Prosecco or Cava. Champagne was reserved strictly for special occasions, such as my wedding during which I started nine different bottles of the stuff, left each half drunk on a different guests’ table as I circulated in my white silk gúna after the meal and then shook my empty glass at my new husband as a signal to swiftly supply me with another £50 bottle of fizz. It really is no wonder I was the most drunk person at my own wedding. Well, me and my maid of honour – Posh, my evergreen bestie – who both undressed me that night in a drunken sobbing mess and shared my hangover the next day.

I do not drink champagne anymore.

How did I even get on to that? Oh yes, I have a glass of red wine before me, which is unlike me but then there has, recently, evolved a collection of actions and thoughts most unlike my own version of myself.

I had a meeting with the HR department of my work today – remember I’m a teacher? Although you’d be forgiven for forgetting that I have an actual profession given that I haven’t worked formally in a year and a half.

This meeting was really the culmination of an odd week that began with a positive visit to the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. I actually made it to the RCC on time, for once, having run there, and I was mentally ready to be open and honest. This was the first time I really felt progress. Maybe because I’d dumped my boyfriend 3 days before (yes, I am that cold and callous), I was riding the crest of an empowerment wave and I felt that, yes, I did deserve my place on their therapy books and yes, I do have the voice to vocalise my trauma, my fears and my hopes.

Tuesday brought my Psychiatric appointment which, again, I ran to. I like running to my mental patient appointments, it makes me feel slightly less mental while simultaneously making me look truly barking mad: wind blown red curls; a sweaty, pink, freckly face; gross sweat salty running gear and a compulsion towards the water machine while avoiding the waiting room – they think it’s cos I’m odd, really it’s just cos I stink.

Is it weird to run to these appointments? Or a good coping mechanism?

Who thinks I should have another half glass of wine? Me too. Good call reader, great minds…

On Monday night, I had the pleasure of being invited to a super trendy underground poetry/spoken word event at Outhouse which was very cool, and completely intimidating. The talent on display, both in terms of writing and performing, was young and wise; witty, and poignant; raw and polished. I came away feeling both inspired, even compelled, to write and also to throw everything I’d ever written in the bin.

Following some family research last week with my darling cousin, the Marchioness, guided expertly and remotely from the UK by her husband – we shall call him Her Majesty’s Sleuth – there is a story that needs to be told. It seems assumed with in the family that I should be the one to write it. My own level of confidence in my ability to do so manages to at once automatically discount any other family member from being able to do it just as I would like it done while screaming internally, ‘Jesus, don’t leave it to me to do! It’ll be a disaster and it might never get finished! Get the Marchioness to do it! She does everything perfectly!” (She does, seriously).

Tuesday brought an Adult Public Speaking class – is it odd that I have had such issues around confidence, finding my voice and generally being around people yet I can coach Public Speaking? I am a one woman walking cabaret of contradictions.

On Wednesday, I was teaching French and Speech and Drama classes down at home as usual. It’s a long day and I LOVE it. It flies by. And on Thursday, I had one single class down there and then choir back in Dublin. I love choir. It’s like being part of a team without having to do the sports bit. I like doing sporty stuff on my own. I don’t want to have to communicate with my team mates. The great thing about being in a choir is that you’re part of a team but you don’t have to talk to the other members because you’re too busy singing.

And then today, I had to meet my HR manager. I didn’t dread it or feel sick or flake out on it as I have done in anticipation of previous meetings with her but I was late and my lateness is never out of rudeness – it’s panic and avoidance. But it was an odd meeting all the same, and I’m left with big questions and monumental decisions to make. Basically, I need to figure out if I’m going back to my permanent, pensionable job to be a sensible fully functioning citizen; working mother and all round feminist badass OR am I going to steam ahead with all these pipe dreams about my own Speech and Drama school; writing; not being tied down; rejecting conformity; freelance teaching; creating my own curriculum and using the methodologies that suit me and my students best; travelling – basically living in my own little bubble of idealism. Of course, idealism doesn’t pay the bills. And is it ever really possible to do what you want to do and get paid for it unless you’re either incredibly smart, privileged or self-assured? And what kind of mother resigns from a permanent, pensionable job (ugh, that phrase) just as her daughter is reaching the most critical and expensive era of her education? Not to mention the dowry I’ll have to get together to find her husband – don’t want her thinking she is going to have to put any of that schooling to practical use.

I’ve run out of chocolate – this does not bode well.

It would appear there is a tremendous amount of soul and logic searching to be done over the next few days – I meet with the HR manager again next week. When I have not got 1/3 of a bottle of Casillero del Diablo inside me I’ll go into more detail about the job situation.

Mental health in employment and prolonged absence from work due to non-physical diseases; disorders and syndromes seem to me to be an area in urgent need of comprehensive policy and legislation overhaul because, really, my organisation, as much as the HR manager has been sweet, doesn’t really know what to do with me. And when people charged with managing me say “But you look fine”, it usually means they don’t grasp that just because I can drive to a meeting at head office; that I can teach one day a week on my own terms and that I’m not slicing my thighs in secret anymore, doesn’t necessarily mean that I could handle a full week in a hectic; high pressured; emotionally charged; underfunded school administered by a state board completely out of touch with the reality of the mental health crisis in Ireland exacerbated by a (currently non-) government in pompous denial. It can’t be all or nothing with reintegrating an employee back into the workplace after a psychiatric or psychological crisis, just as surely it is not after a prolonged physical illness.

Whether or not the attitude today was one of impatience or scepticism with my case, I’m not sure. I need to work out if there was a “You look fine, you sound fine” implication today or if my paranoia and guilt about not being able to work like EVERY other normal person raised my defences; leaving me feeling accused; culpable; lazy and ashamed of my mental fragility.

I wish I was like the masses who walk; drive; cycle and bus past my tiny rented flat every day on their way to work. I wish I could be safe and content in a regular job; in a regular house with a regular husband. I would love to live a ‘regular’ life: content and untroubled by anything out of the ordinary. Or does any of that even fucking exist? Really, we must all be as desperate and rudderless as each other.

Anyway, I know that, before I had the wine, there was a point to all this and some sort of narrative structure. Hemingway advised to write drunk and edit sober – I have both written and edited (well, proofed) while tipsy and sleepy (I have ZERO tolerance for alcohol) so I have probably written a dose of absolute shite with some sort of theme buried under all the typos.

I will correct it tomorrow and for now, at 2.53am, I shall bid you good night.

The spinach – avocado – mango – banana – Greek yoghurt – honey – oats – almond and coconut milk Nutrismoothie was very good. Do vitamins cancel out red wine?

Dotty 💚


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