When faced with my demons I clothe them and feed them…

Archive for December, 2007

Back from retreat….

…Actually I’ve been back for three days now. I had an absolutely brilliant time on retreat…it was an amazing combination of stimulating and calming. We meditated several times a day and there were silent periods too; there were talks on Buddhism, some of them quite personal and therefore fascinating, communication exercises, group meetings, ritual, work periods and yoga. There was so much on offer that I didn’t want to miss out on that there wasn’t much time for going for long walks in the beautiful surrounding countryside. The food was nearly all vegan and fantastic, even by my exacting standards. There were 96 people on the retreat so potentially different dinner companions every evening.

I had such a great time that it wasn’t easy coming home. I’m still struggling a little with touching down in my own life again. I didn’t want to blog or go on the internet, or do any of the usual things I do. I felt unsettled by the glimpse into another kind of life that the retreat gave me. Seeing more of Richard since I’ve been home hasn’t been easy either. Plus I haven’t done yoga or meditated since I’ve been back…and today I got the nearest to compulsive overeating that I have since joining OA and becoming abstinent!

I had some very valuable insights about myself while on the retreat, mainly concerning the way I do or don’t relate to others. I couldn’t help but be faced with my own inadequacies in this regard…my irritability, intolerance and tendency to quick judgments, even if all of them are only thought and not said. I also had a very vivid dream, in the midst of all the calm and meditative focus, of being repeatedly violently beaten up by a malevolent but gender-unspecific figure. When I thought about this, a little rattled by it naturally, I knew immediately that this was a part of me…my ‘Inner Bully’. Yes, I repeatedly do a violence to myself in my thoughts, no question! That’s why I knew I needed to get more tuition on how to do the ‘metta bhavana’ practice, the meditation that aims to develop ‘kindly awareness’, ‘metta’. I was able to get this on retreat.

However the main thing I got from retreat was, loud and clear, the message, Zoe, stop isolating! You need to be part of a spiritual community, you are a social being and if you don’t use that capacity it will not develop. Even in a matter of a few days I saw myself develop into a far more social and sociable person. And I loved it! I did have to go through a sort of pain barrier first, mind.

So I did not just come back thinking ‘good, I learned some more about meditation’. I came back knowing that my feet would be tracing a path to the Buddhist Centre on a much more regular basis, and that I would be booking another retreat as soon as I identify a suitable one! I probably won’t be bothering much with holidays in the future either. I’ll go on retreat instead!

Take care all…Zoe.


Stop press…

Gotta just tell you, Richard and I have made it up, which I am so happy about. He spent the rest of yesterday and today with me, and I am now packed and ready for the retreat. The boiler’s playing up and my central heating is up the spout but I feel so warm inside I don’t really care. The relief to mind, body and spirit is enormous. Happy holidays all…Love, Zoe.

Happy Christmas dear readers…

Ooh, get me, the spirit of seasonal goodwill is alive and well! I haven’t even had a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past! Had a great day. Went to work…actually starting to enjoy that, in a humdrum way, now that I am feeling more competent and confident in what I’m doing. I was scared stiff of answering the phone there at first, but I answered it loads of times today and it might be just what I need to get me over my little phone phobia. I had to make calls too, and really it’s like anything else. Practice makes perfect.

After work went and bought J the digital camera he asked for. Then I went for some dinner at the Hare Krishna veggie restaurant in Oxford Street, then to my Dual Recovery Anonymous meeting, which was fantastic. After the meeting a couple of my friends from there and I went for a drink in Selfridge’s cafe on the top floor.

I’m meeting Richard tomorrow lunchtime in a cafe. I have a good feeling about it. On Saturday I will be off on my retreat, so it’s the last chance I’ve got to see him. Admittedly my emotions have been so all over the shop of late that I hardly know if I can trust them. Somehow you know though, I trust my emotions more deeply than just about anything else I have.

Full of love and kindly Buddhist awareness for the whole universe, a slightly blissed-out Zoe.

Better again…

…and seem to be stabilising. Got a decent night’s sleep and woke up somehow in a better space. It occurred to me to ask Richard to meet me for a drink so I texted and emailed him. Then I did my yoga and meditation, then after breakfast, went to the gym. Then my yoga class! Phew! That was great…as usual. My yoga teacher is a real gem. There were only three of us there today…all the hard-core yogis.

Then I had to come back to be here for the gas man. My central heating system has been playing up, he reckons it needs a new pump. Hope he’s right…have had no end of trouble with it. I made some spicy chickpeas with brown basmati rice.

Suddenly I don’t quite know what to do with myself. For the first time in quite a while I’m at a loose end. Learn Direct is closing early today or I would go there. Maybe I’ll try and do some of it at home, although my connection or my ‘puter doesn’t seem to be quite up to the job.

Take care all…Love, Zoe.

Oh, the pain…

…and no I’m not being melodramatic. I am terribly sad, terribly upset. There are any number of ‘triggers’. Christmas for one…The disastrous contact with J on Saturday. The implications of it…that I just can’t handle my Mum, and J. Then there’s the Richard thing. He managed to finally write me an email. He managed to say almost nothing in it…as is his wont. Talk about non-committal! And I’ve had a mood swing, after all this time when things have gone so well. I’ve had a real wobble.

I went to work today. Actually, even though I didn’t enjoy it one tiny little bit, it was the best thing I could have done. Staying occupied and keeping myself distracted. And soon there will be the holidays and it’ll be impossible to even do that.

I’ve been crying, I’m crying now. I feel truly desolate and so bereft. Surely I must be an awful person, because the three closest people in my life are going to be nowhere near me this Christmas. I have no words to describe how that feels. (I know what you’re thinking, ‘well, you’re having a good go!’)


Better today…

Was able to do my routine things. Am doing two IT classes in one day, like last week. Best of all was that J phoned me in the morning. He was much more chipper, told me what he was going to be up to today, and explained what he would like for Christmas – he thinks – a digital camera.

My social worker came round in the afternoon to help me fill in my Disability Living Allowance form. It’s a real headache! She was good, though, she’s had plenty of practice with these things. We made some inroads into it, but had to make another time in the New Year to finish it.

It seems to be getting even colder than before. Rather wish I didn’t have to go anywhere tonight, but at least the Spreadsheets are keeping me occupied. I’m very lucky to have a really nice IT teacher…she is one of those rare people in that field who is totally in the right job. She really cares about her students. And it must be pretty boring going over these basics time and time again, but she doesn’t project boredom. She’s an excellent teacher…she knows how to motivate a whole class of people. That’s a gift you either have or you don’t I think…

Anyway, need to eat now and then get to college. Take care all…Love, Zoe.


Yeah, it’s been a rocky two weeks. This is the first major moodswing I’ve had for a long time… It’s Sunday now and I’m picking myself up from quite a nasty crash-landing. Well, I was a bit apprehensive about my Mum coming. The truth is, I’m always apprehensive about her coming. And with the benefit of hindsight I just wasn’t in the best shape to deal with her. My sleep has been patchy. On Friday I was still a little hyper. For sure, it was nothing compared to how I used to get.

Anyway on Saturday we went down to J’s home town, met him at the station as arranged and went to a stately home…which was also a train and taxi ride away. For the first hour or two it wasn’t too bad, though J was pretty sullen and quiet at first. But I was also really tetchy, because my Mum was just being, my Mum. She goes into vague mode. I suppose it’s her defence…a lifelong habit and not one she’s going to give up now. I feel like everyone is pressuring me, I have to be the one to make everything OK. Anyway, I guess I failed at that, because J started to complain of boredom and generally get difficult after we’d been there for a while. And between the two of them I just couldn’t hack it. I ended up walking away from them…twice. The second time, I called us a cab to the station, then I ended up walking while they got the cab. It was about half an hour’s walk along a busy road. But I just had to get away from them both. I reached the end of my rope.

Anyway, I didn’t even know if I would make it to the station, I had to guess the route. For all I knew I would miss them and have to go home alone. But thank God, they were still there when I arrived, the train was due in another ten minutes. After that we were all a bit subdued. I was stressing so much I was having catastrophising scenarios going through my head, of my Mum having Alzheimer’s. It’s not impossible…her Mum had it pretty bad. I tried to talk with J privately to explain that I was worried about her…that was maybe ill-considered, but I really was. He more or less told me where to get off, and walked off. Then Jo, his foster mum, arrived to pick him up. I told her what had happened. We swopped presents and cards, I gave J some money which I had promised. We hugged and kissed. Said ‘sorry’ and ‘I love you’.

So thank God it wasn’t a total debacle. Nonetheless, it was traumatic, for me. I realised it would probably have to be the last contact I go to with Mum. And God willing that it won’t be the last contact full stop. Mum and I realised talking it over today that there’s something about the dynamic of her, me and him that has always set J off. He’s much easier with just one of us. Before we always had Richard with us. That might have helped.

Today we kind of had to go to Comet to get a portable heater, because my heating is playing up again and it’s freezing. Mum ended up buying me a new vacuum cleaner as well…which I have to admit, I did need. It was a real struggle getting through the rest of her stay. She had been going to stay till tomorrow, but we agreed it would be best if she went today.

It’s been a real roller coaster this last two weeks. I work so hard at being well. But no one ever said that that is all it takes. Part of me feels like I’ve got to be perfect, got to come up with the goods. When I can’t, I feel a failure. It’s all pretty irrational…

Have been writing Christmas cards. Take care all, and thanks for reading…Love, Zoe.