“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #19 – Muriel Garcia

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hope [hohp]

noun

The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.

 

Hope, my family always told me to believe in hope, no matter what the circumstances. But how can you remain positive when everything around you falls apart? How do you face life when it only gets worse?

My life hasn’t been easy. My parents divorced when I was two and, from what my mother told me, it was because my father was beating her.

Over the next couple of years, my mother had a new boyfriend every week until she met my stepfather. He wasn’t a good man either. He was a drug addict who used my mother as an ATM to feed his addiction. My mother was stupid enough to believe he loved her, which gave me a negative outlook on men, even if I still wanted to believe there was someone good for me out there.

The moment I turned sixteen, I left and never looked back. It’s been ten years and I don’t know if my mother ever tried to find me.

I managed to make something of my life; I found a job, a place to live and a boyfriend who quickly became my husband. My life became the dream I always hoped it would be, but it turned into a nightmare the first time my husband hit me.

A friend of ours had uploaded a picture of me dancing platonically with another man onto Facebook. My husband couldn’t make the party because he had to work late so the guy took pity on me sitting by myself. The moment my husband saw the picture he stormed over to me and slapped me across the cheek. He told me that it was my fault, that I must have done something to seduce my dance partner because there was no way he would have danced with me otherwise. And like a fool, I believed him

After that things calmed down for a while and I let myself hope that everything was back to normal, but the look of disgust in his eyes every time he drank chilled my blood. I didn’t know how to get away; I had nowhere to go and the few friends I had were our mutual friends so I couldn’t risk asking for help and them telling my husband where I had gone.

I tried to keep myself by escaping inside books, every love story gave me some hope to cling on to and dream about. All I have ever wanted was a loving relationship with a man who would look at me with adoration instead of disgust; who would want to spend time with me instead of ignoring me.

His repertoire of abuse developed into manipulation and mental abuse and I quickly became a shell of my former self. I couldn’t do what I wanted or go where I wanted without his approval. It took me a while to find the courage to leave him but my decision was made for me when he hit me the second time. I had been quietly reading a book whilst drinking a glass of wine when he drunkenly stormed into the living room. He then pulled the book from my hands and threw it in the open fire before yelling at me and insulted me; telling me that I didn’t deserve him and was nothing but a bit of skirt. By this stage he had me by my hair and he dragged me to stand. I remember seeing him pull his hand behind me before he struck, connecting with my face so hard that I lost my balance. He carried on screaming at me until his voice became hoarse and he stormed out of the apartment. It was in that moment, sitting on the floor with my arms around my knees waiting to see if he was coming back to finish the job, that I decided to pack my bags and disappear, once again. It seems history is destined to repeat itself.

Thanks to my husband, I lost any hope I had of finding happiness one day.

People always told me that I had done well for myself, I had a good life and was lucky to have a husband like him. Little did they know what an abusive man he was behind closed doors.

How can I be happy when the people who are supposed to love me only manage to hurt me?

Ten years ago I left the only house I’d ever known without regrets and, three days ago, I did it again.

I drove aimlessly for a couple of days and spent the time thinking about those books I love to read. They are my only happiness and the only thing that gives me a semblance of hope.

Tonight is the first night that I’ve allowed myself to do something that I want to do. I want to live and be myself, even just for one night.

Earlier today, I was handed a flyer for a new art gallery opening when I was walking around town. It’s not really the type of thing I’m into, but why not go anyway? I can do whatever I want to here without worrying about the consequences.

I make my way to one of the hostesses and take a glass of champagne. I don’t particularly like it, but it’s free so I can’t really complain. I take a sip and smile, it’s not as bad as I thought. Looks like tonight won’t be as bad as I thought. I feel happy, which is a first in a really long time. I walk around the gallery and take my time to really appreciate the paintings. I don’t know who the artist is, but they have a real talent.

There are so many people around that it’s making me a bit uneasy. Is anyone judging me? Do they know I’m poor and have no idea what to do with my life? I wonder if they can see the telling yellow tint on my cheek where my husband hit me.

I spend most of my time asking myself hundreds of questions about my life. Living alone doesn’t scare me and maybe I should have spent more time alone after I left my mother, instead of jumping into a relationship with the first guy I met who I thought might be my Prince Charming. What scares me the most is not living my life to the fullest and not being happy. I’ll be twenty-seven in a few days and I’m alone, homeless, jobless. I’ve been stood in front of a painting of a woman looking morose for quite some time now. Her long, auburn hair covers her shoulders and her big green eyes fixed on an invisible spot behind me. A dark shadow covers the corner of her lips and stretches over her pink cheek. She looks vulnerable, like she’s just lost everything. She looks like me.

I draw in a deep breath as the realization hits me. I quickly turn around and accidentally walk straight into someone. I look up at the man I just walked into and apologize before running out of the room. I need to put as much distance as I possibly can between the painting and myself. That painting is the mirror that I’ve refused to look in for years, unable to face my own distress and sadness. It’s ironic really, I judged my mother harshly for what happened to her but then let it happen to myself. Granted I left but I didn’t leave straightaway, I was sure he would change.

I take another deep breath when I finally get outside. I’m a mess, my makeup is running down my face, it’s cold and snowing, and I’m only wearing a tank top and a skirt. I wrap my arms around my body in an attempt to warm myself but it’s in vain. I turn around, ready to go back inside, when I bump into the same man I just walked into. I look up into his eyes and lose myself. In that moment, I forget everything. I forget that my mother never loved me, I forget that my husband didn’t either and I forget that I have nothing.

The stranger is looking at me as if I’m the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen and it is in this moment that my hope returns.

Muriel Garcia © 2016

author bio

Muriel Garcia grew up in Belgium. She loves music, tattoos, hot tattooed men, travelling, and cooking. She always had an overly imaginative and creative mind but never thought of writing a book up until a couple of months ago. Now she couldn’t imagine not writing stories that are near and dear to her heart.
You can follow her on:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authormurielgarcia
Twitter: https://twitter.com/muriel__g
Instagram: http://instagram.com/itsmurielg
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/384126741737037/

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Thank you so much for taking part Muriel!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #18 – Rachel Hague

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So I’ve struggled,

I’ve hurt.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

You look at me like dirt.

 *

Why do I feel this way?

Should I believe the things you say?

*

Heart racing,

Blurring mind.

Worrying if what I’m doing is right.

What will I find?

 *

I end it with you.

Need to get out of this hole.

Claw out of darkness,

Need to heal my soul.

 *

I saw the light,

I chose to fight.

 *

Silence throughout it all.

Back on top from whence I fell.

If they ask, I’ll just say,

“THEY” say I’m doing well.

 *

Just. After time,

My life is my own. All Mine.

 *

Gosh, it’s so long since I wrote a poem! I used to write all the time when I was in my teenage years. My my, how life changes!

I just want to say how hard it was in the beginning to ask for help. I had struggled with anxiety for a long time before I spoke to someone, It was only after I had started pulling my hair our (I had a lovely small bald patch to show for it) that I was encouraged to talk to someone. Even now, years later, if I have a bad day at work or if there’s something that’s weighing on my mind, I still feel the urge.

Talking helps. Talking to my partner, my mum or anyone for that matter! Learning to let the little things go has improved my quality of life. If I don’t think I’m going to remember the current “incident”, that’s causing the anxiety, in a year. I let it go. (Please don’t start singing THAT song now I’ve written let it go. Dammit now I’m humming it!)

I don’t ever want to feel how I did back then. People did always used to say I’m doing well, because they never knew any different until I started to get help.

I refuse to be the person I used to be. On my back I have….

Take me as I am,

Who I was,

And for whom I shall become.

Tattooed there. A reminder that I’m stronger now than ever before. I’m happy.

Never feel ashamed to talk out loud to people and share. Even if it’s just a tiny sliver of your worries, anxieties, the highs and your lows, it may just be the start to finding your way back to being you.

You’ll find your way back. I believe in you.

You just have to believe too.

Rachel Hague © 2016

author bio

Rachel is a blogger for booksiignoremyhusbandfor.blogspot.co.uk and a proactive member of the book community! Follow her on Twitter @BIIMHF – she always has her head in a book!

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Thank you so much for taking part Rachel!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #16 – Alexandra North

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 They say I’m doing well…

Am I? Really?

The pain consumes me, ravishing my weary body.

Will it ever end? Will I ever sleep?

Twisting, shooting, stabbing, gripping.

A never-ending cycle soothed by a myriad of pills and heat.

 

Cool water washes the tablets down and

I curl up tight, consoling my aching curves.

Unwelcome drowsiness, finally takes effect.

The warm medicinal blanket soothes my severed nerves.

 

They say I’m doing well … managing this illness,

But they don’t see me at dawn, in agony and pain.

They say I’m doing fine… being positive about my progress.

I’m trying very hard – after all, I have a reputation to maintain.

 

To most I am ‘fine’, for the mask is firmly fixed in place.

The lipstick is on; the cheeks rosy, the bright smile fake.

Only the closest of friends and family know my secret,

the torment I go through, each day I wake, each step I take.

 

I smile through unshed tears, pain ripping through my body,

as I chat with a colleague, or friend, or my son.

Screaming silently, I nod in all the right places;

Life is as it should be to all.

Another day has passed, another day is done.

 

My strength makes me proud; I control this illness.

Despair cloaks me in blackness, but positivity lets the light back in.

Those good days I embrace, and I live my life freely,

for when the bad days come, and they will,

I’ll indulge and give in.

 

They say I am doing well … what do they know?

I’ll be the judge of that, I will say if I am doing well.

Today may be a day where I want to scream and yell,

tomorrow one where I’m invincible and not living this hell.

 

One thing I know, my pain makes me strong.

I won’t let this beat me, this illness of mine.

I’m determined to not lose the person that I am.

The laughter bubbles, despite my ongoing decline.

 

The support I gain from my family and friends,

helps me fight this condition that may never end.

 

Alexandra North © 2016

author bio

ALEXANDRA NORTH…

… is an Amazon bestselling author who came onto the writing scene in 2014. She writes romance, with erotic themes, humour, drama and often suspense and there is always a HEA at the end of a book/series.
Ms. North lives in the rambling lush hills of Yorkshire, United Kingdom with her swoon-worthy husband and two children, 15 and 9. She worked as a Graphic Designer & Illustrator, for over 18 years before she wrote her first book and now combines design and writing in this new path when creating her book covers and teasers.
Writing was always a hobby and took a back seat to University, work, parenthood and unfortunately later, chronic long-term illness. One day she woke and thought ‘life’s too short – I’m going to finish that blummin book!’ She now devotes her time to writing love stories full of humour and naughtiness. When she isn’t manically typing away or trying to be the model wife and mum, Alexandra can be found shoe shopping (shoes are her weakness), cosying up with back-to-back TV series and enjoying her very own Sebastian Silver.

Find her at the following social media sites;

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alexandranorthauthor
Twitter: @alexnorthbooks
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/alexnorthbooks
http://www.alexandranorth.co.uk

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Thank you so much for taking part Alexandra!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #15 – Amelia J Hunter

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They say I’m doing well. I’ve heard them talk in the corridors, discussing the meetings. If I practise what I have been taught, I’ll get through this with the tablets they suggest.

I’ll survive.

I’m not sure they really understand how I’ve been feeling, or if they are listening to the words I’m not saying. The times I hold my breath before I answer. Do they realise I’m using that time to think of a reason for what I need to say to satisfy their questions? To please them so they think they are achieving a good outcome from our limited time together?

Sometimes when I hear the pen tapping on the notebook I think I have been found out. My excuses have been seen through but nothing is said and another appointment is made, my cover-up worked.

The million-dollar question is when. When did it all begin, the cold sweats, the panic in my chest, the need to leave a room as soon as I enter, the thoughts in the pit of my stomach. But I don’t know. I’ve explained my past, about my insecurities in my youth, but nothing pin points the exact moment because there isn’t one. It’s manageable they have told me, it will pass, I must learn to control it. I’ve tried, oh my god have I tried, but the feelings that I can’t explain creep in before I can contain them.

I hoped after the first few years, after it started, that the pain would dull, but instead I’ve learnt to disguise the anguish.

Which has led me here tonight.

I hope when you read this, a new life can begin and this moment will be a distant memory. I hope I am not a horrible memory and one you can forgive, someone you can learn from when you think there is no one who understands what you are going through.

I wanted to write to you on parchment paper with a black fountain pen. The words seem to flow better when the ink glides over the grooved paper. It stops me thinking if what I am writing is my true inner feelings or not. I don’t have time to pause, you will see, if I do the ink leaves a blob. I don’t want that, I want to write what I need to say in one sitting, no smudges, no errors.

I wanted to let you know that no matter how bad you feel, no matter how bad your day is, it can not get any worse, things pass. Time passes. That feeling you are having will pass and move on to another.

I’ve learnt that the future can not frighten you when you aren’t in it.

The past cannot be changed, and the present moves on to the future.

But I’m too late now to take that all on board. I wish someone had this letter for me when I was at my lowest and then maybe, just maybe I would be learning to cope better instead of fading away.

Writing this to you I hope will make it easier, I hope what I have gone through will give you strength and I hope you don’t make the same mistake I did when I thought I couldn’t go on. The mess I’ve left behind is worse than my darkest day.

I thought I could cope, I thought I could control the urges that overwhelmed me. But, but they consumed me, smothered me until they choked me.

I stopped asking for help.

I stopped looking for solutions.

I stopped dreaming of a future.

I stopped crying that day and everyone around me started.

I could hear my family saying over and over how well I was doing. I wanted to scream you didn’t see me in the early hours but I no longer had a voice.

You have a voice though; you have a choice and never forget you have amazing help out there that wasn’t around in my day.

I’m leaving this letter, neatly folded, on your pillow while you are sleeping. It’s the best time for me to move around without being noticed. When you wake in the early hours, like I’ve seen you do, I hope my words will comfort you and give you the encouragement to reach out for the guidance waiting for you.

You are not alone.

You never were.

Amelia J Hunter © 2016

author bio

Amelia J Hunter is an indie writer who likes to take her reader on a journey through her erotic writing and her contemporary romance novels.

Leaving the bright lights of London behind in the early 90’s, she now lives in the Irish countryside with her family, a good coffee maker and plenty of talk.

Amelia is a sociable writer who loves to hear from readers, writers and anyone that makes her smile and enjoys her ramblings.

Amelia has a blog where you can read short stories created just for that page, book updates, events and even audios of her work. Amelia’s blog can be found at http://www.ameliajhunter.blogspot.ie

Twitter at @ameliajhunter1
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Amelia-J-Hunter-Author
or email at ameliajhunter1@gmail.com

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Thank you so much for taking part Amelia!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

 

 

“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #14 – Claire C Riley

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Never give up.

They say I’m doing fine,

And I should be,

But I’m not.

I’m sinking in a sea of desperation, my life raft bobbing further and further from my reach.

The black waves splash my face,

They choke my lungs, and burn my eyes.

Drowning…

I’m drowning in sadness.

Inexplicable melancholy for reasons unknown.

They say I’m doing fine,

And I should be,

But I’m not.

I put a pretty smile on it,

Sing the sweet melodic, self-sacrificing rhymes they love to hear,

And pretend that it’s all okay.

But inside I’m still drowning.

They say I’m doing fine,

And I should be,

But I’m not.

It hurts.

Like a knife.

Or a cut.

Or a scrape of the knee.

A splinter to the thumb.

It hurts in the most physical sense,

But it’s all inside my head,

And I can’t make it stop!

They say I’m doing fine,

And I should be,

But I’m not.

But I’m trying…

But I’m wanting…

But I’m fighting

But I’m losing…

But I’m trying…

But it’s winning…

But I’m refusing to give up to the demons inside my head,

To the devil inside my eyes that pours the tears down my face.

They say I’m doing fine,

And I should be,

But I’m not.

But I will be.

I gasp,

I breathe,

Cold water on my skin.

Gasp, breathe, cold.

My chest aches,

Burning, throbbing, aching,

One, two, three…

Don’t give up.

They say I’m doing fine,

And I should be,

And I will be.

I’m floating in a sea of desperation,

Reaching for my life raft,

Wiping the black abyss from my eyes,

Coughing up the waves of my sadness.

Floating.

Floating.

Floating.

I’ll reach dry land and pull myself free,

I will.

I’ll do it.

They say I’m doing fine,

And I should be.

And I will be.

But it’s okay not to be.

It’s okay to be sad.

It’s okay to admit it.

It’s okay to cry.

It’s okay…

It’s okay…

It is okay.

© Claire C. Riley 2016

 author bio

Claire C Riley is a USA Today Bestselling author as well as a #1 Bestselling British Horror Author. Her works include: Odium The Dead Saga Series, Odium 0.5 Novella Series, Limerence (The Obsession Series) Twisted Magic Series, Thicker Than Blood Series and Shut Up & Kiss Me. She writes dark twisty words, is a lover of epic romances, and an eater of cake!She writes characters that are realistic and kills them without mercy. She lives in the UK with her three young daughters, husband, and scruffy dog.

https://www.facebook.com/ClaireCRileyAuthor

www.clairecriley.com

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Thank you so much for taking part Claire!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

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“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #13 – Rebecca Sherwin

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But I’ll Try…

They say I’m doing well.

I’m doing well.

Well. 

What does that even mean? I looked it up: “in a good or satisfactory way,” or “in good health; free or recovered from illness”. I don’t want to be just good or satisfactory, and I’m not.

I’m not free, and I haven’t recovered. So no, I’m not doing well.

I want to be different. I want to do things the way the books told me. I want to feel the way he does, smile like he does. I want to have the same excitement I see in his eyes when he wakes up in the middle of the night and does the things I should be doing…while I stare at the foot of the bed and wonder what I did wrong. I want to love her, and I do. I just don’t like her. I don’t like what she’s done to me, even though he says he loves me as much as he always has. It doesn’t matter. None of it matters. I’m too tired to care, too tired to fall asleep but too exhausted to do my new job. Thinking about it makes me cry. Thinking of nothing makes me cry. I cry all the time, until my eyes burn, my throat is sore and my head throbs with guilt. Sometimes I get angry and shout at him, but he’s still here. He holds me while I push him away, until I’m too tired to fight and fall into his arms. When she cries I leave the room; it hurts to be around her, and it hurts to be away from her. The world wasn’t supposed to be this dark; this wasn’t what we planned and it isn’t what we want. He’ll leave me eventually, when he realises there’s no future for us; when I can’t fix myself and can’t explain what’s wrong. Why I feel this way. Hopeless. I feel hopeless. Helpless. I feel helpless. Well. I don’t feel it. I can’t even remember a time when I didn’t feel so heavy, so lost, a stranger in my own body.

“Hey,” he says, stroking our daughter’s hair as I stare through him and let the tears fall freely.

I look down at our baby, swathed in pink and lying in the arms of the woman who can’t bring herself to be the mother she deserves. She has his eyes – big and wide and full of life. I’m glad she got them from him; they’re what I fell in love with when I first met him. Her nose is a little button, her lips full with a little pout…and she has a little patch of fair hair on the top of her head – the same colour as mine. Everything about her is little. Innocent and pure and… ours.

It’s the first time I’ve held her in a week. Since I’d last had her in my arms and thought about ending my own life because I couldn’t bear the guilt of not wanting to hold her.

I don’t want to leave them.

I don’t want to be unwell, failing to cope and unstable.

I want us to be a family.

“You’re doing well.”

I’m not. We both know that.

But I’ll try.

With the stab of indifference rippling through me, I kissed her smooth forehead, closing my eyes and whispering my wish against her skin.

“I’m doing well.”

Rebecca Sherwin © 2016

author bio

Rebecca is a London born and bred mother, writer and psychology student. She is the author of summer romance, Second Chance Hero, and the psychological romantic-suspense series, Twisted. An avid reader and lover of stories that keep you guessing, Rebecca writes tales that will challenge your perceptions and toy with your emotions. Rebecca’s stories invite you to open your mind and dig deeper into the meanings of the lives of each and every character you meet. She entices you into their world – to feel with them, to grow with them, to love with them. She asks you to become a part of them and allow them to become a part of you. Rebecca would like to express her thanks to everyone who reads her stories, and would love to hear from you!

http://rebeccasherwin.com/

Twitter: @RRSherwin

FB: http://www.facebook.com/rebeccasherwinauthor

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Thank you so much for taking part Ms. Sherwin!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

 

“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop 12 – Charlotte Hart

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One step at a time.

Fine.

That’s what he said yesterday, my dad that is, he said I was doing fine. In fact that’s what they all say lately, the other family members. Either that or something like “You’re doing really well, honey.”

I’m not. I haven’t been doing really well for a long time. It’s been so long that I can’t even remember what doing well feels like. And whose damn opinion of doing really well should I trust anyway? Certainly not my dad’s. He who must be obeyed is probably the last person in the world who should offer any kind of judgement on people’s behaviour. What would he know about crippling nonsensical emotions? He’s the one who ran off with that slut of a woman to help himself after it all happened, pretty much killing mum at the same time. She might still be hanging around, but she also might as well be dead in reality. She just sits there and stares blankly at the telly every day, occasionally moving to pour more vodka, maybe a splash of tonic if she’s feeling frivolous.

Frivolous? What a fucking word. As if anyone here’s done anything frivolous in the last three years. Even I just do the same as her now. Rock backward and forward like my life is nothing more than this chair in this repulsive little flat that I own. I hate it. I hate the flowery walls and the beige carpet, and the horrendous stench that encroaches ever more with each passing hour, souring an already vile existence. I hate the visions of torment around every corner, the never-ending taste of disgust that floods my soul each time I remember, and the constant nagging reminder of what was.

I hate me.

“Please don’t. Please don’t give in. Please don’t. I love you, Danielle. There’s so much more out there yet. Just take my hand. It’s okay, we’ll make it better. One step at a time, you and me.”

It’s all I hear every fucking day. It goes round and round like an all-consuming torture while I sit here and gaze at his photo. I just rock in the hope I can remember something other than that. Please God, let me feel something other than the unending anguish of this guilt filled hatred.

And I can smell him, why can I still smell him? He’s everywhere. And it was his fault. Why did he do it? It should have been me that went over. It was me, my choice. Why did he have to be so stupid? I told him to let go, told him to just leave and let me get on with it, but he wouldn’t listen. He just kept chanting those fucking words and telling me he loved me, just kept holding on so tight that I couldn’t get him off me and then it was too late. And he was so bright and shiny, so beautifully unaffected by everything that is horrid and despicable in this world. Nothing in his 18 year old mind worked like mine. Nothing fazed him or made him think he was unworthy. He didn’t drown himself in drugs or taint his very existence with the vapid air of depravity and indulgence, like me. He was good and kind and decent and so very handsome. He should be here with a family and babies, and two point four fucking dogs and a mortgage. Instead he’s six feet under, and his will left his death payment to me.

So I could always be safe, apparently. Secure.

I stare over at mum sitting there in her drab dressing gown that hasn’t been washed for god knows how long. That skinks too. It smells like vomit and decades of disgust, all aimed at me. Rightly so. I’m a pointless waste of human life. There was no reason for me to be here before, so there certainly isn’t now. I don’t even know what I’m doing trying to forget anymore. I should just get on with it again. This flat’s high enough. In fact it’s higher than the bridge was. Not quite such a nice view, but what does that matter? Hell won’t be very nice either, will it? Although it’s what I deserve, regardless. At least I know he’s not there. He’ll be with the angels. They’ll probably be waiting on him hand and foot, and hopefully contemplating sending him back down here so he can heal people. Or at the very least show the world what men should be like.

“Ben?”

That’s the other thing that happens constantly. Mum saying his name as if she can smell him too. Ben, Ben, Ben. Mind you, her permanently alcohol induced fog probably means she sees all kinds of hallucinations. Thankfully for her they’re not the reality that I see every time I close my eyes. She wasn’t there to witness his blue eyes filled with love as he pushed me backwards away from him. I see them falling away from me every single moment of this godforsaken life, and no matter how much I lunge for him, I can’t grab him back to me. I can’t stop him falling. I even find myself sitting here sometimes with my hands outstretched still reaching for him. Dr Jones says that’s normal, and that I shouldn’t worry about it, that I should just keep taking the myriad of pills he delivers weekly and try to get on with my life.

It’ll get easier, Danielle. It’s not your fault. It was an accident.”

How about, fuck you, Dr Jones? It wasn’t an accident, it was all me. I killed him. If I hadn’t tried to jump, he wouldn’t have tried to save me. This is all my fault. And mum and dad covering the trail for me, as they always did, doesn’t make it right. I’m a killer, a murderer, a monster.

“I’m not having both my children taken from me.”

That’s what she near silently screamed at my dad when we walked to the police station. Then they’d lied, and made me lie too, made me tell the men in blue uniforms that it had been Ben that jumped, that I couldn’t reach him in time. Lies, all lies.

Just like this pitiful apparent survival.

My eyes search the room for something, anything. I don’t know what I’m looking for. I never do. An answer maybe? Eventually they find it, the window. I’ll just finish it now. It’s pretty simple. I’ll just finish what I started and then this fucking hollow space inside me will disappear and I won’t have to listen to his words haunting me daily. Mum won’t even notice, and if she does she’ll probably be thankful. My weary body rouses itself at the thought and stretches its feet forward to touch the beige carpet as I push on the armrests. Five minutes is all it’ll take for me to switch off the need to bother living. That’s all. There’s nothing worth living for anyway. Nobody really wants me here. They all blame me, and they’re right too as well.

It should have been me.

The sun blinds me as I quietly open the curtains and stare into the daylight. Is it daytime? Most of the time I don’t know what day of the week it is let alone the time. Too many drugs overloading an already confused mind. That’s what dad says, as if he knows all the fucking answers.

I gaze down at some kids in the snow throwing snowballs and laughing about something which causes my lips to attempt a smile of some sort. It feels odd, as if my mouth is uncomfortable with the movement. I suppose it is after all this time, but nevertheless the merriment of the bunch of Christmas revellers is enough to make it stay there for a while as I watch.

There’s so much more out there yet.”

That’s him again, still trying to cover me in his optimism. Even now he’s trying to show me the way. That a younger brother had the foresight and empathy to try is unbelievable really. But try he did, still does, even from the grave.

“Please don’t give in.”

He never gave into anything. He was always the one up front, leading the pack. Full of buoyancy and self-assurance with his blonde hair ruffling in the breeze and his gangly legs propelling him forward, always forward.

“We’ll make it better, Danielle. Just take my hand.”

And I wish I could. I wish he was still here so I could grab hold of it and absorb that energy from him again, that boundless enthusiasm that he seemed to own somehow. If I could just see a way through this endless maze of chaos and drudgery in my mind then maybe I’d have a chance of honouring his wishes. Perhaps there would be a way of me saying sorry somehow and moving on, or at least trying to make him proud and prove there was a reason for his stupid heroics.

“Please don’t give in. I love you.”

Love.

Is that good enough reason? That he loved me? It so should be. Love should be the reason for everything. It should wrench at your insides and tell you to be stronger, to hold on longer, to push past all the hurdles and forge a path forward. I should do that. I know I should because it’s what he would want from me. He’d be appalled by this grey velour tracksuit and dowdy appearance. He’d be forcing me to eat some food and then refusing to allow me to throw it all up again.

He’d say, “Get your arse in gear, Danny. We’ve got a world to conquer.” And he’d mean it too. He’d also probably slap me and then chase me into the bedroom to force the issue until I’d swing my hands up in the air and nod an exasperated “Okay,” in response, again.

I can still hear that from him now as I stare out into this offering of freedom, calculating how long it will take for these kids to leave, but they play on, running around and giggling at each other. So young, so full of promise and joy. There’s nothing holding them back or stifling how much they can enjoy their fun and abandonment. They’re just pure and true.

Just like him.

“Okay,” I mouth to myself, still watching as a young boy pummels a girl with endless rounds of snow. She laughs in response and ends up on the floor covered in the white fluffy stuff.

Christmas. It was his favourite time of year, he would have had me out there with those kids by now, probably dowsing me in as much of the cold stuff as he could manage just so that he could force hot chocolate on me when we got in. More calorie intake, as always.

Ben.

Tea. I need a cup of tea. Maybe a cup of tea will help me make it to the next day, and then tomorrow I can think about maybe changing these clothes. Perhaps going to the shops or cleaning a bit.

“One step at a time.”

Okay, Ben. One step at a time.

Charlotte E Hart © 2016

author bio

Charlotte E Hart is a smut peddler of the tallest order and she’s a little crazy – that’s why we love her!

On Twitter: @CharlotteEHart1

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CharlotteEHart.author

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Thank you so much for taking part Charlotte E!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

 

“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #11 – Lisa Fulham

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New Year, New Me.

The first of January. A new start, a new me, but where am I supposed to put the old me?

Cracking the spine on my new diary with pen in hand I begin my yearly ritual of listing the things I want to achieve, but as my ballpoint hits the page I have a moment of anxiety; I don’t even know what I want for lunch so how can I write a list of things I want to achieve over the next twelve months? In frustration I pick up last year’s diary which was so important to me only yesterday but now feels like a lead brick weighing me down; listed in these pages I see nothing but failures which is highlighted most when I turn to the first page and see last year’s wish list.

The few small things I managed to achieve I crossed out to the point you can’t read what was there as an act of pure joy at having completed something . . . anything. I can’t even remember what those things were even though they clearly brought me a sense of accomplishment at the time. Glaring back at me between the sparse scribbles is everything I failed to do.

  • Take a night course in photography

I’d talked myself out of this one pretty early in the year because who would I take pictures of? It’s not as though I’m a social butterfly who people want to hang out with all the time and there’s only so many pictures of landscapes and buildings a person can take before it’s just seen as sad.

  • Lose a stone in weight

I at least started this one and managed to lose seven pounds. I was half way to my goal when Jon—my boyfriend of two years—dumped me and cake became my solace.

  • Complete a charity run

This one was vetoed due to not losing the weight. No one wants to see a fat girl run.

  • Book a trip to Bali

After Jon left there really wasn’t much point in booking the trip. There was no way I could travel all that way alone, I wouldn’t have made it onto the plane before my anxiety kicked in and that’s if I survived the horrors of holiday clothes shopping. Picking out a one piece while everyone around you decides if they want matching tops and bottoms to their bikinis, or if vogue was right and mix and matching was the way to go this season. Not exactly my idea of a good time.

The more I looked at the list the angrier I became with myself. Seeing in black and white everything you didn’t do isn’t the best feeling in the world, but when you’re a masochist like me you can’t help but keep reliving the pain of disappointment while constantly slicing the knife across your already torn and bleeding heart. Hours slip by as I read page after page about this woman I don’t know; her handwriting is just like mine, but I refuse to believe the words she writes are mine.

The pages of January and February are mostly filled with tiny victories in the diet and exercise area, mixed with uncertainty as to why Jon was becoming distant and unsupportive of the new me I was trying to achieve.

In March I found out why, he didn’t love me. He told me no one would be able to love someone who hid behind a fake illness like depression. He said I just didn’t want to be happy and he wouldn’t allow me to drag him down too so he left. Reading the thoughts and feelings I had during those months bring tears streaming down my face. How could I have ever allowed one person to make me feel so worthless?

Throughout April I seem to have been numb and there’s no evidence of attempting anything on my list of dreams for the year. In fact, I barely wrote in my diary at all and the few pages I did weren’t easy to read through the tear stains.

May was the month my mum marched me to the doctors because I wasn’t coping with life. I wasn’t dealing with my thoughts and emotions and I certainly wasn’t living . . . I was simply alive and present in body alone. Reading back makes me ashamed of myself. The hate and abuse I pushed onto my own mum for doing nothing other than love me and want me to be well makes me sick to my stomach and once again the list of dreams were ignored which is ironic as my doctor had told me I needed to focus on myself.

I make a mental note to spend tomorrow with mum and to let her know I love her always and apologise for the way I treated her back then.

During June and July I took my meds, went to work and moved back into my mum’s house so she could take care of me. What I wrote was that the world could get fucked and I was reverting back to being a small child who needed her mummy to tuck her in at night to keep the bad dreams away.

June and July were slightly dramatic months for me.

August saw me take a trip, not to Bali and not on my own, but a trip none the less. A few friends and I went to Paris for the weekend. Reading the apprehension I felt beforehand brings the feelings crashing through my body once again and for a moment my chest is tight and my breathing shallow, I don’t think I can continue this trip down memory lane, but I know I have to. I don’t know why, but I know looking back on the year gone by is what I need to do to be able to look to the year ahead.

The trip was one I’d always wanted to take, but had thought I would take it with Jon and we would explore the most romantic city in the world together.

Reading the fun the girls and I had while there brought me my first smile from the pages of last year. Seeing the Louvre, The Mona Lisa, The Eiffel Tower and losing myself in the gothic beauty of Notre Dame were a turning point for me; they reminded me there was a world out there and it was mine for the taking. The medication helped me not get too excited, the last thing I needed was to set my sights too high; I was all too familiar with the fall which could and inevitably would follow. My most vivid and profound memory of the trip though was adding my padlock to the hoards of others on the Pont Des Arts or bridge of love as it is more commonly known.

Surrounded by lovers holding hands and making promises to each other I crouched down and made a promise to my heart—never again would I give it to someone unworthy, someone who would not fight to protect it and rather than throw my key in the river, I brought it home and stuck it in my diary.

Fingering the outline of the key the promise I made slips from my lips “One day I’ll come back here with someone who loves me for my ugly parts, the parts I only show him and we’ll unlock you again.”

September always feels like a new start, something probably instilled in me from my school days and last September was no different. My every day routine became just that . . . routine. Things I found hard only four weeks before such as get out of bed or meet up with friends I managed without anxiety. I no longer worried if I made arrangements with friends they would cancel or that it would be one of the days I refused to get out of bed. I could go shopping in the local supermarket instead of driving twenty miles to the next town just to be sure I wouldn’t bump into Jon and fall apart.

It was also the month people began to comment on how well they thought I was coping with life. I think having that kind of external validation was something I needed to be able to see the change in myself.

October and November I decided to get back on track with my diet and fitness. I joined a swimming club, running club and dance class. I almost chickened out on the dance class because of my weight, the fact that I couldn’t dance and I also had no partner, but my never wavering wall of support or mum as she prefers to be called refused to let me quit before I started and she came with me—trust me, seeing a fifty-five year old woman attempt street dancing will have you laughing off the pounds if nothing else. After a few lessons it had become one of my favourite ways to spend my time, the class was fun and I was partnered with a guy called Joe. He was a little younger than me, really fit and a great dancer; he wasn’t so bad on the eyes either.

The dance school hosted a Halloween show and even the beginners like me who had only just realised they had a left and a right foot were involved; because Joe was my partner and he was an experienced dancer we had a dance where we were the leads. We practised every night to get me up to par and each practise session ended later than the last. The night before the show Joe asked me if he could take me out for a drink, at first I thought he meant the whole cast were going and he wanted me to tag along, that was until he kissed me. The page for the thirty-first of October was filled with a flyer for the show and the rose Joe had given me as I walked out of the girl’s changing room.

December read like a love struck teenager wrote the entries, but the truth is I’m still learning a lot about Joe and myself as individuals—he calls us a couple, I call us love buddies.

Having relived the past year in just a few hours I realise how tired it’s made me, the year drained me for twelve months and I just let it take the first few hours of the New Year which lies before me.

I hear Joe walk into the bedroom, I think he’s been doing it a few times while I’ve been reading, but he knows when I need space and respects me enough to give it to me. Looking up at him I know no matter what the year ahead has in store, the lessons I’ve learned with this man will help me steer clear of my darker parts or at least know if I visit them, they cannot keep me for as long as they once did.

Cracking open my new diary once again I write without hesitation.

My goals for the year ahead

  • Live
  • Love
  • Learn
  • Laugh

My friends and family say I’m doing well, but I’m doing so much better than well, I’m doing strong and focused and MINDful. For the first time in my life I’m listening to the warning bells my mind and body send me. I’m learning to live within my own limitations and knowing that having limitations does not make me weak, it makes me human. I now see that asking for help is the strongest thing I can do while living with depression. I know anxiety can always appear without a moment’s hesitation, but I also know the breathing exercises I need to do to fight it.

Am I fixed? No, I don’t believe I was broken. I’m just wired differently to others.

I do have a new me stepping into the world this year, but where do I put the old me? I keep her inside of me because she is the greatest person to teach me things about myself.

Lisa Fulham © 2016

author bio

I am an explorer of words. I love to create new people and see what adventures they can go on, but most of all I love to write. My words are my passion. 2015 saw me attend my first book signing and I am pleased to announce I will be attending a Leeds signing in 2016 too. Please check out my blog for all my latest news and work

Blog http://lisafulham298.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @lisa298

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Thank you so much for taking part Lisa!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

“They Say I’m Doing Well” Blog Tour – Stop #10 – HA Robinson

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As long as the numbers on the scales keep going up and the smile on my face is convincing enough, “doing well” is what they see.

They can fill me with their chemicals and pump me out into the world with my jaw-aching from the strain of holding that smile in place, and they never need to know about the demon that roars to life in my mind each and every time I open my eyes to a new day. They don’t need to know that where I once saw the world in a myriad of bright, enticing colours that sung to my soul like the most beautiful music, now all I see are increasingly bleak shades of grey. The once vibrant gold of a sunflower, stretching itself up and up towards its namesake, now just pales into yet another dull, lifeless shade.

The sun is blazing in the sky. I can feel its heat against my skin, yet somehow, I still shiver with a cold that seems to run bone deep, as though I’ll never be warm again. The light dusting of hair that covers my pale skin is meant to be one of my body’s new defences against the cold, so why is it that no matter how many layers I wear, how much time I spend soaking up the heatwave they say is creating unprecedented temperatures, even for August, I still can’t shake the ice that seems to have lodged itself deep inside me?

The park is busy, the way it always is when the sunshine drags the pasty skinned inhabitants of the town outside for some much needed Vitamin D. There are children squealing with happiness as they run through the fountain jets that spurt cool water into the air. A dog barks with pure joy as it leaps to catch a Frisbee thrown for it by its smiling master. Footballs fly, ice creams melt, people laugh, and the world continues to turn. People are happy, people are sad, people are angry, confused or excited. Everywhere I look, I’m surrounded by a myriad of emotions, yet I can’t relate to a single one of them.

I can’t feel anything.

If I’m being honest with myself, I’m not even sure that I want to. Feeling is a little too much like caring, and no good can come from either. So, I sit on a bench, instinct bringing my knees up to my chest in an attempt to make myself as small as I can possibly be. I’m there, I’m present at the heart of a whole park full of humanity at its most… human, yet I’m not a part of any of it. Not really.

With each scene of serene happiness that passes before me – every perfect couple who walk by holding hands, every family with gorgeous, cherubic children, every group of teenagers playing football or giggling while watching them – more fragments of the ice inside me slither their way into my stomach, cutting at it like knives. I embrace the pain they cause. At least it proves that I’m still alive – just the way that the gnawing hunger I crave keeps me focused on reality. I control that pain. I choose when to force it to cut deeper and when to give in to it. With every pained yawn my stomach lets off and every stabbing pain that shoots through my entire mid-section, I take back another sliver of control.

Control is good. Control is comforting, predictable, reliable. And it all flies out of the window the moment I see him. My eyes are drawn to him the moment he sets foot in the park, like they’re a compass needle and he is magnetic north. He might as well be. He is different to everybody else in that park. They all fade into the grayscale monochrome my world seems to have descended into. But he stands out like the sun shining in the middle of the darkest night. He seems to be lit up from behind, his golden hair almost glowing as his speculative gaze scans across the park, looking for something. I desperately want that something to be me, yet the thought that it might be terrifies me more than I can begin to understand.

I curl just a little deeper into myself, my knuckles white with the strain of holding my legs firmly in place against me. But I can’t force my eyes to shift from him, no matter how hard I try to return them to the ground.

I haven’t seen him since before… Before everything went from simple and easy to confusing and scary. I want to see him closer. I want his warmth to suffuse itself through me the way that it used to when the world was still beautiful and the flowers were still bright and cheery, yet I’m afraid of it. I’m running out of time to drag my eyes away. His gaze is sweeping closer and closer, and my heart rate kicks up a gear, thundering in my chest as my hands go clammy and begin to shake.

I can’t even blink. And then his piercing green eyes find me and they stop their perusal. They stop and he takes one step towards me. I can’t help the way that the corner of my mouth turns up just the tiniest bit, but it seems to encourage him. Steps two, three and four are faster, taken with more confidence, and with each movement of his feet towards me, that twitch of my lips grows into something more. The hairs on my arms prickle to attention as I slowly fall into his shadow. My eyes finally fall from his eyes and drift to his scruffy trainers, the blue Nike tick almost completely faded now. I can see the new signs of wear that have set in since the last time I saw him, and for some unfathomable reason, that smile I have no control over grows. I try to bury it against my knees but I know he’s seen. He never misses a thing. I love and hate him for that.

I can feel his intense green gaze burning into the back of my head where my thinning, ragged hair provides almost no shield against his power over me.

My heart lurches into my empty stomach like a stone when those trainers move. He’s going to walk away without even speaking. Just as I deserve. I should say something, acknowledge him with something more than just a curl of the lips. He deserves so much more than that, but it’s been so long since I had a conversation with anybody that wasn’t a nurse, a psychologist or a parent that I’m not sure I even remember how.

I hold my breath high in my chest, feeling it burn there as I wait for him to leave. It bursts out from me in a surprised yelp when instead of walking away, he sits down on the bench beside me, not too close, but just near enough that I can feel his warmth against my goosepimpled arms.

I don’t move my stare from the spot his trainers occupied only a moment ago, but I can see his denim clad legs from the corner of my eye and I feel his hand landing on the warm black painted wood beside me, the very edge of his little finger brushing against my leggings, as though he’s as afraid of touching me as I am of letting him.

“Hey.” His voice is the same rich caramel I remember, and I want desperately to relent my grip on my legs and turn to face him. But that control that’s become somehow monumentally necessary for my survival keeps me firmly in place.

I allow the silence to stretch out for five seconds, counting each one slowly in my mind before replying. “Hey…”

I can hear the smile in his voice when he speaks again, and his finger shifts, brushing a little more firmly against my leg, sending sunshine coursing through me. “How… How are you?”

The uncertainty in his otherwise smooth tone is my undoing. My hands drop from my legs before I can stop them, and the right one falls instantly to his. My fingers ghost over his, absorbing some of the familiar heat before he turns his hand palm up and curls his fingers around mine.

I glance down at them and smile at the sight of them together – his tan against my pale, his strength against my delicate, his warmth against my cold. Without conscious thought, I find myself shifting just a fraction of an inch along the bench, closer to him.

I gift him with the fullest smile I can muster when I finally look up into his face again, my hand squeezing his. With him there is no control. There never was and there probably never will be. All there is, is that all-encompassing warmth, absolute knowledge of safety, and the sensation of falling over and over again.

My shoulder brushes against his as I lean in and whisper, “They say I’m doing well.”

HA Robinson © 2016
author bio

H. A. Robinson is a jet-setting billionaire with a home on each continent, who spends her free time saving kittens from trees and babies from burning buildings. A graduate of Hogwarts and a frequent visitor to Narnia, she drinks coffee in Central Perk and tames dragons on Westeros. In her dreams… In reality, she’s a support worker living in a small town in Cheshire, who would almost always choose fantasy over reality. She’s been an obsessive reader from the moment she picked up her first Enid Blyton book, more years ago than she cares to admit, and enjoys nothing more than getting lost in new worlds and adventures from the minds of all the amazing authors out there. She’s had the voices of characters in her head for as long as she can remember, and puts them down on paper in order to convince herself and the men in white coats that she isn’t crazy.

https://www.facebook.com/HARobinsonAuthor/

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Thank you so much for taking part Ms. Robinson!

To see the full list of authors taking part in this month-long blog tour, [click here]

To find out what “They Say I’m Doing Well” is all about, [click here]

They Say I’m Doing Well… the blog tour… becomes a paperback…

1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem

Throughout the month of February, sarahmichellelynch.net is hosting 29 authors, all with stories, poems and articles to raise awareness of mental health/life issues.

The authors include:

Alexandra North

Amelia J Hunter

Andie M Long

Anna-Maria Athanasiou

Audrina Lane

Blake Rivers

Carrie Elks

Charlotte Hart

Claire C Riley

David E Gordon

EJ Shortall

Eleanor Lloyd-Jones

Francesca Marlow

Glenn Haigh

Grace Harper

HA Robinson

Hemmie Martin

Lavinia Urban

Lisa Fulham

Mandy Gibson

Muriel Garcia

Rachel Hague

Rebecca Sherwin

Sarah Michelle Lynch

Scarlett Flame

SJ Warner

Stevie Turner

T A McKay

Victoria L James

You can read everyone’s words for free over on this link: http://sarahmichellelynch.net/they-say-im-doing-well-blog-tour/

Nobody should face mental illness alone

Everyone taking part agreed it would be wonderful to mark this event with printed words and therefore we’ll be offering the collected blogs as a paperback, EXCLUSIVE to the Leeds Author Event which most of us are attending on March 5th, 2016.

THEY SAY

AT LEAST £1 from each paperback sale will go to MIND UK (click link to find out more about this charity and how they’re helping to improve mental health services).

You can only get this book if you are coming to the Leeds event. Otherwise, you are welcome to read and re-read our blogs and donate direct to Mind through our JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/Sarah-Lynch16

PRE-ORDER THE PAPERBACK at this link (please read the small print):

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1GQJOr-ALZQR41MfyMqvqP-cblqPCxxV0irdr8ZVFASA/viewform