The Names of my Parents

The Names of my Parents

My parents are called distant and desperate


Distant doesn’t understand and never will

he does things to make a point rather than to look after his daughter

he speaks with no words, just aggression

and eats with so much appetite


it spoils mine.


Distant plays life like a game rather than a journey

every question an interrogative

and each answer a tactical statement.

I am often left on rhetorical questions.


Desperate has desperate hands that shake

hands that hold bottles of wine to keep them steady

she is a wonderful mother

she tells me she loves me every day and makes me cups of tea

she calls me sweetheart and kisses me goodbye.


Distant has worn desperate down like sugar to enamel

Growing plaque along the ridges

and breeding bacteria to chew at the teeth


Desperate can’t cope she

is more seashell than sea creature

a house rather than a homeowner

a cloak rather than a body.

Desperate is tired, weak and poisoning herself

and she is a wonderful mother

isn’t she?


Distant doesn’t believe in mental health

and tells me he can’t cope with my illness

because it makes him angry

he denies my existence

telling me my love is a phase

and my gender a weakness


Desperate is understanding and then confused

and tells me she can’t cope with my illness

because she hates seeing me so upset.

She is always too drunk to listen to who I really am

and then gets upset ¬†because she doesn’t know who I really am


I am angry about it

and so

I am writing about it.


The Empty Spaces

The Empty Spaces

There are empty spaces inside of me
ones I’ve fruitlessly tried to fill for the past two years
these holes show themselves
in my wardrobe or my car boot
both of which have become hiding places
for empty bottles and receipts
a game of hide and seek for me
against the rest of the world.
I’ve tried to shrink these empty spaces
so many times
that I have created thousands more
drinking wine even though it repulses me
what else can I drink?
I’ve drunk the rest.
I have become accustomed to tastes and glasses
that grow in the corners of my room
where friends would once sit and laugh
beside me.
My only memory of parties
being videos of me
the life of the party, the hysteria, the spiralling.
They hear the joy in me exploding
like gasoline fires
I hear the alcohol thick like an accent
the drink that got my tongue and spoke for me.
Telling myself ‘it’s just my medicine when I get sad’
‘its okay if I’m still standing’
‘its normal to like a glass of wine in the evenings’
for once not something someone famous said
just the lies we tell ourselves
like prayers
to ease the appetite
and fill all those empty spaces
or kill everything rotten inside me.
when will I shut up that fantastic liar
realise that I can’t ignore this broken heart
the painful childhood
my voices
and everything else I drink to forget
and the messiest part of this whole poem,
as I’m writing this with rum on my tongue
and while I’m asking myself if this is a cry for help,
is that
I don’t know whether I’m writing about myself
my mother.

by Emma Catherine


Instagram- @rain.on.rosy.cheeks

The gift and pain of sobriety

The gift and pain of sobriety

Sobriety is both painfully lonely, and a beautiful gift. Most days I don’t know what I miss more; the being able to drink at parties or events where there’s alcohol and feeling the life bursting out of me for a few hours; the ridiculousness of my humour and endless laughing when I would feel myself letting my defence layers down, or the bliss of being someone else for a while. But I’ll tell you what I don’t miss. I don’t miss the week of shakes and nausea I had after a solid week of binge drinking each night. I don’t miss being so reckless with certain people that I’d wake up with a stomach flip of embarrassment. I don’t miss the wave of sadness when I start to sober up and the alcohol begins to depress my mood, and the awful feeling of unravelling internally. And I don’t miss the bittersweet feeling of knowing how good drinking felt and that it was the only thing I looked forward to, and how the glasses of wine were filling the bits of me that were broken and hurt, not really soothing them, but adding fuel to the fire inside. Sobriety is lonely too. Knowing the drunk phonecalls and the chats I used to have are not the same. It’s embarrassing. Knowing that everyone knows why you don’t drink anymore, and having to tell people ‘oh no I don’t drink… personal choice’ rather than ‘yeah I abuse alcohol and substances and I’m a binge drinker’. Knowing I can never go back. A drink in my hand is a red flag to all my friends and a dirty secret on my own if I ever give in. But as I said. It is also a gift. One that few people ever get the chance to have. Having substance abuse issues is an experience that ties people together with understand. And shows the strength of not listening to that fucking parasite in your mind every time it sees a bottle. I’ve fucked up with drinking numerous times since I stopped drinking earlier this year, and a few of them have been within the past month. It’s okay. Each drink I have out of pain is a chance to show that I can rise again.

The Beach

The Beach

You’ve been down to this beach before,

I know the ocean looks beautiful from here,

It’s so silky and blue and

You feel like you could dive right in,

But don’t forget how cold it is

how lonely it is the further you float towards the setting sun,

Remember how blissful it feels to dip your toes in

and then how strong the tide is that pulls you away from what you know,

Before you know it you can’t feel your feet on the seabed anymore,

I’m telling you

There are things in those waters you can’t see from the shore

The bite off you’re flesh, nibble at your bones

Remember the heartbreak when your legs can’t kick against the tides

and all you can see is your home fading further and further away from your eyes

the ocean currents unforgiving

even more than the first time,

So please

don’t dissolve in those salty seas again,

wrap yourself up in a towel and sit with the warm sand between your toes.

watch the tides draw out and pool into the ocean

knowing you are dry and safe and warm on the beach

and may the sound of the waves breaking in front of you

be a reminder of the life you saved for yourself tonight.


Addiction saved me, and then I had to save myself.

Addiction saved me, and then I had to save myself.

I feel like, since I was young, self destruction has flowed in my blood. Then it’s divided and multiplied like a pathogen or parasite inside me and it’s lived there, among my organs, ever since. I don’t know why I’m so attracted to the prospect of destruction and excited by recklessness. Why do I prefer to live my life in chaos rather than serenity? To thrive in chaos is an omen. This is something I learned only recently, after 5 or so years of starving myself into non-existence. I’ve known a big part of me is an addictive side to my personality, the part that can’t ignore impulses and doesn’t want to acknowledge consequences for my behaviour. It was first the anorexia, then the self harming, then sex and then alcohol- almost like my mind can’t help but find new things to get stuck on. A big part of me is fearful, but somewhat darkly excited by the question: what will it be next?

I think in some ways, addiction is addictive because we know it’s toxic. It’s that kind of mentality that it’s so wrong but it feels so right that the part of my brain that just can’t get enough, bows down to. But no matter how much our brains romanticise the things that are going to kill us there is one thing we have to remember, as much as it feels like a lie, it is an illusion. As much as we repeat the same old thing in our heads, like a mantra ‘to convert a dystopia to a utopia, it must be destroyed’, it is and will always be a lie. There’s that parasite that lives inside us that we mistake for ourselves. It blooms like algae when we feel the most hopeless and the more dependent we become on it, the more is grows and grows into the body of us. And what started out as a problem, finally goes by our name. A shape-shifter of sorts. But the secret that keeps growing inside us can’t stay hidden. It shows itself on the outside, empty bottles of vodka, clothes that keep getting looser and looser around out waist, scars or long sleeves and a sadness on our expression. You see, what started out as something to help tame our unruly feelings, or keep us safe or give us an escape, didn’t just destroy the things we wanted to rid ourselves of, it destroyed us and everything else around us as well.

The long process of recovery and rebuilding begins when we, our family or our body can’t keep it up anymore. Someone or something says ‘that’s enough’ and we come back down to earth much faster than we ever went up. It is excruciating. Learning to restrain the parasite that’s made a home within us. You fight yourself whilst also trying to save yourself, because as much as the addiction saved us from what we wanted to forget about our lives, it will never make it go away. It will never be enough. With help, that impossible process can be made possible. A life that seems too painful to bear becomes kinder, and somewhere we want to be. And with every step towards peace and serenity we take, the air we breathe says ‘welcome home’.

-Emma Catherine

Instagram- @rain.on.rosy.cheeks



Poem- Will You Love Me When You Realise It’s Not An Act?

Poem- Will You Love Me When You Realise It’s Not An Act?

I swear to god I wish it were a movie
I wish at the end of the day I could push the scene around me down to the floor
Take of the makeup from my eyes
And the skin off my face, neck and limbs like it was latex

Step out of these clothes that feel tight against my knees and my chest
But I know that
Once I am home I can’t stop being her
I can’t close the script and turn off the accents and the mannerisms I never chose in the first place
Oh the luxury of being an actor

They know what sadness, anger and elation feel like
But living in the shoes of someone who never stops feeling
Who can never stop aching when the curtain comes down at the end of the show
Who can’t quite just

The music doesn’t stop playing
And the dramatics don’t stop exploding
And the spot light will keep on shining
Even if it’s a bank holiday or a birthday

It’s not
And it never will be
A play that I put on life like it’s a stage
Don’t think for a second I got lessons on surviving this
Because you don’t audition to be ill and weak and lonely
And I’m never sexy and sad, or exciting when I can’t stop drinking or fashionably mysterious like you wish I was

So you better quote me like I’m your idol
You better clap and throw flowers and cry with me when I bow
I hope you start to love me
I hope you start to understand me
When it’s over
When it’s the final scene
I hope you love me

Will you love me when you realise it’s not an act?

-by Emma Cunningham