Enjoying the Cornish sun a few weeks ago.
As you may know my husband and I have four kids, Joe is 18, Katie 16, Barn 14 and Stanley is 2. Much as I’d like to say they don’t know about my drinking problem, it would be silly to say that. Of course they know, three of the four of them lived here with me right through it. In recent years I’ve spoken to them honestly and openly about it. It wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but it was certainly a good thing to do. As a mum I want to be loved and cared about, I don’t want to seem less than perfect in their eyes, but it was important that I spoke to them as I don’t like secrets either. I wasn’t sure how to go about it to be honest, I didn’t know if I should bring it up, and because I didn’t know how to, I didn’t. One by one they came to me though, and we talked about everything. I’ve always had a policy that if they are mature enough to be able to ask me something, then I will do my best to answer. I have never wanted to brush them off with any subject, but of course, as this was about me it was a bit harder. Barn was the first one to bring it up one day were out on our own in the car, Katie the second and in the end I had to approach Joe. It wasn’t something I necessarily wanted to do, as I didn’t want to blow the topic out of proportion, but I also didn’t want him to be the one out of the loop so to speak. Whereas the others asked questions, Joe was more dismissive, and it made me sad to think how much he probably remembered that I hadn’t realised. I’d been blinkered to it, and thought the kids had been protected, and of course, although I never put them at any harm, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t see me begin to rely on drinking.
I’ve tried to remain as honest as I can be with the kids. I want them to know that they can talk to me if they need to, and not just about this, but anything. I also want them to be aware, because it is thought that addictions can be genetic, I don’t want them to begin to rely on something and end up in a situation like I did.
I don’t preach to my kids. I’ve never told them not to drink. I have however told them to be careful. Joe goes out clubbing with his friends, he sees our neighbours in the local pub, which is something I have not done in a long time, and sometimes he does wake up with a sore head. But, he doesn’t drink every week. We don’t have alcohol in the house any more, well, actually somewhere there are a couple of bottles of beer that we won in a raffle. It seemed wasteful to throw it away, so I brought it home and gave it to Joe. That was last summer and I think it is still in a cupboard. He doesn’t drink at home and has the attitude to drinking that I wish I had had, able to enjoy it when he is with friends, and able to leave it when there is something better to do. I think I was always chasing that high, that good feeling or good time, and when it was over, I felt I could achieve it with another glass. Over time, that good feeling was long forgotten but the drink wasn’t. I hope none of the kids ever drink like I did, but if I stop them or ask them not to, I’m afraid they will rebel against me. So I don’t. I just talk to them, and let them know I’m here, and that their Dad is if they don’t want to talk to me. I’m lucky that they all feel able to talk to both of us.
For a lot of people drinking can be a fun release, but for people like me it isn’t. When that word ‘moderation’ pops up, alarm bells should ring. Anyone who feels they should moderate is probably beginning to lose control, and I know for one, moderation certainly didn’t work for me. It made me grumpy and reinforced the fact I felt like I was missing out. Nowadays, I don’t rush home (if I could go out) for a drink. It isn’t the first thing on my mind in the evening. I don’t worry about how much is in the fridge. Plans aren’t made around whether I can drink or not. I don’t have to think about what conversations I have had, and if I remember them all. I’m not hiding behind a glass or a bottle, I’m just me, and I’m doing the best I can. I’m pretty happy with how it’s turning out at the moment.
Take care, and thanks for reading.
We were watching TV last night when my phone pinged with a message from my 14 year old son. He'd sent me these Instagram stories from Tesco, advertising their 'food' but instead showing beer and wine. His comment did make me laugh, but also, I feel proud of him for not being drawn into the glamour of drinking. He's only young, but I hope he continues to make well-educated choices.
Maybe in this case, every little doesn't help?
Maybe in this case, every little doesn't help?
03 April. 2020 • Category: Addiction | Mental Health | Recovery | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety | Covid19
Smiley Stanley mid-run with me.
If you look closely at the moment, we are surrounded by doom and gloom. There is a horrible virus that we have no cure for. Many people have died or are dying and due to the contagious nature of the disease, people can’t even be with their loved ones at the end. It really brought it home to me a few days ago when I saw on the news that a 13 year old had died. He had been alone as his family weren’t allowed in. I can’t imagine the pain that family are in. I totally understand the need for everyone to protect themselves, but as a mother with a child of a similar age, I cannot imagine not being there if he was in pain. Not being able to say goodbye. It is heartbreaking.
Everything seems different at the moment, from the way our social lives have been limited to the way we are restricted in our distance from each other when outdoors. I’ve noticed a wariness in people, and to be honest, I don’t go out much. I tend to spend more time in the garden, but when I am out running people give me a wide berth, and I do the same for them. On one hand it is lovely to see everyone being so respectful and considerate, but on the other hand, I wonder whether we are actually creating more division? It seems that as well as the distance between bodies, that it is less likely for people to make eye contact and wave, and that makes me sad. Out of habit I smile and say, “Hello” or “Morning!” to other people when I see them out and about, but I seem to be getting less and less back, as if catching my gaze might be infectious.
Yesterday I was feeling stressed and over-anxious. My medication is helping a great deal but sometimes I still get twitchy. Running calms me, but I don’t necessarily see the benefit when I run regularly, it’s more that I notice the effect it has when I don’t run. My husband has taken over our conservatory, and is working at home at the moment, so he saw me circling and very quickly suggested I go out for a run. I must be easy to read! I didn’t feel like running on my own and all the teenagers were still in bed, so I strapped Stanley into the running buggy and off we went. I thought he could do with a change of scene as he hadn’t been out in a week, other than in the garden. Even though we are able to go out for our daily exercise, to be honest, I’m not that keen to go out and fairly happy to stay in a lot more than I would do normally. Of course, I told you that Stanley is worried that the ‘nasty bug’ is actually a lady bird that is going to get him, but being in the buggy I thought he would be fairly safe, and unable to touch anything. I had forgotten how loud he is! (And heavy!) We got to the end of our road and ran down the hill, passing some assisted living flats where a gentleman was looking out of his balcony. Stanley just shouted out, “Hello!” and waved. I’m normally a bit embarrassed about him shouting, but it was so lovely to see the man’s face light up, and we had a quick chat from a distance before carrying on. There weren’t many people out, but to everyone we saw or passed Stanley shouted and waved. It was sweet to see the reactions and smiles, even if it was from a way off.
The world is a funny old place at the moment, for everyone, regardless of their situation. On the whole the British are known for their stiff upper lip and their keep calm and carry on attitude. I get it, we need to do it, but we don’t have to limit our interactions totally either, do we? We’re still people, and even for those of us that have people at home the world has changed considerably. Our interactions are suddenly limited to those we live with, however many or few that may be. Days merge into the next, even when we keep ourselves busy, and we still don’t know how long this will go on for. People are lonely, and a little bit adrift without their daily routines. We’re asked to think about our older relatives, but what about those who aren’t older, or don’t have anyone to check on them? What about the people who just want to see a smiling face as they go about their business? Even popping to the shops isn’t the social activity it used to be. It’s hard work, or at least it is in my local supermarket, with one way systems and floor spacing marks set out.
We need to protect ourselves but we need to remember that we are part of a wider community and not isolate ourselves beyond all reach. Ultimately, we are all humans, so let’s try to remember to spread some kindness where we can.
Take care, and thank you for reading.
On the moor - before the lockdown.
This quarantine has been a bit strange so far. As I’ve said before, I am very glad at this time, during all this chaos, that I don’t drink anymore. It wouldn’t be my friend and it wouldn’t make things better. Instead it would have given me another thing to worry about, another thing to try and go out to buy and of course the worry that I’d not be myself as I should be. That my mind would be numbed and elsewhere.
I suppose what surprised me was how that feeling of remembering a ‘nice’ drink is still there, even after all this time, and even when I don’t actually want to drink. It catches me out. I’m not writing this because I’m worried or concerned I’ll drink again, I honestly don’t think I would. However, I do think it’s good to address that those feelings are there still. I want to talk about it to let anyone reading this know that they aren’t alone in those thoughts, and it’s okay. Just because you remember, does not mean you have to relapse. It doesn’t mean you have to give in to your demons, whatever they may be and it doesn’t mean you are weak.
For me sunny relaxed late afternoons and evenings in the garden often used to mean having a glass or two of wine. (I’m being modest, we all know it never stopped there.) We have a nice barbecue outside and we like to cook and eat outdoors whenever the weather is nice enough. (By we I mean I like to watch my husband cook). We were fortunate enough to have some lovely sunny and warm weather at the beginning of our Covid-19 lockdown, and wanting to make these strange times as good as we could, we spent a lot of time outside with the kids. I built dens with Stanley, and he rode his bike around. Barn played with the dog and Katie moved from the sofa to the grass with her phone. It was lovely to make the most of it, and enjoy it, especially as it’s got colder now, but at the same time, I was surprised at how many old feelings it brought up. It was only later as we spoke about dinner that I had that feeling of wanting a glass of wine. I suddenly felt like that would be the thing to complete the evening and as normal, as soon as I’d shifted that thought it was followed by a bit of sadness that I wouldn’t be able to experience that again. The sadness never lasts for long now, it’s just a fleeting thing, but it is annoying.
I don’t worry now about drinking again. I never thought I would say that, but I can. Even saying that though, I am surprised how there are still little things that set me off. I don’t miss drinking, but sometimes, I miss that feeling of being the same as other people. I have a lovely time without it though. It doesn’t change anything really, it certainly doesn’t make me any more fun, or make an evening any better. In fact I know now, without a shadow of a doubt that I am a better person without it, so I guess that is why I’m so surprised when I get that little bit of glass envy. Your mind is a funny old thing isn’t it? I mean to remain wired so strongly for something for such a long time.
My message in this is the same though to all of you, just keep doing what you’re doing and we’ll get there.
Stay strong everyone and thank you.
04 April. 2020 • Category: Covid19 | Addiction | Mental Health | Recovery | Anxiety | Sobriety | Family
Beach day before the lockdown.
I didn’t think lock down or quarantine would bother me. I didn’t think it would happen for one thing, because I didn’t think the virus would be as bad as it is, but I also thought that it would be a threat that wouldn’t be carried out, to try and encourage us to stay at home more than we were. Pandemics like the one we are experiencing at the moment are the sort of thing that happens to other people, or on TV, it’s unlikely that they’ll affect us. Until they do.
As I said, I didn’t really worry. Which is strange for me, but I looked at it like as long as we have enough food, and we can work from home if needed, then what is there to worry about? My main concern is that we were all together. We can go out for a bit of exercise so really, it felt like it might be similar to an extended Christmas holiday. Normally that’s the only time we get off work and school together at the same time to be at home. You might remember that I work with my husband and our eldest son, so work is a bit more ingrained in our lives that just a job where we work for others. It’s hard to leave it alone. Christmas is the only time we shut down and for a week it’s peace. Nothing is happening without our knowledge so my husband doesn’t have to worry. Of course though, it isn’t really like that at the moment.
I’ve tried to be positive, I think it’s important, and like I’ve said before, I think a lot of us need this break, just a chance to get off the treadmill of life so to speak and slow down. Occasionally though I panic a little, mainly when I remember we don’t know how long this is for, and that worries me. A summer without going to the beach scares me. It’s just the simple things really, like taking the kids to the beach, swimming in the sea, or surfing, walking more than just near my home, taking the family up on to the moor. We don’t know when we can do any of these things again. But, we have to remember, this is all worthwhile, and by staying in we are protecting our communities and further afield. It’s not like we are all being asked to contribute in any other way, the majority of us are literally being told to stay at home and other than that we can do as we please.
It’s strange for most of us to live under these circumstances though. Unless you live off the grid, which I actually quite like the sound of, most people have a fair bit of human interaction outside their home. Largely, we are able to get what we want, when we want it. The shops showed us that with their lack of stocks when a lot of people tried to bulk buy in the days before the lockdown. People wanted, so they bought. We aren’t used to not having the things we feel we need, and don’t feel comfortable going without. I’m guilty of it too though. Years ago, I used to love shopping. I don’t so much now, I go more when I need something rather than for an aimless wander around the shops, but I still manage to have the things I need. With mail order we don’t even need to leave our homes anymore. Except even the majority of those have closed now. My eldest son has been taking the opportunity of the down time to work on his car, he was spray painting a panel, but has run out of paint and is struggling to get any more. He, like the rest of us isn’t used to not being able to get what he wants as and when he wants it. I don’t even have to go to the book shop any more, since I’ve had my Kindle, if I want a book I just look for it and less than a minute later, I have it.
I think we take for granted what we have, and how little we have to do normally to get the things we do. Of course it costs money, but the majority of us don’t have to put much effort into growing our food, it’s just there, and now we have to think a little bit more. When you have to queue to get into a supermarket, and queue to pay when leaving, after walking around a one-way system in the store, it becomes a little more important to plan what you have and when to go out, rather than just ‘popping to the shop’ as we are used to doing.
I don’t think this crisis will change us all in such a way that we will revert to living off the land, but I do hope it makes us appreciate what we have access to, and what we are able to do a lot of the time without even thinking about it. I hope it will help to change us for the better.
Take care, and thank you for reading.
A little reminder that we are only allowed out for one form of exercise per day! Is it just me who hears the music from the advert playing when they read it?! (Sorry to the runners out there for the use of the word jog!)
01 April. 2020 • Category: Covid19 | Addiction | Mental Health | Recovery | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Sobriety
Den building in the garden with my little man Stanley.
I feel a bit naughty saying this, but I’m going to because it’s true. Although it’s weird and it’s taking some getting used to, I don’t think I can be the only person who is actually enjoying the change at the moment? The daily hustle and bustle has gone. The reasons I had to be up and rushing around, making sure things were done before aren’t there right now. Even work is closed for us at the moment, and while it is worrying to be unsure about the future, it does enable us to slow down a little bit.
Nothing can be rushed, because there is very little to do, and because it isn’t, I feel like I am able to slow down and appreciate things a bit more. I spend a lot of times with our kids anyway, but at the moment, I feel like we’re spending even more together. Two of the kids have online lessons and work for school and college, but it’s flexible and not taking a priority and at the moment they are officially on their Easter holidays so they even have a break from that. The big one doesn’t have work and the little one doesn’t have nursery, so we are all at home.
It helps that the weather is nice at the moment, the sun always makes me feel better, but I feel like I can just take things steadier. I’m getting up and going for a run, doing yoga, enjoying time with the kids in the garden and reading. I read a whole book yesterday! Now I don’t plan on doing that everyday, but it was nice to get sucked in by a good book and be able to enjoy it! The house work is done, but it doesn’t feel like the most important thing to do besides work at the moment. It may sound a bit daft, but I am especially enjoying the time I have to do the simple things like pegging the washing out on the line and watch it dry, rather than bunging it all in the tumble drier.
It’s so easy to spend our time rushing from one thing to another. We are always trying to achieve, and complete things, our modern lives are just so busy. It’s lovely not to feel like there is something else I should be doing and so I’m taking advantage and making the most of it. I’m writing this at the moment from my sofa, sat with my two of my boys, Barn next to me and Stanley under my arm, watching the TV. They grow so fast, it’s nice to slow down and enjoy them.
I think we all need it, just the chance to stop. I’m not saying it’s easy, it certainly wasn’t for us. We all are hard wired to be part of the world we live in and it’s weird not to have things when we want them, not to be able to go out to the shops, or out where and when we choose, but I think this enforced slowing down will make us all appreciate the things we have when things go back to normal in the future. Maybe it won’t be back to normal for all of us, it’s sad to think, but it’s likely things will change drastically for some of us and our families.
No one quite knows what we are dealing with, and how long this will go on. So for now I’ll just continue living like this, and enjoying being at home with my family while I can and building dens in the garden with my little one. I’m sure before long everything will be back as it was before and this strange time will all be a distant memory.
Take care and thank you for reading.