SoberMe

My Not So Secret Diary

This boy 💖💖💖

This boy
Our littlest monkey.

Stanley arrived in 2017. The youngest of our four, there is an age gap of 12 years between him and his next brother, 14 between him and his sister and 16 between him and his biggest brother. Age gaps seem to be a point of preference and disagreement, but for our family, this is perfect.

Lee and I were lucky enough to meet when we were young. We’ve spent our entire adult lives together. We’ve had struggles, things weren’t so financially secure for us in the beginning as we didn’t have years of savings behind us, but every struggle we have had has made us stronger. We had our oldest children Joe, Katie and Barn quite soon. There’s not a big age gap between them as we wanted them to be close. It was important to us that they were. Joe and Katie share the same birthday but two years apart and Barn is 23 months younger than Katie. It was full on when they were small. It was brilliant, but we didn’t get much time to ourselves and when Lee was working long hours, to get us extra money, it all fell on me. We had always wanted one more to complete our family, but the time wasn’t right, it wouldn’t have been fair on the kids or us to have another one then. We wouldn’t have had enough time or space to make sure they had all they needed. So we didn’t, and they grew.

I can’t believe how quickly they grew to be honest, I still feel the same age I was when I had Joe, but he is 18 now. It doesn’t seem possible. Life flies by. It seemed we had waited too long to expand our family. The kids were too old and we worried it wouldn’t work, that they would resent a new little person in the house.

Things have changed for us over the last few years, we started a family business and began working together, which was strange to start with but wonderful in it’s own way. It comes with a lot of challenges, but obviously provides us with a lot more flexibility. I don’t have to work five days a week now, which is nice, and we realised if we put off having another baby any longer then we wouldn’t ever do it. So we did. The kids were all teenagers (or almost), and we did wonder how they would take it, but they were all excited, once they got over the surprise.

When Stanley arrived we joked that he had been lost in the post, and that’s why there was such an age gap. He was always meant to be here, we just had to wait for the right time, and when he did arrive it was perfect. There has never been a little boy so loved. He is adored by the whole family, and always has someone to play with. Everyone has time for him, and no one feels left out. The bonus of the other kids being older is that when they go out, it’s almost like having an only child for a minute. It is so different from having the chaos that came with having three kiddies under four years old. Not better, just different. An experience I didn’t think I would have. To a family that is close anyway, he just brought more love. I’m careful not to ask too much of the older kids. I’m often told I’m lucky to have three built in babysitters, but I wouldn’t ever want them to think that was all they were. I wouldn’t want to take advantage of them, but it is handy to be able to pop to the shop when I need something without having to drag them all out!

I don’t think there are any rights or wrongs when it comes to family dynamics. For us this works, but if you’d asked me five years ago, I would have told you the gap between the kids would have been too much. There just came a point when it didn’t matter any more. Several people have told me we should have one more so that he isn’t on his own, but he isn’t. He might be the smallest, but he has the love and attention of all of us, and for that, he is one very lucky little thing. I knew the minute he arrived, that our family was complete, and perfect and that makes me one very happy Mummy.


Thanks as always, for reading this.


💖💖💖

Gratitude for a Sober Life

Gratitude For A Sober Life
Moorland walking

It’s getting towards the end of the year and I’m feeling pretty grateful for all that I have and for how far I’ve come. I feel like I’m getting myself back if that makes sense. There are so many big things, but here’s a little list of the small things that actually really matter…

Since being sober I have never…

• Hidden my recycling.

• Taken my recycling to the dump in between collections to avoid embarrassment of an overflowing box of glass.

• Snuck to the fridge to have a sneaky extra glass of wine, when I thought no-one would notice.

• Had to cover up a hangover or sore head, and actually allowed myself to be genuinely poorly.

• Wondered what I said or did the night before.

• Forgotten what I watched on TV the night before. (Okay I might still do this sometimes!)

• Known that during an argument or cross word it was me talking and not the wine.

• Not had to make extra trips to the shop because I might run out of wine.

• Felt like I had a constant need for something.

• Avoided going out because it was more ‘fun’ to stay at home with a few glasses of wine.

• Felt the need to argue with myself and convince myself that my behaviour was normal, when clearly it wasn’t.

• Worried excessively about my health. (With good cause).

• Felt completely out of control.

• Felt caught in a losing battle between myself and alcohol.



What do you think? Is there anything else would you add to this list?


As always, thank you for reading.

💖💖💖

Tuesday Night Wine Club

Tuesday Night Wine Club
Yoga with my littlest one.

I used to have a friend, (I used to have more than one, but that is another story), we used to take it in turns to pick up our boys from primary school a couple of days a week to give us both a little more time. She’d pick her son up from mine when she was done, it was her other half’s day off so she often didn’t stop long, and I’d do the same, picking mine up from her house when I was done at work. It was nice, they used to play together and we used to chat. One day her sister joined us. I didn’t know her well, but she seemed nice, and the bonus was instead of being offered tea, I was offered wine instead. This was great as it meant I didn’t want to rush home. One week rolled into the next and we joked, while chatting and sitting out in the sun in the back garden as the kids played, about ‘Tuesday Night Wine Club’. This was during the time I was beginning to get concerned (again) about the amount I was drinking, but here I was being offered wine by two other mothers, surely that was proof that everyone else drank as much as me? At least on some days?

I remember being pleased that I had found a little loop hole in my plan, I had an excuse to drink somewhere that wasn’t at home, and of course, seeing as it was after 5pm, that meant as soon as I got home, I could carry on. Another glass as I was cooking, another one with dinner, and so one, until bed time.

The problem was of course, this was another friend I couldn’t talk to about it. Of all my close relationships, the only person I ever spoke to about drinking was my husband and even then it was tricky. If I was feeling vulnerable it was almost easy to admit I had a problem, to ask for help, but I was afraid to, because I knew that the minute I really admitted to it, beyond the wondering stage, I would actually have to do something about it, and I wasn’t ready to do that. In fact, the thought of doing something about it terrified me. As much as I was beginning to resent the hold wine had over me, I also loved it, and in the end it was like saying good bye to a best friend. One I wanted to kill.

For something that is marketed as fun and relaxing, the opposite happened to me. I know I’m not alone, but I have never felt so conflicted in my life. It is a battle at times, one I wasn’t sure if I’d win. Anyway, in the end, I won, I’m still winning and I guess that is the point?


Thank you for reading.

💖💖💖

The Green Eyed Monster

The Green Eyed Monster
My family, no alcohol needed to have a lovely time.

After three years alcohol free I was really surprised to have a visit from the green eyed monster this week. I was having a conversation with my son and he mentioned in passing that he’d seen our neighbour out one night in a pub, and that they’d stopped to have a chat. I was happy to think that our son is out socialising, and that he is comfortable enough to chat with our neighbours, but later in the evening I did start going over it in my head and realised I was a little jealous.

It’s funny, I’m not actually jealous of him going out, I could do that. I’m not jealous of him drinking, I did plenty of that, and I don’t want to do it anymore. I guess, I’m just jealous, if you can call it that, of the fact that he can choose, that our neighbour can choose and I can’t. I know, or at least I have a very good idea, that one drink would not be enough. One bottle probably wouldn’t be. It certainly wasn’t before, on a normal evening. So I took the decision away, and decided not to drink any more. It surprises me that after all this time, that envy or jealousy, or whatever you want to call it comes out of nowhere to surprise me.

Our eldest son is 18. Since his birthday, he has started going out with his friends to night clubs and pubs on the weekends. As we approached his birthday, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about him going out, given my history, but actually I’ve found it doesn’t bother me. I do have an element of worry associated with him drinking too much, I mean, my problems started somewhere didn’t they? But I know that he doesn’t have the problems I have, and I hope that all of our kids will have learned from my experiences. I hope that if they ever get into a situation like I was, that they will recognise the signs and ask for help. Hopefully much sooner than I did. I hope that they have learned that difficulties are not the end of something, but the start of something else, if you can stick with it and overcome them.

I also hope that the green eyed monster gives up, because I’m not giving in.


Thank you for reading.

💖💖💖

I’m Dreaming of an Alcohol Free Christmas!

I'm Dreaming of an Alcohol Free Christmas
Christmas a few years ago.

I read an article recently by Bryony Gordon. She came onto my radar a couple of years ago as a writer who honestly (sometimes almost too honestly) talks about her life and mental health and it is refreshing. She doesn’t appear to want to please or impress people and in doing her own thing actually reaches more people with her honesty. I’ve read all her books but I don’t often read a newspaper, so I don’t see her column that often. This was entitled, “I can’t be the only one who's looking forward to a sober party season,” well she’s right, I’m looking forward to it too.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/cant-one-looking-forward-sober-party-season/

A few years ago, my Christmas party season looked very different to what it does now. I always went out to shop for at least one ‘nice’ party dress and shoes. I knew I always had at least two parties to go to where I’d wear them, as both my own work threw a party and my husband’s work also did, and that was just the events we ‘had’ to do. They were often quite different evenings, my husband’s would always be a bit more of a formal do, normally at a nice hotel, so we’d get a room and make a weekend of it. There was always a free bar too, so that was nice. Of course, that probably wasn’t a good thing for me, I didn’t need much encouragement.

My own parties were often more quirky. We sometimes had nice meals out at restaurants and hotels, but the one year that sticks in my memory most (I’m not sure how) is the one where the school I worked at put on a James Bond themed evening. We closed off the school library and it was transformed into a casino. All the staff dressed as characters from the films and the catering staff put on a great meal, although I don’t remember eating it. I do remember making mojitos and drinking a lot of wine. I remember doing karaoke (badly) with some other Bond girls. I remember a bonfire (I didn’t start it!) in the school grounds where I burned my finger and I remember falling asleep on a sofa. I was woken up by someone I worked with who ignored my protests that I was fine and drove me home. And that was all way before I even thought I had a problem and drinking was still ‘fun’.

So in answer to Bryony’s question, no she isn’t the only one who is looking forward to a sober Christmas. This one will be easier than the first, where I still thought I was missing out, and the second where my youngest was incredibly poorly. This one will be a lovely Christmas, with no expectations except to spend time with my husband and kids, remembering everything and not dulling it with alcohol. Not needing to return to the kitchen to constantly refill a glass that never seemed to stay full for long, or questioning whether the wine I’d bought would even last for the few days the supermarket was shut. I’m definitely looking forward to a Christmas without wine, and it feels bloody great to say that!


Anyone else looking forward to an alcohol free Christmas?

Thank you for reading.


💖💖💖

Christmas Canter

Christmas Canter
Finish line photo!

Sunday was my first race since I had laser eye surgery. I was told not to run for a week, but it’s been three. I’ve run on the treadmill a little bit, but nothing like I normally do. To be honest, although I am so glad I had my eyes done, it has knocked me a little bit. I didn’t expect it to make me so squeamish afterwards, and thought once the procedure was done, I’d be fine. It’s taken me really until this week to feel myself again. I think partially some of that was down to the fact that they told me I also couldn’t swim for a fortnight, so I think once that time passed it also meant that if my eyes were healed enough for swimming they must be back to normal.

It takes me quite a lot of effort sometimes to go for a run. Logically I know that if I get out, I’ll enjoy it, and I know from the past, that I’ll feel better once I get back. It doesn’t matter if it is wet, rainy, I’m tired or angry, once I’ve run, I normally feel loads better. Having not run properly though, I wasn’t looking forward to this one. It became a ‘big thing’ and the more I thought about it, and tried to reassure myself, the worse it got. I even convinced myself I wouldn’t physically be able to run the distance which is ridiculous, but that is the way my mind works. In the end, the only reason I even decided to try was because my daughter was running the 5k, which was one loop of the course through the forest, so I told myself if I struggled I’d just stop there and not do the second loop to complete the 10k. Something was better than nothing.

We heard there was a weather warning for wind and rain, but they didn’t come into force until the afternoon, so we went ahead and got going even though I would have secretly have liked it to be cancelled so I could stay in bed past 7AM on a Sunday morning! It was sunnier than we expected so we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.

Once the race actually started I felt pretty good which surprised me. I’d decided to run with my Trekz earphones, which I never do in a race, but thought it might be a good distraction in case I struggled. I didn’t want my mind to get the better of me. My son shot off into the distance and I didn’t see him until the end, which I expected, but I ran most of the first 5k with my daughter. It was nice, we didn’t talk that much but it was nice to have company. Then the heavens opened and the hail fell. It was so wet! But it was great, and I suddenly remembered what I love about being outdoors and running. It’s that feeling of being alive. Especially on trail runs. Every runner was soaked, but no one complained, and on I ran. Not once did I have that nagging voice of doubt in my head, and soon enough 5 miles had been and gone with only a little over a mile left to go. I pushed on and managed to pass a few more people during that last mile, and then I saw my daughter waiting to run in with me. As we ran we came to the last hill and saw my son. They’d both come back in the rain to wait for me, and at the finish line the photographer took a photo of the three of us finishing together.

So there we were, up early, soaked through, but what a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning with some of my kids. Pretty special.

Thanks for reading.

💖💖💖

Daily drinking

When I was drinking every day I thought I had everything under control. I thought that on the outside everything was fine. I knew that I was anxious, I knew that I panicked about things, but I thought if I put up a strong outer shell not one would see the vulnerabilities underneath. If I could just make it through each day, at the end I would be rewarded with that magical glass of wine. I relaxed the minute I poured it. I knew then that I could relax.

Throughout the day I was always on edge. It was like being on a state of high-alert all the time. It was exhausting. I’m not sure what I expected to happen, I just felt that something might. The more I felt like this, the more I put into place to control things. I created habits of things that needed to be done to make sure I felt in control. I couldn’t sit and relax, it was impossible for me. I felt like I had to be doing all the time, or people would thing I was lazy. It was almost physically uncomfortable for me to be still. Even on a Sunday afternoon, when there was nothing to do, I felt I should be doing something. It was hard, and as much as I know my behaviour could irritate, I just couldn’t do anything about it at the time.

In the daytime, I was busy too. I’d get up and hoover the house, I had to leave it clean before taking the kids to school and going to work. There’s nothing wrong with tidying, but I couldn’t even leave a glass on the side, the dishwasher had to be loaded and on. When I got home in the evenings it was homework, dinner and anything else that needed to be done as quickly as I could. I knew that once everything was done it would be ‘okay’ for me to have a drink. Not much got done after that you see, well it did in the early days, but as time went on, and my tolerance grew, I drank more, and then spent most of my evening on the sofa in front of the telly.

I had intentions of doing so much more, I often wanted to. I had plans for things I wanted to achieve, it was just that after I’d ticked off all the things on my list, the lure of the bottle became too strong and generally won. So much so that I didn’t like to go out in the evenings anymore. I didn’t like to do anything that could hinder my plans, which just involved getting the day done so I could be at home with a glass of wine.

The realisation of my reliance on wine was one of the reasons I wanted to stop drinking. The problem was, that I was terrified of admitting I had a problem. I knew that once I admitted to it, I’d have to stop drinking, and I had no idea how I would cope without it. It took the edge off and made things seem easier, until the end when I realised it was just making everything worse.

Removing alcohol was the best thing I’ve ever done, but it was challenging and made me face my fears and my anxiety head on. There was no buffer anymore, and unfortunately it made all the difference and my panic attacks got worse, and so frequent I’d avoid simple things, for fear that I wouldn’t cope. I put many avoidance strategies in place to cope, to try to get through without admitting how hard everything was. It has taken three years of hard work to get to where I am now, but I am so glad I chose this path. Difficult or not, it is so worth the fight.


As always, thank you for reading.


💖💖💖

My Not So Secret Diary

My Not So Secret Diary
Running on Dartmoor this Summer.

I’m quite a private person. I keep myself to myself, so the fact that I write a lot down and share the inner most workings of my mind with everyone who reads my blog is quite bizarre. I’m not really an over sharer, and yet here I am over sharing!

The fact is, most of my family and all of my friends would only have found out about my drinking problem by reading this blog. I didn’t tell people besides my close family because I didn’t really know how to. I assumed that people would think the worst of me, that they’d assume, because I let wine get control of me, that I was a bad mother, or a bad wife, and that generally I wasn’t good enough. The truth is, I love my husband and our kids more than anything. So when I can I like to have them read everything I write, sometimes before I post it.

I spoke about this to two of my kids (the middle two) a couple of weeks ago. I was suddenly embarrassed when people I actually knew started reading what I had written, and worried that mattered more than when strangers read it. I know it’s the same information but I wondered if it was more personal somehow. They both looked at me like I was mad when I asked if my blog embarrassed them, then they both reassured me that it didn’t. In fact my son said that if people were to look at my blog or my Instagram what they would see is a Mum who has overcome a problem and is always out doing things with her kids. That made me feel better. A lot better. To think that I have overcome something this big, and I still have the love and respect of my family means the world to me.

Sharing my experiences was not something I took lightly. I always wanted to write, even from a young age, but life got in the way. When I was struggling in the early days of sobriety, reading the experiences of others really helped, it made me feel like I wasn’t alone in the way I felt, like other people, women, mothers, etc, had been where I was. I carried a lot of shame about it though, and for that reason mainly, I kept it to myself. One day, and I really don’t know what changed, I wanted to put some of my thoughts down on paper. Once I’d started it was like a dam had broken and loads more came spilling out. All these memories and thoughts filled the paper, and suddenly my head started feeling clearer. They say that writing is cathartic, and in my case it certainly is. I feel like I am finally filing all these thoughts and experiences away and creating a bit more order. I really hope that someone reading this blog finds it useful, to be able to return the favour would mean a lot to me, but at the very least, if nothing else, it makes me feel better, and that can only be a good thing.


Thank you as ever, for taking the time to read this and connect with me.

💖💖💖

🎄 Christmas Survival Guide 🎄

Christmas Survival Guide
Christmas Shopping in London.

Although it is a magical time, Christmas can be a pretty stressful time too. Of course, there are the predictable elements, of making sure all the presents are bought and the shopping is done, but also there are other factors, like parties and meeting up with friends and family, some of whom you might not see for the rest of the year. It can be exhausting, and that is before we even talk about not drinking.

Everywhere you look from adverts to TV and even in the aisles at the supermarket, you’ll see that alcohol is marketed as an integral part of the festivities. So, whether it is your first Christmas without drinking or you’ve done a few, it can prove a bit of a challenge.

This is not a definitive guide, it’s just a few things I’ve picked up along the way and hope will help. Please let me know if you’ve got any other ideas that I can add to it. 😊

🎄 It’s not just you! (#1)
There are many people who choose not to drink. It’s a struggle to stop, but you are not on your own, even when it feels like it.

🎄 Only go to the events you really want to.
It’s hard enough to psych yourself up for things you want to do. Don’t use your energy going to things you aren’t feeling up to. It’s likely that it will end badly or put you off going out to other events. It may see scary to let other people down, but it might be better for you in the long run.

🎄 It’s not just you! (#2)
Other people have struggles too. You could feel awkward but they probably can’t see it, just like you can’t see their insecurities.

🎄 Don’t be afraid to leave early.
You might have had a good time, you might not, but don’t feel you have to stay to the end. Leave the night on a high and you’ll probably feel more up to another night out. Stretching it out could ruin it for you and to be honest, if everyone else is drinking, they might not even notice you go!

🎄 It’s not just you (#3)
Keep remembering, you aren’t alone. It’s a hard fight, but there are other people wanting to do it, doing it or having done it. It’s hard, but it’s worth it. Just keep going.

🎄 Have an escape plan.
Like me, you might not want to make it common knowledge that you aren’t drinking. I kept it private for a long time, and so it could work for you to have a plan, just in case things get too much. If you have a back up plan, you can get away when you need too.

🎄 It not just you (#4)
There are so many people out there in exactly the same place as you!

🎄 Have an excuse!
If you really want to go and really don’t want to tell people the truth, and are afraid that it will be awkward, just have an excuse ready. Maybe you’re on antibiotics? Maybe you’re in training for a marathon? Maybe you are driving? Not that you need a reason!

🎄 It’s not just you (#5)
I think I’ve covered that it isn’t just you, but keep remembering it, it really helps!

🎄 Connect
Support groups might work, but they might not. You don’t have to meet people to have support though, there are plenty of online groups you can join. Likewise, I found reading so helpful, other people’s experiences helped me remember that I wasn’t alone, and that other people had walked the same path before me and survived. In fact, not only had they survived but it was worth the struggle.

🎄 Enjoy it!
Remember this, you will probably have a fab time. You’ll remember everything you say, and everything you do. You’ll not have ‘one too many’ and embarrass yourself and when someone else does, you’ll remember that too!

I hope this helps, even just a little bit, I know that I felt nervous before my first couple of non-drinking events, and even now, I don’t choose to go to many. I’d rather do other things now, so they have to be good for me to go!

Let me know how your festive season goes though, and if any of these ideas work for you!

Take care, and thanks for reading.

💖💖💖