31 December. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
At the end of a Half Marathon with my son back in the summer.
I want to take a minute to talk about Couch to 5k (C25k), I know many of you probably know about it, but a lot don’t and as I have found running really useful in my recovery, I thought this might help someone out there. The program takes a complete non-runner to progress to run 5k in between 8-12 weeks. I was a total non-runner and started in 2018, 18 months into my recovery and new sober life. Before that, I think I was still a bit in shock and had no extra energy for anything like running.
I heard running was good for mental health, as I have quite severe anxiety, I was happy to try anything. I didn’t have a great deal of confidence in myself or in my body, so didn’t really love going out in leggings to start with, but persevered, just picking places that I wouldn’t find too many people to make me feel uncomfortable.
So, with my new plan in my head, I downloaded the C25k app, and put on my headphones. This was great for me, it meant I could zone out and just try to run, while a voice in my ear told me when to walk and when to run. There are lots of running clubs and groups that run c25k training sessions and for some people, the camaraderie of training in a group will be great, I just wasn’t ready to run with people back then, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up. My app wasn’t complicated, but the running was! I couldn’t even run for 30 seconds at the beginning. I felt terrible, I couldn’t believe I was so unfit! Before I stopped drinking I was quite skinny, so I convinced myself the two things were linked. They aren’t, and with my healthier lifestyle, I put on a bit of weight, which obviously also needed moving too.
Although it was hard to start at the beginning, I did feel that the way the programme is broken down really helped me see improvements quite quickly and if I struggled, I’d just repeat a week. It wasn’t many weeks before I could run for five minutes continuously, which may not seem like a lot, but believe me, for a non-runner like me it was amazing. As I had the little one at home, we looked out for a treadmill, so for the days I couldn’t get out, if it was too dark or anything, I could run at home instead, and it really helped with my training. They say to book a race, as it helps with motivation, and I chose to run a 5k fundraiser for The Cornwall Air Ambulance. It was great, my son and I raised over a hundred pounds, but it did put quite a lot of pressure on me. I felt like I might not be able to achieve it, or I’d be last, and I ended up hurting my knee and having to take a couple of weeks off.
Soon enough, I could go out again and learning from my mistake, I took things a little slower. I stopped worrying and tried to enjoy it. I remember a turning point quite clearly when I had to run for a set amount of time, and I thought to myself, “Only eight minutes left.” Suddenly I caught myself and realised that I had achieved something I never thought I would! I still struggle a little with my mind when I run, I often have a little voice telling me that I can’t do it. Worrying about completing a distance, however long, worries me, but I know now logically that I can do it, so I just try to push through it. That voice has got to give up one day surely?
So for anyone out there even contemplating running, get out and give it a go. There are so many people of every shape and size having a go, it’s so much more inclusive than I ever thought it would be, and there are so many opportunities for socialising too, whether it is joining a club or having a drink in the cafe after parkrun. Giving you a bit of time to yourself and a a sense of achievement, it’s a great hobby to have, I never thought I was a runner and yet here I am, enjoying it and running distances I never thought I could. You never know, taking up running could be a great New Years Resolution!
If any of you are new to running or doing C25k, let me know how you’re getting on, I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading!
30 December. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
End of parkrun photo with my son Barn.
I haven’t run properly in the last couple of months. First I wasn’t allowed to, because of my eye surgery, then I used being busy at work as an excuse -although, in fairness, it has been very busy! After that of course it was Christmas. Like most people, I’ve felt like I’m running about trying to get things sorted out and running has unfortunately been the thing I’ve let slide which is a shame, because I like the way it calms my mind. Even when I don’t feel like going out for a run, I always feel good when I get back, I feel like I’ve achieved something and my head feels clearer. It’s funny, I don’t necessarily notice the difference running makes to me, except when I don’t go out for a run.
A couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d try to make the effort to go to parkrun every week again. I find my home run a bit too busy in the summer and with all the rain we’ve had recently, the hills would be pretty tricky too, as it is one of the hilliest in the UK, so we’ve been going to our next local one which is at the Eden Project. Afterwards we get a cup of tea in the cafe. There is a lovely community feeling to it, and we are home and done by 10:30 leaving the rest of the day free.
On my first week back I was shocked as to how much slower I was, almost three minutes slower than my fastest time there back in July, and I couldn’t run up all the hills anymore. But, however disappointed I was, it was probably the incentive I needed and it was better than staying at home on the sofa. The saying that I was lapping everyone on the sofa did come to mind a few times! The next week was a minute faster and closer to my PB, and this week I took another fifteen seconds off again, which isn’t bad considering how much I’ve eaten over Christmas! The main difference is that a few years ago I would have added quite a lot of wine to the Christmas consumption list, and there would have been no way I would have gone out for a run.
I’ve got four half marathons booked in the next few months, so I’m glad I’m getting back into the swing of things, and I think being slower than I was has given me the kick I needed to get myself moving again. It’s so easy not to, and I always feel better when I have.
Thanks for reading.
28 December. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
Exploring in the rain.
On Christmas Day I was so positive. I had a bit of a wobble but it wasn’t a big deal. I felt pretty chuffed with myself. Boxing Day was a bit of a different story. It’s weird how it catches you out. You get a bit complacent. You think you’re fixed. At least I do. Or did. I’ve realised I’m not quite there yet.
On Boxing Day my mother and father in law were planning to come around. It’s a normal thing, some years we go to them, and some years they come to us. It’s just the way we balance things out as we spend Christmas Day itself at home with the kids. In theory, everything should have been fine, I didn’t really have a reason to find a problem with any of the arrangements and there was no pressure. They know I don’t drink and have been totally supportive, but suddenly, about ten minutes before they arrived I started to panic. Over the years my mother in law and I shared quite a few bottles of wine. She is not a heavy drinker so I always drank more, but seeing them was always a reason to have few glasses. Reminding myself of that made me so envious, and I really wanted to be back there enjoying it.
It’s strange how when you reminisce, you remember just the good and not the bad. You forget how one drink wouldn’t be enough, and by the end of the evening you’d either be asleep, have embarrassed yourself or had an argument, or maybe all three. At least I probably would have.
So, I had a little cry, reminded myself that it’s my choice not to drink and that choice makes me a better person than the one I was. We put our shoes on and took the kids for a walk. It was tipping down and we got completely soaked but when we got back I felt so much better. My mind felt like it was my own again, and I’d been able to put off the temporary hijack from unwanted thoughts.
I wonder if it’s an element of being at home for a few days, without the normal routines we all follow? I haven’t even run since last weekend! That certainly makes a difference normally to the way I think and helps calm the chaos!
I don’t ever want to give in. Three years and three months is too long to throw away but crikey, some days are hard!
I hope you all had a lovely day!
Thanks for reading.
27 December. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
Well I did it, and it was a lot easier than last year. And even more easy than the year before that. Three alcohol free Christmases. That’s something to be proud of isn’t it?
We spent the day at home, us and the kids, as is our tradition. Then we see family on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day. It’s only our parents who live near us, everyone else is hundreds of miles away so we aren’t torn in too many directions like some people are. This year work has been hectic though and I didn’t feel we have the time to prepare until the last minute. It was busy right up until closing time on Christmas Eve. Then we stopped.
Christmas Day was lovely. We were all tired, me my husband and the kids, and the little one is fighting off a bug, but just spending time together was wonderful and this year, for once, my thoughts didn’t revolve around drink.
I had one moment, where I felt a little lost, but it was over so quickly that I didn’t even bother to say anything. I was standing by the fridge, and suddenly found myself reminiscing slightly about the thought of that glass. Of course my Christmases always involved wine. I remembered the feeling of the glass in my hand and the taste of the wine, that no other drink quite matched… And then I caught myself. That moment of sadness where I remembered I couldn’t drink ‘normally’ like other people passed, and I moved on.
It’s nice that even these moments are becoming fewer and further between. I used to think they’d never stop and slowly they are, even if now they come out of the blue and surprise me.
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and made it through without too many dramas?
Thanks for reading.
29 December. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
Trying to explain to your family that you have an addiction is not easy. For a long time I felt that I didn’t have a problem and even when I realised I did, there was still a voice in the back of my mind that said I was just attention seeking, that someone like me couldn’t have an addiction, and that everyone would think I was just after attention.
Just to be clear, when I say everyone, I mean everyone except for my close family. My husband lived the ups and downs with me. He was there for me, even when I wasn’t there for myself, and tried to do everything he could to help me. I thought I’d hidden it well enough from my children, I thought they were young enough not to know, that they wouldn’t remember, so I didn’t tell them. One by one though, in the last year they have all spoken to me about it. My eldest has asked me the least, so perhaps he remembers more than I’d like. My second to youngest was the first to ask me, one night when we were driving home. He must have been 13 at the time, and was so nervous asking me. I’ve always had the rule, if one of the kids is mature enough to be able to ask me something (this could be anything at all) then I will do my best to answer. I hadn’t been expecting it to be this though. It surprised me and I wasn’t sure what to say, should I tell the truth or gloss over it? I don’t think there is a right answer for this question and what worked for me, wouldn’t necessarily be the right thing for someone else, but I went with it and told him everything. Over the past year he has had more questions and I’ve answered those too. It’s been tricky trying to explain something that I was so ashamed of to someone I cared so much about, I didn’t want him to hate me, but, I really feel it has made us closer. He certainly knows now why I find things difficult sometimes, or why I might avoid certain situations. It isn’t a conversation I wanted to have, but I am glad I did.
Not long after this, my daughter and I were talking, also in the car. Driving seems to be a good time to talk. She wasn’t talking about me, but a character on the TV show Grey’s Anatomy. We were talking about family gatherings and saying how awkward they could be, and I said I understood. She was surprised and told me yes, but I don’t have a problem like Amy. Amy was an addict in the show. I said actually I did. The conversation went from there, and again, although it wasn’t something I wanted to bring up, I am glad I did.
I always felt like I was stepping on egg shells, I didn’t want to admit to my problem but with it in the shadows I also couldn’t really comment on a lot of things. We’d be watching TV and there might be a portrayal of an addict that was done really well, or really badly, (they do get blamed for everything) and I felt like I couldn’t comment. Now I have the freedom to say what I think about it, and my family knows I am talking from experience. I do find TV shows difficult. They often make addicts out to be awful people who let everyone down and that isn’t always true. Sometimes they are doing the best they can.
Recently my middle son told me that he found me inspirational. Followed by, “Wow, that sounded cheesy!” But he went on, that it showed him he could overcome something difficult, like I had. I hope they never go through what I did, but if my hard-times have shown my kids that they can overcome literally anything if they put their minds to it, then at least there is a point to it.
Thanks for reading!
26 December. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
At Eden after Parkrun last week.
Sobriety is hard. It’s probably the hardest thing I have ever done.
It surprised me because initially all my worry was around giving up drinking. I mean, I only ever drank in the evenings, except on weekends when it was allowed to be a little earlier, and holidays or special occasions for the same reason. I wasn’t an all day drinker, but when I did drink, and that was every day, without fail, I’d consume at least one and a half but more often two bottles of wine by myself. But that aside, the drinking bit, although a hard thing to do, was done. All I had to do really was stop drinking. Just refrain from going to the fridge and filling up my glass. It doesn’t sound too hard does it?
It was the thinking bit I wasn’t expecting to be so hard. Suddenly I had a lot of extra time. That time meant I did extra thinking, and the removal of wine from my life meant my emotions started to come back to life. That was weird, and even now, I still think I’m experiencing new things almost every day. Without wine to numb my thoughts, my mind was a whirring mess, but it was mine, and I had to learn to deal with all this excess of emotion. I felt like I was able to appreciate everything, that I could see things that I just couldn’t before. That I felt things that I hadn’t done for a long time. I’d thought wine made me fun and grown up and all that, but I didn’t realise how much it stopped me from experiencing. I didn’t realise how much damage it did to me. I knew it took the ‘edge’ off, but I didn’t realise it almost washed the foundations away too.
Rebuilding is taking time, but I know now that my foundations are strong. They say you have to hit rock bottom to change, and so my foundations are built on that rock. It’s certainly been a challenge, but I feel good now, I’m liking the person I’m turning out to be under it all. Three years is a long time, and yet it is nothing at all. I thought quitting drinking would be the hard part, but learning to live with your true self is harder. It’s also exciting, and although it sounds soppy, you don’t have to let anything hold yourself back.
So to anyone out there struggling in the early (or not so early) days, just go slowly and more importantly, be kind to yourselves. It does get easier and it is so worth it.
24 December. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
Me and my friend 'Broxanne'
A few years ago I felt like I could do anything. Nothing seemed to worry me, nothing seemed to get to me. Alcohol gave me an armour that took the edge off. If I worried about things more often than not, a glass of wine would help fix it. I never drank in the day, but more often than not, the after effects of the evening before helped take the harsh reality of tricky situations away, and a glass at the end of the day would stop me overthinking. Somehow I could push through most things, but in hindsight, it was like I wasn’t really there, it was like a game that I was watching but didn’t really matter too much.
Of course I don’t have that buffer for my feelings now. It makes doing things just a little bit harder as I have to face up to them head-on. The lack of this psychological buffer really knocked me, I didn’t realise how much harder things would be, and how things that seemed easy before, things that I could do with my eyes closed would be difficult. It became easier to stop doing a lot, at least the things I didn’t have to do. I found my self-confidence plummeted and probably because I didn’t push myself out of my comfort zone, things got worse.
I worried I would get things wrong, I was worried I would make a fool of myself, and in worrying, I stopped doing. I’m not sure what has changed, but something has, maybe it’s just an element of time helping to heal? In the last few months I’ve started trying to do things again. I’ve tackled things a little more head-on. I’ve started going out to business meetings again, something I really couldn’t have faced a few months ago, but the more I do it, the easier it seems. I might not be the most confident speaker, addressing the room makes me nervous and I stumble a little over my words, but I know that I am an authentic version of myself, one that might make mistakes but is doing her best, and actually beginning to enjoy meeting people and getting things done again.
Last week I attended a breakfast meeting. Being there for 7.30am wasn’t something I would have looked forward to before, and to be honest it was hard leaving my warm bed, but I went anyway. Once I was on the road watching the sun break through the dark it was fine, as was the meeting. In fact it was more than fine, I spoke with lots of people, I addressed the room and didn’t forget what I was saying. I laughed and enjoyed myself. I had a photo taken with a colleague/friend and when I showed my daughter later, she said, “Mum you look so happy!” That she could see how I felt and that it was genuine means a lot.
It feels like I am getting myself back, and that can only be a good thing.
Oh, and my stunning friend in the photo? Well they raised over £2000 for charity for attending the meeting looking so beautiful!
Thanks as always for reading.
23 December. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
They say 'do one thing a day that scares you'? Well here's mine - I'm not great with heights and I'm on a rope bridge!
I recently told you all about Tuesday Night Wine Club and some of my friends, well, I also had another friend… I was feeling honest one day about 18 months after I became sober. She was surprised, told me she liked a drink too and asked, “Didn’t you have the will power to stop?” I was so shocked! What a stupid thing to say! (Sorry friend!) Of course I had the willpower, haven’t you seen it? I’ve had the willpower over the last few years to get up and carry on, even when I was struggling. To get through a day, when I was locked in self-loathing for wanting to drink something that I didn’t want, to put myself through that each day and then eventually come out the other side. I had the will power to admit I needed help and then do everything I could to stop. I had the will power to smash a wine glass on the floor because I was so angry with myself for wanting to fill it up again. I had the will power to stop. Eventually. But it is more than that. Addiction isn’t something anyone would choose. It isn’t a choice it is a disease. That’s not an excuse, some people can drink, enjoy it, and stop, and some people cannot. I cannot. Not anymore. It is an insidious, horrible, poisonous disease that saps your self-respect and all your energy. You use everything you have to keep going, to put on the show, so everyone knows (or thinks) you are fine, and you are left feeling isolated and confused, unsure of how to move forward. Until one day you stop fighting and choose. I chose to leave it behind and three years on, I’m beginning to be able to admit just how hard that was. Do you know what though? It’s hard to look back on, but I am so glad I am here now, looking back on that episode of my life.
Thank you for reading.
10 December. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Family | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
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.
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.
03 December. 2019 • Category: Addiction | Family | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
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!
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.
21 December. 2019 • Category: Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety | Family
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.
01 December. 2019 • Category: Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
It's almost Christmas!
I had my last ever drink on 7th September 2016. A date I will always remember, and celebrate passing every year. But this meant I had only three months of non-drinking under my belt by the time Christmas came around. As anyone who has stopped drinking before knows, three months is barely anything. Certainly not enough to learn to rethink all the brainwashing we have coming at us constantly from TV and elsewhere regarding the fun we will have once we have a drink in our hands. I’d got to three months before and that was where it ended.
I approached Christmas with trepidation. It certainly overshadowed things for my whole family that year. Things we would normally do couldn’t be done, like the work Christmas party which was always a good excuse for me to have a few. Even family gatherings had a different feel, as more often than not, they all involved us having a ‘nice’ few drinks to relax and enjoy ourselves. Our family often travels a fair distance to see one another (several hundred miles) so once there it was often seen a reward to have a drink after the long journey. It was easier to avoid it all.
At home though it was no different and my husband and I would often have several glasses of wine or beers throughout the afternoon and evening. It was an excuse to drink earlier, to be allowed to and to enjoy it. I couldn’t see how Christmas would be the same without it. That makes me feel quite sad now, but I think the belief that alcohol is so needed and used as a reward by society makes it very difficult to imagine life without it when you have got yourself caught up in a situation like mine.
On Christmas Day itself we had a quiet family day, just my husband and I and the kids. It was lovely, except during Christmas dinner, when I had a bit of a meltdown. I was so angry! I was angry with myself for wanting a drink, angry that I couldn’t have one, angry that I didn’t want to give in and let myself have one, angry that it was so ingrained that I should have one. It was so confusing. But I got through it with the support of my husband and I didn’t give in. I would have been so cross with myself if I had done.
I didn’t want to make a huge deal of my non-drinking, but I told my closest family, because I wanted them to understand. The majority of my friends and family will still only now find out if they read my blog. It isn’t something I’ve advertised. That comes back down to the feelings of shame I had about the whole situation. I felt like I’d let myself and my family down. But now, in hindsight I am proud. I gave up something I relied on and now days go by without me giving it a second thought. I didn’t ever think that would happen. I wasn’t sure how it could.
So I guess my message is to stick with it. It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, sometimes it will be harder, and sometimes it will be easier. We have to fight the message that society portrays, that alcohol is the answer to everything, because certainly in my case, it is the complete opposite.
Thanks as always for taking the time to read this, and let me know how you’re finding the run up to Christmas this year.