My Not So Secret Diary

Feeling Unprepared

Tomorrow I’m running my first half marathon of the year. It’s a hilly one. I’m feeling nervous.

This time last year I hadn’t run a half marathon at all. The furthest I had run was 10k which is just over six miles, but then over the course of the year I ran four half marathons, Plymouth, Eden, Cornwall Coast to Coast, and one at Cardinham woods. They were all varied, but my times were pretty consistent, and I enjoyed them, so you’d think I’d feel okay about tomorrow. Doubt has crept in instead. The last one I ran was in was five months ago, so it’s long enough to for me to begin to think I can’t do it anymore.

Then, as if I need more excuses, I’ve had a bad chest, which is better now, but was a bit nasty for a minute. Then there has been the weather. It’s been atrocious. Not that it’s an excuse, I know I can still run in bad weather, I know I am waterproof, but, you know, it’s easier not to some times. So my long runs, haven’t really been long enough. It should be fine, I keep telling myself, and yet, there is that doubt just niggling away at me.

Our local parkruns are never cancelled, and yet this weekend in the face of Storm Dennis, which follows on from last weekend’s Storm Ciara, they have been. It’s not ideal to be running in such wooded areas with high winds and rain, so I totally understand, but given that tomorrows half is at the same National Trust estate as my local parkrun, I sort of assumed it would be cancelled too. I’d allowed myself to believe it would be, but of course, because I tempted fate, it hasn’t been. It’s still on and weirdly I am excited. I don’t particularly want to get drenched, nor do I want to admit defeat, and knowing there is a cut off time makes me nervous. It’s an hour more than the last half marathons I’ve done, and yet knowing it’s there does me no good. I feel like I’ll fail before I begin.

The best thing, is that it’s only five minutes from my house, so if it’s horrendous tomorrow I can change my mind. I won’t, that will feel like giving up. It’s okay if someone else tells me I can’t run, but I’m not so good at telling myself. So I’m hoping my running son will come out and meet me at a few points, just for a bit of moral support, he’s quite good at it on races he isn’t allowed to join in with yet. He ran the majority of a ten miler last year with me just to keep me company as he was too young to run it properly.

I’ll try to be positive, like I said, I am looking forward to it, I just know that my body often runs better than my mind thinks it can. So as long as my alarm goes off, I’ll be there and I know that once I am there, I will enjoy it.

Fingers crossed I don’t get blown away! I’ll let you all know how I get on!

Anyone else running tomorrow? What are your plans?

Take care and thanks for reading.



In a world where you can be anything, be kind. With an Elephant My Not So Secret Diary

It’s difficult to know what someone else is going through. Some people are good at hiding their feelings, and keep things to themselves. Some people don’t have anyone close to share with.

We don’t and can’t know what goes on behind closed doors, so today and always just remember to be kind.


Saturday Night Out

Saturday Night Out drinks at a bar, not needing alcohol to have fun as I am drinking a glass of lemonade in my hand My Not So Secret Diary
Sitting at the bar drinking my lovely lemonade.

We used to go out a fair bit. A lot of it was pubs and clubs when we were younger, in fact, we met in a nightclub. After we had the kids we’d go out to eat more often sometimes with them, sometimes without them, although it often involved me having a few drinks. I never needed to be the designated driver.

It was strange recently to be invited out for the opening of a new venue that my husband had been working at. It was a high end place, and to be invited by the owners was a real privilege. I’d just got back from parkrun and was expecting a relaxing afternoon and evening, when my husband told me we’d had the invitation. I felt quite excited for several minutes before the doubt crept in. Suddenly I remembered I didn’t drink anymore, that there would be no ‘fun’ drinks while getting ready, no drinks when we got there and none with dinner. It was so different to past nights out and I did wonder what the point was.

It’s tough when a lot of your relaxation, socialisation, and fun seems to be associated with alcohol. Learning to do without it on a daily basis is one thing, learning to be without it on occasions like this is almost harder. You don’t get so many of them to practice with, as going out for me is now a more unusual occasion, so the memories haven’t been worked through in the same way that day to day life has. Although predictably, there are still things in my daily life that catch me out from time to time.

It’s hard, but I also don’t want alcohol to win. It’s had enough of my time already. (Would you believe I wrote ‘wine’ instead of ‘win’ when I wrote that?! Clearly it’s quite ingrained!

So, I got dressed up. I straightened my hair and did my make up and off we went to the coast where there was a crazy amber weather warning that night! But, most importantly, it was good.

I find social situations difficult, not because I expect people will wonder why I don’t drink. I mean, I suppose especially when it’s work related, I don’t want people to judge me, to think I’m not up to standard, but generally I’m okay with who I am now. But sometimes, some situations are difficult. For example, a couple of months ago, our daughter won a prize for her art work and was invited to a University for the presentation. It was a lovely evening, food and drink were laid on, and an art gallery was set up for us to view the students pieces. We avoided the complimentary glasses of wine that were being handed out, but when we approached the bar to see what else was available we had no luck. I asked for a cup of tea, and was actually told they only had wine available and weren’t allowed to use the facilities to make hot drinks! I was more surprised than anything else. But of course, situations like that, where it seen as ‘different’ not to drink make it harder. I also ran a half marathon last year where everyone was given beer at the finish line. The odd few like me who declined were given a kids bottle of juice. These things don’t help any of use who are in recovery, we just want to fit in, and for things not to be any harder than they already are.

Luckily Saturday night was not like that. We were greeted at the door and I immediately felt welcomed. I walked in and went straight past the complimentary champagne. No one batted an eye-lid at us when we politely declined it, and it actually didn’t bother me. In fact, I only felt my eye wander once much later on to someone else’s glass. It was a glass of red wine in case you are wondering, and I was tempted for a split second, but with a deep breath, that moment passed too. Instead, we sat at the bar, and had some very nice lemonade. I did sniff it several times before I drank it, just to be sure you know. One sip now, and who knows where I’d be, but the thing is I actually wanted to check, rather than slip up.

I had a lovely evening. I chatted and the next morning I remembered it all. I didn’t have to wrack my brain to remember to whom I spoke and what was said. I knew. And that’s a great feeling. Remembering. And enjoying myself.

Thank you as always for reading my thoughts.


Exercise for the Non-Sporty

Exercise for the Non-Sporty Lonely Goat running club mum and son run at parkrun together family outdoors Cornwall mental health addiction recovery blog My Not So Secret Diary
Me and my son running together.

When I was younger, I wasn’t that keen on exercise. Nothing quite fitted for me. Everything I tried I wasn’t good enough at, and I didn’t really have the inclination to try to get better at it. I didn’t have any sporty friends or role models either, so sport seemed like something that other people did. That isn’t an excuse, it’s just my perception. I hated sports at school. It seemed like the teachers had their favourites and if you weren’t one, and it was clear I wasn’t, then you might as well have not been there. Mind you I didn’t like school much either, so PE was just something at the bottom of my list there. If I had a chance I would use any excuse to get out of PE. I wasn’t really unfit or anything, I just didn’t appreciate the chance to be picked last or ridiculed in front of people I didn’t like. My teenage years were not the best of my life.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I was particularly unfit or anything. I was lucky in some ways, I had horses growing up, so was often out riding, but that was something I did on my own. The idea of organised sports was something very different and not the way I wanted to spend my time. I didn’t even think of having my horses as exercise to be honest, it was just something I did and I enjoyed it. But, when you think about all the effort that goes in, the cleaning, the riding, the lugging hay bales around, it is quite a physical hobby to have. I loved being in the outdoors, I loved the time and the peace, though I wouldn’t have been able to explain that then. Things change though and unfortunately, the last horse I had, a beautiful well-mannered mare got colic and passed away. I was terribly sad, and I couldn’t replace her. Maybe one day I will, but that was twenty years ago now.

I decided sport wasn’t really my thing. Everyone that did sport seemed skinny, or fitter than me. I didn’t know where to start. So I didn’t. I’m not one for competing with others, but I don’t like to be judged either and I often feel like I am. If I can avoid a situation where that might happen I will. Just going out of the house in leggings was enough to put me off.

So it’s a bit mad that I get up early now, in the dark to run on the weekends when I could have a lay in instead. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I wish I could have a lay in, but the temptation of a Saturday morning parkrun, or the lure of a race are enough to get me out the door. Even when the weather is bad, and that is surprising. I even run in the evenings, in the dark and lately the icy cold weather when my son is at track practice. Now that must mean I am crazy, because there is a perfectly good cafe there which I could go and sit in to wait instead!

I love running now though, and I count myself lucky that I have finally found something I enjoy and that I am quite good at. By good, I don’t necessarily mean fast, there are plenty of people out there that are faster, but I mean, I can keep going. I couldn’t run for a minute when I started, no joke. Now I can happily pop out for a 10k (6.2 miles) without really thinking about it. I never thought I’d be able to say that. So while I’d like to be faster sometimes, I’m just happy to be able to get out and do it. It’s peaceful and you see places you wouldn’t otherwise see.

One day I saw a comment someone put on Facebook and it meant a lot. I often remind myself of it, and use it to encourage other people. It went something along the lines of, “You know when you are at a race, and everyone else looks like they know what they’re doing and you don’t? Well they are probably looking at you and thinking the exact same thing.” It instantly relaxes me and reminds me that you just don’t know what is going on in someone else’s head. They might just be trying to style it out and convincing you that they are confident when they aren’t.

So I guess really it’s about trying things and finding the one that works for you. I’m not great with team sports, or anything which involves loads of people, but put me in a race, with a herd of like minded people, and I’m fine. More than fine. I actually enjoy it.



Support blog about addiction recovery living alcohol free mum doing headstand at home yoga and running strength mental health bravery overcoming My Not So Secret Diary
I can even support myself upside down!

I didn’t want help for my addiction for a long time. As I’ve said before, it took me so long to admit to myself and my husband that I had a problem, the last thing I wanted to do was admit it to anyone else. I thought I would be judged. I was also afraid of being outed and people I knew finding out. How things change!

During my second attempt (and failure) at sobriety, I knew I couldn’t do it on my own so I finally faced up to the fact I might need to ask for help. I hid in my workshop at the bottom of the garden (I used to make fused glass in my previous life) and phoned a helpline. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but I was terrified that someone somewhere would assume I was a bad mother and try to take my kids away. While I sometimes might have been shorter of patience than I would have liked, I knew that I had never put them in danger and I never drank in the day, I just didn’t know if the people on the end of the phone would believe that.

I spoke to someone who listened, reassured me and put me on a waiting list to speak to a someone else. It took three months for me to be called back, and when they finally did I was drinking again. I felt like I’d been forgotten, I had asked for help and there was no one there. Finally I had someone on the phone who was offering help, but they had no answers, just a lot of questions for me. They suggested I came in to speak to a counsellor and I was assigned a key worker who I will call Bill. Bill listened when we met, but he didn’t have answers either. Except to tell me not to stop drinking. I was like, “What?” But I had heard right. I was drinking so much that actually stopping could have been really bad for me. It was frustrating. All I wanted was to stop drinking and suddenly I was being told to carry on. He told me to cut down, but only by about half a glass each week. He said it had to be manageable so I could maintain it and not slip back. I already knew what it was like to slip, but man, drinking when I wanted to stop was weird and went against everything I had thought.

Bill suggested I had two ways to go. Either I did all the work myself or I book in for a residential detox. I liked the idea of the ‘easy’ way out so I booked the detox. He insisted I needed to have things in place for afterwards, as otherwise it would be too easy to slip straight back to where I had been before. I needed to change my habits to help me stay sober. The problem was the waiting list was long and I was done with drinking, I loved it, I hated it, it was confusing, but most of all, I hated the control it had over me.

I don’t think Bill and I clicked. I’m assuming he was once an alcoholic, going by his job in an advisory role, but I just don’t think he got me, and most of all I wanted to be understood. He suggested I started going to some local group meetings and I said yes. They were quite close to where I lived, and on the second meeting I saw someone I knew drive past as I was talking to another person leaving after our meeting. I felt like I had a sign above me pointing out I was an alcoholic, I felt so self-conscious!

The first meeting was strange. I was early and met by two women who were cagey about why they were there. I was also cagey about why I was there, so trying to work out if I was in the right place was weird. Finally it was decided that I was and gradually other people came in. Obviously I’m not going to disclose anything to identify my fellow anonymous attendees but it’s fair to say that it was a diverse group. I connected most with another lady who although older than me was in the same position as me, she had finally admitted she had a problem when she had to leave a theme park she was at with her children to buy a bottle of wine which she then sneaked back in with her. I also connected with another person who had been in and out of prison during their drug addiction. They had been clean until they were stabbed by their partner, during an unexpected altercation. Coming out of hospital to find the partner had been arrested and the relationship unreconcilable had been too much, and the familiarity of drugs and alcohol had beckoned.

There were of course other people there in the meetings, and I had nothing and yet everything in common with them. Some people looked at me strangely before I spoke, trying to work out why I was there, like I said, I presented a very together image, as long as I knew there would be wine at the end of the day, and at that point there still was. That made it worse, knowing I was still drinking was just compounding the confusion I felt. After talking with my new acquaintances I found there was a drug I could take to dissuade me from drinking, so I made an appointment and saw the doctor.

I thought I’d have to persuade the doctor. I didn’t, she believed me. For the first time, I felt listened to by a health professional. She told me she had worked in addiction wards in a hospital where patients had tried to drink the hand sanitiser for the alcohol in them. I couldn’t imagine ever doing that, but she understood. She prescribed me Antabuse but told me not to take it straight away. I had to get my drinking right down and then I could start the course. The idea is that it makes you physically ill if you take the tablets and still drink. The idea of it scared me, but it gave me back the control I had lost. If I chose to take the tablets, then I was choosing to try to put a stop to my drinking. It was a strange thing to think I had them, but couldn’t take them yet. I went home and told my husband all about it, putting the pot on top of the fridge, making a plan to get my consumption down. I think from memory I lasted about two or three days before I had enough, certainly not the weeks I had been advised. I smashed my glass and tipped the last of my wine down the drain. It was like I was possessed. Then I took a tablet. My husband watching me in shock just said, “Bloody hell Clu.” (Clu is his nickname for me). It might not have been the end, but right then it was like I took the biggest step forward in my recovery. I sat there for a minute waiting for something to happen, but nothing did. I wasn’t magically fixed, but and this is the huge thing, I was finally on the right path.

So, I never needed my booking at the residential unit. I never made it back to my counsellor, and after a few more meetings I stopped doing those too. There was nothing at the time that fit me properly, but without each of those things, I wouldn’t have been able to make the progress I did. Knowing I had the safety net of the detox was helpful, but I was almost expecting a magic wand to be waved, and of course no one can do that for you.

It seems like recovery should be the end of a journey, the end of a love affair with alcohol that has to end but yet for me it was very much the beginning. In fact, I’d look at it more like chapters, I finished the drinking chapter and began the recovery chapter, and in some ways, although I don’t drink any more, I’m still in it. A chapter that lasts years is long, but so was the chapter that led up to my addiction. Unpicking everything takes time and I wasn’t that well prepared for that, I didn’t realise how much wine was holding me together in a dysfunctional way, but now without it, I am a better person, I know that now.

Underneath it all, we are all the same. We just want to connect, and be understood and that’s one of the things I love about writing to you all. I’m coming to understand myself more and more, so thank you as always for listening to me and if you want, pop me a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

Much love.