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.


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.



Insecurity blog about sobriety parkrun living alcohol free after recovery and addiction positivity and mental health My Not So Secret Diary
Start line selfie with Katie and Stanley this morning.

It’s been a busy few days. My husband has been working like crazy again, I’m not complaining, but he’s tired and it’s hard not to be able to do anything to help him. Our littlest has had a nasty cold and that means he has been up a lot in the nights, and this morning our running son had to go to Bournemouth for a race as he is representing Cornwall Schools. Since we’re in Cornwall and he was going on the coach he had to be up and out early, in time to meet his team just after 6am. So that was another early start, but as he is lovely, my husband took him down and then popped into work for a few hours. Our eldest son always has plans so leaving him to it, me and my daughter Katie decided to take our youngest out to parkrun.

I’ve now run 42 parkruns, and I run with Stanley in the buggy a lot, but I haven’t ever parkrun with him. I think it’s just another thing where I’m afraid of being not good enough, maybe other people are faster, or have a better running buggy, etc, etc. Anyway, what I mean is that I do tend to put things off, especially if I feel I won’t be that good. Today we just made up our minds and went for it, and you know what? It was great. Well it was once I managed to get Katie out of the door. She is easily distracted and by the time we were on our way, I wondered if parkrun might have been and gone by the time we got there. It was okay though, it was easy to park and we got there with four or five minutes to spare.

We started near the back as I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way with the buggy and clog up the pack. It took almost a minute to get through the crowd to the start line at the beginning so my PB went out the window, but it was one of the nicest parkruns I have done in ages. We just ran and chatted, and resorted to walking on some of the hills because my two and a half year old is heavy! I should probably have checked my tyres before I went because my front one was quite low, so of course, I’m going to blame any perceived slowness on that, rather than on me and Katie. But like I said, it was lovely.

We stopped afterwards at the cafe and warmed up with some hot drinks before going to play in the park on the way out. It was a beautiful day and really felt like spring was coming as we saw so many beautiful flowers coming out.

We arrived home to find my husband was already back from work. I was thinking that other than having to go and meet Barn from his coach later in the evening we had nothing else on for the evening. Instead, I was told we’ve been invited out. It’s so nice, and yet it’s made me panic a bit. I don’t cope that well with change. It makes me a little nervous, and it’s worse because I don’t know what to expect. It’s one thing going out just with Lee, as I know he has no expectations of me, but going out with others in a group makes me a little nervous as I haven’t done it much recently. I’m not sure of the venue, of what drinks they’ll offer and what conversation will be expected of me. Those points alone are many of the reasons I used to have a drink, to stop myself feeling nervous in situations like these. Clearly I won’t be doing that tonight. I’ll be working my way through it as best as I can, and I am sure I will have a lovely time. I just wish I didn’t feel so nervous about it.

It’s annoying that things I want to do still make me nervous after all this time. It would be easier to stay at home, but then when I stopped drinking I didn’t mean that I would stop living, so I’m going to go out, and hopefully I’m going to have a good time. Fingers crossed!

Thanks for reading!


Living Sober

Living Sober Story half marathon finisher at Eden Project Lonely Goat Running Club blog about sobriety parkrun living alcohol free after recovery and addiction positivity and mental health My Not So Secret Diary

Sober Stories

You may have heard of Lotta Dann aka Mrs D. She’s from New Zealand, and an author of several books about sobriety. She also has her own blog and like me, she is an advocate of living a sober life, hosting a great site called Living Sober.

I was honoured recently to be interviewed by Lotta when she asked me to talk about my sobriety, and how my life has improved since I stopped drinking.

I really hope other people are able to read and find inspiration from my story. If you want support or community, the Living Sober site is a great place to start.

If you would like to read my interview, please click on the link.


As always, thanks for reading x

Newquay 10k

Newquay-10k running blog about sobriety parkrun living alcohol free after recovery and addiction positivity and mental health My Not So Secret Diary
With my medal.

Last year I wanted to run Newquay 10k but I missed out and it was full before I got the chance. I decided to make sure I got in quicker this year. They have quite tight guidelines as to who can book a place and it fills up very quickly. They open the entries first to local clubs, but although I’m local and in a club it isn’t a local club so I couldn’t get in. Then they open the second phase to non-club members, with the third phase being for anyone else. Typically, I totally forgot about it, even after trying to organise myself to get a place this year. By the time I remembered all three phases had opened and there were no spaces left.

I was so disappointed, but that day I saw a thread on Facebook about putting in for a reserve place. I never normally bother, but thought I’d give it a go. I had nothing to lose. I knew I wasn’t the only one, but I was pretty surprised when the email came back to say I was on the reserve this and I was number 26 in the queue. I thought that meant I had no chance!

A week before the race, I had an email to say I was in! I couldn’t believe it, what luck!

My son normally trains with his club three times a week and one of those days is a Sunday, which is fine, but as he needs a lift to get to training, it meant I would have to drive myself to the race. I know it won’t seem much to other people, but I’ve always had someone to come with me, whether it is my husband or one of the kids. Even on the start line, I am seldom alone. This race was the first time I had no-one so I was a little nervous, but I made up my mind I would push myself out of my comfort zone and go anyway.

I was the only one from my running club there, I know that for definite because I saw the list when they were handing out our race numbers. It actually said Lonely Goat RC (1). I don’t think I have ever been the only one from my club at a race before! But it was quite nice, as I didn’t know anyone, I could be properly anti-social and not worry about talking to anyone. I didn’t even have to look out in case there was any one I knew there as I was sure there wouldn’t be. It was quite a walk from the car to the race HQ so I left my hoody in the bag check area. Then there wasn’t a lot else to do, so I found a corner and waited, I even played on my phone for a bit. It was strange being on my own, but not in a bad way, just in a I hadn’t done it before way. I was pretty proud of myself too. A year ago there would have been no chance of me doing something like that on my own. Actually a few months ago I wouldn’t have. So it’s another step forward.

All in all the race itself was great. I’ve been worrying about it because I have had a nasty cold and chest and have been worried I might not be able to run. Last year I had a chest infection that turned to pleurisy so this year I’ve tried to take it a little easier, in the hope that I can shake it off and it seems to be working. Due to that though, I haven’t run as much as I would have liked this week, and my watch has been telling me I am on the edge of de-training, which isn’t that helpful for my self-confidence. It was good to get out though, and as so much of the race was on the road, and seen quite obviously by other passers by, it pushed me to keep going even when it was hard.

I have to say, I don’t mind having to go on a waiting list for a race that is really well organised with a lovely medal. I totally get why it would have sold out, but I am glad I bothered to put my name down for the reserves. I was warned that as a reserve I might not get a finishers t-shirt in the right size, so I was more than happy to get one, in bright pink, with the Newquay Road Runner logo on it. What a nice reminder to have! Hopefully next year I’ll be more organised and remember to put my name down straightaway!

Were any of you there? What else did you get up to this weekend?

Thank you for reading.


Changing Perceptions

Changing Perceptions sobriety blog about mental health mum and daughter and son playing family recovery and living alcohol free My Not So Secret Diary
Me with my daughter and one of my three sons.

It’s taken me a long time to comfortable in myself, and to be honest, I’m still not quite there yet. I’ve always worried if I am good enough, calm enough, clever enough, thin enough, fast enough… the list goes on, and I never quite measure up, but I am not sure who put the list there in the first place. I certainly don’t remember, besides catty teenage comments, ever being told I wasn’t good enough, but somewhere deep inside, I felt it.

I know a lot of people feel the same way, and it’s hard to get over it, it’s almost impossible to rewire the way you think to be more positive about yourself and kinder to yourself.

I was always of the mind set that ‘something’ would change the way I was and the way I felt about myself. I wasn’t really sure what, I would just feel like if I did this, or bought that, then it would make the difference. I always had a little space, that no matter what I did remained a bit empty.

Over the years I came to think this was normal, that everyone must feel the same as me and I learned to live with doubting myself. It isn’t a nice feeling though, and I am sure I am not the only one. Of course over the years I came to rely on things that made me feel better, those inevitable glasses of wine in the evening, but they were only temporary fixes. When the alcohol wore off, I still felt the same.

Reading that back, it sounds like I was unhappy, and I wasn’t, at least not with everything I had, my husband, our family and our life together has always made me happy. I guess I was just always a little disappointed with myself. I just didn’t quite measure up to my expectation of what I should be. I know now this is stupid, I know there are people in a lot worse situations than me, but my mind has always over-thought. Telling it to stop thinking is like telling an alcoholic not to drink. We all know that doesn’t work. I know now realistically that looking in from the outside, you only see one side of the story. You only see what people want you to see, so the people I compare myself to, they aren’t real, at least not all the time. I know because I’ve been there when I portrayed myself as a calm and together person all the years I let wine control me. The difference is I can see it now, and it allows me to take a step back.

I’ve slowed down, I don’t rush quite so much. I don’t let my crazy mind run away with me all the time. I try to stop it, and I try to be present, and I try to ignore that irritating little voice that tells me I’m not good enough. Sometimes it is challenging but it’s allowed me to settle and just be, and in learning that I feel better in myself.

You go through life thinking that one day you will change, that when you have that ‘thing’ you will be complete, but ultimately the only thing you can control is yourself and that is the ultimate thing in determining whether you are able to be happy.

Thank you as always for reading and remember to be kind to yourselves.



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.


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.


Pub Lunches

Pub Lunches on holiday in spain with family going to meetings in pubs without drinking living alcohol free after addiction and recovery blog My Not So Secret Diary
I even do non-alcoholic holidays now!

I had a meeting recently in a pub. It doesn’t bother me now like I thought it would, for a long time I didn’t think I would be able to or even want to go into a pub again. I mean, what would be the point if you aren’t going to have a drink? Well, like I said, I had to. It isn’t the first time recently, a few weeks ago, I went for a coffee in a pub with some colleagues. The thing was that was quite explicitly just coffee. It was in the morning, there was no risk of anyone ordering anything more than a hot drink so I knew what to expect. This one was a lunch meeting, and it was the first time I’ve done that since I stopped drinking, and I had to walk in on my own. I didn’t really think of it until just before, I assumed that because it was work no one would drink. But then I started to worry a bit, and that is frustrating because it isn’t like I need to drink even if others are.

I managed to get a seat and there were lots of bottles of water on the table so I felt safe, so to speak. It wasn’t long before a gentleman came in with another woman. Before they had even sat down they were announcing to the room that they were going to try to avoid drinking, especially as it was still January (Dry January). He soon followed this by saying that the tonic waters they had just bought cost £4.50 so it would have been cheaper to drink alcohol. Then the conversation moved to how expensive drinking could be and the cost of various varieties of alcoholic drinks. I felt a bit uncomfortable as this wasn’t a conversation I wanted to participate in, and yet I didn’t want to be rude. No sooner had I thought this than another attendee joked loudly, “Boy, am I glad I don’t drink anymore.” I know this person also had a drinking problem in the past, but I had never heard them acknowledge it before, and I was pleasantly surprised. This comment was followed by, “Celebrating twelve years.” I said, “Wow, well done.” I didn’t like to say too much and yet I felt it deserved recognition, but where I was worried about drawing too much attention, this person just bravely said, “Well yeah, it was either give up, or die,” which made me laugh, as was the intention. Without even really meaning to, I just said, “It’s three years for me.” It’s the second time in a short space of time that I have admitted to people outside of my circle the truth, and the minute it was out of my mouth, I wondered what I had done. I almost expected people to be staring, wondering whether I was contagious or something. But no one else seemed to react, maybe they just didn’t care, but then why would they? My addiction and my obsession with what others think of me shouldn’t be the first and only thing that people think about when walking into a room. The person I was talking to congratulated me and the conversation in the room moved on, as it already was.

Later after the meeting, where I drank a lot of water and nothing else, the same person caught me and we chatted. Although we both knew of the other’s troubles, we had never spoken to each other about it, only through my husband. We joked about how we wouldn’t have been able to face being in a pub a while ago, but now neither of us were going to jump over the bar to down a quick one. Then when talking about our other halves, my friend even said with a smile that their partner could take or leave alcohol which would have been our downfall, we could take it but never leave it.

“Who is sicker?” I was asked. “Us, the drinkers, or them, the spouses?”
“Them.” I replied, to which my friend laughing out loud said,
“Yes exactly, why would they put up with us and all the crap we’ve given them over the years? What is wrong with them?”

It was funny to be so open about it, a relief to talk and not have to explain or be ashamed or embarrassed but just to laugh at the situation and our experiences in a light hearted way. It’s an experience I would never have chosen, but it has shaped me as a person now, and made me who I am.

It’s another experience ticked off my list, one that is no longer a trigger, but something I can enjoy if I want to. So, my thought of the day is not to push yourselves too far or too fast, but not to limit yourself either. We can do whatever we want to do now we are free.

Thank you as always for reading.