My Not So Secret Diary


Vulnerability me and my two year old son smiling vulnerably for the camera sobriety blog about positve living My Not So Secret Diary
My littlest son and me.

I find sharing difficult. That sounds bizarre, especially when you all know I share a lot with you. But I guess what I mean is that I am always afraid that what I think or what I feel will be wrong. I’m afraid of upsetting or offending others, I’m conscious of their feelings and that I don’t necessarily understand everyone else’s life experiences, as they don’t always understand mine. I’m quite sensitive both in the way I am with others, but also in how they are with me. As I think about it, I’ve realised recently that although I share a lot, I only share what I am comfortable with, sometimes keeping those extra details to myself because they are either embarrassing or just too much for me right now. It makes me feel like I am glossing over things, and I’m not. I’ve read a lot of books by other women who have gone through recovery and come out the other side, and some of them have really cringeworthy stories. In some ways it’s nice to read them and to realise that I’m not alone, or that there is someone out there who has been through worse perhaps and yet is still okay now. That they are still loved. But I’m not sure that I have to share that much, sometimes it’s nice to keep just a little bit of myself for me.

I think a lot of it comes down to the shame I felt when I stopped drinking. I was mortified about the situation I had got myself into, and it took a very long time to come to terms with that. It made me feel grubby for want of a better word, and I felt that people, even those who love me, would think differently about me. Maybe that they would be disappointed in me, or feel let down by my behaviour. I’ve realised that isn’t true, and those that really love me have stood by me and care about me, even if I’m a bit anxious and possibly quite hard work at times.

I want anyone reading my thoughts to know that if I can stop drinking and work on overcoming my mental health issues than anyone can. Three years ago, I wouldn’t have believed it if you had told me that I would be sitting in a cafe at 7pm on a Tuesday night with my tea, writing this and not panicking about getting home for a few glasses of wine. I would have been going out of my mind then, and it is so unbelievably good not to be back there. I’ve come a long way and that makes me feel proud, but I also want to use my experiences so that others know that they can too. I’d love to give anyone who feels trapped in their addiction like I did, just a glimmer of hope that things can be different. Because they can.

I’m totally opposed to the insta-perfect way of life. I don’t think it does anyone any good to give an airbrushed perception of a life. I do however post a lot on Instagram. I use it as a virtual photo album really, a way of keeping up with what people I know, (and some I don’t) are up to, and I actually like to share on there. It’s full of all sorts, but that’s fine, because it’s my life and that’s the way it should be.

Maybe I haven’t shared every little detail with you all, I think I need to keep some things to myself although I’m a pretty open book. It feels good to share though, it helps me work through my muddled thoughts and feelings and work out where they are coming from and that is a great feeling. One thing I have noticed though is that I rarely now worry about what I have posted. I mean, I read back and check things, but I don’t wake up thinking who did I tag in that post? Or what did I share and was it even funny? I deleted many of my ‘friends’ back then. In all honesty, I don’t see the point in having a friends list that is full of thousands of people I don’t know. It’s not real and it isn’t an achievement for me. I feel that actually the conversations I have with you all are far more genuine, whether they are on my posts or in direct messages.

What is an achievement is to feel confident and strong in my sobriety. To have genuine connections with real people and hopefully to make a positive difference. If I can go by the messages I receive, then I feel like I am.

Thank you for listening.


Outward appearances aren’t everything! πŸ’–

Beautiful words from Charlie Mackesy πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ’–

outward appearances My Not So Secret Diary

So very true! πŸ’–πŸ’–πŸ’–

Pooh, what's the hardest Thing you ever said? Help. recovery and suicudal thought prevention sobriety blog with positive sayings My Not So Secret Diary


#bekind My Not So Secret Diary

Like a lot of people I was shocked to hear of the sudden passing of Caroline Flack a few days ago. You don’t have to be a fan or even have liked her to be taken aback at what happened, and regardless of the issues she has had in the press, it has to be acknowledged that she was a young woman, with a family who cared about her and a life in front of her. It’s deeply saddening to think for her it was all too much.

Whenever I saw Caroline on TV I often thought she looked a bit fragile. She had a very good exterior, don’t get me wrong, but there was something there that made me feel like she was similar to me. For a long time I was also good at projecting what I thought people wanted to see, and how I wanted to be perceived when I was shaking on the inside. I was a firm believer of the saying, “Fake it until you make it.” I felt that if you could push through it would make it easier to do it next time, and the time after, until eventually it became second nature and you just did it without worrying. I wonder if Caroline was like that? I’m not sure, I don’t know, and it isn’t my place to know, but I do know that there was more there than met the eye. But then there often is with many people.

I think it is frustrating and saddening in the day and age we live in that there isn’t more help for people that need it. Actually it makes me angry that there isn’t. We are all super connected by the internet and social media and yet many of us are actually lonely. It makes no sense. Mental health is discussed and we are told to open up and talk about things, yet who is really there to listen? Our friends and family aren’t qualified and can only do the best they can with the knowledge they have. I for one have asked for professional help over the years several times and been brushed off. Waiting lists are often too long, and if you’re like me, once you’ve been turned away one too many times, you take matters into your own hands and refuse to ask for help anymore. My approach doesn’t help matters, in fact it probably just contributed to the isolation I felt. I just wonder, if I had proper help with my mental health when I had asked for it, if I might have got better sooner, rather than still be dealing with it now after years of self-medicating with alcohol. It takes a lot to ask for help though, and to be turned away knocks you at the very least, possibly making you feel like you’re a time waster. I know I felt like that.

Addiction is not the same thing as suicide, but people aren’t the same either. They each have their own experiences and their own ways of dealing with things. People adapt to their circumstances, and sometimes they stop adapting because they can’t do it anymore. It seems like people are talking more now in the wake of Caroline’s death about being kind, which I admire, and it would be amazing if something good could come from something so sad. I wonder though really, how much will change. It sounds cynical, but what difference will it really make? For real change, we need to educate our children more, to be kind and accepting, but at the very least to tolerate difference. Teenagers can be particularly unkind if someone doesn’t fit in, and often it is just due to a lack of understanding, rather than an innate unkindness or need to be hurtful. Nothing will change overnight, and the problem is, no one thinks it will happen to them, or to their friend, until it does. And then it is often too late.

So I hope that the hashtag of the moment will encourage more kindness, and that everyone will in general #bekind to each other. No one knows what is going on behind closed doors, or behind a carefully constructed mask. Often the most vulnerable people are the ones most likely to put up a convincing act. It doesn’t mean they are strong, it just means they are good at hiding their weakness. But because of this, it is often these people that are missed, because they look okay to the outside world.

Maybe we can just try to remember that when we go about our daily lives. Just to look a bit closer sometimes and not assume. Maybe we can stop for a second and ask if someone is okay, and actually listen to them when they tell us? Maybe I’m hoping for too much? It’s just my thoughts after all.

Thanks for reading!


Standing Up For What You Believe

IMG_9665.2 My Not So Secret Diary Extinction Rebellion Protest with my daughter Katie
My daughter at the start of the Extinction Rebellion Youth Protest

I am all for raising the profile of living sustainably, as a family of six we consume an awful lot and being aware of the impact we have on the environment is important. My cynical side makes me question what difference our efforts will make. What I mean is that for everyone who recycles, there are a lot more who don’t. I had friends who lived in a new build house, and had a shared area for their bins. They didn’t recycle and had no intention of it because they didn’t want to store their recycling in their own home and said they didn’t have the space. I get it, and yet I don’t. As a couple with six children they were throwing away so much that it seemed to wipe out all my efforts, and I know that they aren’t the only family like it too. It’s frustrating, and yet it does seem to be common, I mean, I can’t remember the last time I bought a plastic bottle, as I always have a refillable one with me, and yet others use so many I wonder if doing my bit really makes that much of a difference.

We recycle all we can, I’m a stickler for it so we have four boxes in our laundry room where we can sort it all out and empty everything each week to be collected. We have also cut down on single use plastic wherever we can, we buy local where we can and I try to think about what we buy so we don’t waste anything unnecessarily. I know we could do more, but there is a balance between being as eco as we can and making sure it is affordable. I’d like to do more, but with four kids, there has to be a limit somewhere!

My daughter is keen to do something too and is a little less inhibited than me. She hasn’t got age and anxiety weighing her down or life experiences which make you see the worst in a situation. So when she wants to do something, I encourage her. I don’t want her to be constrained by my worries, and I want her to experience what she can. As a follower of Extinction Rebellion, I worry that she’ll get drawn into something controversial, but she will admit she doesn’t agree with many of their methods. She’s not daft, or easily led, but even the most peaceful protests can escalate quickly, and I worry that when you get involved in something extreme only the behaviour is seen and the message is lost. People only tend to remember the negative and forget the reason. I want to support her, but I also don’t want her to be involved in something she ends up regretting. Even locally, where we haven’t been affected by some of the bigger protests by Extinction Rebellion, they get a bad press, and seem to be remembered mainly for their disruption than the awareness they bring to the subject.

Recently though, she has been more involved in a youth movement down here in Cornwall, and has watched from the sidelines as they’ve staged a few peaceful protests. This week they, alongside many other groups in other areas decided to stage a Valentines Day Protest. She talked to me about it and I thought it would be a good experience, why not let her go and see, the worst thing is that she wouldn’t want to go again, but at least she wouldn’t always be wondering and feeling she was missing out. So she spoke to her college tutors, we thought it would be best to be honest rather than calling in sick, and they were absolutely fine about it. Most thought it was a good cause and others suggested she should use the time to get photos to contribute towards her final piece. (She’s an art student).

Thursday night was spent making a placard, and on Friday morning I drove her down. It was a little more than twenty five miles and although she was happy to take a bus, I was concerned about where she was going and who she was meeting so I felt better about taking her. I dropped her outside County Hall and she was quickly engulfed by a crowd of other like-minded young people. I shouldn’t have worried and it was good to see. Young people standing up for their planet.

I’m not sure if protesting is the right way to get their message out, but it empowers them. They feel like they are doing something, not sitting idly by and watching everything go down the drain. They are standing up for what they believe in, and I think that’s good. They’re discovering what it sounds like to have a voice, to try and be heard, and what works and doesn’t work. They’re realising that they can’t throw their weight around without repercussions, that they can’t cause chaos without a consequence. At the very least, they are forming friendships with people with similar interests, how can that not be a good thing?

So for now, as long as it stays peaceful, I’m behind it. Hopefully the government will act, and changes that work will be implemented, but I don’t think it’s a quick or easy fix. If everyone does their little bit though, I have hope. I guess that’s what matters.

Thanks for reading!


My First Half Marathon This Year

Me and Barn running and cycling at Bodmin Half Marathon in Storm Dennis My Not So Secret Diary
At around mile 11… it was so wet!

Many of you will know that I had a bit of a wobble of Saturday night, I was feeling unprepared for my race on Sunday. It was so lovely to read all your comments of support and encouragement and reminded me that I could do it. At the very least I could give it a good go.

As it was so local didn’t have to be up too early which was a nice bonus, although parking could be interesting so we gave ourselves a few extra minutes. I wasn’t sure that I’d be much use driving home afterwards as my legs tend to get a bit stiff, so my husband drove me down. But registration was fine, and done quickly so we then had about 45 minutes before the start.

There was a lot of bustling about, a sports hall full of runners and I only recognised a few faces. The organisers had been very clear about the inability to do any last minute transfers, but I think given the weather and Storm Dennis, quite a few people had been unable to travel to the race, so they were able to make a few last minute changes to the entries. The race had filled up very quickly so it was lovely to see some of those that had been unable to get a place being able to run at the last minute.

The weather was shocking, but I guess, with all the weather warnings, at least we were expecting it, and it didn’t just come out of no-where. We were running through Storm Dennis after all! I was most impressed with the man running in only a vest, shorts and sandals. I would have been freezing! To be fair, I was pretty cold anyway! I suppose, it’s probably better to run in less, at least your skin doesn’t hold weight like wet clothes!
The race itself was lovely. Running through some cycle paths from the start to our local National Trust property was nice in itself but quite protected. Once we got down to the forest, it was apparent how wet and rainy it was, the river looked ready to burst it’s banks, but it was great to have a reason to be out in the elements, rather than staying indoors and looking out at it. It was two laps which was hard, and unexpected, especially as when I was coming to the end of my first lap I was passed by the front runners coming to the end of their race. That was a bit disheartening, and I think that because of the weather, quite a few runners hadn’t arrived. It was quite noticeable that there were a lot of elite fast runners, but not many of the gently paced runners or plodders. Without the mix of runners, being near the rear of the pack was unusual, but none of us were going particularly slowly. It was quite strange.

The other unexpected thing was that at the end of that lap I found my running son waiting for me on his bike. He was soaked but it was good to see him. He rode alongside me for a lot of the rest of the race, it’s one of those things I always feel a little bit envious about, other people having company when I don’t. It can be quite lonely running for over 13 miles without anyone to chat to. Not that I have the breath spare to chat a lot! I guess this is the advantage of joining a local running club where you can run with friends.

Normally I have this little voice of doubt in my mind, it certainly was there beforehand, but strangely as I ran I seemed to leave it behind. I think the wildness of the weather helped distract me, as did the hills and the mud that was terribly slippery. But it was good fun. In the last mile I struggled, my legs were cold and I wondered if I could finish, but I did, maybe it was a second wind, or maybe I just ran through the doubt? Either way, I got to the finish line and I wasn’t last. It wasn’t my best time, but given the conditions, I was pretty happy with it.

I never thought I’d be the sort of person to run half marathons but apparently I am. If that doesn’t prove you can do anything if you put your mind to it, then I’m not sure what will.

Thanks for reading!


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.


Finding Reasons to Drink... Or Not To

Me and my husband Lee Hatwell walking around Padstow one evening after work looking at the boats and avoiding the rain sobriety blog living alcohol free addiction recovery My Not So Secret Diary
Enjoying a lovely evening walk with my husband.

I’ve always looked forward to the holidays. If you rewind a few years it was always because a holiday meant another reason it was ‘okay’ to drink. Holidays meant relaxation, and no work, even if we didn’t go away anywhere. It was nice to be able to turn the alarm clocks off for a few days, and not worry about getting up early. To pour a glass of wine just that little bit earlier, especially in the summer, because that was what people do. To drink socially, or to relax at home in the sunshine with that nice cold drink.

Looking back, it seems odd that I could turn so many things into a reason to be able to drink, but then that’s what our society does as a whole really isn’t it? Everywhere you look there is an advert or a program, something condoning the use of alcohol as a reward, as a commiseration, as a celebration, to drown your sorrows, to have fun, to relax you, to give you courage, the list goes on and on.

I think a large part of drinking starts as a way to relax, but also as a way to fit in. We want to connect, to be with like-minded people and drinking allows us to join the club and be part of ‘it’. I’m not really sure what ‘it’ is, I just knew that I didn’t want to miss out. It was nice to join my friends in a beer garden on a night out, it was fun to chat on the phone with a friend, sharing a bottle even if we weren’t together, but now, I’m not sure that these relationships were that genuine. I mean, how could they be when the ‘me’ that was there wasn’t me, but an intoxicated version? As time went on though, these moments weren’t enough, and when others went home, so did I, but I’d open another bottle when I got there.

Even now I sometimes romanticise the idea of drinking. I can get a little lost in my memories, and those I have conjured up that aren’t real, like the idea of sitting somewhere enjoying a glass of something. A few nights ago I was outside a restaurant and looking in through the window I saw a family sitting down to eat. It sounds like I am a stalker, I’m not, I had a valid reason for being there. It was about 4.30pm and at first glance I saw them with their sparkling water and I was impressed, it reassured me that I wasn’t the only one not to drink. But then, much to my disappointment, the waiter bought them over a beer and a bottle of wine. That’s when the envy crept in. It really annoys me that it’s still there, that I am envious over something that I don’t even actually want anymore, but it sparked the whole conversation in my head wishing I could drink ‘normally’. I mean what even is a normal drink? I can take a step back now, whereas a few years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to. I can look at it, and think, “Yeah okay, they want a drink. I don’t need one.” Normally my thoughts are followed up with relief that I don’t need something to take the edge off anymore, that I am able to just be me, whether it suits others or not. Sometimes, I even feel a little bit of pity, that others need a substance to help them have a good time.

Something in our culture needs to change. I think it is slowly, but alcohol is so ingrained, it isn’t going to happen over-night. When I was growing up in the 1980’s it was common for cigarette adverts to be everywhere, on the TV and in football stadiums particularly. Something changed, someone somewhere realised that smoking might do more harm than good and gradually people cracked down on the advertising. I hope one day the same happens with alcohol. People can decide whether they want to drink or not without it being rammed down their throats. We don’t need actresses on adverts telling us that Bailey’s makes Christmas special, and we don’t need soap operas normalising daily drinking. For people that can take it or leave it so to speak, it is fine, but for people like me, we don’t need reasons to excuse our drinking or to increase it, because that is what we do. At least it is until we stop. After that we look for reasons to see our behaviour as normal, but without the alcohol, and messages reinforcing how good it is really don’t help.

So nowadays, I still look forward to holidays and any other special occasion but it’s no longer an excuse to drink. Instead it’s a time to be present and enjoy myself, knowing I am being a genuine version of myself, that I can claim full responsibility for what I say and do and that’ll I remember everything. It’s not a bad place to be!

Thanks for reading!


Negative Comments

Negative Comments blog about sobriety living sober and alcohol free mum and toddler beach cornwall happy mental health My Not So Secret Diary
Looking forward to evenings at the beach again in the summer!

I try really hard to be honest in my writing, I am not on a mission to convert everyone in the world to sobriety, but I am trying to prove that life without alcohol is good. For those of us who choose it anyway. I struggled for a long time to admit I had a problem and to do anything about it because I was so scared I wouldn’t be able to cope without it. The fear of missing out was huge, and as I have said before, our society does nothing to help that, everywhere you look alcohol is used as a remedy to fix just about every emotion or situation. So since I’ve worked out that wine is not a prerequisite to a good life, I want to shout it out to anyone who will listen, because there might be one person out there that reads it and thinks, “Okay, maybe I could do it.”

I’ve had a couple of comments recently that have upset me in all honesty. They haven’t come from any of you who read, but from people I’d expect more from really. I know I can be over-sensitive, I know I over think, but sometimes comments that seem flippant to one person can really hurt another person.

Someone close to me asked about my blog. It was the first time in a few months, and while I am proud of it, and of talking to you all, I don’t want to bore everyone in the ‘real world’ so I don’t tend to say too much unless I am asked. Well, I answered honestly, and said that my following is growing and I really enjoy the conversations I have with everyone. The person I was talking to kind of brushed it off, told me it didn’t matter how many followers I had, as what really mattered was family. I know my family is important, I think I’ve told you all that often enough, but actually my writing is important too. At least it is to me. My blog is the first thing in a long time that I have done just for me, with no-one else’s input. Sometimes I worry that I say too much, but I pride myself that what I write is honest and true if nothing else.

So that was one, and the following day I was talking with someone even closer to me who shall remain nameless. We were chatting about nothing in particular when the other person said that what I had achieved was great but I shouldn’t ‘harp on’ about it. I was stunned. I didn’t realise I did, especially to this person. It was followed with another comment about what a shame it was that I couldn’t enjoy one drink. I replied by saying that no, I couldn’t because it would turn into many more than that, but I was laughed off as if it was a joke. It really hurt my feelings. I don’t tell people not to drink, or that they are spoiling their lives by drinking, so why should I be told that I should have a drink or that I am missing out by not doing it? I would have thought this person would be proud of me getting over my problem. I’m alive and to be honest if I had carried on the way I was, I’m not sure how much time I would have had left. I have a good quality of life now, and I’ve worked hard for that. Forgive me if I don’t want a drink to celebrate that.

I’d expected negativity from out there, you know, from people I don’t know, who don’t get me, but from people I know it makes me question what I am doing and if it’s wrong. But I just about shook it off. I’m trying to be strong, writing makes me feel good. It helps me work through how I feel, and actually helps me deal with the things I’ve been through. So for now I’m going to keep going. I hope you all keep reading, but if you don’t want to, I totally understand that too.

One glass for me would never be enough, and I don’t want to go back there. I don’t miss it. I don’t feel like I’m missing out either and it’s taken me a long time to get to a point where I can say that. I don’t need it to relax anymore and saying that feels fantastic. So if you can go ahead and ‘enjoy’ one or two drinks and you don’t have a problem then go ahead, but please don’t judge those of us who can’t and no longer want to. Especially when we are learning to be happy just the way we are.

Thanks for reading!


Advice for Friends

Advice For Friends drinking alcohol free sobriety mother and daughter holiday in spain recovery sobriety blog My Not So Secret Diary
Me and my daughter, proving you can still have a lot of fun without drinking!

When you find out a friend or loved one decides to give up or no longer drinks alcohol it can be a tricky time. Do you talk to them about it or ignore it? If not dealt with, it can become the elephant in the room. I avoided people for a long time in my early months of sobriety. I found everything challenging. People didn’t get how hard it was for me, and although I’m not expecting them to, sometimes a little understanding goes a long way. However, if you’re the one giving up you do need to remember if they aren’t going through the same thing, how can they really get it?

I remember taking the kids ice skating in the town centre before Christmas one year. I’d wanted to keep it just us and the kids but then we thought of inviting my in-laws. That was fine, they might not have completely understood, but they were trying so I didn’t mind too much. Unfortunately that then changed as someone we knew overheard us talking and rather than brushing it off, they were then invited too (and not by me). That upset me, it wasn’t what I wanted and suddenly it became a bigger thing than I had anticipated. It was just meant to be quiet. It was enough to make me want to stay at home, but I was worried I would have looked rude. I should have followed my instincts or at least told the other people that it was meant to be family only. Nowadays, I have learned that on occasion my feelings need to come first but I generally don’t like to cause upset, at least not to others, so I just went along with it. The problem was, the other people that came were totally insensitive to my situation, and while we were getting hot chocolate, they went to the beer tent. It was really early days for me and although I never had a problem with beer that really made me wobble. My husband and I just went into Costa, as it was the only place you couldn’t see the beet tent and people weren’t drinking. Actually we didn’t just go, I practically ran there to hide. We still had a lovely time with the kids, but it was much harder than I had envisaged it.

That evening I just went home and cried. My husband held me and said all the right things, but I just didn’t know what to do with myself. It wasn’t just unexpectedly being faced with alcohol on an evening out, it was more that it was a Saturday, a day of the week when I didn’t need an excuse to drink. The day of the week that wherever you were it was meant to be okay to drink, and I couldn’t. Being out and coming home to not drinking was strange and hard to deal with. Being confronted with other people drinking just reminded me that I couldn’t, and at that point, it felt very much that I was losing something rather than gaining my life back. I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t watch the TV, without that wine, I felt like I’d lost my purpose. What was the point, if I couldn’t get through the day and have the reward I was looking for.

It’s taken far more hard work that I would have liked to reinvent myself without alcohol in my life, but do you know what, it is so worth it and I am glad I won the battle in the end.

Other people’s attitudes and actions have been one of the hardest things to cope with, one of the biggest things to rock the boat so to speak. It’s not just when people say the wrong thing, it’s actually probably worse when they don’t say anything at all.

Here’s my little list of pointers for dealing with friends who are alcohol free.

• Please offer me a drink. Just because I don’t drink alcohol anymore, doesn’t mean I am no longer thirsty.
• Don’t assume what I want to do. Ask me.
• Don’t assume what I can do or can’t do. Ask me.
• Don’t talk about me with other friends. I already feel like I’m the object of everyone’s interests so please don’t make it worse.
• If I’ve told you about my problem, respect that, and keep my trust.
• Invite me out, and let me make the decision of whether I want to go or not.
• Put up with me changing my mind too. Sometimes what I want to do will seem like a good idea and then I’ll realise that I’m not ready. Or that I just don’t want to do it anymore.
• Don’t try to offer me advice unless you’ve been there.
• Don’t make judgements for me.

This list is by no means definitive, and only based on my personal circumstances, but I think they might be transferable. So let me know what you think and if there’s anything else you’d add to it.

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!