SoberMe

My Not So Secret Diary

Going to London

Going to London photo from 2015 outside poshpawn in Hatton Garden sobriety blog My Not So Secret Diary
A photo from 2015. Five years make such a difference.

I get a bit nervous doing things that are out of the ordinary. Well sometimes I actually get nervous doing things that are ordinary, but let’s put that to one side for a minute.

It’s a little bit of an endless circle for me, I feel like I might get nervous, so of course I do get nervous, then I stop myself doing things and when I have no choice but to do them, guess what? Yep, I get nervous. Nervous for me can be anything from chattering incessantly, I don’t even notice I’m doing it, to crying, which is embarrassing, or full blown panic attacks. I try to control situations I put myself in because I hate feeling out of control, but that doesn’t always solve it. Sometimes it can be something genuine, like a lack of the unknown, but other times it is something odd, like being stuck at traffic lights when I am in the passenger seat. Usually it’s more frequent when I am somewhere not so normal, but it can make me really nervous to feel trapped. The same thing happened when we were going on holiday a couple of years ago. I was fine at the airport until we got to the departure lounge. I think it was because I was stuck there until they told us to go, rather than it being of my choosing, but it really affected me, and I began to panic. It was such a relief when they let us board the bus to the plane, and before you ask, no, it isn’t small spaces. I was fine on the plane itself.

The thing is, although I’m nervous, and somewhat cautious of my reactions to things, I am keen to get over things as much as I can and push myself out of my comfort zone. Sometimes challenging myself is a good thing, even when it’s hard.

This year I wanted to run the London Marathon. I entered the ballot and although I had a really good feeling about it, I didn’t get a place so I entered the London Landmarks Half. I didn’t get a place in that ballot either, so I was a bit disappointed, but when I saw the Vitality Big Half being advertised without a ballot I bought a place straightaway. I was hoping to book a hotel and have a few nice days away. It seemed like such a good idea... As it’s got closer to the event though, it all seems a bit much. It is more of a mission than it was intended to be. I’ve even thought of not going, because it would just be easier. Instead, I booked my two middle kiddies onto The Little Half, a 2.3 mile event on the same day that is suitable for under 18’s and those not able to run the full half. They are excited so I am trying to be too. I love the idea of running through London and of seeing the sights as I run. It is exciting, I just wish I wasn’t so anxious about it.

Lots of things go through my mind though, like the last time that my husband and I went to London together without the kids. We had some meetings for work, and went up early just for the day. It was right around the time I was trying to stop drinking and was cutting down a lot. We had a lovely day, and on the way home stopped for dinner. I wasn’t keen to go to a fast food place, I wanted somewhere I could have a glass of wine. I only had one, maybe two, I can’t remember, but I was disappointed in myself for not being able to do without even then and I’m pretty sure the day ended up in a bit of an argument about it. So now, it’s a bit of a worry to me, a little bit of a reminder, and while I know I’m not going to want to stop on the way home for anything more than a cup of tea, I just want everything to go well and not be overly stressful. It feels like pressure, and yet I think I am probably the only one remembering and worrying about it.

So we’ll see, logically I know I can run the distance, so I just have to get there on time to start. The forecast isn’t great but I have my fingers crossed it doesn’t snow, or if it does, it waits for all the runners to finish first!

Thanks as always for reading.
Claire
x

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Vulnerability

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.
Claire
xx

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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

#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!

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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!

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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!

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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.

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Kindness

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.

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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!

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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!


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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!

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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.


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Insecurity

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!

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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.

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https://livingsober.org.nz/sober-story-claire/

As always, thanks for reading x

My Suspicious Mind

My Suspicious Mind running with my daughter at Plymouth 5k and 10k race for mental health and overcoming addiction living a sober life alcohol free blog My Not So Secret Diary
Racing with my daughter.

I’ve always been a bit suspicious of situations, people, you name it, I overthink it.

I don’t mean be the way I am necessarily, but I do have a habit of jumping to the worst conclusion at times. I even know that a lot of the time I’m wrong, but the problem is, sometimes I am right, and that reinforces my thinking. I think for me that one of the benefits of no longer drinking is that I see things more clearly now, but also with that tinge of suspicion. I’m never quite sure how to take people.

You’ll know if you’ve read my other posts, that I count myself lucky to have my family around me, and also that I isolated myself a lot from my friends during my recovery. It seemed the safest option for me, rightly or wrongly, I couldn’t focus on lots of other people back then, I just had to think about myself and my family or I wouldn’t have got through it. Most people understood, and if they didn’t to be honest, there isn’t a lot I could do about it, but some people, just a select few, that I had counted as friends didn’t act like friends, instead they were selfish and used my vulnerability at that time to their advantage. Those are not the sort of people I want in my life, and I’m glad they are gone.

The problem is, removing negative people, deleting or blocking friends from your list, etc, only removes those people from your life. There are always other people out there in the wings waiting, and I find it tricky to judge their motives. I know logically that not everyone is out to get me, but I often wonder why someone would talk to me out of the blue and what they hope get out of it. I sound awfully cynical don’t I? But I second guess everything, from how someone looks at me, to how I talk to them and the impression I give them.

After parkrun recently I was deliberating over cake in the queue at the cafe when the man behind me spoke to me. We were just passing the time of day, talking about cake and I didn’t think anything of it until he asked if he could join me to drink his coffee. I was shocked, not that there is anything wrong with it. Parkrun promotes community and chatting after a run, so why shouldn’t someone want to sit with me, it just threw me as I wasn’t expecting it. I said that it was fine, and pointed him in the direction of the table where my son was sitting, and by the time I had got there they were both chatting. We talked about running and a few other things, but when I was asked questions, I found myself worrying about what he wanted to know, and why he wanted to know it. I told you I was suspicious! Many other people were sitting in groups also chatting over their drinks, and it was perfectly normal, I do think, at least in this instance it is my problem and not his, but it is annoying to feel on guard all the time.

After the man left I questioned whether the situation had been okay with my son. He gets how I worry, and is quite good at reassuring me, or telling me to stop being a fool depending on the situation. But despite his reassurances, I just wonder then if it’s because he is younger that he doesn’t realise how some adults can have ulterior motives.

It’s taken me a long time to start to trust people, and their motives and even those that know me will know I am not the most sociable person even now. It isn’t that I don’t want to be, I just worry. I am guarded, I know that, and I don’t let many people in, it takes time for me to let my walls down a little and make friends. I am getting better at it, though slowly. I’ve even been known to have coffee after parkrun with people I do know. It’s just when someone is forward, and it is unexpected, it throws me.

I would like to say though, despite my anxieties, I’d still like you to say hi if you see me out and about! Happy

Thanks as ever for reading.

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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.

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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.

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Support

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.

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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.

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