SoberMe

My Not So Secret Diary

The Effects of Alcohol on our Children

Just before Christmas I read an article called, “The Damaging Effect of Alcohol Culture on Our Kids.” Although it is written from an American perspective, I think the effects are the same here in the UK too.

It’s a sad fact that the more children see adults using alcohol as a way to manage stress or emotions, the more they will turn to it for the same reason as they get older. The author of the article points to an event where she was stressed and upset with her children and the youngest, only a toddler, brings her an empty wine glass, already seeing the link between the glass and a calm mummy. Is this what we want for our children? She states, “Children don’t copy what we say, they copy what we do. And what we are doing is drinking in almost every social situation and glorifying booze without a second thought.” Every advert they see and all our actions are modelling what we perceive is normal, and teaching our children that we need an external source to manage our behaviour and emotions, which is often found in a bottle.

The article goes on to discuss the messages we are bombarded with, regarding drinking, you know the ones, where you buy a glass reminding you that it’s prosecco time or something equally as bizarre. These bother me, but I always wondered if I was just being over-sensitive. It’s quite refreshing to read that I am clearly not the only one who hates the justification all these gifts provide.

I like the clarity of one of the final statements given by the author when she says, “Lastly, and most importantly, if you’re drinking daily in front of your kids, stop. It starts and ends with your example. If you cannot get through the day without a drink, if you use wine as the fix-all for your stress, and you’re showing your kids that alcohol is a required part of adulthood, you are sending them the message that substance = stress reliever.” When you read it like that, it’s quite clear of the example we send to our children by drinking regularly, and yet we are surprised when our youngsters grow up and begin to ‘experiment’. They are only replicating what they see, in the culture of our society, and reinforced by our behaviour at home.

I’m not trying to demonise alcohol for recreational purposes, I know many people out there can moderate and that drinking at home is only an occasional experience. There are however, a lot of people like me, who cannot moderate, and by drinking regularly around their children we are only encouraging them to do the same as they get older.

I hope that by gaining my sobriety, I have broken the circle for my children, and they won’t fall into the same traps that I have. On the other side, though, at least if they do, I’ll be there to understand and help them pick up the pieces.

Here’s the link if you want to have a read of the article by Emily Lynn Paulson,
https://community.today.com/parentingteam/post/the-damaging-effect-of-alcohol-culture-on-our-kids

Thanks for reading.

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Yoga

Yoga
After run yoga!

A famous yoga teacher called Kino MacGregor once said, “Practice yoga and change your world.” It sounds a bit airy fairy doesn’t it, and yet it works. Yoga was always something I had wanted to do, but didn’t, a bit like running, because all of the stereotypes were these fit, skinny, bendy people, and I wasn’t like that.

I finally stumbled into a yoga class on the advice of my midwife, when pregnant with number four. She thought it would help my anxiety and also help as I had a lot of pain in my hips. Being part of a pregnancy yoga class took a lot of the pressure away, I wasn’t expected to be super bendy, and in fact was told that, ‘now is not the time to push yourself’. It was the gentle introduction I needed. I didn’t have the greatest relationship with my body, it was never thin or strong enough, and when I stopped drinking, with the increase of anxiety and recognition of other issues, I found I was actually disliking myself. It was almost like the wine had washed away everything I had ever thought good about myself. Slowly, slowly, I started to gain in confidence again. Slowly, I started to feel good about myself again.

As I said, I wasn’t particularly flexible, but yoga taught me to be strong in body and stronger than I had been in mind. With practice I got more flexible and learned to stand on my head, something I never thought I’d be able to do in my mid-thirties. I found it a calming way to reconnect with myself again. If I hadn’t started yoga, there would be no way I’d be a runner now, so I have more to thank it for than just the peace it gives me.

Like most things, I find it easy to put off even the things I love or benefit from, so I’ve signed up to a 30 day yoga challenge to jump start my practice into the New Year! I find challenges really help with my motivation, and often find one on Instagram if I need a bit if encouragement. Knowing I need to post a pose each day as part of the challenge helps keep me accountable! If it hadn’t been for yoga, I would never have started running, and the two of them together have been fantastic for me.

Do any of you practice? What helps motivate you?

As always, thank you for reading.

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New Years Day Parkrun Double

New Years Day Parkrun Double
At our second New Years Day Parkrun yesterday.

You’ll have seen me talk about parkrun before, as nowadays I’m a huge fan, but I’m going to mention it again, to tell you about yesterday. Normally a parkrun only happens at 9am on a Saturday morning all across the world, with a couple of exceptions in some countries due to heat. The idea is that runners can only complete one run a week, so it makes the milestones that are awarded a little more special as it can’t be rushed and takes time to achieve them. The only exception to the rule is that some parkruns do host events on Christmas Day and New Years Day, regardless of the day of the week, and extra to that, sometimes you get to do two on the same day on New Year. That means three in one week if you do the normal one on a Saturday!

It took a little bit of organising, because it is a rare occasion that parkrun times change, and so we tried to work out what would be possible for us to do, considering the distance we’d need to drive and the time it would take us to run while we were there. Luckily, there’s a website which helpss you to plan. You input your postcode, your predicted finishing time and it works it out for you, giving you the possibilities you can run and the distances to drive to get to them. As we are in Cornwall, there aren’t as many parkruns as in other parts of the country, but we had three options, run at Eden, as Lanhydrock wasn’t running, but that would give us no time for a second run. Our second option was to go to Plymbridge and follow up with one of three in Devon, but they were all new to us, and a little further to go. Our third option was to get up earlier and drive to Heartlands as they were running an early parkrun at 8.30. Once finished we had an hour or so to drive to Penrose to start the second run at 10.30. It was a mission as it meant waking most of the family, (including two of the teenagers), up early enough to leave the house at 7.30 and of course, that was after staying up for New Year. We decided to leave the eldest at home, after his night out, he didn’t get home until after 5am!

It was worth it though, what a lovely way to start the New Year, even if it was a bit wet at the first parkrun and dry but colder at the second. It’s the furthest Katie has run, and she did so well, despite getting a bit cold on the drive between the two and struggling to get going again at the second start. Barn missed the finish and decided to do start an extra lap at Heartlands, costing him three minutes, but his time was still great.

I wanted to run 1000 miles in 2019, but was a bit short, but with 6 miles already done on the first day of January, maybe this is the year I’ll do it!

What are your targets for this year?

Thanks for reading!

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Connection

Connection
Feeling connected stops us from feeling alone.

A few years ago I was really struggling. I was at the point of realising, coming to terms with, and dealing with my alcohol addiction and it was wiping me out mentally. Everything I thought I knew about myself changed. The ‘fun’ me wasn’t there anymore, just this nervous wreck who was scared of her own shadow. I felt awful about everything I could remember doing, and worse about the things I had forgotten. I had a lot of time on my hands, but no concentration to focus on anything. I wanted to get better, but I didn’t know how. I thought by removing wine, everything would be okay. I guess what I hadn’t thought about was how long it took me to get there, how many nights and days, so it was of course not going to be a quick fix.

So I began to devour books. I’d always loved reading, but in the last few years, had neither the time or inclination to read like I had used to. Even when I enjoyed a book, I struggled to remember what I had read, so missed bits or had to re-read. There seemed little point.

With my new alcohol free mind, I re-found my love of reading and started to read anything and everything about alcohol addiction, anxiety, mental-health and loads of self-help books. I could probably open my own library. I began to understand that my addiction was only part of my problem and my mental health needed a fair bit of attention too. I felt pretty low, for letting myself get into such a state, and for not being able to fix it more easily. To be honest, I thought for a long time that if I admitted my problem, people wouldn’t believe me, and because of the way I presented myself to the world, they’d just think I was attention seeking.

Then one day, I found a blog. It wasn’t about addiction, it was just a woman, writing about her imperfect life. She was quite new back then but has gone on to release several books and do some amazing charity work. She wrote about the good, the bad and everything in between. She challenged women to rethink the way they thought about themselves and about others. Conversations followed her posts and I began to realise that other people out there struggled too, that no-one had a perfect life and that I didn’t need to hate myself for my imperfections. She called her readers ‘Queens’ and reminded us that it is okay for your crown to slip once in a while. You can always straighten it up again.

I think connecting with other people is vital to recovery or any sort of mental health difficulty. Actually I think connections are vital to life. I know there is a lot of negativity surrounding social media, but for me, I found myself isolating myself for a long time. I didn’t want to meet people, but talking in the safety of my own home, via my iPhone or computer made it easier. If it hadn’t been for being able to make connections with like minded people on platforms like this, I’m not sure I would be where I am now. Even my running club is an online group. I run alone, don’t go to club nights but when I want to chat, there are a whole herd of runners there for me.

Recently my hard work has started to pay off and I’ve noticed I’m not analysing all my conversations with ‘real’ people quite so much. Instead I walk away feeling quite chuffed with myself that I’ve managed to have a chat with someone. It’s such a small thing to many, but to me, it gives me a bit of a warm glow inside, how ever soppy that sounds!

Thanks for reading!


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