SoberMe

My Not So Secret Diary

Sharing

Sharing running for recovery on the camel trail and training living alcohol free and after addiction blog My Not So Secret Diary

A few years ago, right back at the beginning of my recovery I read a poem. It’s only short, but resonates deeply with me and I want to share it with you all. It’s called Autobiography in Five Short Chapters and it is by Portia Nelson, I hope you like it.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Chapter One
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost.... I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in... it’s a habit... but,
my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter Four

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Five

I walk down another street.



I hope you liked it? Let me know what you think

Thanks for reading!

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Trying and Failing and Trying Again

Trying and Failing and Trying Again recovery blog after addiction living alcohol free family smiling mum and dad and toddler son little boy smiling selfie overcoming together My Not So Secret Diary
My husband and I with our littlest boy.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but sobriety is hard. Especially for those of use who have had years and years of ingrained use of alcohol in our lives.

So much of our culture involves drinking. It is as normal to expect a drink of wine or beer as it is to expect a cup of tea. So when someone realises that alcohol has become a problem in their lives it isn’t just the drinking that has to stop, they also have to entirely relearn the way they live. I know because I did it. I didn’t do it on the first attempt either, it wasn’t that easy. It took me about six years, maybe more to really believe and understand that I had a problem. Coming from a family that always ‘enjoyed a drink’ I grew up expecting that that was the normal way to relax, that it was okay in the evening to always have a drink with your dinner and more after. It was so normal that I really didn’t think for a very long time that I had a problem, and even when I questioned it, I wondered how many people would believe me. I honestly thought they would think I was after attention. I wasn’t, trust me, no one in their right mind would put themselves through recovery unless they had to.

So, in the summer of 2015 I stopped drinking. I knew I had a problem, I relied on it too much. Tearfully I spoke to my husband about it. He agreed with me, he knew I liked to drink, he also enjoyed a beer in the evening, but the difference was, he could leave it, I couldn’t. He was supportive and helped me get through the first couple of days. It was a Wednesday and Thursday I remember because I had to take my daughter to a hospital appointment. It was immensely hard, but I did it, and two days in I felt better than I had in ages. My appetite began to come back, and the anxiety I always felt, the hyper-vigilance causing me to be constantly on edge eased off. I felt so good that I convinced myself that I didn’t really have a problem and by the weekend I was confident that I had over-reacted. So I had a few drinks. Moderation doesn’t work for me. Within a very short time I was right back where I had been again, except possibly worse, because now I really knew that it wasn’t possibly a problem, it was definitely one.

I couldn’t imagine life without wine. How would I relax? How would I reward myself after a day? How would I switch off in the evenings? There were so many questions. So many I couldn’t answer and so I did what I always did when I had a problem and drank.

In the spring of 2016 I tried again. Again I failed. And again I got worse because the thing is, one glass of wine is not enough for me, and that one glass that I couldn’t resist always made everything come tumbling back down.

That was my rock bottom. I knew I had to do something serious. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own and I knew I couldn’t go on the way I was. I didn’t like myself anymore. Every day was a battle. I grew to resent the wine I loved so much, I hated the hold it had over me, and yet I just couldn’t say no to it. More than once I smashed a glass, literally throwing it across the room in frustration because I didn’t want it and yet I needed it. I have never been so conflicted in all my life, and yet the times I had tried to stop drinking just resulted in making me like I couldn’t do it, that I wasn’t strong enough to do without it. And that made me resent it more, but regardless, every night I still poured a glass or two, or three, or four. I was over the two bottles of wine I used to limit myself to now, and ashamed of the recycling I was putting out each fortnight. I would try to hide it, or take it in the car to the recycling bank, embarrassed that the neighbours would see. My excuse was that the kids enjoyed smashing the glass, and they did, but they wouldn’t have minded not doing it either.

That was where my love of drinking stopped, when I realised it controlled me, and although it was the scariest thing I have ever done, admitting my problem and learning to confront it saved my life. It changed me as a person, or maybe it didn’t, instead maybe it gave me back the person I was before all the drinking. It wasn’t easy, trying and slipping up and trying again, but each day is easier.

I have a lot of memories, a lot of regrets and wishes that I had stopped long before, but of course I couldn’t. I had to get to the point I did to finally make it through that time. I had to get to the bottom to be able to climb back up. However, it still surprises me that these memories spring up from time to time. Of course it knocks me, and I wish I could change things, but then I wouldn’t be here where I am now, surrounded by people that love me.

Life isn’t fluid. Nothing comes with a plan. I know that I wouldn’t have chosen to become addicted to alcohol, but if I didn’t I also wouldn’t be here writing to all of you, and that matters to me. I have rough days, but I actually like who I am now and so does my family. What they get now is an authentic, honest me. Not a wine-addled mess. They might not always agree with me, but they know what to expect most of the time. I am loved and I am cared about. I am lucky.

Recovery is a challenge, it is a journey, but it feels amazing to come out the other side. The wobbles get less wobbly, and everything gets clearer. Stick with it, be patient, be kind to yourself. Find new hobbies. Everything will be all right in the end. If it isn’t all right, it isn’t the end.

Much love to you all.

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Feeling Proud of My Running Son

Feeling Proud of My Running Son parkrun hands holding barcodes running mother and son saturday morning addiction and living alcohol free blog My Not So Secret Diary
Finishing in places 19 and 200 at Parkrun

I love my children more than anything and am proud of all four of them. I don’t have favourites, although they all know I tell them they each are, generally for different reasons. Each of them is very different and yet they are all kind and happy kids. As we have three teenagers and a toddler at the moment though, they do have their moments.

My third oldest, Barn is 14, and fell into running by mistake. He started coming out with me when I was doing Couch to 5k and to be honest got a bit frustrated with me. I was never fast or slow enough for him, as I was following the plan, and I refused to divert from it. I admit this might have been annoying but without it I would never have got to where I am with my running.

I booked a 5k for us both and we raised money for a new Air Ambulance in Cornwall. While it gave me the target I wanted to push myself, I got a bit concerned as Barn seemed to lose interest and for a while didn’t train with me at all. I wasn’t sure if he would even want to run. But then something clicked and he did start going out more often. He wasn’t a keen runner but he enjoyed it more, and with that first race, he realised he was quite good.

Last year he started upping his distances and began to run longer 10k races with me, until he realised he was faster than me, then he started waiting for me at the end. The more he tried, the faster he got, and it was exciting to see. He got very competitive, but mostly with himself. At the end of a race last year a gentleman stopped us to tell us we should get him into a running club to train properly, but due to his age, it was hard, most near us only take over 18’s due to child protection.

At the start of the school year he was picked to represent his college for Cross Country, and there after the race we met a coach keen for Barn to join his team. It was exciting, and although Barn was nervous, he went, and began to enjoy it. Training was very different, suddenly he was running shorter distances than he had been used to, and the others were naturally faster, but he had the stamina to keep going, and week by week he closed the gap.

Shortly after this he qualified for the Cornwall Team, and has the chance to travel with his team and represent the county at races all over the country. It’s very exciting for him, and a great opportunity. Pushing himself out of his comfort zone with running and marshalling at parkrun, as well as joining the club has been good for him, his confidence has grown and I am proud of the lovely young man he is becoming.

On Saturday we ran at Eden parkrun. It’s a three lap course, where we run down into the pit by the biomes and back up before repeating. He always beats me, but we have a bit of a challenge where he tries to lap me and I try to stop him. It’s good encouragement for both of us and so far I have managed to fend him off. Today he shot past me on my second loop, slapping me on the back as he went, finishing 19th, which isn’t bad for a 14 year old. I have never felt so proud, and although I have a cold, and wasn’t so fast as normal he shaved a whole minute off his personal best so would have probably beaten me anyway. He then joined me for my final lap, using it as his cool down.

It’s so nice to see a hobby that I love being enjoyed by my son, and to see him doing so well at it. Running has helped me so much and I hope I’ve helped to instil a coping mechanism that will be there for him in the future if and when he needs it.

Have you managed to encourage their children or partners into running or other hobbies? Do you find it encouraging or challenging to share something like a hobby with others?


Thank you as always for reading.

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Opinions

Regardless of my history with wine, I’ve heard more than once that alcohol is more damaging and more addictive than some class A drugs. It’s hard to find proof of these types of claims though, I assume things that might be detrimental to sales are somewhat swept under the carpet so to speak. The other day, I shared my thoughts about an article which suggested a campaign to depict the dangerous side of drinking was removed from the public domain as it would be damaging for sales of alcohol. Of course, I really think if we are going to live in a society that promotes alcohol sales, then we should make the side effects really well known to everyone too. Some of course suggest that everyone knows alcohol is damaging, but I would argue that most adverts only paint the rosy side of the picture. Does everyone out there really know it is more addictive than heroin, and yet more readily available? Even when alcoholism is touched on on TV, perhaps in a soap opera it is overcome very easily, and while I don’t want to see dramatic warnings and scare stories everywhere, I do think a certain amount of realistic forewarning would help.

My 14 year old son has already spoken to me about his intentions to drink for fun when he is older, and never to have a problem. Strangely, that actually worries me more, because it is often that feeling of control that allows addictions to creep up on you. I know as an intelligent woman, with a good life, I certainly never, ever intended to have a problem with alcohol. But then again, I am not sure that anyone would plan to. I always felt I could control it, until one day, when I couldn’t anymore. Of course, by then it is too late, and that is what I think we should be helping others to avoid where possible.

I found it interesting to read this article recently,
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/jan/16/share-a-pint-or-glass-of-wine-to-drink-safely-says-expert It’s a little controversial, as the claims are made by Professor David Nutt, who was dismissed from his post as an advisor on the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs for his challenging, although perhaps correct, views. Now working independently he and his team have been researching the damage alcohol causes, above that of heroin, crack cocaine, ecstasy, cannabis and tobacco in the UK, Europe and Australia.

So in this article, it is suggested that, in order to reduce consumption to a ‘safe level’ that, “…[T]he only safe way to drink is to take three straws to the pub and share a glass of wine with friends.” An admirable idea, but I for one would not have been able to share a glass with anyone when I used to drink. Moderation is not something that is accessible to everyone. I think by the time moderation becomes an interest, there may for a lot of people, already be a problem.

Professor Nutt goes on to say that he feels, as I do, that there is a constant attempt to undermine any difficulties associated with drinking, instead focusing on any possible health benefit. I’m not sure what can be done to raise more awareness about the dangers of drinking, when we live in a society that promotes its use for so much. I also don’t want to sound like a bore for going on, and unfortunately a lot of people will take my attitude to alcohol negatively.

I just hope that by more and more people being open and about their experiences, talking about sobriety and it’s benefits, others will realise you don’t have to rely on drinking for fun, enjoyment or anything else.

There is life without wine.

Thank you as always for reading.


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Tuesday Night Training

Tuesday Night Training My Not So Secret Diary

I’m trying to make the most of taking my running son to his training every week... so, instead of waiting in the car, watching him on the track and reading something on my kindle, I have been getting out and running. 🏃🏼‍♀️💖🏃🏼‍♀️

It’a a bit weird for me, because I am not a great one for running where other people look like professionals, and I don’t like running in the dark on my own. I normally try to go in the opposite direction from any crowds! There are loads of people training both on and off the track, but once I realise they aren’t interested in what I am doing I remember it is okay. I am okay.

I didn’t want to run last night, it would have been much warmer not to, but I did almost 4 miles which was certainly better than sitting in the car, and then I had time for a cup of tea in the cafe before training finished. It is a lovely little cafe and run by volunteers, so it is great to have an excuse to support it!
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It’s nice to do things like that. Not long ago, there is no way I would have sat in a cafe by myself, so that in itself is proof I am getting somewhere!

Thanks for reading!
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Tuesday Night Training

Tuesday Night Training My Not So Secret Diary

I’m trying to make the most of taking my running son to his training every week... so, instead of waiting in the car, watching him on the track and reading something on my kindle, I have been getting out and running. 🏃🏼‍♀️💖🏃🏼‍♀️

It’a a bit weird for me, because I am not a great one for running where other people look like professionals, and I don’t like running in the dark on my own. I normally try to go in the opposite direction from any crowds! There are loads of people training both on and off the track, but once I realise they aren’t interested in what I am doing I remember it is okay. I am okay.

I didn’t want to run last night, it would have been much warmer not to, but I did almost 4 miles which was certainly better than sitting in the car, and then I had time for a cup of tea in the cafe before training finished. It is a lovely little cafe and run by volunteers, so it is great to have an excuse to support it!
☕️

It’s nice to do things like that. Not long ago, there is no way I would have sat in a cafe by myself, so that in itself is proof I am getting somewhere!

Thanks for reading!
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Running and Addiction

Running and Addiction sobriety and mental health blog My Not So Secret Diary
Running again.

There are a lot of people who run, and they all have different reasons. Some run for their mental health, and a lot who run to escape from addictions. The question is, why does it help?

  • A sense of achievement. It doesn’t matter how far or how fast you run. Every single step is further than most addicts did before, and bettering yourself, regardless of everyone else, is an amazing feeling. I went from non-runner to doing four half marathons in a year. It felt bloody good to be able to achieve something that I had no hope of doing before.

  • It gives you something to focus on, if you’re giving up an addiction, it is likely that you’ll have a lot of time on your hands, having something to do, where you see genuine results based on what you put in can be a game changer.

  • Running channels your energy and your mind. Many addicts use their substance of choice to calm a chaotic mind. Running does the same thing, but without a hangover. Although you might ache sometimes.

  • Running regularly reduces stress, anxiety and depression as well as improving self-esteem and sleep. You aren’t running away from anything, but instead dulling the feelings of worry and panic, and developing a healthy coping strategy.

  • I’ve been told that as running hard affects your body in the same way as a panic attack can, and so can help you learn to cope better with the symptoms, for example, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, feeling hot or sweaty, etc. It won’t take the panic attacks away necessarily, but it might like me, help you stop panicking about having one.

  • It’s as social as you want it to be, join a club and meet some people, or don’t and do it by yourself. It’s so flexible and doesn’t cost a lot, besides a good pair of trainers.

  • It’s great thinking time, and enables you to process a lot of what is going on in your mind.


Running boosts feel good chemicals in your body dopamine in the body called endorphins, which help reduce the perception you have of pain, so instead of self-medicating with alcohol for example, your body can instead relieve some pain on it’s own.
Endorphins also trigger a non-substance related positive feeling in the body, which has become known as a ‘runner's high’.

Some argue that it is merely swapping one addiction for another, and maybe that is true, especially when we think about ultramarathoners who need more than a bit of grit to run the distances they do. I know if I had to to pick one addiction, I’d prefer to pick running over drinking!


Thanks for reading!

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Thinking

Thinking alcohol free sobriety and mental health blog My Not So Secret Diary
It was cold and frosty on Sunday morning, but so great to be out!

Sometimes it surprises me just how much time wine spends in my head. The thought of it at least, you all know I don’t drink the stuff anymore. It used to be so much worse of course. For a long time, it was the first thing I thought of in the morning and the last thing before bed. I would plan how not to drink, put reasons in the way, and then as the day worse on it used to change to how I could fit a few drinks in. It drove me mad.

I thought after I stopped drinking it would go away. It didn’t. I thought it would go once I replaced it with other things. It didn’t go then either. I was sure it would go when I broke the habit and finally stopped wanting to drink. It certainly got easier then, but it was still there.

After about three years things changed. Not everything revolves around alcohol now. It’s not the be all and end all of everything, and yet, it is still there.

I can avoid the alcohol aisle at the supermarket, it doesn’t bother me at all, but a display in the wrong place can catch my eye. It makes me remember. It wouldn’t take much to push me. I wouldn’t need much persuasion, and to know that is so frustrating when I look at how far I’ve come. I know, and it’s quite scary to know, that one glass would not be enough. It would lead to another as it always did. It was like an unquenchable thirst. Moderation does not work for me, whether I wanted it to or not. I can’t risk it, because however much I still for some reason romanticise the idea of drinking, in the end that wasn’t how it was for me.

However tempting it is at times, I won’t go back to that.

Thanks for reading!

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Little things

Little Things family holiday in spain mum dad and teenagers together family photo living alcohol free after recovery blog addiction My Not So Secret Diary
It's rare I have a family photo now, this one is missing our littlest one.

My kids are growing up. They are 18, 16, 14 and 2. I know I have a few more years with them, but realistically, them moving out might not be too far away as Lee and I were already married and we had Joe when I was 19. I try to give them their freedom, I don’t want them to feel like I’m clingy and that they have to stay at home with me all the time but it is nice when they want to. The things we do together are special.

I think that (smallest person aside) having the three of them so close in age, meant I was always physically and mentally tied up, and now that they are largely self-sufficient I have to adapt, and it’s strange. I like the bustle of a busy house, I like them being about. I know my little man will be around for a lot longer and I am grateful for that, he is such a little bundle of fun, but it is strange knowing the others not needing me so much.

I notice the little things much more now, and I have more patience now, than I did before when I was drinking, to see the small things and let other things go. It was lovely over Christmas as I’d been bought a jigsaw puzzle, and Joe sat down with me for a minute to help me. It was so hard, double sided pigs in blankets that all look the same! I know his main reason for doing it was because he wanted to go out again and was probably hoping that by giving me five minutes I’d let him go, but it was nice anyway. It was nice to think he cares enough to do something like that with me, even if only for a few minutes, and instead of wasting time thinking about him going out, I just enjoyed the time we had.

That patience is something I am so grateful for, I feel him growing up and away and it is frustrating to think I can’t really keep him here, that I don’t see him very much and when I do, his head is often in his phone, but I try to be grateful for what I can get. I’m grateful that I have the time I do with them, and I’m grateful for the relationship I have with each of them. I’m working on being patient more, but I do find it hard sometimes. There is so much going on in my head that it makes me anxious before I’ve thought about anything else. Hearing the kids all chattering away at once just makes it harder to focus. I don’t think I can be the only one, but it can be hard. So I’m reminding myself to relax, and be grateful. They grow up too fast.

As always, thank you for reading.


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