My Not So Secret Diary

Barn's 15th

Barn Claire Hatwell recovery blog My Not So Secret Diary - writing, addiction, alcohol abuse, mental health Cornwall
Happy 15th birthday to our gorgeous son Barn.
For 12 years he was my baby until Stanley arrived and he has become one of the best big brothers ever! He tries to hard at everything he does, and we are so proud of him! He represents our county for running now and his confidence is growing and growing.
Have a great birthday!
Love you lots!

Shop Local

For a long time I’ve been a strong believer in supporting the local businesses and shops that serve our communities. As a family, we run our own company so I know what it’s like to be involved directly in the community but also what it is like to face competition from other companies local or otherwise that can try to undercut you.

In reality I’ve always found it easy to stop at the shops far more often than I need to. I stop in on the way home to pick up the odd thing I need, and usually end up with a few things I don’t need too. I have Asda, Sainsburys, Morrisons, Aldi and Lidl all within a few of minutes of my house and Tesco near work. It’s far too easy to shop and to rely on the convenience of popping into the supermarket! Of course lockdown and the food shortages changed that and so lately I have been shopping a lot more consciously and more locally. I’m more careful with dates and have been consistently shopping once a week. It’s nice not to fall into the habit of doing it more often. I have a farm shop close by which is great for getting my fruit, veg and milk, especially when I need extra in the week. It saves me so much time and it’s nice to make things last. I don’t feel so wasteful and I also feel like I’m helping community shops by supporting them.

The thing is, that if we all shop locally, the money we spend goes back into the local economy. It stays around us and benefits other local families, whether it’s the business owner or the workers who are employed there. In times like these it’s good to think we’re supporting each other.

Our economy is going to take a bit of a beating, not only with coronavirus, and all it’s repercussions, but also Brexit and whatever pans out from that. It’s a tricky old time, so it feels good to support other local people. It can be hard though, and a lot of people assume bigger companies or those online can offer better prices. I suppose sometimes, it is true, especially when they can produce or buy in bulk quantities. In this instance what is forgotten is the different service you get from an individual company. It matters more in general as small business owners get out of their businesses the effort and the time they put in. It’s their livelihoods and a longterm thing, rather than just working to bring home a paycheque.

We bought a Barn a new bike this week as it’s his 15th birthday next week. We could probably have gone to a chain store, but we’ve had problems in the past (maybe it’s just our branch). Our local shop is owned by a cycling and running enthusiast and I feel looked after by someone who knows what they are talking about. Despite the fact that there seems to be bit of a bike shortage at the moment, we came away happy with a good quality bike that is strong and sturdy enough to last Barn very well. I asked questions, wasn’t rushed and I know that if Barn has any problems, both he and his bike will be looked after, which makes me feel good. I also know that sale means more to a small company than it does to a larger one.

In our industry, it’s difficult when you put time into a customer only to find they go elsewhere. It’s understandable that not every job will come to something in our profession but it’s hard when you have clients to juggle, to be told that one customer won’t be going ahead, only to find they have gone elsewhere. Especially when in hindsight you could have used the time better elsewhere. It’s a little frustrating, but, our business is going well. It looks like we will come out the other side of this crisis and we have kept all of our staff, except for one who relocated due to a change in personal circumstances after lockdown, which is completely fair enough. Many other companies unfortunately aren’t in such a good place, and I count us lucky. We all work hard, and I hope it will pay off.

For some, things change. We’re lucky to have the team we have. We’re strong, we’re growing. It’s an exciting time, and I have to say, I like being part of a local business that’s part of the community.

Thank you as always for reading.

Claire x


Beautiful Thoughts

Charlie Macksey
I couldn't have said this better myself! I've said it before and I will say it again, but I love the artwork and the thoughts of Charlie Mackesy. If you haven't read his book, then you really must! 💖💖💖


I’m not very good at admitting I need help. I’m even worse at asking for it.

Years ago, I wouldn’t (or maybe couldn’t is more accurate) admit that I had a drinking problem. One of the main reasons was because things like that didn’t affect people like me. The other reason of course was that by admitting it, I’d have to do something about it, and I didn’t want to do that. Even though I knew I had a problem, I wasn’t able to picture a life without a glass or two of wine.

After a few months of carrying around a flyer I’d picked up from the doctor’s surgery, I eventually phoned the number on it. I think that was probably the second time I’d picked up a leaflet. The first time I had probably binned it. It filled me with shame and regret to have anything like that in the house, although of course admitting and asking for help was far better than burying my head in the sand! I locked myself in the workshop at the bottom of our garden. My window overlooks the garden so I could see if anyone was coming and I couldn’t be overheard. Mind you, I still kept my voice as low as I could. The call brought me to tears as I explained I needed help, that I’d tried several times to stop drinking but I couldn’t and I was at the end of my tether. I didn’t know which way to turn or how to help myself. The voice at the other end of the phone was patient and they listened. They asked a lot of questions but they didn’t have a miracle cure. That was hard. Then they asked about the kids and that was terrifying. I knew I drank too much, but I also knew that my kids were safe and happy. I never put them in any harm and suddenly I was afraid someone was going to swoop in and take them from me. I even explained this to the person on the other end and they reassured me that wasn’t their purpose, but while they were there to help, they had to ask set questions. Then they informed me that I would be put on a waiting list and someone would call me back.

I couldn’t believe there was no help straight away. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was expecting, but this wasn’t it. It had taken me so much effort to ask for help and I was finally ready, but there was no one there to give it to me.

It was around three months later that I finally had a call back. I’d almost forgotten that I’d asked for help. My drinking had crept up again and with each slip or relapse I had, I felt a little worse, a little more fragile and a bit more broken. The call back came at a time when my guard was back up, as was my alcohol fuelled bravado. I rode the wave of it through the day, even though I didn’t drink in the daytime, I still felt the after effects of it. I did as I was asked though and made an appointment to meet with a counsellor.

It’s difficult to open up sometimes, especially about something you are ashamed of. It can be harder still to open up to someone you don’t know, when you’re a bit all over the place. I felt, not judged so much, but certainly not understood. I said what I thought they wanted to hear, because it was easier than trying to dig down and unpick my thoughts and feelings. I covered up a lot of how I felt because I was ashamed. I just wanted to find the off switch and it turned out that I didn’t have one. Talking things through didn’t seem to help because at the end of the day I still went home and drank. The difference was, then I could reason that it was okay, because I had been told to moderate rather than quit for the time being.

It’s a difficult thing to ask for help, and it’s strange to be given advice or help that you aren’t expecting. Recovery isn’t an easy thing for anyone, some people get there on the first go, others like me take many more attempts. There isn’t a one size fits all solution for any addiction and I think on our hard days we all need to remember that, and to be kind to ourselves and each other. Although it can seem like a bit of a rollercoaster, more often than not each new day is a little easier than the one before. One day, with any luck, you’ll look back and realise just how far you’ve come. Sometimes I forget quite how hard and long my journey has been. I forget how hard things were in the early days and how much more manageable things are now. It’s been hard, but it has changed me for the better in so many ways.

Take care and thanks as always for reading.

Claire x



It took me a lot to let anyone read anything I’ve written. For years I wanted to write, but I kidded myself that I couldn’t, that writing was for writers and I wasn’t one. I never thought about how other writers had actually become writers in the first place. I just allowed myself to be pigeon-holed by the constraints I put on myself, and I listened too much to others who said it couldn’t be done. It’s easier to stay in your box, than put yourself out there and find you make a mistake.

After I stopped drinking I started writing again, but for a long time, once I got back into the habit, I kept it to myself. I was afraid of being judged or saying the wrong thing. I was afraid that no-one would like what I’d written, or understand my point of view. Despite the fact that I’m quite opinionated, I’m also quite a people pleaser. I like to know that I’ve done things that make other people happy, and I was afraid that my opinion, however true might upset others.

Cautiously in the beginning I shared a few tame posts, and the more I shared, the more I felt I could share. It was lovely to receive messages and feedback from those reading and it made me feel that I could carry on.

A few months back I started writing for other people to publish. It’s an honour to have my work shared by others, although it’s even more nerve-wracking than doing something for myself. I understand that when my work is used on other sites it’s representing the site owner too, and so I know that my articles like any other writers, might be ‘tweaked’. I never expect it to be a big deal though, so I was shocked recently to have a piece changed, not in it’s content, but in it’s appearance. I wrote the article about overcoming addictions and I soon received an email to be told it was popular and that it had been renamed to, “A Recovered Wine-o Talks About How She Overcame Her Addiction.” That was a surprise for me, as was the photo they’d used. My photo had been replaced with a picture of a woman with a glass of wine in each hand. It seemed like it was laughing at me and finding amusement in what I had written, while the photo seemed the opposite of the intention of my piece. The title seemed really derogatory and upset me a little to be honest. I was embarrassed that others would think that I had given the piece it’s title, but in time I reasoned that it was probably renamed as an attention grabber. It was just a bit of a shock in the way it was done. A day later the photo had been changed again, and this time it didn’t seem so offensive, so it didn’t bother me in the same way. I wondered if someone higher up didn’t approve?

I understand that by writing for other organisations that I might lose some of the control of my work, but it also makes me wary of who I choose to write for. I have a voice that I want to use for good. I want to help people who were like me, not add to the stigma. However, ‘funny’ some people may find the situation of someone who drinks too much, it isn’t funny for the person in it. I write to show others that that there is a way out. I’m living proof of that, and if I can get out of the hole of addiction, so can plenty of others.

Thanks as always for reading.

Claire x