My Not So Secret Diary

Missed Experiences

Missed Experiences outdoors blowing bubbles with my son and writing for my blog My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
We were watching the Glastonbury Experience the other night, the shows they put on because the event itself was cancelled. I don’t know if you saw it, but it was nice to see the Pyramid Stage set up in the background but with some acoustic music playing and a couple of socially distanced presenters sitting on hay bales while they talked about it. It was a lovely atmosphere and watching the sun set while the music played was beautiful. It made me reminisce a little about the past and I imagined one day going to something like that again.

Talking to my daughter Katie while we watched, she mentioned some friends had been to a local festival and was excited to tell me about it. It got me thinking and I remembered that years before we had tickets to go ourselves. They weren’t just any tickets either, but the full VIP works. My husband had done a favour for the organisers and received them as a thank you. There were enough for us and the kids to go too. I didn’t know much about the festival then and I didn’t realise it was as big an event as it was. I just remember being scared because it was out of my routine and comfort zone. I didn’t want to camp because I was nervous, but in all honesty I was more nervous about not being able to drink at home like I did every other night, and being limited to what we could take in or buy there.

Would you believe that my worries and trepidation stopped us going? I can’t remember what excuse I made, but I got out of it and we wasted those tickets because I would have rather be at home with a drink. Not that I told anyone that. It was selfish of me and I am ashamed of it, of my behaviour, not that it makes a difference to anything now.

The only time I remember being comfortable staying out was when a friend of ours threw a mini-festival on their property. They did it in the summer every year and it was a relaxed free for all. Everyone took tents and alcohol, kids and dogs ran free, bands played and people drank. It was fun and I felt at home, so it didn’t worry me. It was one of the few occasions where I could relax when I was out.

I hate the fact that I prioritised wine to experiences back then. It wasn’t a conscious decision, more an underlying worry, a need to get a drink and a resolve to get it by any means possible, even if that meant not doing things. But I kick myself now, at all the things I missed, or rushed, or wasn’t present for, because I couldn’t face up to my problem.

I can’t get the time I lost back, I can’t fix it, but I can move forward with more awareness and make sure that I don’t do it again. Now when I find things hard, I push myself to try to do them. It isn’t always easy, but I hope that the more I push myself, the easier it will become. I want to enjoy things, and I want to do it without worry, but for now I’m just going to focus on the doing. I wasted enough time, and I don’t want to look back with any more regret.

Take care and thanks as always for reading.
Claire x


Thursday Evening

Thursday Evening at the beach with my son Barn for Newquay and Par Athletics Club Training. Writing for my blog My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
I got out of the car at Barn's training this week. It looked like it might rain, so I didn’t think I’d walk down to the beach but I also thought I’d try to be a little bit more social.

We were early so we said hi to the team coach and he immediately ran off to talk to someone else. Normally I’d think it was me, or something I’d done. Instead I tried to let it go. A few minutes later he came back and started chatting to us and it was clear there wasn’t a problem. Maybe he had something important to say to the others. I’m reminding myself that not everything is my fault.

More people arrived and I joined them in leaning on the bonnets of our cars, watching, socially distancing, all involved, but a step back from normal. I didn’t manage to say anything more than a passing hi to the other parents but I did chat with a couple of teenagers - they’re far less scary! I caught the eye of another parent, clearly as amused as I, watching the boys jumping between fence posts before training started, and we shared a smile, but that was it.

I’m much more at ease with myself now. I do things that I wouldn’t have dreamed of a few years ago. To many they’re only small things, things like having a picnic in our local parkland, but they’re things I find lovely and I honestly couldn’t have done a while back. Even having a cup of tea in a cafe by myself would have been a big no, no a few years back. Taking Barn to training has helped with that, and before lockdown I was regularly going into the cafe by myself on a weekly basis and watching the team train while drinking my pot of tea and either reading my book or doing a little writing. I even speak to other people! Of course, that didn’t happen the first week. I watched from the car and then after that I popped out to say hi and then went back again. A few weeks later I made my first venture to the cafe and found it was a friendly place to be, filled with other people, none of whom cared what I was up to, or if they did, they didn’t show it.

It takes time to change a lifetime of habits. It doesn’t happen overnight and sometimes there are set backs but, the more you persevere the easier things get. I for one am going to keep trying.

Take care,
Claire x



Numbing with alcohol to overcome anxiety and mental health issues. Me with my son Stanley at Saltram house. Writing for my blog My Not So Secret Fiary, by Claire HatwellI never thought of drinking as a way to
numb my feelings or emotions, although of course that is exactly what it was. I didn’t drink to cope with specific situations and I didn’t drink in the day unless we were eating out or having Sunday lunch.

It’s clear though, now exactly how much of myself I was dampening down with my drinking. It’s easier for a lot of people including me to drink, than it is to deal with emotions or events that are difficult.

As you probably have read before, I am a worrier. I feel other people’s emotions and I’m always concerned about whether I’m doing the right thing or not. I over-think and I over-analyse. I also struggle to let things go. It’s exhausting to feel everything so strongly, it’s hard to deal with it constantly and continually. There’s no off switch in a mind like mine, and without realising, I turned more and more to drinking wine to help me cope. I didn’t see at the beginning what a stress reliever it was for me, I just knew that I enjoyed it. I didn’t see that I relied on it until one day I wanted to drink and couldn’t. Needing something you can’t have is a wake up call but it isn’t always enough to to stop people like me because without the alcohol in our systems our minds race and worry.

It isn’t until you want a drink that isn’t available, that you realise how reliant you’ve become.

We live in a busy world. We juggle many things, work, kids, appointments, our homes, exercise, the list could go on. When we stop it’s hard for our brains to stop, for us to let go of that constant state of busyness and so many of us resort to that evening glass of something to help us unwind. Of course, as time goes on, one glass is seldom enough. Our bodies get so used to it, to expecting it that we often need to increase our intake and that can be where the slippery slope begins.

Cutting out drink unleashed my mind. It made me realise how much I’d been numbing myself and my thoughts. It was so hard in the early days, not only to cope without wine but more, to cope with a buzzing mind that I couldn’t control. It would have been much easier to pour myself a glass (or several glasses) of wine and wash my worries away. I was past it though. I hated relying on something, of needing something that sometimes I just couldn’t get. So I took back control.

It was hard to confront my mind, to come to terms with the fact that I do over think and I do over worry. There’s aspects of myself that I would have changed back then, it certainly would have made it easier, but then I wouldn’t have been me.

It’s taken time to calm down, to contain, to slow myself down, but it’s been a journey I’m glad I’ve been on. I’ve had to come to terms with elements of myself that are hard, but I know I’m an authentic version of myself. I’ve also come to realise that while I might worry a bit, it’s only because I care.

Much love,
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



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


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! 💖💖💖

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!

Digital Boredom

Digital Boredom Claire Hatwell recovery blog My Not So Secret Diary - writing, addiction, alcohol abuse, mental health Cornwall
Like a lot of people, I’m attached to my phone for much of the day. At night it is plugged in beside the bed to charge and in the morning it’s alarm wakes me up. I have my emails on it, so I need it when I’m not at work and I have my Headspace app on it, so I use it to wind down too. We don’t have a landline at home, well we do, but not one that works. None of us ever learned the number and all we got were nuisance calls so we unplugged it, and it has never been plugged back in. The lack of it doesn’t bother me at all, but it does mean that in an emergency we need our mobiles to stay connected. 

It becomes a habit though, doesn’t it, to carry this small thing around with you? At least, it has for me, and I know I’m not the only one. I leave my phone on silent a lot, which means I end up checking it a lot too. Obviously my camera is on it so if one of the kids are doing something I want to capture, then out it comes. I have so much going on that I need to keep on top of, so my calendar also syncs on it, and all of that comes before social media, text messaging, online banking and shopping. Suddenly you realise what a lot of time these expensive little objects take.

Now, I’m not saying we don’t need them, I actually like mine. It’s just I also notice sometimes when I’m watching TV that my hand seems empty and I feel like I should scroll. But there is only so much social media I can take and when I’ve used up all the lives I have on Toon Blast and Lemmings, then I’m not sure what else to do. I look at this things that feels so important and realise it’s a bit boring. And yet, for some reason, I still feel the need to pick it up. 

We’ve recently changed the kids phones. Katie’s was a quick upgrade, whilst Barn needed a new contract too which was a bit more of a pain to sort out. I phoned the company and asked them to cancel his contract which in the past has always meant I had to give notice, but this time it caught me out and they cancelled the contract immediately. It should have been fine but typically, the following day he started his first job in a small coastal village for which he needed lifts. As it was off the beaten track, I didn’t want him feeling stranded. Coupling that with the fact that we needed to drop him off a good couple of hours early because we were all working, I was afraid he would get bored. It won’t usually be a problem as he intends usually to ride, but as it’s 10 miles each way he didn’t want to turn up sweaty, without knowing where he could change or store his bike for his first few shifts. Anyway, unlike me, he was fine about it. It surprised me considering how many notifications are always springing up on his phone, and how it is always available to him, that he was happy to be without it. He didn’t seem worried about the lack of contact with me either, I just hoped I could find him when it came time to collect him!

I suppose what worries me most is that we rely so heavily on technology. In a few short years everything has come on very quickly. It leaves little to the imagination as things we only dreamed of are coming true. We have so much right at our fingertips, but sometimes it seems like it isn’t enough. We are constantly connected and yet, many of us are lonely. It’s a funny old world, to be so constantly connected and yet so separate - but maybe it’s just me that thinks like that?

Take care everyone.
Claire x


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


Being Creative

Being Creative outdoors exploring in nature with my family. Blog - My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
Once upon a time in another life it seems now, I ran a business making fused glass. I designed and made all kinds of things from small trinkets to custom awards. I attended trade and craft shows and supplied shops. When I stopped drinking, I stopped making glass. It was something I’d enjoyed for so long, and then because as it served as a reminder, it was gone. I have a lovely workshop at the bottom of our garden, I used to spend many evenings in there with a glass of wine while I worked, but it’s just collecting dust now.

I wasn’t always creative, so it’s seems funny almost, to think that I ran a creative business. But then, that’s wrong really, I was just scared. At school because I didn’t achieve what the art teachers set out, I felt like I wasn’t artistic. Our lessons were very prescribed and there was little room for freedom of expression. I didn’t feel like I could draw so I didn’t.

Years later, and purely by accident I fell into making glass. I enjoyed it and experimented, trying new things. I was told my work was good, I couldn’t really see it because it came to me fairly easily, but I enjoyed doing it, and people paid to buy it, so I carried on. Doing the bigger pieces stressed me out a little, because I was no longer doing what I wanted to do, but instead fulfilling a brief and it meant there was the possibility I could get it wrong. Again though, people seemed happy, so I kept going.

Then it stopped. I didn’t have the patience, concentration or time and like I said, it’s surprising what a reminder it is. So being creative almost dried up completely for me. I was down there the other day just looking. It’s like a museum with all my boxes, supplies, signs and what not. It’s all been frozen. Maybe one day I’ll get back to it.

I find crafting without a purpose tricky. I admire people that do it, but I always feel that I need to justify it with a reason. My mother-in-law sews, she uses it as her time to unwind, but I feel that I need to have a reason and so for me, knowing I was making to sell, or to supply shops helped. It meant I was doing it for someone else.

Needing to justify your creativity is a funny thing. I don’t feel I need a reason to enjoy reading a book but to express myself feels different somehow. I could never have imagined being able to write so people could read my thoughts, but that’s what I do now. For a long time I wanted to, but I didn’t have the courage. Over time I got braver and I find that now writing really helps me work through things and unmuddle myself.

Being able to express myself helps me retain my calm and my composure. Creativity is a wonderful thing, regardless of what form it takes. The best thing is that there are so many different ways to be creative and so if the first thing doesn’t suit, there are plenty more options to try. I’m working on a couple of new things right now, and it’s exciting. I’m giving myself permission to try different things, for no other reason than to explore what I can do. If something more comes of it then that’s great, and if it doesn’t then maybe I’ll have learned something, and enjoyed myself while I’m doing it!

Take care of yourselves and thank you for reading.
Claire x


Overthinking Things

Overthinking Things sitting on the beach watching my son at running training Blog - My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
I work myself up a lot about the smallest thing. This week for instance when I was at work, I asked my daughter to walk to the farm shop to refill our milk bottles. She did it and it was no problem, paying with my debit card so we didn’t have to worry about cash. Later, I asked how much it was and she said about £5. Now, I know it isn’t a lot, and to be honest, it wasn’t the money that worried me, more that I’d made a mistake about the cost of the milk in the long term. I tried to work it out several times, and assumed they had made a mistake. Not having a receipt meant I couldn’t do anything about it, but annoyingly, I also couldn’t let it go. All I’d wanted was two milk refills and some bananas, and I couldn’t see how that could cost a fiver.

The things I worry about sometimes seem daft, but they always seem to boil down to a lack of control with me. I tried to let it go, to tell myself it didn’t matter, and even if it did, I couldn’t change it, but try as I might, I couldn’t forget about it and I had to eventually check my online banking to see how much the pending transaction was. It turned out, after all my fretting, that Katie had made a mistake and it wasn’t nearly so much as she thought it was. So I was just worrying over nothing. Again.

I’m writing this as I’m sat on the beach. It’s not warm, but it’s dry. My son Barn’s training has started up again, in a very careful, socially distanced manner. The team have been split into training pods and they don’t cross over so it keeps a risk to a minimum. We aren’t allowed to train on the track just yet, which I understand, so at the moment they are running on the beach. It’s not a bad place to be and nice to have a reason to get out and enjoy some fresh air a few evenings a week.

Mind you, it’s another thing I struggle with a little bit. It’s taken me a few sessions to work up the courage to get out of the car. I’m afraid I think, that I’ll be shunned by the other parents or embarrass myself, so I find it easier not to put myself out there. Everyone else seems to know each other and try as I might, I always feel like an outsider.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite happy sitting here by myself, maybe that’s half my problem? Watching Barn and his team and listening to the waves is lovely, but I do wonder if maybe I seem anti-social and I wonder what the other parents think of me? There’s three other parents over to my left, one of them always seems to be a little off-hand and it makes me want to avoid all of them. It could well be their problem, but I always feel it’s mine, or something I have done.

Last week Barn had a little bit of a melt down pre-training. He’s so like me. I got out of the car in the end, to give him a few minutes and to warn his coach. In my hurry and being concerned that I didn’t want the rest of the team to know Barn was wobbling, I may have completely forgotten about social distancing. Now I wasn’t too close, but I wasn’t two metres away either and as the coach stepped back, it dawned on me and I felt like such an idiot. I hate things like that. Even innocent mistakes make me feel like a proper fool.

Lockdown has been nice for me in so many ways, it has been safe at home and I haven’t had to push myself, but as things go back to normal, I’m going to try to do more. I’m going to try to be a little more confident and worry a little less when talking to people. Who knows, maybe it will work?!

Thank you for reading and take care.
Claire x


Imparting Wisdom to My Daughter

Imparting Wisdom to My Daughter Claire Hatwell recovery blog My Not So Secret Diary - writing, addiction, alcohol abuse, mental health Cornwall

I have a lovely relationship with my daughter. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t always a walk in the park, she is very similar to me and when we get going, we both seem to know which buttons to push… but those moments are fairly few and far between.

Katie is 17 next month, our only daughter, while we have three sons, but I don’t think that is the reason we are close, she just really gets me, and I remember what it was like to be a teenage girl. The boys understand me too, but they are quite self-contained. In some ways she is too, she’s quite happy in her own company, but she’s also happy to spend time with me. In many ways, she is my best friend. There is very little I wouldn’t tell her, I hope it is the same for her.

More than ever I’m grateful for my sobriety now, when I look back and see the difference it has made to me and to my family. Sobriety hasn’t given me the relationships I have with my children, because we’ve always had a good connection, but it has given me more patience, and the ability to walk away when one of the four of them push my buttons. I’ve got a lot of patience, but also a bit of a temper. It takes me a lot, but when they do push too much I can snap and then it takes me a while to calm down. I’ve always hated that about myself, but there isn’t a lot I can do about it, it just seems to be the just the way I am. I guess the fact that I struggle to let go goes hand in hand with the over-thinking. It’s good to be able to take a step back now, to look at the situation at face value and to walk away if I need to, which everyone does at times. It works too, as long as they don’t follow me!

It’s funny though, recently, I have found myself wanting to teach Katie things that I haven’t done before. She often thinks I’m mad when I spot a stain on some clothing and enlist her help with an old wives tale method of removing it. Her face is a picture sometimes! We’ve been spending time cooking together too, which isn’t my strong point, but it’s like okay because in many ways, we’re learning together. She, like me is often afraid of getting things wrong, and I hope together we’re learning it is okay to make mistakes, that mistakes don’t mean we can’t try again. It’s lovely to have the clarity of mind, and the time, because like many working Mums I am busy, but I don’t have that need for a drink getting in the way, making me rush the time I’m spending with the kids, or being only half present. I’m only balancing my time between the four of them and normal everyday things. It’s strengthening our relationships, and I hope it continues.

I’m glad I have an honest and open relationship with the kiddies, while I was worried to open up to them, and afraid that they’d be ashamed of me, it actually makes me feel understood. I hope that it shows them that if I can overcome a problem like addiction, that they can too. It doesn’t even have to be the same problem, I just want them to know adversity can be overcome, in whatever form it takes. I hope they never end up in a situation like I was, but no one knows what is coming in the future. I just want them to know that I am always there for them, and I’ll understand. That if I can do it, so can they.

Thanks as always for reading.

Claire x


Forgetting Blackouts and Recovery after addiction Blog - My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
Sometimes I wake up with a bit of a fuzzy head, and it reminds me of before. It actually makes me panic for a moment and then I remember, it’s not a hangover, I just haven’t woken up properly yet. There were days before when I had a proper hangover, there were days when I just had a headache, more of them than I’d like to admit really, and then there were the days when I couldn’t remember.

There is nothing so bad as waking up and not being sure of the events of the previous night. I’m not even saying something bad had to happen, it’s not all as dramatic as it is on TV or in movies, but more a constant gnawing away at my confidence and self-esteem. In my case I might not have had a fight, or lost my car, or got arrested, but on many occasions I repeated a conversation, or forgot I had even had a conversation. I may have forgotten I’d had an argument, or wondered why one had started. I didn’t know sometimes whether an argument had been sorted out the next day, and I was always afraid of putting my foot in it. It was like walking on egg shells.

Blackouts for me weren’t something I’d ever experienced, and when they did at first I didn’t even realise. I thought I’d just fallen asleep. It’s when you talk to someone and realise that you were still there, even when you had checked out that it gets worrying. For me the last year of my drinking was the worst, I had lost a lot of weight and was drinking at least two and a half bottles of wine a night by myself. There wasn’t a night I had off, and while I kidded myself it wasn’t binge drinking, and instead I was helping my body by building up a tolerance, that just meant I drank more to get the same effect. That effect became short lived though as more often than not, shortly after I’d got the feeling I’d been craving, I was zoned out. I couldn’t focus on TV, I couldn’t read a book, and I couldn’t have coherent conversations without going off on a tangent. Everything felt extreme and it was draining trying to keep up appearances and the facade, even though I often didn’t know what was going on, trying to pretend that I did.

Blackouts are probably the last thing I’m really ashamed of admitting. It’s a hard thing to talk about, because rather than just being dependent and addicted, I also drank to the point of losing control. It’s not a good place to be, and even though that is in my past, it’s still a hard thing to admit to.

We watched “The Girl on the Train” recently. I read the book a few years ago and it was a difficult read for me. While I liked being able to identify with the main character, her drinking and inability to remember and piece together events also hit a little close to home for me. It’s a difficult balance, but that was then and this is now. Even knowing the content, although not how it would be shown, we watched it together. I’m never sure of how they’ll portray storylines with drinking as a central part, and I always worry that those characters will be seen in the worst light. I have to say, I didn’t enjoy it as much as the book, but I find that is often the case with books and films. It was sad to see the character confused and muddled, not just by her own actions but easily led by those around her. It made me realise really just how far I have come since my own fuzzy days. I could identify so much with her, and although she was a fictional character, I sympathised with her. For once it was nice to be able to separate it from myself though. I may have been there once, but I’m not anymore and I have no intention of ever being back there again.

Take care and thanks as always for reading.
Claire x



Worrying and coping with my anxiety. Writing for my blog My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
Sometimes I just can’t stop myself worrying. It’s quite annoying as I can’t place exactly why I feel like it. There never seems to be a trigger specifically, take the other day for instance, I’d had a good day. There was one small thing, and although I dealt with it at the time, it’s been playing on my mind ever since. I find myself searching, running through all my thoughts, as if my brain needs a reason to worry.

Being tired affects my rational mind, I know that much. It never helps, for instance doing an extra day at work tires me out. I planned to take the kids for a nice walk after work, but I was so tired I ended up crashing out when I got home, with a nice cup of tea and the TV.

I’m aware I feed off the emotions and energy of other people too. I’ve always done it but with some people it’s more noticeable. So for instance when work is hectic, like it is at the moment, I see it affecting my husband which rubs off on me. Joe has been out and bought a new car and I find that hard. I know it’s his money, and that’s fine, but for me, it’s the worry that he might have bought something that isn’t as good as he hoped and wasted his money. I don’t think that’s true in this case but of course there is still the logistics of buying it, taxing it, insuring it, selling his old car and it all builds up. I guess it’s true that you don’t stop worrying about them as they get older, rather the things you worry about change.

Last week Katie and Stanley somehow managed to flood the kitchen while I was at work. It doesn’t sound too bad, but when I tell you that the flood originated in the upstairs bathroom, through the ceiling, you might see what a mess I had to contend with! They took out the electricity trip because water got into the lights and the water washed my Alexa, so now she doesn’t work anymore. (Yes I do refer to her as a she!) In all honesty though, although I was upset (and I think I was justified) I dealt with it a lot better than I would have done before, both with alcohol or without my anxiety medication. I didn’t get upset, and I didn’t even raise my voice. I just expressed my disappointment. Rather than being angry, I was just sad that the floor is damaged. It was nice to feel that I dealt with it rather than making it more than it needed to be.

That evening though I felt so uneasy, the feeling of worry wouldn’t go, and it wasn’t like anything was going to get worse. So I took a deep breath and tried to focus on the present. I did my Headspace which helped a bit and then pulled out my notebook, because putting my thoughts down on paper gets them out of my head which can only be a good thing!

It seems that I’m finding better ways to cope with my feelings which definitely makes me feel better in the long run.

Much love,
Claire x


Wine O’Clock

Wine O'clock is a terrible thing that facilitates drinking Blog - My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell addiction and recovery
“I’m not going to drink tonight,” was always one of the first things on my mind in the morning. I’ve said before that I didn’t drink in the day, but the fact that it was often at the forefront of my mind should have given me warning bells.

I didn’t see my addiction creep up on me you see. Many people don’t. It’s just a habit we get into. It’s so ingrained in our culture, in our society, that we often seem more strange for not drinking, than for drinking. It’s a sad state of affairs and it’s one of the reasons that so many people with addictions struggle to get help. I’ve read that alcohol is more addictive than heroin. I’ve also heard that if alcohol was invented now, it would be illegal. Who knows? We can’t change these things, but we do have to face up to the way it’s used in our lives and that it actually doesn’t have to be.

In so many houses across the country there is a certain time of day when if you listen carefully, you could possibly hear the sound of bottles opening and glasses being filled. This witching hour was certainly the hardest time for me both when I was trying to cut down and when I had cut wine completely out of my life. If I could distract myself to get through the early evening, things were often a little easier for me. Not easy, but easier.

It’s funny, but after three years and nine months of sobriety wine o’clock still catches me out sometimes. It isn’t there so often, but every once in a while I might be driving home from work and I think, “Ah, that’ll be nice”, and then I remember that it won’t be. I don’t miss drinking at all now and that is the honest truth. It wasn’t like that at the beginning but it is certainly true now. However, that habit, it’s still there as a memory in the back of my mind, and sometimes it pops out. It’s always innocent, like maybe my husband telling me he’ll be late home which causes me to think I’ll sit down with a glass of wine and watch a film. Except, I don’t want to drink now, so that memory is more annoying than anything else.

I hate that I was stuck in that rut, of thinking I needed to reward myself at the end of a day. I also hate that so many other people are still stuck in it, although that shouldn’t be for me to worry about really! I just know what a hard place it is to be and it makes me cross that it is reinforced in so many different places. It doesn’t matter whether you are online or in a shop, there are so many gifts available to remind us that it’s time for ‘Mummy’s Wine’ or something similar. I hope one day this changes and that we are all able to see alcohol for what it is, something that can be enjoyed, but that shouldn’t be relied on. Life without alcohol is too good to continue drowning ourselves in it.

I suppose what I’d like to say is that it’s hard in our culture to begin a life of sobriety as we are almost expected to drink to be accepted. It shouldn’t be that way and it doesn’t have to be. So remember that, especially if you’re beginning a sober journey. There will always be reminders, but that is all they need to be. Drinking was a big part of my life for a long time, but now it’s a part of my history. It helped make me who I am, but I don’t need or want it anymore. Good luck to you if you are struggling, and remember it really does get easier. It really is worth it.

Much love,
Claire x


Does Drinking Make You Speak The Truth?

Does Drinking Make You Tell The Truth writing for my sobriety and mental health blog My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
I’ve heard it said more than once that drinking takes away your inhibitions and allows people to say what they really mean in an unfiltered way, but I’ve wondered too, if that is really true.

Alcohol affects not only our reasoning, but also our thoughts about the effects of our actions. This means that although it might be true that we speak our truth and our minds when under the influence, instead of it being measured and aware of the feelings of others, we might say things we wouldn’t normally dream of saying, especially when we have the ‘Dutch courage’ that alcohol provides.

The thing is that although it may have an element of truth behind it, it will often be taken out of context or blown out of proportion, or both. The fact that a conversation or argument is alcohol fuelled means that the truth becomes muddled amongst other thoughts and feelings and that tact is unlikely. It is more likely that instead of telling the truth, and baring your soul, that it becomes a rant, and perhaps an illogical one at that. Of course, even if you remember what has been said afterwards, you can’t change it, or take it back. That slate can never be wiped 100% clean.

We know that alcohol lowers or removes our inhibitions, as well as often affecting coordination and motor skills, making us clumsier even though we might feel suddenly compelled to dance, sing or act the fool. The neurotransmitters and electrical signals in our brains slow down or stop which causing an effect called ‘evaluative cognitive control’, which is what causes our sudden belief that we are better dancers or singers than we actually are. Lowered inhibitions caused by drinking also result in a reduction in the ‘Negative Affect’ which means that actions aren’t associated with the negative affect that they might have. This can mean when under the influence, that people say or do things which would likely cause embarrassment or pain under normal circumstances. In cases like this it means that someone is literally saying or doing something without being able to see the impact it will have.

Studies have shown that alcohol affects the signals within the brain, especially for those who drink heavily on a frequent basis. This means that it affects both social and emotional responses and processing which affects the perception of different emotions and social cues. This explains why people are often more emotional or suffer from mood swings when they are under the influence. The fact that social behaviour is affected means people not only fail to see the socially acceptable limits on what they are saying, but also that because their inhibitions are lowered, that they will talk more often. I guess this is where the saying, “Life and Soul of the Party,” comes from, as people tend to talk, dance and sing more when under the influence, however, there is also a lack of boundaries.

So drinking removes your filter and your inhibitions, and although you might know what you are doing, you will be less likely to stop yourself, emotional responses are more likely due to the intake of alcohol, which means situations can escalate out of no-where, as you lack the rationalisation to stop before you put your foot in it or make a fool out of yourself. When the alcohol is out of your system you are more than likely going to be left with regret and remorse. I know because I was there often enough in the past, and I often hated myself when I looked back on what I had said or done. At the time it felt logical and I felt justified. Sometimes I couldn’t even work out why a situation had escalated into an argument, and other times I could and I wished I hadn’t let it.

So, yes drinking might make you speak the truth, but it’s likely a truth that others won’t want to hear. I wonder too, if we need alcohol to help us say it, if it’s better not to be said?

Much love,
Claire x


Competing With Myself

Competing With Myself outdoors with my two littles boys, writing for my blog about sobriety and mental health My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
For someone who was totally and I mean totally, not sporty for a long time, for about two years, I got really sucked in to running and races. If it hadn’t been for corona virus and lockdown, I probably still would be. Instead, I took the opportunity to slow down and I lost my momentum.

It’s funny, because when I look at it and try to analyse it, I see that I use running as another marker of how worthy I am. It seems everything, even the things I enjoy are twisted by my ability to use them as a measure. It’s annoying, and I don’t always see it, but looking in from the outside, I can.

With running, it crept up slowly. First I could just run for one minute, but then as I improved, the goal posts changed. Soon, two miles wasn’t enough for an evening run, and then it had to be three, but that had to be fast, and I was disappointed in myself anytime I took over thirty minutes for it, even if it was hilly. I compared myself against people who were younger, faster or had been running for longer than me and I felt so annoyed when I couldn’t keep up. Soon the 5k became 10k and then half marathons. While I was proud of my efforts, I’d never thought I could run over 13 miles, instead I was annoyed I couldn’t do it faster, so I did more and more.

Running almost became a chore, something I had to do to maintain, rather than enjoy and over lockdown I took the opportunity for a rest. The thing is, as I went out less and less it became harder and I couldn’t measure up to where I had been.

I’m almost afraid to run now because I know it won’t be pretty. I know it won’t be fast and when my watch uploads my data to Strava I know I’ll be disappointed. I’m also feeling embarrassed about my time and worried that I won’t measure up to other runners I know. I know I shouldn’t be, that I should be proud I’ve got out, but it’s so hard and so much easier not to. It seems like such an effort and I don’t know if I can be bothered.

The cancellation of most of my races this year has been good. It means I have no pressure, but it also means my incentive is not currently there. Rather than seeing it as motivation that I have another half marathon in October, I’m just seeing it as a mountain I can’t and don’t particularly want to climb. It’s quite annoying as I was enjoying it.

I’m beginning to wonder if running was just a passing phase? Maybe it’s done it’s job. It certainly created a runner in my son Barn, and that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t started running, and dragged him into it kicking and screaming. So maybe that’s the reason for it all? I’m not sure, but I don’t think I’m going to push myself either. I don’t want to end up resenting something that I loved. It’s hard isn’t it?

Take care and thanks as always for reading.
Claire x


Being Me

Being Me outdoors and free writing for my blog My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
Life changes us all. It doesn’t matter what circumstances you are born into, we all have different opportunities, different experiences and they affect us all in very different ways. The things we experience shape us and make us who we are.

I’ve struggled over the years to come to terms with the aftermath of my drinking. It cost me relationships with friends and family, but then it also made me realise who I can rely on and who I can’t or who I shouldn’t. I felt very ashamed for a long time of myself and despite the fact that I’d stopped drinking, I sort of felt like I’d lost myself. I was so lacking in confidence, I felt completely unsure of myself and I didn’t know how to fix it. I wanted a magic wand, but unfortunately there isn’t one, or if there is, I couldn’t find it. Time and patience seem to be the best thing for me. They seem to have gradually built up and so now I am in a far better place than I was when I first quit.

I still don’t advertise my alcohol free life though, it’s not a secret but I just don’t go out of my way to tell people. That might seem strange considering how open I am with you all, but honestly I don’t tell people in the real world that often. I’m still doubtful that people will believe I was really that bad or maybe that they’ll think it is an attention thing. “We are all born equal, but we are not treated equally,” is one of my daughter Katie’s favourite quotes. Whoever we are, and wherever we are from, we are all coloured by our life experiences. We face privilege or discrimination based on other people’s perceptions of us, even down to small things, like whether we are a teenage mum or a boy racer. A lot of people seem to assume the worst of others. My experiences are different to others, and while that often makes me a lot more understanding of other people’s struggles, it isn’t always the first thing I want to explain to everyone.

I sort of thought one day things might just fall into place but of course that only happens in movies. The song “Wear Sunscreen” by Baz Luhrman, was released when I was a teenager. I think everyone has heard it, but although I’ve always liked it, it hasn’t really been until recently that it struck such a chord with me. It made me realise that I am me, whether others like me or approve or not. I can’t and won’t change for anyone else, and I wish I had realised it earlier! There is a part in the song that says something along the lines of, some interesting twenty year olds don’t know what they’re going to do with the rest of their lives, but the most interesting forty year olds still don’t know what they want to do! It makes me feel better when I worry that I haven’t achieved everything I want to have done yet!

Life is a journey. Let’s enjoy it!

Much love,
Claire x


Super Saturday?

Super Saturday crazy behaviour after lockdown writing for my sobriety and mental health blog My Not So Secret Diary by Claire HatwellWell, it is very apparent that things are changing very rapidly, at least where we live in Cornwall. Until recently it’s been quiet on the roads as well as the shops and towns being shut. I know that our community thrives on tourism to keep it going, but I can’t help but say that I liked the quiet. The roads were much less stressful, and it wasn’t hard to get around. I knew things were going to change, but I hadn’t expected it to happen literally overnight. There has been no gradual increase in visitors like we get most years, yesterday the towns were shut, today everything was crazy busy.

We had to do a couple of deliveries for work today, we’re heavily involved with manufacturing some of the protective screens a lot of restaurants and other businesses are using, so started off our day in Padstow. It was raining, but it was still hard to navigate the car through the town as there were so many pedestrians walking down the road. After that we went on to Newquay, and again it was busy, almost like Covid-19 and lockdown had been forgotten. We had our two youngest boys with us, so after that delivery we walked down to the harbour to look at the boats, and came back along the beach. That was lovely, but as soon as we got close to the town again it was harder going. There were so many people to avoid, and with the pavements being so narrow, it was easier to walk on the roads, but then there were cars to contend with. It’s not easy.

The thing is, in Cornwall, we are quite isolated. We have only one proper hospital for the whole county. The service it provides has always been good, at least in my experience, but it is also almost always pushed to capacity, and there have been times when patients haven’t got a bed. Even when I had our youngest, and I was booked in with a specific time, the maternity ward was bed blocked and we had to wait three days to be allowed up to the delivery suite. It was a good job he wasn’t in any rush to arrive, but it was scary as at least one lady gave birth in the corridor.

To top it all off, it seems that everyone is being encouraged to get out and enjoy themselves, namely, by going to the pub. Well, I for one have managed fine without pubs being open, but that is probably because I don’t drink anymore. I do find it rather sad though, that Radio 1 was playing clips of people talking about their plans for the weekend and the main theme seemed to be going out to ‘get hammered’ and to ‘make the most of it’. I don’t think it’s right really that it almost seems to be promoting drinking to excess, not just drinking to enjoy an afternoon or evening, but rather drinking more to make up for not being able to go out for the last few months. It seems sad to me, but it also worries me, because we’re suddenly inundated with people that haven’t been out, that are now allowed to and we have limited services to deal with any situations that arise from it.

It’s been coined ‘Super Saturday’ but I feel that really gives the wrong idea. I feel that it’s just encouraging people to go out and I worry that the social distancing rules are going to be forgotten by some. Following on from the protests and violence we have seen in some places recently, I do worry what trouble adding alcohol and nights out to the mix will bring. It’s all to easy to say something insensitive after one too many to drink, and unfortunately those things aren’t always possible to take back.

I for one, am going to stay safely at home tonight, but if you are planning to go out, have fun - just stay safe.

Much love,
Claire x


Letting Go

Letting Go me and my daughter at the beach in Cornwall writing for my sobriety and mental health blog My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
I’ve always found the term, “letting go of what no longer serves you,” an interesting one. How do you know what doesn’t serve you? What if you let go of something that you might need later?

I have been told I have a tendency to hoard things just a little tiny bit. My husband puts up with it, but I know it can be a bit much sometimes. I do know however, that I am not by any means at a worrying stage! Our floors are clear and nothing is a fire hazard! I’m just not so good at letting go of things that ‘might’ be useful, one day, or are sentimental, and with four kids, I hang on to a lot of memories. I’m like that with my thoughts too. I like to, no, that’s not true, because I don’t actually intend to do it. What I mean is I just hold on to things. I honestly don’t mean to and I don’t want to most of the time. It’s not because I want to remember bad things or hold a grudge or anything like that because I do it with good things too. I just struggle to let things go.

A wise person, who may be reading this (Roger Happy) once said to me, that in the back of my mind was a box. I didn’t intentionally put it there but somehow managed to fill it with all the stuff I couldn’t do or didn’t want to deal with. Gradually as I allowed myself not only to write but also to publish my writing for you to read, I began to work through my feelings and unpack my thoughts from this box. It’s funny because although in some ways it probably made me not exactly relive things, but certainly brought up old feelings and emotions, it has also helped me work through them and put them to bed. I can finally let some things go.

There are things I can’t change. Most I wouldn’t, a few I would without a doubt. In all honesty, I wouldn’t be me without the life I’ve lived. I wouldn’t be so understanding of other people, I wouldn’t be so grateful of everything I have. I’m not perfect, not by a long shot, but I don’t think anyone is. Maybe I don’t actually want to be perfect. It would be quite boring if everyone was!

So I’m working on moving on and leaving my past mistakes and bad memories behind. I’m still a bit muddled, but that’s me. Life is an adventure and for once I’m looking forward to being able to explore it.

Take care,
Claire x