My Not So Secret Diary

Things I Will Miss

Things I Will Miss walking with my family at Lands End Cornwall, writing for my blog My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
It’s been the most bizarre year, and while I count myself lucky that I haven’t been personally affected by Covid-19 or know anyone that has, the situation has still affected us all.

Things are beginning to go back to normal, and in a lot of ways, I’m not sure that I want it to. I quite like the slightly slower pace of life. I used to shop a lot, and now I have one supermarket delivery a week. In between, I walk to our local farm shop for the odd fresh bits I need, normally with one or two of my kids which is nice. I can’t believe I’m saying it, but I do not miss the high street at all, although my daughter will be disappointed to hear that as she is looking forward to clothes shopping again!

I’m enjoying the simple things and at weekends our time is our own. We don’t have to ‘do’ anything much, because there is very little that can be done, besides going for a walk and spending time together. The freedom we have outdoors is lovely. Last week, I took the kids for what is becoming our weekly walk at our local National Trust property. We have to book the car in so we knew it wouldn’t be too busy, and we took a picnic. It was the hottest day of the year so far, so we walked down into the parkland and found a tree to base ourselves under. It is so lovely to be able to let the kids be free, Stanley rode his bike and other than helping him cross the road from the car park to the main entrance, he could explore without worry. I didn’t have to watch our bags or worry about where he was when he was out of sight behind a tree. We laid our blankets down and kicked a ball about, ate our picnic and climbed trees. It was lovely. Of course, as things are coming back to life, the days won’t always be so quiet, and I do like my space.

The world seems fresher somehow. The skies are bluer, the grass is greener. It’s like the world is blooming after having a little rest, although maybe it isn’t, maybe I’m just noticing it because I’m taking the time to slow down and see it. I hope the magic isn’t lost as our beaches and countrysides get filled with more people. We need venues to open for our country to thrive. We need to get things back to ‘normal’ to save our economy. I just worry that out normal is a little bit too much sometimes, a little bit too busy and sometimes a bit unnecessary.

I hope we can all take away some of the simple things from our strange time in lockdown and not lose it all as we fall back into old patterns.

Stay safe and take care,
Claire x


Why do you drink so much?

Why Do You Drink So Much? with my husband Lee Hatwell at Lands End writing for my sobriety and mental health blog My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
It’s a fair question and one I was asked more than a few times, back when I used to drink. I always laughed it off, and more importantly, I always had a good reason. Here’s a few of some of the many reasons I used to use, there were more, but these are the first ones that came to mind.

  • The sun is shining.
  • I want to relax.
  • It’s been a hard day.
  • It’s the weekend.
  • It’s a holiday.
  • We’re going out.
  • We are out.
  • We’ve been out.
  • We’ve got friends coming round.
  • It’s nice to have a few drinks with dinner.
  • It’s nice to have a few drinks after dinner/with a film/in the garden.
  • I want a glass of wine to ‘relax’ with in my bath.

You see, no matter what, I had a reason. The thing is, that these reasons merged together and rolled into one, so it became more about getting a drink in the end, rather than needing a reason to have one. Everything began to revolve around wine, so slowly at first that I didn’t see the addiction creeping up on me. Not until it was too late. Fun times meant a drink, but so did sad times, or busy times, or relaxing times, in fact, it became that there wasn’t a time without a drink in the evening. It was then that I realised I was relying on it, that I no longer wanted it, but needed it, but by then, I didn’t know how I was going to live without it.

When I think back to why I even started drinking in the first place, I think there an element in the beginning, or when I was younger, that I wanted to fit in, and to be cool. I don’t know any of those people now that I wanted to fit in with then, so that was a waste of time!

The thought of trying to live life without wine was a strange concept to me. It seemed like something impossible. I just couldn’t imagine a life completely without it, but cutting down just didn’t work, however many times I tried. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to have fun or relax, and I’d lost touch in a lot of ways with myself. I remember watching an episode of Grand Designs when I was on one of my attempts at giving up, and I was astounded by the house. It was beautiful, and I for a moment dreamed of living somewhere like it. The problem was, when I envisaged a life in a home like that, cooking dinner involved having wine in my hand, and the moment I couldn’t see that, the dream fizzled away.

Replacing something that has such a hold on you and plays such a leading role in your life is difficult and I found the easiest way to quit was to do it one day at a time. I didn’t want to think about the bigger picture, because I just couldn’t see it. So instead, I just took it slowly and tried not to rush and gradually I got there. But it was like reinventing myself.

I like being responsible for my actions now. I mean, I know I was before, but now, I can’t blame alcohol for a comment I’ve made, and neither can anyone else. I’m more measured in my actions and my reactions and a lot more laid back. Little things don’t escalate in the same way they did before, and I can take a step back and evaluate before rushing in head first and then regretting it. It’s not been an easy road by any means, but it is amazing to think I am coming out the other side of it now, and that things finally are becoming easier.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect, I still get anxious and I still get a little bit of wine glass envy from time to time, but that is all it is now. Soon I remember the need for more, the fuzziness, the headaches, the pretending I was okay when I wasn’t, and all the rest of it and I know that I am in a far better place now.

If you’re on the same path, good luck to you and take care. Remember, things do get easier in the end.

Take care,
Claire x


Elephant Journal Article - Being Called a Wine-o?!

Wine-o Article Elephant Journal Article by Claire Hatwell
I don’t like the title at all, it was renamed by an editor and I do find it mildly offensive, but I guess it grabs attention?! 🤷🏼‍♀️ (I’m not sure about the photo either!)

Anyway, that aside, here’s an article I wrote for Elephant Journal recently. Every word (except the title) is my own, I’d love to know what you think!
Claire x

Here's the link if you'd like to have a read -

Being an Adult

Being an Adult with my family in Cornwall writing for my blog My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
I’ve always thought adulting is a bit of a stupid term, but at the same time I feel it exactly describes what I’m trying to do at the moment. I wish there was a rule book or a guide or a how to explanation of what I’m supposed to do and when. It would make things so much easier!

Being a parent is hard. I try so hard to get the balance right. I want to be interested without being pushy, a friend but still the parent. I want them to be able to talk to me about anything and everything, and sometimes, I think I am nailing it. Other times, not so much. I hate getting things wrong and yet so much of the time I seem to put my foot in it, even when I try my best. Take last week for example. I’ve been banging on for weeks both before and after lockdown was eased about the amount my eldest was going out. I know he’s a teenager with a social life, but sometimes it feels like he just comes home for the food, a shower and to sleep. He’s not home much more than that. I try to balance it out and remind myself that at his age I was married and he was nearly with us, and that he works hard so should go out when he wants to, but recently it’s just wound me up a little bit. Given that he isn’t even making it home by his curfew on weeknights, it’s making me a little shorter of patience.

We’ve tried to talk, I’ve hoped he will make a better decision occasionally if I try to encourage him, but he hasn’t and it makes me feel worse. Even last weekend he said he’d go out on Sunday in the day and come home for the evening. I was really touched that he was making the effort, but by the evening his plans had changed and off out he went again. I was surprised at how disappointed I was.

Eventually something sunk in and one evening he decided to stay in. Even after he got back from work, I expected him to ask to go out but for a change, he didn’t. You’d think I’d be pleased, as I had finally got what I wanted and yet, instead of being happy it just made me feel grumpy. I felt like I was stopping him from going out. It seemed that there wasn’t a good enough reason for him to be home, because we weren’t doing anything special and his Dad was working late. It is so hard to get things right, and then I just seem to upset my son, rather than just accept that what he is doing. Even my daughter told me to be careful I didn’t upset him, and when you hear it from one of the other kids, you know you’re making a mistake.

I don’t want to push him away but I feel like I seem to do it all the time. I just want to get things right, to encourage him, and to remind him, rather than letting things slide, but instead, it’s like I just seem to make him feel bad, and then of course he wants to go out rather than listen to me. I don’t blame him, I wouldn’t want to put up with me sometimes either. He is such a lovely kid, I want to spend time with him, and I miss him when he isn’t here. It’s just he is growing up, and an adult now, I want him to be with his friends, I just don’t want to lose him either. Does that make sense?

I knew one day they’d grow up. I know that they’ll all move out. I want them to be happy, and I know that if they all achieve the things they are doing and are successful and settled that I will have done a good job. I just didn’t think it would be so hard to let them go. I’m not quite ready to yet, but I’ll try, and I’ll hope they’ll all come back to me one day too.

Take care,
Claire x


On Being Different

On Bring Different outdoors in the fresh air in Cornwall. Claire Hatwell - My Not So Secret Diary - blog about anxiety, addiction and recovery
I’ve never felt quite like I’ve fitted in right. I always felt like I was a bit of a square peg in a round hole. I always used to try my best, but I don’t anymore, well I do, but without trying to change myself if that makes sense? I’m a bit more of the feeling that you’ll have to take me or leave me now, although that doesn’t stop me worrying!

It doesn’t matter quite what it is, I’ve just always felt I didn’t quite measure up. I hated feeling like that, but I also know now that it was my insecurity talking. I don’t know why I was or am so insecure. There’s nothing that triggered it, at least that I remember. It’s hard, because I know I am sensitive so sometimes that makes things a little worse. I don’t see how others can brush things off when I take them to heart, even without wanting to. I feel like I should toughen up, or get a thicker skin, but for me at least, that just isn’t possible.

I’m not delicate or fragile so to speak. I’d do things a lot of people wouldn’t. I’d have a difficult conversation or fix a stressful situation when it might be easier to ask someone else to do it. So it’s not that I can’t do it, it’s just that when I’ve done it I over worry that I’ve done it right. I worry about whether my intentions will come across right or whether I’ve been misunderstood. I always think I’ve made a fool of myself. Even when I haven’t. I take failing very personally and I hate getting things wrong. It knocks me, and I take a lot to bounce back. It’s hard work putting myself out into situations that I find hard and sometimes I just want to go to sleep when I get home. It’s exhausting over analysing everything!

I read a beautiful analogy recently by someone in a similar boat to me. They said that some days are like walking a road paved with shards of glass. Some days you forget your shoes and it’s harder and so you remind yourself not to forget them the next day.

My bubble at home is my safe place. I know my mind distorts things and I am trying to work on it. I’m not hiding anymore and so now you all see the real me. I’m genuine and authentic and if that isn’t enough for anyone then I’m telling myself that it isn’t my problem. But I do find that negative self talk can bring me down. That voice is always there ready to jump in when it sees a chink in the armour and it gets me good. No matter how hard I work on positivity, when that voice starts it can bring me crashing right back down again.

It must be hard for those who live with me (Thank you Lee) because I need a lot of reassurance and validation. It’s not attention so much as just a reminder that whatever it us, was okay, or not so bad or what someone else would have done in the same situation. Rather than feeling wrong for needing the validation, I feel more confused that others don’t need it. I struggle to see how others can go through life without worrying about whether they are doing it right.

Things come out of the blue for me and knock me back which is frustrating. It might be a comment I made years ago, or something I did, but it’s like it springs up and makes me feel bad all over again. I’m trying to let the past go, it’s just hard sometimes.

But, I know I am loved. I know I am valued. As for the rest of it, I’m working on it.

Take care,
Claire x


Motivating Myself

Motivating Myself running in London at the Vitality Half waas easier than running in lockdown. My Not So Secret Diary blog
My motivation has gone in recent weeks. Not for everything, just for the exercise side of things. I had so many plans for this year, I was going to be fitter and faster than I was last year, and until March, I was kind of on schedule.

When lockdown started I thought I’d give myself a little break. I’d just run two half marathons, one particularly hilly one in an awful storm and one in London, and so I didn’t mind enforcing a little rest. I’m not great at doing things out of the ordinary, so once I have a routine, I feel like I’m cheating myself if I don’t complete it. I feel a little bit like I’m skiving off if you know what I mean. But the times were strange and I thought it wouldn’t harm.

With the lockdown, it was a little bit easier than normal to push myself out of my routine. I didn’t like going out to run by myself when we were allowed only one form of exercise. Instead, I preferred to take the kids for a walk, especially my little one Stanley, and get some much needed fresh air, so it was easy not to have the ability to run as well. But the weeks have gone on, and my intentions to get back into it, you know, maybe next week, just haven’t quite materialised.

It’s quite nice not going to the effort of running, although I think I’m noticing it in my mind. I’m also noticing it in the fit of my clothes, but that is another story! I’m envious of the people who have been able to motivate themselves to go out everyday, but unfortunately I am not one of them. It’s inspiring to see my son Barn get up and run everyday, even though his races have been cancelled and he isn’t able to train with his team as he was doing three times a week before the lockdown.

My next half marathon is in October, if it does ahead, and I worked out that as long as I was running by the 1st of June, it would be okay… that hasn’t happened yet. The thing is as I haven’t gone out, on the odd occasion when I have, it’s much harder than it was and it puts me off. I wouldn’t say I’ve ever found running ‘easy’ but now, it certainly seemed a lot easier then, than it did then.

Throughout the summer Barn and I like to join the Summer Sessions, which are races on scenic coastal paths in the evenings. They’ve obviously been postponed, and I thought that was a good thing, but now the date they were pushed back to is getting closer, and I can’t help but hope they are put off again. The thing is, even if they go ahead they won’t be as normal. Part of the thing I like about trail running is feeling like you’re part of a pack. There’s something quite primal about it, and it’s wonderful being out in the elements with a crowd of other people. If they go ahead, they’re going to be staggered starts, there won’t be water stations along the way and there won’t be medals. It will be very different to anything we’re used to, and while I totally understand why the organisers need to put measures into place to keep everyone safe, I do wonder if I even want to be part of a small group event like that. I guess I’ll leave it until closer to the time and then decide.

It’s hard when I find myself competing with myself, and I know I’ve got into lazy habits lately, so for now, I’m going to try and motivate myself to get out and run this week. It won’t be fast and it may not be pretty, and I’m going to have to let go of my perfectionist traits to accept that, but at least I will have got out and done something.

If you’ve got any spare motivation can you send some my way?

Claire x