Welcome to my May Entries. For the current month, please click on 'My Diary'
I’ve been thinking, (I do that a lot), and I’ve realised something. As a complete over thinker, I have always felt a little jealous of those who can do their own thing without seeming bothered by what other people think of them. I’ve been envious of their ability not to care, when I feel judged or like I’ve done something wrong so much of the time. I always felt like the fact I was so sensitive meant there was something wrong with me, and to be honest, drinking quietened my mind so I didn’t think as much.
After I got sober things were a lot worse for a while, don’t get me wrong, quitting didn’t make them worse, but it meant I was confronting everything without that buffer of wine. So that’s something I’m working on, and I’m definitely a lot kinder to myself than I used to be.
It dawned on me this morning though, as I drove to work that there isn’t anything wrong with me. Moving through life robotically without getting emotionally attached isn’t the way I’m wired, but that isn’t a bad thing and it isn’t a weakness. I worry because I care and it’s sad to think I drank to hide that part of myself. But then looking back I wonder how I could have changed when I didn’t even realise.
Now, I’m grateful for who I am and how much I care. Yes, I worry, yes I wonder about almost everything, but I don’t think that’s a bad place to be, because it always comes from the right place. I always have good intentions and I’m always trying to do my best. I am not just going through the motions in a robotic manner, and I feel so much better than I ever did when I was drinking.
It doesn’t matter where you are at, just remember to keep going. Things have a habit of working themselves out when you put the effort in.
Much love as always,
This afternoon consisted mostly of a walk to the beach along the cliff path and then a lovely swim in the sea with my little water baby. It was so warm in the water too! Then I had a little read while he had a little play. It was lovely! I was feeling properly stressed out and anxious beforehand, but now feel chilled and am enjoying a cup of tea while I wait for dinner to cook. A perfect Friday night and no wine in sight! I still get anxious and stressed or whatever you want to call it, but I deal with it so much better than I used to! Happy Friday everyone!
Evening everyone! I was sent this poem yesterday and I wanted to share it with you all, I think it’s beautiful! I hope you like it! xx
A Poem for Women in Recovery
I always said “I’m sorry”
for everything I did
I think that it began
When I was just a kid.
I’m sorry that I’m little
I’m sorry I get mad
I’m sorry if I’m not as smart
As my mom or dad.
I’m sorry that I’m shy
And that my chest is flat.
I’m sorry I’m not ready
To do the stuff like that.
I’m sorry about the baby
He’s colicky; he’ll cry
I’m sorry I can’t comfort him
No matter how I try.
I’m sorry for my house
It’s messy, we have boys...
I’m sorry for my car
It’s making a strange noise.
I’m sorry about my cooking
It isn’t always great.
I’m sorry that I’m tired
I’m sorry that I’m late.
Sorry about the garden
The yard is such a mess
I need to do some weeding
We need to fix the fence…
I’m sorry about my dog
He should be better trained
I’m sorry about my kitchen
I’m sorry about my brain.
I’m sorry about my hair
I’m sorry I’m a bore
I’m sorry sometimes I forget
What I had said before.
Sorry I was quiet
Sorry if I said too much
Sorry I was clumsy
Sorry I was rushed.
Sorry I spent money
Sorry I was cheap
Sorry I’m so sensitive
Sorry I’m too deep.
Sorry that I drank too much
Sorry that I quit
Sorry if you find that weird
Sorry for my shit.
I’ve been sorry for my flaws
Each and every one
And yet I have to tell you
Sorry isn’t fun.
I’m sick of saying sorry
Or swallowing my words
It’s time I just said “fuck that”
All these “sorrys” are absurd.
I’m not sorry for my thoughts
My hips, my breasts, my brain
I’m not sorry for my feelings
I’m not sorry for my pain.
I’m not sorry for my cooking
It’s nourishing and good
I’m not sorry for my car
It takes me where it should.
I’m not sorry for my home
It’s filled with love and care
I’m not sorry for my body
My wrinkles or my hair.
I’m not sorry for my voice
I think it should be heard
I’m not sorry for the many times
I’m searching for a word.
I’m not sorry that I’m sober
It’s how I want to be
I’m not sorry if you wish I’d drink,
I’ll have a cup of tea.
I’m not sorry that I’m human
Warm and soft and kind
I’m not sorry I’m imperfect
In body and in mind.
I’m ready for that chapter
Of apologies to end
I’m ready for acceptance
Of everything I am.
And so I’ll just apologize
One last heartfelt time
To the person that I’ve been, and am
The person that is fine.
I’m sorry, little girl
That I criticized you so
I’m sorry, awkward teenager
I should have let you know
That you were truly lovely
Compassionate and smart
I’m sorry brand new mother
With your enormous heart.
I’m sorry middle-aged me
I love you, you’re a dear
I’m sorry that I’ve hurt you
But that is stopping here.
I’m finding self-compassion
The missing link, I think
I know it’s what I didn’t have
When I would choose to drink.
My light is shining brightly
My sisters are at hand
I’m ready to take care of me
In every way I can.
I’m rising through my sadness
I’m rising from my pain
I’m rising from my guilt
I’m rising from my shame.
I’m ready now to stand
I’m ready soon to soar
I’m ready, please come with me
I see an open door.
~~~Nancy P, a woman in recovery
Took my eldest son for his Covid jab tonight. It’s a weird thing to say, but I enjoyed it, not having him stuck with a needle, but it was lovely to spend time with him. He’s young and always out, and while I wouldn’t want to change him, it’s nice to have some 1:1 time with him sometimes. So that is three out of six of us with the first jab done! It was also a beautiful day so I can’t complain!
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, it took me a long time to admit I had a problem with drinking, and I mean years. I just didn’t fit the stereotype for what I thought someone with an alcohol problem would look like. I also didn’t think other people would agree with me and that for some reason, they’d just assume I was after attention.
Nowadays, I’ve come to realise that there isn’t a defining idea of what an alcoholic looks like, or what someone who is alcohol dependent looks like, in the same way that there isn’t a stereotypical thirty year old or forty year old. We might have things in common but we’re all different. We all experience things differently and wear our experiences differently too. It shapes who we are, but not who we can become.
It was interesting when I first heard about ‘grey area drinking’ as it was a new concept to me, but it seems there are many, many people waking up to the damage alcohol can do, and stepping back a little from the drinking culture I knew. The fact that more and more people who go about their lives in a ‘normal’ way are admitting they also resort to drinking a lot, seems to have illustrated that there isn’t a black and white definition of drinking. The lines that define us are quite blurred and there are actually many shades of grey in the middle.
Like many I wanted to understand myself, and I spent hours reading books, blogs and learning all I could about addiction, and about how other people had made their way through it. I wanted to feel normal, and the more I looked, the more I realised that there were many people out there like me. I wasn’t the only one, and not by a long way.
I suppose I’d been waiting to hit rock bottom, but I didn’t know where that would be because everyones rock bottom looks different. For me, although I damaged some relationships and certainly my mental health, I kept my family, my home and my job. Many aren’t so lucky. My rock bottom didn’t end up with me living on the streets and because I was conditioned to believe that’s how alcoholics were recognised, it took me longer to recognise it in myself.
How can you recognise grey area drinking?
• Maybe you drink most days, but no longer get drunk? This is how it was for me and I needed a minimum of two bottles of wine every day or I felt like I was missing out. I couldn’t miss a day, and it was getting to the point where I was controlled by it.
• Maybe alcohol has become a habit, rather than an occasional way to enjoy yourself, or something to look forward to when you’re out? Pouring a drink was one of the first things that I did when I got home in the evenings, it became more of a habit than something special.
• Do you look for reassurance in others to justify your drinking to yourself? I would look anywhere to confirm that I was all right, despite deep down being worried that I wasn’t.
• Maybe you can’t imagine a life without alcohol. I certainly struggled to.
• Does the idea of stopping seem impossible? Maybe you can white knuckle it through a few days, or stop because you’re ill, but then always end up falling back into the same habit?
Alcohol is addictive, so for those of us who starts as social drinkers, it is relatively easy to slip into habits that mean we drink more and more. I drank at home too, which meant it lost the ‘special’ feeling and soon became a habit. Couple that with the tolerance that develops over time, and you can find you are suddenly in a sticky situation with no obvious way out. The first thing many of us, including me, would do to cope with stress unfortunately is to bury our heads in the sand and probably have another drink. However, in reality, we aren’t dealing with the problem and are really only making matters worse in the long run.
So many of us have been there, but I feel the tide is turning on alcohol. I’m not the only one seeing it for what it is, an addictive substance that creeps in slowly until you depend on it. It can feel isolating, but it doesn’t have to be and you don’t have to do it on your own.
I can safely say that while my sobriety was hard earned, I wouldn’t change it for anything!
Here's a piece I wrote recently for Elephant Journal. Follow the link to read the article and if you are able to share and like it, I'd really appreciate it! x
I've always been a fairly positive person. Although I'm anxious and I know I worry, I prefer to look for the good in things, however difficult the situation. Take my alcohol dependency for example. It could be something that I try to hide, to pretend that it didn't happen, but really, it is a part of me. I may not like it, but I can't change it, and it helped shape who I am, so I may as well accept it.
Recently as you may have seen, I’ve been training to become a sober coach and running drop in sessions where like minded people can meet up for a chat. Don't get me wrong, I was pretty nervous before the first one but I shouldn't have worried. Afterwards I felt pretty great; it was nice just to be there, and listen. I didn't do anything besides share my story and thoughts but actually having someone listen without judgement made a huge difference to me back at the start of my journey.
It is a well known phrase that connection is the opposite of addiction, but I really think its true. The moment you surround yourself with a sober community you begin to take the power away from the addiction. Speaking to others who have experienced what you are going though helps reinforce that you aren't the only one. You are far from the only one. So many of us have experienced addiction but that doesn't make us bad people, it doesn't even make us weak. In fact it takes a very strong person to stand up to an issue like addiction, and try to overcome it.
I might not have all the answers but as I’ve said before, I've been there. I hope that by sharing my journey, I can I inspire others who need it. It makes me feel better and like my struggles have a reason.
Just remember, you are not alone and you don't have to walk this path on your own either.
Here's a recent piece I wrote for the team at Bee Sober CIC. Click the link to read the article on their website.https://www.beesoberofficial.com/blog/grey-area-drinking/
Back in the days before I stopped drinking I never really thought about the impact my drinking might have on my children. I don’t mean I didn’t care, I just didn’t really think about it. I was seldom drunk around them because I'd built up such a tolerance, and of course I didn’t drink in the day and believed it was okay in the evenings. Of course they saw me drink, but I tried to limit it, at least until they were in bed.
I suppose I didn't worry about it because it's what I thought everyone did, but now reflecting on it I wonder how much drinking around our children affects them. I don't mean that everyone should abstain from alcohol, but if our youngsters see us reach for a glass frequently when we're at home, then I question what message we're sending them. Surely instead of seeing us deal with our lives and our emotions they are instead watching us check out of reality for a bit. That isn't a lesson I really want to teach my kids.
On the other hand, there is a positive because I feel my honesty over my recovery with my kids has shown them what resilience is. It's deepened our relationship and I hope they feel they can talk to me about anything. Interestingly I had a conversation with my 15 year old recently. He’s almost a middle child, having two older siblings and one younger. I don't lecture any of them, nor do I tell them not to drink, although I do tell them to be careful. Anyway, he and I were chatting and he brought up drinking. As I've said, we talk about everything so it wasn't a surprise that he wanted to chat. It was nice to hear him telling me that he couldn't ever see himself drinking at home. He told me that he was looking forward to nights out, but he didn’t want it to become a habit. I wish I’d had that wisdom at his young age. It seems so simple, but I wonder now, if I’d only ever had a drink on special occasions, if I ever would have stumbled down the path I did.
The difficulty is that alcohol, and especially wine for Mums it seems, is so socially acceptable. It probably wasn’t so bad before social media, but now we have that, we are constantly bombarded by what other people do after a hard day, or as a celebration for a good day, or for whatever other reason they can think of. There are others out there all the time egging us on, despite the fact we don’t know them, and I know for one I didn’t need much encouragement. Now when I scroll through some social media feeds I wonder if it’s an attempt to show off, or maybe to reassure themselves that what they are doing is okay? Special meals are more important to me now than they were when I was drinking and the best thing is, not only do I enjoy the food more, I actually remember it!
I don’t need to remind you that alcohol is addictive, and when we find we’re in it’s grasp, it’s often too late to back off and slow down, or to ‘drink responsibly.’ I hate that phrase. It’s one of those things that really bugs me, because what is responsible on any level about tipping something that is effectively a poison down our throats? That’s besides the point, what I was going to say, is that once you’re there at the point I was, you’re stuck, and then you feel like you’re a bad mum, and if you’re like me, there’s a lot of shame attached to that.
It doesn’t have to be like that though. Our experiences shape us, and I feel I am more tolerant of others now. My kids have seen what damage alcohol can do, but more importantly I hope they can see that it is possible to recover, and that their nights out and fun times can involve alcohol, but they don’t have to. I hope it’s opened their eyes to the fact that addiction can touch anyone, and I hope that they’ll remember that as they get older and begin their journey’s into adulthood. I can’t expect them to learn from my mistakes, but I hope I’ve given them a little nudge in the right direction!
Take care of yourselves.
Much love as always,
I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately. I class it as research because I've been studying to become a sober coach, but not only that, I find them interesting too. I'm a little late to the podcast party, mainly I never really understood the point before, but now I get it and I’m hooked. I've found lots of new favourites!
What has seemed to come up a few times is how many people seemed to stop drinking due to a challenge. I can’t remember how many people I heard say that they joined Dry January or Go Sober for October or even just set a target of a certain amount of days. It seems I was not the only person who thought a challenge or time off drinking would solve all my problems with alcohol. I never got on with challenges. I tried, they seemed a good idea but although I signed up, I never managed to get anywhere. I never even got past the first day.
It's strange though that for a lot of us who choose to stop drinking, we seem to hold out hope of being 'normal' again one day. Looking back I think it's so sad that I ever felt that way, but I know I wasn't the only one. I chose, like millions of others do, to stop drinking before it took any more from me or before it killed me. I could have kept drinking but I made the choice to fight my way out kicking and screaming into an alcohol free world. I didn't know what I was letting myself in for, or how I'd cope without wine. I think I kept myself going in the early days by telling myself one day it would be okay, that I'd be able to have one or two, and by that I meant glasses, not bottles. Deep down I must have known it wouldn't be like that. Deep down, I must have realised that for me the chance of moderation was non-existent, I'd already proved that to myself on several occasions. I'd done well a couple of times but after abstaining, decided one glass would be okay, only to find out that it really wouldn't. I know now that if I had one that wouldn't be it. I know I’d need more. So I keep that door firmly closed. I won't let wine back into my life, not now, not ever.
I'm not sure when it clicked with me that I’d never drink again. I've seen some people realise that the benefits out weigh what went before and so its a no brainer. For me in honesty, my sobriety just unleashed my anxious mind. For a while there it would have been easier to drink and just shut it up, but that wouldn't have done me any good in the long run. Subconsciously I must have known that, because even when I wanted to, I didn't give in.
Gradually I got there and now, without a shadow of a doubt, I can say that I am free without wine. I feel lighter in my mind and calmer. I wasn't a bad person before but now I know I'm a better person.
I don't think it matters if you choose sobriety for a challenge or for a lifestyle, what matters is that if it works for you stick with it.
I used to spend a lot of time waiting. I’m not sure what I was waiting for, but I think I thought when this ‘something’ happened then things would be different. I remember years ago when I was 12, thinking on my 13th birthday, life would change and I’d be grown up, a real teenager. Of course, when my birthday arrived, nothing changed except the number assigned to me. It was the same with many other things throughout the years, but I know it’s not just me that it applies to. For some it’s an event, like assuming when we get that job, that will make us happy. For others it’s an object that they set their heart on. Others see a relationship or a weight on the scales as the target to achieve to get them the feeling they long for.
The problem is for a lot of us, me included, when we finally get that thing, we can feel a certain amount of achievement, but often it feels flat very soon afterwards. I would tell myself when I was shopping that I needed the clothes I was buying, but they’d hang in the wardrobe afterwards, often not worn and they didn’t contribute to my feelings of happiness. I wanted to achieve things, but when I realised that my achievements didn’t matter to others as much as me, it seemed a little hollow. It’s weird when you lose your way a little, and try to fill the gaps with things. They usually don’t work, and can end up making you feel worse. I know, I tried a lot of things, but as we all know, none of those things, especially the wine, did anything to help me feel better!
We have to realise that we, individually, are enough. We are all different, we all can do different things, achieve different things, but that is what makes us interesting and useful. We shouldn’t feel inadequate when we don’t feel we measure up to other people, because it is likely the other people are thinking the exact same things about us. It’s only that neither of us realise it.
When I stopped drinking, it made me realise how much I relied on external sources to make me feel complete. I didn’t like feeling that way, and it took me a long time to rediscover myself and believe I was good enough on my own, but I’m slowly realising that I am. Sometimes the simple things in life are the things that really matter and those are the things I take the greatest pleasure in now.
So if you find yourself waiting for something to happen, remind yourself that you’re here now. That you’re living in this moment right now, and once it’s gone, you can’t get it back. We might as well try to enjoy it for what it is and be grateful that we have it.
Take care of yourselves.
A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be featured on the wonderful Lotta Dann's page, Living Sober. Here's the post I wrote.
Sometimes I find myself looking back at how much my life has changed in the last few years and when I do, I never fail to be surprised. To a lot of people, learning how to live without alcohol can be a fairly simple thing. For me, it wasn't.
Getting sober was tricky, mostly because I expected the hard part to be giving up the wine, while actually, the hardest part for me was learning to live with the anxiety the alcohol had been hiding. I felt a bit cheated, everywhere I looked other sober ladies were saying how amazing they felt, and I just didn’t.
Like many, I didn’t fit into a box with a tidy description. Being dependent on wine, and lots of it, was one of the things that defined me, but it wasn’t the only thing, I was also a mother, a wife, I had a good job… The one thing I struggled with was moderating the amount I drank. I was unaware at the time that my drinking was masking a host of anxiety issues that needed to be dealt with.
I suppose in a lot of ways, I expected to be ‘fixed’ once I kicked the wine, but instead it uncovered the depths of my anxiety, leaving me feeling my moods were wildly unpredictable. Before I stopped drinking, I was anxious a lot of the time, but I managed. Without the wine in my system, I would have massive panic attacks that came out of the blue and happened for no apparent reason. It was scary and I hated them being so unexpected, they literally floored me. I worried about simple things, like going out on my own, what people thought about me or that I was doing something wrong. I couldn’t relax at all, and I felt on edge all the time. It was hard work, and I was exhausted.
I read a huge amount of ‘quit-lit’ in that time, and I felt a great deal of reassurance knowing that other people had been where I was, and that they’d got through it. Seeing others finding their way to a great life, without alcohol, was a huge incentive for me, and it made me want to keep going. I started meditating, doing yoga and before long I took up running. I’d never been sporty, so it was strange, but I found it was a way to channel my mind when I began to overthink. I also started writing, not for others, and for no other reason than to express down my feelings, but I found it therapeutic, and without realising, began to unpick a lot of the things that were going on in my mind. It was almost like once I had written them down, I could let them go.
Before I quit drinking, I couldn’t imagine what a life without wine would be like. My addiction had crept up on me; like many people, I drank to relax after a hard day, or as a reward after a good day, a celebration, a commiseration, or the sun was shining. I could find an excuse to drink every day. It crept up until one glass wasn’t enough, and then a bottle wasn’t, and then I needed two or three. That’s a lot to drink every night by yourself, but my denial kept me going because I just about held on to every other area of my life. I managed, but inside, I was falling apart.
If I was to do it all again, (which I won’t), I’d say to be prepared. It was a bumpy road, but then learning how to live without something I’d depended on is realistically going to be hard. The thing is, and this is the most important thing; now, with hindsight and a clear mind, I wouldn’t change a thing. I love being sober. I love remembering things. I love not having to check my phone in the morning to see what I may have said without meaning to. I love being present. I love experiencing the day without a buffer to my emotions. I might still get a little anxious from time to time, but I know that I’m managing my feelings now rather than just drowning them out with alcohol.
Life isn’t always perfect, but nothing is. Now I know I’m being an authentic version of myself, and I’m capable of more than I ever thought I was.
Sobriety is a gift. I have the same life as I had before, but it’s so much better, because I’m not on the sidelines watching it go by anymore, I’m in it on a daily basis, experiencing all of it.
My Dad isn’t very well at the moment. That’s a bit of an understatement to be fair. He was taken in to hospital as an emergency just over two weeks ago and has since had two surgeries. They aren’t quite on top of everything yet which is worrying, but I have all my fingers and toes crossed for him.
Dad being so poorly has brought up a couple of things for me that are unrelated to him. The first is that I am becoming increasingly scatty as I try to keep up with all the things I need to, it’s not a lot, I just feel like I am juggling a little. So I’ve been cleaning and hoovering a lot, because for some unknown reason that makes me settle down a little. Isn’t it strange how we find odd ways to cope? For some meditation works, for me, hoovering works. Well, at least it isn’t drinking wine. I am a bit worried though, I turned the hob on the other day, to boil some peas, walked away and came back to find I’d turned the wrong one, and was boiling an empty pot with a lid on it. Luckily I caught it before anything bad happened, but it was scary nether the less.
That brings me to my next point. So, my Dad didn’t know he was going into hospital, it was an emergency, and he got blue-lighted there. It’s made me think back to how I would have dealt with that back when I used to drink. I can’t imagine how I would have coped. I wouldn’t have been able to plan not to drink, in fact if I’d known I was going in, I probably would have tried to drink more in the run up, in some foolish attempt to stockpile. Of course I wouldn’t have been able to once in the hospital. I’m not actually sure what I would have done. I can’t imagine I would have told the nurses I drank so much, which would have made me effectively go cold turkey, something that I was told, because I drank so much would have been dangerous. I would have had to be pretty ill to have been able to stay in a hospital without drinking.
I guess seeing my Dad so poorly, has made me realise another one of the positives of me not drinking, although it has nothing to do with Dad really except for the fact I am able to drive my Mum about whenever she needs me, and not just in the daytime. It’s just a relief to think I won’t ever have that thought hanging over my head now if I ever was so poorly.
It’s another freedom I’ve acquired by managing to kick my habit. I have the freedom to be poorly, without still wondering where I’ll get another drink, and trust me, before I always did. Like when I had my wisdom teeth out under a general anaesthetic, it took me a day to want a drink after that, and I was in a bit of a state, all swollen and sore. I was certainly advised not to drink, but like normal, I ignored that, because I thought I’d be all right and I preferred the wine to the painkillers which I stupidly worried I’d form an addiction to!
It’s all about hindsight I guess, and while I can’t change anything that went before, I can be grateful for the change I put in place and how different I am now. I certainly appreciate the difference in my life, not just for me, but for those around me too.
Thank you as always for reading.