My Not So Secret Diary

Thinking Out Loud

Thinking Out Loud
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,

Friday Evening

209217111_161850925929206_653188375295303439_nThis 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! 206205311_161850922595873_128732191880634211_nI 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! 206881457_161850929262539_2955222391258463655_nI 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! 207274405_161850932595872_7436004233204105588_n

A Poem For Women In Recovery

RecoveryEvening 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

Thursday Evening

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!

Grey Area Drinking

Grey Area
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!

Much love,
Claire xx

Elephant Journal

Ele Journal 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

The Silver Lining

silver lining sobriety and recovery from alcohol dependency with Bee Sober Author and Ambassador Claire Hatwell writing blog My Not So Secret Diary AA Quitlit
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.

Take care,
Claire x

Bee Sober

Bee Sober
Here's a recent piece I wrote for the team at Bee Sober CIC. Click the link to read the article on their website.