10 May 2020
Last night I had a comment on my Instagram about seeing posts about drinking in my newsfeed. To be honest, it really upset me. Let me explain.
I don’t expect every one to be sober, or to want to be, because not everyone has a drinking problem. Personally, I do have a problem. And, I’m not the only one. I found getting to where I am now really hard, and although I no longer feel like I am missing out, sometimes the memory of drinking is still there, and I don’t like to trigger it. It isn’t that I am jealous of those who drink, I just don’t really like being reminded of the past. I don’t care so much what everyone else shares, but actually, I do find it triggering/upsetting/offensive to see posts glamourising what is effectively a poison to me in my newsfeed. In the same way, I don’t like adverts or comments on TV either. I can’t limit everything I see, but I can have a voice about it. Sharing my thoughts helps me, and talking to others in a similar situation makes me feel understood and validated in my feelings.
The thing is, regardless of the words I write, no one knows what is in my head. You can read all of my posts and know that I am generally positive about my sobriety, but you won’t necessarily know that yesterday I had a real wobble. A wobble that caught me off guard. Lee phoned to say he was going to stay at work late, and the first thought into my mind, while he was still on the phone was to think, “I’ll just pour some wine then.” It caught me off guard because I haven’t had a spontaneous thought like that in a long time. It really isn’t that I am longing for it, it’s just that I drank for such a long time that it feels a bit ingrained really.
It’s the same with the comment yesterday. I like that people follow me, but I understand if you don’t, and not everyone will agree with me all the time either. I don’t want it to seem like I am preaching, because that really isn’t my intention, but it is important for me to voice my feelings, as I know connection helps us to overcome our difficulties, and I know that I am not the only person out there who was in my situation. I want people to be able to see that there is a way to be happy without alcohol in their lives, if that is what they are looking for. It made me upset to have someone tell me how I should feel, that apparently it’s okay for posts like that to fill my newsfeed because it will make me stronger, if I can’t drink ‘responsibly’. It’s hard for people who haven’t been there to understand quite what a fight those of us with addictions have, but that comment hit a sore point. What does it actually mean to drink responsibly? My first thoughts were that this person perhaps had already had a few drinks and so wasn’t thinking about what they were saying, followed by the fact that perhaps they are sensitive about the amount they drink themselves?
Whatever the reason for the comment, I am sick of having drinking glamourised. We don’t need it. It’s nice for those who want it, but we shouldn’t be justifying it to get through the day or a tricky time. While it can be explained away as saying it’s ‘fun’ actually we need to remember that it’s an addictive drug. Would the reaction be the same if we posted jokes about doing a line of cocaine in the evenings? Would that still be so ‘funny’? Maybe I’m being too harsh? It just wound me up to be told what I should think or feel by someone who hasn’t been there and therefore can’t understand.
I don’t always get it right, and the anxious person I am, I worry that I’ve upset people, but I’m sure not everyone feels the same when they post a comment to me. So, like I said last night, this is my blog, and while I don’t want to offend, I will keep posting my opinion because that’s what it is about. My blog is genuine. The things I write about are things I’ve experienced. The words are my own and the photos are real, unlike some pages which are full of purchased stock images. I hope you continue to read it, but I understand if you don’t. 💖
Big love to you all, and thank you for being here.
Over the years and I mean once I had admitted to myself that I had a drinking problem, I tried so many ways to stop drinking. I saw doctors, went to counselling and group meetings and tried medication. I didn’t really fit in with the groups and counselling to be honest, and by chance, I think because of a book I read, I stumbled across a website hosting an online support group for others.
I joined it, but I was nervous. I didn’t think anyone I knew would be in the group, because that would mean they were like me, and that wasn’t likely was it? How many secret alcoholics could there be in my circle? So I joined with a secret name. I still thought somehow, someone would know. That they would find me out and tell everyone my secret. It’s strange that I thought all these people were interested in my problem, but then of course, that was my insecurity talking, not reality.
I tried a few groups, to be honest, there are so many out there that you are sure to find a group that suits your needs. Some of them are women only, some are more moderated, it really depends what you want from a group and who you want to talk to. I was online recently and was asked to complete a survey about the reasons I used online support groups which really made me think. Obviously I’m quite open here on my blog, I’ve found it really helpful to work through and address my worries and issues, but I wasn’t always like that. In fact, I was the complete opposite.
Like I said though, it got me thinking and I realised that there are a lot of benefits to online groups, and they probably did help a lot more in the long run for me, rather than the face to face ones. Just to be clear, I’m not saying meeting people isn’t a good thing, I think there is a time and place for that too, it’s just that everyone is different and therefore approaches to recovery need to reflect that.
For me, what worked was that no one knows you - they only know what you tell them. Likewise, they may be more honest with you because you don’t know them. The anonymity allows for more honesty in a strange way, so you can create your own story and it frees you from any shame. It doesn’t matter where you live and you don’t have to go out. This is always a bonus when you’re on lockdown! There’s no schedule to attend, and in the same way, there is often someone there when you want to talk, even if they are on the other side of the world.
Obviously recently many traditional meetings haven’t been able to run as normal recently due to the coronavirus lockdown. This means a lot of people are unable to be in regular contact with their normal support networks. While it might not be the same, meeting online at least provides some form of support, camaraderie and understanding for those isolated at home.
Another thing I liked was the changing of roles. What I mean is that in the early days, I was the one struggling and unsure, asking for advice. As time went on, I became more and more able to give advice as well as receive it. There is something really nice about being able to give something back. Even if it is only your time.
Nowadays, I am part of many different groups. I still find connecting with other people useful for keeping me on the straight and narrow. I’ve been interviewed for Living Sober and have written for Soberistas. It’s good to share. Sharing helps us to acknowledge our difficulties as well as our strengths. It helps us to keep connected with other people who have had similar experiences and realise that we are not alone. It helps us to remember that we are part of something bigger, and our community doesn’t always have to be local to mean something to us.
I once read that the opposite of addiction is connection. I think it’s true. The more connected we are, the less we need our addictions. I hope that it’s true for you too.
Thank you for reading. Take care.
Soberistas - always good to surround yourselves with other sober warriors, to help give you strength in sobriety.
I find social media a funny old thing. I quite like it, and yet I don’t. It has a place, and I like the connection it gives us all, especially at times like this, but sometimes I find it takes my attention when I’d rather it didn’t. I have to remind myself that it isn’t the only way to connect with others, and that virtual likes while good aren’t the most important thing in the world. I think for someone like me who is quite anxious, it’s almost easier to write and rewrite a comment, than it is to speak to someone, as you can’t delete what you’ve said when you feel like you’ve made a mistake. On the other hand, of course, I often feel anxious about when I’ve posted something, whether on my page or my private profile. I wonder if I’ve said the right thing, or too much or embarrassed myself. A common theme is if I post at night. Waking up to lots of notifications worries me as it makes me question what I posted the night before. Although I am always aware now of what I’ve posted, and always do it intentionally, there’s still a memory of the past there for me which I don’t like.
My daughter Katie has been nagging me for ages to get Snapchat. I didn’t want another social media account for several reasons, I think I spend enough time on the ones I already have here on Facebook and Instagram. I don’t get Twitter, as it moves too fast for me, and although I have an account I don’t really use it. I’m just reacquainting myself with Pinterest after years out of the habit, I’d never been sure of it, but it’s quite interesting actually! The other reason was that I didn’t want my eldest son thinking I’m stalking him. This might sound silly, but as his location services mysteriously turned off a while back it would be the only way I’d know where he is. Of course, at the moment, that doesn’t matter quite so much, but as things get back to normal we’ll probably go back to our old normal, which involved our family all being part of a group to see where the others were. It meant we didn’t have to phone to check if someone was on the way home, or worry that something out of the ordinary had happened. It’s also been used to find out where I am on some of my longer races so the family can find me to cheer me on.
Katie is persistent though, she said we could play online games together. Stanley has Talking Tom on the iPad and we both get a little obsessed with it, not the playing with the cat so much as the little mini games… there’s one with a snake, and we’re all trying to beat the high score. It is surprisingly addictive, and Stanley is shockingly good at it for someone so small. Except when he gets the screen mucky and it stops responding to his gestures! Anyway Katie caught me at a good moment the other night and I gave in. It was hilarious! We didn’t do much but send random pictures to each other. I took a selfie and it imposed my face onto lots of ‘cameos’ basically me and Katie doing silly things things like the one in the photo. It was daft, but we had so much fun and we laughed so much. It wasn’t drunk laughter. It was laughter I will remember. Fun times with my daughter with tears running down my face! So I may not use the account that much, but for the fun we had that evening it was definitely worthwhile.
Take care and thank you for reading.
Today is my little man’s third birthday. It’s been lovely despite it being in lockdown. Thank goodness for online shopping making buying presents possible! This evening they’ll announce changes so it might be that it is our last day in lockdown.
Stanley woke up wanting birthday cake. We’d managed to get one which was good, but hadn’t had much luck with candles so we dug out three tea lights. He was happy enough to blow those out!
We’ve been doing the shopping for my Mum and Dad over the last few weeks and this week they added Stanley’s present to the list. We could have wrapped it ourselves but seeing how little we’ve seen anyone, and the fact that my parents and Stanley haven’t seen anyone else, we popped down today and did a socially distanced giving of presents. It’s so hard, he doesn’t understand why he can’t cuddle his grandparents and yet, we just want to protect everyone. We stayed in the garden, with plenty of distance, but it was nice for him to do ‘something’ for his birthday and for my parents to see him open the presents they got him.
We chatted for a bit before it was time to come away, and I surprised myself by realising how much harder it was or than I thought it would be. We took tea down in our own mugs so we didn’t contaminate anyone, and yet being there reminded me of sunny afternoons and you guessed it, wine. We laughed and joked, I guess it’s a bit strange for us all because we aren’t used to seeing anyone that we don’t live with, or maybe work with. As we left I strongly felt that I’d embarrassed myself, or said something stupid, it reminded me of exactly how I felt when I was on my way to having too much to drink. It reminded me of how I used to feel like I was funny, or clever, when actually I was just tipsy. I hate being reminded of that feeling. It’s almost as bad as when I wake up with a headache and wonder, just for a moment, if I have a hangover. It’s horrible that these little memories of past behaviour are still there to remind me of how I was back then. I thought they’d be long gone by now.
I felt quite emotional, and somewhat tearful after we left, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. I didn’t really do or say anything bad. I felt like I’d irritated my eldest son particularly, which is probably just because he was hot and bothered, and quiet, so I felt like it was me, when it wasn’t. I’m not sure. I often think things are me, even when they have nothing to do with me.
I do know that it’s Stanley’s birthday, and while he has worn himself out playing with his marble run, and is currently asleep on me, that I don’t need to worry about my behaviour like I did, that I need to let it go and enjoy his day with him. I am a different person to the one I was before I had him. It’s hard to reconcile the me now with the me then. We are the same, but different, and it’s easy to forget until something springs up to remind you. But, I can’t change it, no matter how much I think about it, so I guess I’ll have to work through it. It’s just that some times are harder than other times.
Take care and thank you for reading.