My Not So Secret Diary

Living Sober

Living Sober sobriety and recovery from alcohol dependency with Bee Sober Author and Ambassador Claire Hatwell writing blog My Not So Secret Diary AA QuitlitI'm sure a lot of you will have heard of the fabulous Mrs D Is Going Without who has written some great books and runs the Living Sober Website over in New Zealand?Check out the link to my recent article for Living Sober about how getting sober affected my anxiety.

Thinking About Not Drinking

Thinking About Not Drinking sobriety and recovery from alcohol dependency with Bee Sober Author and Ambassador Claire Hatwell writing blog My Not So Secret Diary AA Quitlit
I often think it’s funny how things change. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but I wasn’t one of those drinkers who could moderate. I had no off switch. I associated everything fun or relaxing with alcohol and forgot how to do those things without it. It wasn’t that I needed it, I just thought I did, until one day when I tried to slow down and I realised things had changed and I had actually come to need it.

Life was different back then, because I’d got to a point where I hated drinking, I made a promise to myself every morning to have a day off, but something always happened that made me feel able to make an exception. It made me angry with myself, and the more I tried to moderate, the angrier I felt, because I hated having a limit, I hated feeling constrained to something and I suppose without meaning to it made me more aware of how much I wanted to drink.

If someone had pointed out to me that I drank too much I would have flipped out, because you just can’t tell someone who is not ready to decide for themselves. I was self-conscious and worried about it, about how it looked and what I was doing to myself, but I also couldn’t face giving up, because by then it was so important to me. I kidded myself I was all right as it was my only vice, but as I struggled to eat and got skinnier, with more health issues arising, I knew I was going to have to do something about it.

Those early days were hard, I tried to cut down, because I thought one day I’d be able to be a ‘normal’ drinker again, and have one or two glasses without having to knock back several bottles. Maybe I was a little deluded… All that did was add to my frustration, and I ended up more than once smashing a wine glass in a temper because I wanted desperately to drink something I hated. I thought I was at a low point when I realised I needed to stop drinking, but then adding the confusion I was feeling with my attempts to moderate just seemed to compound it.

The best thing for me, although it was super hard at the time, was giving up. It took all the confusion and the wanting away. I can’t moderate, so I don’t. I learned to live without it, and in doing so, learned about myself. I took the worry and the overthinking out of the equation. I don’t wake up wondering if I’ll have a drink or not. I don’t have to plan how to make sure I get my quota without over-doing it. For me, not having to think about not drinking is a relief. It’s a weight off my shoulders.

To those of you in the early days, just stick with it, because it is so worthwhile. One day not so far off, you’ll look back and be so proud of what you’ve achieved. Just take it one day at a time.

Much love to you all,
Claire xx

Make a New Ending

New EndingIt doesn’t matter if you’ve had a wobble or a hard day… what matters is that you just keep going. Be kind you yourselves!

Bee Sober Ambassador

Bee sobriety and recovery from alcohol dependency with Bee Sober Author and Ambassador Claire Hatwell writing blog My Not So Secret Diary AA QuitlitSo as part of my new role as the Bee Sober Ambassador for Cornwall, I'm going to be hosting some events. On a Tuesday morning, every other week, from the 8th June, you can drop in via zoom for a chat with me and some other sober lovelies. The only thing we ask is that you've been sober for 30 days. The link to sign up is here, and the great part is that it's free!

Resisting the Urge

Resisting the Urge sobriety and recovery from alcohol dependency with Bee Sober Author and Ambassador Claire Hatwell writing blog My Not So Secret Diary AA Quitlit
I’d never heard the terms ‘Wine O’Clock’ or ‘The Wine Witch’ until a few years ago. I didn’t realise the things that terrorised me, like getting through those certain tricky points in time, actually affected other people too. I had no idea that when I was struggling to avoid a drink, all over the world, other normal people were in a similar boat.

Alcohol is an addictive drug. It’s legal, so we assume it’s okay, but then if you’re unlucky, before you know it, you end up building a tolerance, drinking more and perhaps becoming dependent. At least, that’s what happened to me and when I realised what a pickled state I was in, it was too late to be able to stop easily.

Things are different for me now. I don’t drink, and haven’t in four years and eight months. Yes I do keep count because I am proud. It’s funny really, because if you talk to anyone in recovery, it’s one of the ways we seem to introduce ourselves, name and date of sobriety. It makes me smile, and it’s nice to have something in common, shared experiences draw us closer together. It reminds us we aren’t alone.

I remember times when I promised myself in the morning that I wouldn’t drink that night. I meant it too, but of course, as the day went on, my willpower dipped and I found reasons that ‘just one’ would be okay, although for me it was never one. It was always more.

If you’re feeling conflicted, try writing a list of all the positives of not drinking. Things that helped me was reminding myself that I’d have a clear head the next day, that I’d remember what I’d said or did, that I’d not have a fuzzy head or a hangover in the morning. When you really look, however much you feel you’re missing out in the beginning, there really are so many positives. Even down to being able to go out in the car whenever I want to, no matter how late. It’s so simple, but it gives me such freedom!

Drinking water helped me too, and I carried a bottle around all the time. In fact, I still do, but I found it really helped, whenever I had a craving, to drown it out. I found I also craved sugar, not that I would have known it at the time, but alcohol is full of sugar, when you cut it out, you’re also missing out on the sugar content. Treat yourself with something else sweet, because it’ll make things just a little easier in the early days.

Creating new routines is a great thing to do as well. If you just cut out alcohol, you’re not really addressing the problem. You need to dig a little deeper and work out what’s going on behind the scenes, but also change your habits so that you’re not falling into the same routines as usual. If you drink at home, go out for a walk, if you’re a social drinker, stay in. I bought nice teas, a new tea pot and bubble baths, things that I could use to make a new ritual if you like, in the evenings. I just needed to change what I’d always done to help myself not fall back into the same trap.

One of the biggest things for me is connection. When you’re struggling talk to people that ‘get it’. Find them online if not in person, there are so many support groups, chats and all kinds, you don’t have to meet anyone face to face, and the best thing with being online is that there’s nearly always someone, somewhere to talk to. As a Bee Sober Ambassador, I host a Tuesday morning drop in lounge, but there are loads of others on too. Check out the what’s on page to find something near you!

Most of all, where ever you are and whatever you’re doing, be kind to yourself.

Take care,
Claire x

Book Giveaway!

Giveaway for my book My Not So Secret Recovery on the website Soberistas sobriety and recovery from alcohol dependency with Bee Sober Author ambassador Claire Hatwell writinnd Ag blog My Not So Secret Diary AA QuitlitSoberistas
currently have six copies of my book to giveaway. Check out their website if you want to enter! 💖

Alcohol Can Be Damaging

Guardian sobriety and recovery from alcohol dependency with Bee Sober Author and Ambassador Claire Hatwell writing blog My Not So Secret Diary AA Quitlit
Hmmm… well I think this article says it all doesn’t it?

I have to say after the last few days where I think everything I have seen in the media seems to be promoting drinking, it’s quite nice to see see something slightly more realistic.

It’s a real worry to think about how many people have turned to alcohol recently, after lockdown, especially when the article suggests that there is no specific level to be aware of, any level apparently is bad, but drinking more alcohol does more harm.

Here’s the link, it’s worth a read.

Bee Sober Ambassador!

Bee sobriety and recovery from alcohol dependency with Bee Sober Author and Ambassador Claire Hatwell writing blog My Not So Secret Diary AA Quitlit
Talking to people in a similar boat to me was so important to me in my recovery. It made me feel understood and not so alone. Bee Sober is inclusive and for anyone who is sober, whether that’s through choice or a necessity. I’m super excited to be part of this fab community!

Advertising on the BBC

BBC sobriety and recovery from alcohol dependency with Bee Sober Author and Ambassador Claire Hatwell writing blog My Not So Secret Diary AA QuitlitSo now the BBC are reminding us that the only way out of lockdown is to drink! I’m well aware that we need to support local businesses and pubs after lockdown, but why does it always seem like everyone is pushing alcohol? I’m sure it’s meant to be funny but do we really need to watch the girls from Absolutely Fabulous getting sloshed before being told we need to drink responsibly? So many contradicting messages!

124 Pints?

124 pints sobriety and recovery from alcohol dependency with Bee Sober Author and Ambassador Claire Hatwell writing blog My Not So Secret Diary AA QuitlitI’m all for supporting businesses to help out after the horror that has been the last year, but in all honesty, I was pretty shocked to see this article pop up in the news this week. It’s certainly been in the headlines a fair bit, and I’ve scrolled past it several times in my news feed too.

Admittedly a few lines down the article it suggests that if you don’t want to drink alcohol, you can instead eat crisps, (not a hugely healthier choice), but still, I just don’t agree with the message it’s portraying. For so many of us, we just don’t need that excuse to drink. I certainly didn’t.

I totally agree that we need to support the economy to help us all bounce back, but tell me I’m not the only one who thinks this is a little controversial?

What are your thoughts?
Claire xx

Here’s the link if you want to have a read…

The Simple Things

The Simple Things sobriety and recovery from alcohol dependency with Bee Sober Author and Ambassador Claire Hatwell writing blog My Not So Secret Diary AA QuitlitIt was our littlest one’s birthday today. He was four today, and I haven’t had a drink since I found out I was pregnant with him. Life has been different since he joined us, lovely, busy, wonderful, but most of all, peaceful.

It was funny this evening, but it really hit me how much things have changed for me. I mean, I have had other sober birthdays since I stopped drinking, both mine and our other kiddies, but tonight there was something notably different. Lee and I were both at work today, but he came home at a normal time, which is a rare occurrence, so we could have the evening together. After dinner, we sat at the table and played Stanley’s new Hungry Hippos game; we’d already built a Hogwarts Castle from Lego, and had been outside to try out his new skateboard. It was all so simple, but so special.

Before, I would have associated birthdays and any other special occasion with a reason to have a drink, but tonight, I wasn’t in a rush to get through things so I could have another glass of wine. I was patient, relaxed and entirely present. It’s also lovely to think that tomorrow, and in the future, I’ll remember it all, it won’t be a blurry memory.

I feel so lucky at times like this to have so much in my life to be grateful for. I’ve worked for it, but it was so very worth it.

Have a lovely evening!
Claire xx


277. Explaining sobriety and recovery from alcohol dependency with Bee Sober Author and Ambassador Claire Hatwell writing blog My Not So Secret Diary AA Quitlit
When I started writing I was scared. I wanted to write because I loved reading, I had a romantic idea of being a writer, and it didn’t seem too far fetched, as I enjoyed the process of writing itself. I love writing and have from a young age, but that doesn’t stop me being afraid of getting it wrong, of being laughed at. In my recovery, I found reading the experiences of others to be super helpful. Not only was I learning from their experiences, but I was realising I wasn’t the only one, not by any stretch of the imagination. I saw that there was a way out, and that life without alcohol could be good. Great even. Seeing that was reassuring, because at the time, in all honesty, it didn’t feel that way.

I didn’t start writing to write a blog. It was just a way of sorting through my mind. Mostly I didn’t even start writing to solve a problem, but as I sat down and put pen to paper I found things flowed and seemed to begin to make sense. It’s very therapeutic like that, or at least I find it is, but then I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing. It might not be the same for everyone.

Years ago I started writing in my spare time. I live in my head a lot, so I’ve always got something ready to go down on paper. I wrote two books, but I never did anything with them. I found the idea of rejection so terrifying that it was easier not to tempt fate. Although I got to the point where I’d have been happy to send them off, I never did. I’d never let anyone else read my writing you see, so I had no point of reference. Well, except for uni assignments, but that’s a completely different way of writing. Having said that, I enjoyed writing those too. Anyway, those two books never saw the light of day, and then a few years later I binned them both. That makes me feel a little sad now, but I guess hindsight is always a great thing to have.

Last year, I started to write again and by that, I mean fiction alongside this blog and my book about recovery. It felt strange to begin to write down the ideas and stories I had in my mind. I felt like I was doing something silly which is weird when you think how many fiction authors are out there. Readers enjoy fiction as it gives them a bit of escapism, a way out of their day to day lives. I’m not sure what it is, but I feel like I need a reason to do something, so my writing needs to be justified almost. Writing this blog and my book, was okay, because there was the hope that someone who needed a little help might find them. Fiction didn’t fall under the same umbrella for me. I suppose also, even if you don’t agree with me, when I’m writing about myself it can’t be wrong, because I’ve lived it. When it’s fiction, and a story I’ve made up, it worries me that people might not like it.

I decided to hide, as I’ve done before, namely when I started this blog. I don’t write fiction under my own name, I set up another Facebook page, another Instagram and decided to see what people thought. Putting things out there is hard, because I’ve found, when you put so much time and effort into something, you want people to like it. It feels a little like your characters are friends so to have someone not like them isn’t a nice feeling. Slowly, I’m gaining in confidence, I’ve had some lovely feedback and reviews and it feels good to flex my creativity in a different way.

The problem is, I have so many ideas, I don’t seem to have enough time to get them all down onto paper! It’s good having a focus, and something to occupy my mind, so we’ll see where it goes.

Thank you as always for reading.

Claire x

Saturday Morning Positivity


Day 10

Day 10 sobriety and recovery from alcohol dependency with Bee Sober Author and Ambassador Claire Hatwell writing blog My Not So Secret Diary AA QuitlitYou may remember that I said my habits aren’t an addiction, I’m wondering if I should take that sweeping statement back. A couple of days ago my husband came home early. It’s not a big thing, but any thing, regardless of the size has the habit of knocking me a little bit off kilter. I did what I normally did though, I made a cup of tea, (no biscuits), and we talked about what we were going to have for dinner (no Coke). The thing is, I found myself getting properly grumpy with no real reason. It reminded me a lot of the, “I don’t want to drink but I do want to drink,” nights early in my sobriety.

I can push through but FOMO (fear of missing out) is hard. Even when I don’t actually mind what I’m missing out on. I’m not sure if it’s the idea of it, or the feeling I get from it? It’s very different to giving up alcohol, although strangely, it’s so similar too, all the same feelings of confusion, guilt and remorse are there, and yet, it’s only something small.

Distraction works. As do herbal teas. Thank you all for your ideas and support. It actually makes it easier talking about it, almost like it’s making me accountable for it, because I’d feel like I’m not only letting myself down, but also you too if I was to give in. I feel a little bit bad because my lovely daughter feels guilty eating chocolate around me, I’m just trying to be honest and tell her that it isn’t a problem, because it isn’t, I just need to be healthier and she shouldn’t have to worry about that. In reality I know I probably could even have one can of coke but I’m scared, because I know what I’m like. I’m afraid that because it takes me such a lot to get over the habits I have, one little slip will cause me to be back there again. So it’s easier to avoid it altogether, at least for now.

I think the lack of caffeine has affected my sleep a little bit, I seem quite disturbed at night, and also, I’ve been stressing out a lot, probably through things changing. My anxiety goes up and down depending on what’s going on in my life anyway, but this seems a little bit more. Busy days affect me more, as does doing things out of the ordinary. I suppose learning to live in lockdown was one thing, now learning to come out of it is another thing entirely, and it’s pushing me out of my little safety bubble. I worry about all manner of things, from saying the wrong thing, to seeing someone I haven’t in a while, at night thoughts run around my mind, and I often question what I’m doing. It was lovely though the other day, as in the midst of my chaos, I had a message from a friend, who has been reading my book. Giving one to her stressed me out as she knew me, in all my challenging times. We went out many a time, but those times always involved wine, and although we’ve seen each other since, in the back of my mind, I worry that I’m not good enough. Her message gave me the reassurance that I didn’t know I was looking for. It told me she understood and that it was okay, and that means a lot to me. Kind words seem so simple, and yet they mean such a lot. I find they help me let go a little of the past too and some of my mistakes.

We can’t erase the past, it’s what makes us who we are, but we can acknowledge it and move forward. Always remember to be kind to yourselves.

So, ten days and counting, no coke, no biscuits, no chocolate, no sweets. Feeling like a win to me!

Much love,
Claire x

You're Published!

You're Published sobriety and recovery from alcohol dependency with Bee Sober Author and Ambassador Claire Hatwell writing blog My Not So Secret Diary AA Quitlit Elephant Journal
It makes my day to read things like this. I love sharing, but to think I’m doing something right and to hear it from someone else is so reassuring!

Follow the link to read the article.

Sober Bank Holiday

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A few years ago I would have looked at today, Bank Holiday Monday, as another excuse to have a few more drinks over the weekend. I would have been happy to have had a few more yesterday too, seeing as the weekend was extended and the week a little shorter and further away.

I’m not sure what triggered the memory, but it made me feel so sad to remember. It seems such a waste, to think I looked forward to pouring more wine down my throat, and for what? So I could have a good time? I can do that anyway! Maybe so I could relax, but no, I can do that now too. It certainly didn’t make me any more fun or a better person, and yet, like many people, I associated all the holidays with drink, and not just a couple, because it never was with me.

Today, I didn’t wake up with a hangover, although in honesty, I did wake up earlier than I’d like because my eldest son forgot to turn his alarm off! But putting that to one side, I’ve been up, clear headed and happy for a good few hours now, and I know that tomorrow will be the same, because although this is a holiday and we are at home, I don’t need to drink, I don’t even want to.

I hope you all have a lovely day wherever you are and whatever you are doing! Let me know what you’re up to!

Claire xx


Sharing sobriety and recovery from alcohol dependency with Bee Sober Author and Ambassador Claire Hatwell writing blog My Not So Secret Diary AA Quitlit
I don’t often listen to the radio at work but the other day I happened to catch Jeremy Vine talking to a lady that was seven months sober from alcohol. It was an interesting thing to listen to, and brought up a lot of things that I had forgotten from my own past.

Life changes when you become addicted to something, and much as you hate the substance; I know I certainly did at the end, you know you just can’t live without it. I struggled for a long time to admit I had a problem because I was embarrassed, ashamed and scared I’d be judged. I didn’t know how people would react to me, and I worried. Oh, how I worried.

No one sets out to be an alcoholic, I certainly didn’t, but as alcohol is such a socially acceptable and legal substance, it is far too easy to slip into a habit that becomes an addiction. I knew drinking the amount I did, often three bottles of wine a night, was wrong, but there was no easy way to show that I’d slipped from someone who enjoyed a drink, to a heavy drinker, to an alcoholic. All I knew is that although I persuaded myself that I was all right because I didn’t drink in the daytime. As time went on, I found I became obsessed with where the next drink would come from. I just wanted to be ‘normal’ but I had lost touch with what exactly that was, and I didn’t know how to get back there.

Recovery is an assault on your system in a way that seems harder than giving in to drinking would be, although of course it has a better outcome. Not only do we come to rely on alcohol mentally, but also physically and so it is vital that if you drink a lot, you speak to someone before you just stop. Quitting without detoxing can be life threatening. I’m not saying that to worry you, it’s just something you need to remember so that you don’t make things any worse than they already are.

Then there’s the fact that alcohol contains a lot of sugar, so on top of the physical desire for alcohol, our bodies are now lacking sugar and craving it. I ate a lot of biscuits, chocolate and fizzy drinks. I’m still paying the price for that now, but as I’ve said before, I was a skinny drinker. I may weigh more now, but I look alive now, and more importantly feel alive.

Most importantly there’s the fact that we need to deal with the ‘why’ behind our drinking. At the time I’m not sure if I could have told anyone why I drank, I didn’t really associate it with anything. Looking back I realised that my mind was so busy and active that drinking wine was the only method I had to calm and quieten it. Over time the one or two glasses didn’t cut it anymore and that’s why I ended up in the situation I got to. If I’d kept everything the same, I would have relapsed. I proved that on the other occasions where I tried to get sober. It doesn’t help that alcohol is so socially acceptable. Being bombarded by alcohol in the media makes us feel we are different, when we aren’t. We aren’t missing out, we just need to relearn our strategies. If we don’t we can very easily slip into old habits, perhaps evening thinking, “Well, I’ve cracked this, now lets have a drink to celebrate!”

Recovery is hard. Alcohol is legal so we justify its use. We have to stop doing that. We have to focus on the good things, for many of us, we are lucky to have the opportunity to stop and reassess our lives, to choose to stop drinking, rather than keep on down the same path. We need to reach out to other people, because although it’s hard, those that have already walked the path will understand, and they’ll be there to support you when you need it. They’ll be able to listen and not judge, and if they don’t, then they aren’t the right people.

There are so many of us out there in the same boat, and as I found out the hard way, there isn’t a perfect definition or image of an alcoholic. Or any type of addiction to be honest. If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and if you don’t nail it on the first try, that’s okay too. We don’t always get there on the first attempt, that doesn’t mean we have failed.

Take care of yourselves.