My Not So Secret Diary

Surviving the Festive Season

Surviving the festive season
The festive season will soon be upon us, and how we all deserve it this year! What a bizarre year it’s been. Wherever we are in the world, things have not be exactly normal. At present we are in the midst of our second lockdown, due to be removed at the beginning of December, but in reality, who actually knows?

While many things will be different, maybe we won’t be able to spend time with our loved ones in the way we are used to, maybe we won’t have the parties we expect, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy ourselves. The thing that worries me most is that as a means to enjoy themselves many might overindulge, but that’s up to them, it’s a personal choice and I’m not judging, it’s just an observation. I wonder if we’re all allowed back together, if there will be many drink fuelled arguments as people who haven’t seen each other suddenly get to visit again? Maybe I’m just seeing the negative side of things though and forgetting the positives.

I’m not sure what our plans for Christmas will be. It’s hard not to know what the situation with Covid will be in a month or so, and therefore be able to plan. Our 15 year old son Barn is seeing a lovely girl from another country right now. She’s going home over Christmas and so they’re spending a lot of their day currently doing their allocated walk to and from school together. We’ve spoken about her staying longer here, or maybe Barn going home with her for a few days over the holidays. But of course, even this can’t be set in stone, because we don’t know how travel restrictions will be affected between the UK and mainland Europe between now and then. While I’m relaxed about most things, there’s no way I’d risk him going if it was likely he’d get stuck there.

It’s the not knowing that gets to me, but I find often that I stress out more when I lose control. I’m not a control freak, but it does seem to be when things happen that are completely out of my control that I worry more. It’s like a little buzzing in my head, and it’s hard, because there is very little any of us can do to help except to follow the guidelines. I read about this before, in the first lockdown, and the reason for much of our fuzziness and additional stress is called the Allostatic Load. Basically it means we’re subjected to quite a lot going on, but with no real means to tackle it. Therefore, we can’t really deal with it in the way we would normally. Think of it as us being wired with the fight or flight response, but here, we can’t do either, we’re just confined largely to our homes, waiting for the solution to be brought to our doorsteps, hopefully in the form of a vaccine. But who knows when that might be or how effective it’ll be? It takes all the power away from us and leaves us with only the unresolved stress.

I’ve never followed the news as much as I have done this year. All the notifications pop up for me, but I’m not really sure why, it’s not like the statistics really affect me. All I can do is what everyone else does too, and that’s as simple as doing what the government tells us and hoping they’re getting it right. There’s not a lot else we can do really is there?

I hope Christmas and New Year are times when we can all enjoy ourselves. I hope many of us get to see our loved ones. Maybe we need to take this opportunity to remember that Christmas is meant to be about family and while most of us love to get a present, I certainly do, that we can simplify it a little? If there’s one thing I’ve gained this year it’s the need to shop and buy a lot less than I did before. I don’t go out, so I don’t shop, but actually, I don’t miss it. Other than the clothes we need, I only buy food and books, so things are a lot less frivolous for us. I quite like having a reason not to go out. I feel less frivolous and more appreciative of the thing we do have.

It’s going to be different this year, but I’m sure we’ll all get through it. Just remember to take care of yourselves and those close to you.

Thanks for reading.

pastedGraphic pastedGraphic pastedGraphic

The Aftermath

The Aftermath
I’m always cautious of how others will perceive me, and for that reason, I don’t always make it obvious about my recovery and sobriety. It’s not at all that I am ashamed of it, I just don’t want to be judged and so it’s almost easier to keep it to myself, those close to me, and of course those of you who read my blog. It’s not that it’s a secret, I just don’t really advertise it either if that makes sense. I’d prefer to chat with people who I know won’t judge and who will understand, rather than take the chance on the unknown.

It’s funny really, because I get so caught up in what people might think of me, that I forget that sometimes they might be thinking the same thing about themselves, or may perhaps be worried about someone close to them. There’s a person I know who has come across some of my sober thoughts, and not questioned it. I felt it was because they didn’t want to pry, but it made me feel awkward, they almost knew too much about me without asking any questions that I felt I had to avoid it. It’s tricky because everyone should be allowed their privacy, and yet for some reason I feel guilty when I am not such an open book as I intend to be. Recently it came up in conversation that this acquaintance of mine has a close family member with a drinking problem. It’s not my business and I don’t know the details, and even if I did, I wouldn’t share it, but I am under the impression that it is something that has come and gone over the years. It just goes to show that when you think everyone is looking at you and thinking badly of you, they aren’t. Sometimes there is more going on for them than we can see. It’s not always about us. There’s also a lot more people out there in a similar situation than most people would realise.

My eldest son has never been that talkative with me about my recovery. I’ve always been as open as I can, and answered any questions the kids have had, but I also don’t want to push it on them, or for them to think I’m lecturing them into a life of sobriety, because that isn’t my intention. Just because one drink is never going to be enough for me doesn’t mean that it’s the same for everyone. Our middle two kiddies chat openly about it with me, but it isn’t the same between me and Joe. I often think that as the oldest, he must remember more than I’d like, which makes me feel pretty bad. Recently, he’d been talking to someone older that he knows well, who confided that their partner had a drinking problem. Again the details here aren’t the important thing. It was more that initially I felt cross that my son had been unloaded onto, and that it was something that was probably far closer to his heart than the other person had realised. I’m not saying my reaction is the right one, I just was surprised and it caught me off guard. I hate that I’ve put my kids into a situation where they can feel uncomfortable about something that isn’t their fault.

Joe and I had a conversation about the conversation he’d had, and it was lovely, which I found really surprising. While I thought it might have upset him, instead it was just a catalyst to get us to talk. I could tell him things I honestly don’t think I’ve ever told him before. He told me that he hasn’t drunk alcohol in a while, he only drinks when he goes out with his mates as we don’t have any in the house, but that when he does drink, it’s to get that feeling of being drunk. I laughed and told him I never drank to get drunk. It’s true, I didn’t, even when I was drinking 2-3 bottles of wine a night by myself. I so don’t miss that! In surprise he asked me what I did drink for, and I told him, it was always just to take the edge off, but that after a while one glass didn’t cut it anymore, then two didn’t and so on. It’s a slippery slope when you drink every night as I did. It was lovely to be able to be so open with him and to feel like I’d had the chance to get everything off my chest. I told him I sometimes still felt ashamed, but he was wonderful, and told me that I’d fought my way through it and had nothing to be ashamed about. That just about made my day, it was so lovely to hear.

We can all look at others with judgement, as humans none of us are perfect, but most of us are doing the best we can. It’s a hard old road for any of us, before we add in complications like alcohol and recovery. The thing I’m trying to remember is that what works for some people doesn’t work for everyone. What works for me might not work for you, and what works for you won’t necessarily work for me. That doesn’t mean either of us are wrong. Sometimes it takes trial and error to find out what will work for us, and that means we need to summon up the resilience to try again when we don’t succeed at first.

Thanks for reading and take care.