My Not So Secret Diary


Avoidance - writing for my sobriety and recovery blog My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
One of my neighbours drinks a lot. This is not a judgement, more of an observation.

Years ago, when I used to drink (and hide my recycling) it was always reassuring to know that the crash of bottles from outside as the recycling men tipped the bottles into the truck, weren’t just mine. In fact, the amount my neighbour drank back then actually just reassured me that I was fine. It’s funny to think the lengths my wine addled mind would go to to make sure I could have a drink. My neighbour and I have very little in common, not age, body type, family, work, etc, and yet because my neighbour drank a lot, I told myself it was okay that I did too.

Nowadays I find it more difficult. Sometimes my neighbour pops to the pub and on their way back I see a sway in their walk, a slur in their speech and a redness in their face that wasn’t there before. Their whole manner changes and chat becomes more abrupt. It’s almost like I have two neighbours rather than one and it’s difficult to see, so I try to avoid meetings like that where I can. And that makes me feel bad, but it’s such a reminder for me of my worse moments and of things I’d rather forget.

I’ve said before, there’s little point in trying to forget, or to brush over the things we’ve done. Worrying or regretting won’t change anything. Instead I try to move on and make sure I never make the same mistakes again. However, having a reminder right there in front of you can make it harder. I know I’m sensitive to the topic of addiction and recovery, having experienced it first hand, but I also know that I’m not the only one who sees it.

Seeing it from the outside is tricky because I almost want to say that it is obvious to the outside world, that it isn’t as well hidden as you think it is, that you’re damaging yourself. I’ve been told frequently by this person that they don’t drink, but I don’t see how that can be with the amount of recycling that goes out, and it makes me wonder if they’re trying to kid me, or themselves. I wonder if they know how their family worries, because we’ve had calls before asking us to check everything is okay as we’re close by.

In reality I know it doesn’t matter what happens on the outside or what you’re told. The only time recovery works is when you’re really ready. That’s the way it was for me at least. I couldn’t and wouldn’t have done it until then, even though I know it sounds selfish, it’s just the way it was. If I’d tried to do it before I was really ready, I would have resented anyone who had tried push me.

Hindsight is an amazing thing. I look back and wish I’d seen how things were sooner, but I couldn’t. No one really can when they’re living it and I remind myself that it’s probably that way for my neighbour. I know they aren’t intentionally trying to make me feel uncomfortable with their behaviour.

I’m so grateful for what I have now, and I hope that those of you who are struggling find your way too. At a pace that suits you, when it suits you. Ignore any judgements and just work through things in the way that feels right. One day at a time. It does get easier, so remember to be kind to yourself.

Thank you as always for reading,
Claire x


Not Missing Out

Not Missing Out with my husband - writing for my sobriety and recovery blog My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
I don’t drink, and of that I am proud. It’s taken me a really long time to be able to say that.

It’s been four years since anything alcoholic has touched my lips and I can safely say, I don’t miss it at all. What surprises me is how other people react to my not drinking.

So many people assume I’m missing out, I was even told once, “it’s a shame,” that I can’t have one on special occasions. At the time it upset me, but now I wonder if it’s a way of others justifying drinking to themselves. When someone struggles to stop and others can’t or aren’t ready to, it can highlight the problems they may be concerned about. Alcohol is an ingrained part of our society from an early age, we see the positives of it everywhere from TV to books. It’s seen in many ways as one of the things we need, and yet the negative effects are seldom seen.

I wrote a post recently about the fact that I’ve been thinking more about wine lately. As I said then, I don’t actually feel the need for it, nor do I actually want a drink. It’s nice to be able to verbalise my feelings though because it helps me understand myself more. Connection with others and understanding helps keep us sober. It’s good to be able to express to other people who get how I feel that I do sometimes think about ‘it’ but that doesn’t make me weak or wrong or anything like that. It just means I’ve lived and learned from my mistakes. For me, I like to think, hey things were bad, but if they hadn’t been, I might not have got to where I am now. I might not appreciate what I have now or be so incredibly grateful for it.

It seems funny to be glad for an experience like recovery, but I am, and I have a right to be, I’ve worked hard to get here.

So, no thanks, I won’t have one, whether it’s big or small or just a sip. I’m not missing out, so please don’t feel sorry for me, because nowadays feeling sorry for myself about drinking really is the last thing on my mind!

Take care,
Claire x