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