My Not So Secret Diary


Assumptions - on Bodmin Moor - writing for my sobriety and recovery blog My Not So Secret Diary by Claire Hatwell
It’s difficult to know exactly how some people will react to some comments. We’re all very different, and what works for one doesn’t always work for another. That doesn’t make us wrong for not liking a comment, or others wrong for saying it, it’s just that sometimes the two don’t go together well. For example, if I’ve had a bad day, I want to be asked about it. I don’t want to be brushed off with, “It’ll be okay.” It most probably will be, but the way my mind works, I need to talk things through to let them go. But, it comes down to other things too, like the way someone might tell you that something is all right and give you a justification and yet you know it isn’t. Instead of explaining and having your feelings validated, you instead end up feeling frustrated.

I had the radio on recently, and they were talking about the #thisgirlcan movement. I think it’s great that there’s something out there like that, designed to build confidence in women, regardless of their shape, size or ability, but it reminded me how I felt when I first started running. I get that not everyone wants to run. I certainly didn’t for a long time, but then when I did, I was pretty proud of myself. Some people however made comments which implied it came easy to me because I was younger or fitter, or something that suited them. That was hard because it wasn’t true. I worked hard to get to where I was, and I didn’t find it easy, so it’s strange that some would assume they knew how I felt.

I think at times some play down the achievements of others purely to make themselves feel better, but sometimes it’s like they don’t want to come across too supportive which I find odd. When I’ve had comments like those it makes me feel put out that what I have achieved hasn’t been recognised or understood. I get that not everyone will understand the achievements of others, but to notice the effort that’s been put in would be nice.

It’s true that no one really understands anyone else’s experiences. We can only understand what we’re told or what we witness. When someone makes a sweeping statement it can have an adverse affect on those we are talking with, even if we don’t see it directly. Like, I’ve put on weight over lockdown, (I’m not asking for compliments!) I know I need to lose some but I’m almost afraid to admit it because I’ve been told in the past that it’s okay because I’m tall or been told I’ve not put any extra on. If that’s true I must have gremlins in my wardrobe who shrink my clothes! Those comments are hard because much as people think they’re being kind, it’s difficult when I know how I feel and they can’t see it.

It was the same when I used to drink. Not the whole time, but a lot of it. Maybe, if anyone had agreed with me in the early days when I first wondered if I had a problem, I might have dealt with it better. I might have done something sooner. But hearing others tell me I was okay just reinforced in my mind that I didn’t have a problem and that meant I didn’t have to do anything. I was in denial for a long time, and all I wanted was confirmation that I was okay, even when I wasn’t.

I’m not saying everyone should be brutally honest and unkind to others, just sometimes that we actually want the truth and not a sugar coated version. It doesn’t always make things easier, and it’s not always nice to listen to, but sometimes, it really is better. It can take a lot of courage to admit something we see as a failing or a shortcoming, so let’s all try to be kind and listen without judgement or assumptions if someone wants to talk. Let’s not put our opinions onto others, unless of course they ask for it. Just a thought.

Thanks as always for reading.
Take care,
Claire xx


Not Drinking

Not Drinking 2
I’m a bit sick of the world glamourising alcohol and drinking. I know that probably seems like a harsh thing to say, but it really is everywhere we look from adverts to shop shelves, even when I watch home improvement shows, everyone seems to ‘need’ a drink to relax.

I find it hard, because I know what it was like to want and to feel like I’d deserved a drink. I know what it’s like to long for something and to look for any reinforcements I could see to justify getting what I wanted. It was always reassuring to see others drinking on the TV, if nothing else, because it made me feel I was okay.

The thing is, I wasn’t okay. It’s not normal, or necessary for anyone to drink as much as I did every single night. I told myself it was okay because I kept the house tidy, the kids were happy and I worked hard, but in reality, I wasn’t. Nothing was right, and when I realised it, not only did I have to admit it to myself and then to my family, but I also had to swim against the tide of the perception we have of what is ‘normal’.

I couldn’t drink tea in the evening for a long time, because I had conditioned myself that anything other than wine was boring. I wanted to break the habit, but it was difficult, and I’ve found that when something has been so ingrained in your life, and your culture, it’s even harder to step away from it.

We recently went away for my husband’s birthday. We never do things on our own like that so it was really special to have a couple of days away in a hotel together. It was something we’d planned long before Covid, but to be honest, in the end I got fairly nervous about going, mainly down to the ‘not knowing’ and the lack of spontaneity with so many restrictions in place. Lee wasn’t even sure if he could leave work for a couple of days, but in the end we pushed ourselves and went.

A few months or a year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to go. The idea of a hotel, restaurants, a weekend away, it would all have been tangled up in my thoughts about drinking. I wouldn’t have been able to relax without knowing that I could guarantee a few drinks. In fact, I most likely would have taken a bottle with me. It would have been more stress than anything else, and it would have been easier not to go. But that’s the way things were, and when I look back, it makes me feel sad at how much time I wasted because I’d prioritised having a drink over other things. Isn’t it funny how a ‘reward’ can actually take so much from you.

Not Drinking 1
In the hotel itself, it was strange to see most of the walls decorated with pictures and paintings that were all alcohol influenced. Even the pictures over the bed were of wine. A while ago it would have upset me. Now it saddens me. It takes a lot to get free of an addiction, to shake it off and learn to live without a substance. Unfortunately, it’s harder for a lot of us because of the values our society puts on drinking. It can make us feel that we are wrong for going against the grain, but we’re not.

I feel stronger now than I have in a very long time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s taken longer than I thought it would, but I was drinking for a long time, so it’s inevitable that it will take a while to unlearn my habits.

What I’m saying is, life is good without alcohol, so even when it’s hard, don’t give up.

Much love,

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