30 September. 2020
I had a dream the other night. Not a Martin Luther King type of dream, rather one that scared me a bit.
I dreamed that I fell off the wagon, that after all this time and hard work, I dreamt that I just gave in and had that elusive ‘just one’ I had often thought about. Of course that ‘one’ would never have been enough, as I am well aware, moderation does not work for me, I’m an all or nothing kind of a girl.
In the morning, I woke up feeling bad. In actual fact, I felt really quite guilty about my drinking dream as if it was a reality. But then after rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I realised that was all it was, a dream. Even though it was a bad one.
The thought of telling you all that I had let myself down was properly scary. I felt so ashamed! But then I thought more about it and I realised how far I’ve come, for the actual thought of drinking to be a bad thought now. It’s not something I want to do, or look forward to, or try to excuse. I don’t feel tied to it anymore. I’m just me, plain and simple, take it or leave it. I’m not hiding behind something to make me someone else, and I like that.
It was random, but actually quite welcome in the end, to remind me of what I’ve got. My four years aren’t something I’m going to throw away in a hurry.
Thank you all as always for reading.
24 September. 2020
I’ve been busy recently, so it’s been a little harder to find time to write. Not only am I trying a few things out for myself, but I’ve also gone back to work pretty much full time. I hadn’t been looking forward to it to be honest. As you’ve probably worked out, I have a tendency to build things up, to worry about them before anything has happened, and to generally blow things a little out of proportion.
I haven’t worked full time since I gave up drinking… when everything was different. Since then I’ve had rather a large meltdown, had a baby, and crawled my way back out of the darkness. But, I hang on to a lot of memories, I beat myself up about things that I’ve done, and worry about how I’m perceived. It makes things harder, because a lot of the time, when other people have moved on, I haven’t. I’m working on letting things go and realising that not everyone is out to get me.
I work with my family, my husband, our eldest son and my in-laws as well as several employees. It’s part of the reason I’ve been able to be so flexible with my hours, but it’s also meant at times things have been more stressful than they would in a ‘normal’ job, boundaries that would be there normally aren’t which can makes it difficult, but there are positives too. And that’s the bit that I sometimes forget about, and fail to see.
The idea of coming back in has stressed me out, because being part time, much as I didn’t want to admit it, I felt a little out of the loop. That feeling didn’t make me want to come back in and I was happy doing my own thing. I’m busy at home too, like many Mums are. The housework and cleaning don’t do themselves, and with four kids, there is a lot of washing to do. I’m not complaining, but there is only so much time in the day!
I’ve also been enjoying writing and doing things for myself. For the first time in a really long time, I feel pretty good, content and happy in myself. It feels great and I don’t want to rock the boat. It’s taken me four years to get here, so it’s a little scary to think it could go wrong. Before, stress made me want to drink, and now I have other ways to cope. I’m careful though because I have no intention of ending up where I was before.
Stanley started pre-school at the beginning of September, so it seemed logical that I’d increase my hours again too. Much as it made me nervous, I didn’t want to let anyone down by saying no. I was worried how the longer days would affect me, but the funny thing is that I’m enjoying it far more than I thought I would. Being there more often makes me feel more part of the team than I did before. I’ve taken on more, and I’m coping. Actually, more than coping, I’m enjoying it. I always took things home with me, but now I find I’m actually content to stay in the office. It’s an odd feeling for me, but I quite like it.
The photo is from just before lockdown, when we hadn’t yet closed, but were not running at full capacity, and because having a small person chilling out on my desk made me smile. Even though he was watching a lot of Hey Duggee on Cbeebies!
This is just a reminder that things don’t always work out the way you think they might, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. Sometimes embracing change, even when it’s challengin is a good thing.
13 September. 2020
We haven’t been out on the water since we sold our boat. I used to swim a lot in the sea too, but since all this Covid business Barn’s surfing lessons have been cancelled, and that was the time I took to swim. It’s funny how you can miss something without realising you do, and when you get out of the habit, it’s not that you forget, but you fill your time up with other things and it’s easy not to do those things that you used to enjoy.
Most weekends we end up driving out to Rock to drop Barn at work. He gets the bus in the week but at the weekends the times don’t quite match up with his shifts, so it’s easiest for us to take him. We often plan it, at least when the weather is nice to take Stanley to the beach which is lovely. It’s nice in some ways to have a reason, to be almost forced out of the house to do something. I find it so easy not to go out, so having that reason really helps. It’s a bit like having parkrun or a race used to make me run more, I seem to need things to help with my motivation.
Anyway, on Saturday, just before we were going to leave the house, Lee suggested taking our kayak. It’s been over a year, closer to two actually since we’ve used it, so as we didn’t have much time, I quickly checked Stanley’s life jacket still fitted while Lee bundled it all into the car and off we went.
We don’t like an audience when we do things. It’s one of those things that puts us off. Some people thrive on being watched, while we just like a bit of space. It’s one of the reasons the boat we had was so remote, it was just us when we were out there. When we ventured down onto the beach, after paying the harbour master, we found a quiet corner out of the way of inquisitive eyes. It’s always fun trying somewhere new, but of course, it’s also hard when you don’t know the beach well, or the current, so there’s a lot to consider, and that’s without a three year old running around!
Once we were out on the water though, it was perfect. I forgot how peaceful it was, how soothing. Of course, it was hard work too at times, paddling upstream and trying to keep out the way of the rest of the boats out on the water, but it was lovely. The tide was going out, and it uncovered a large sandbank in the middle of the estuary, which is usually inaccessible, so we pulled the kayak up and let Stanley out to explore. He loved ‘Pirate Island’.
Of course we got pretty wet, but it was so much fun! It’s a lovely feeling to feel tired from doing something like that, to feel that we had spent time together doing something fun and effectively free. Stanley never sleeps in the day, but we must have worn him out because he slept the whole way home.
The simple things in life are great, I’ve realised that more and more in the time I’ve been sober. I don’t need shopping and expensive things to make me happy. I just need the people I love, and a bit of an adventure.
12 September. 2020
I’ve always loved being out in nature. There’s something very calming about the feel of the sun on my face or the wind in my hair. Mind you, it’s not always easy to get out - a lot of the time, it’s easier to find other things to do.
We have to make time for ourselves out in nature. It’s not frivolous, it’s good for our wellbeing. I didn’t actually realise what a difference it made to me until I lost it. For a long time I worked with vulnerable kids with behavioural difficulties. We spent a lot of time outside, often more than we did inside, regardless of the weather. We built dens, we walked, we explored, we planted and grew, and looked after our chickens. The group I worked with were lucky enough to have been donated a small patch of land which we referred to as our farm. It was only when I left that job and the outdoor work that I took for granted, that I realised how much time you can spend indoors when doing a desk job. It’s very different.
I think running fitted in where I left off with the outdoor stuff. I’d always liked walking, but running pushed it to a new level, it helped me explore and see so many different things in one short trip. I didn’t mind the wet or the cold, even the wind. Instead, it just made me feel alive. I felt like I was achieving something and afterwards I felt great. It extends further than that though, I mean, I have never felt more at home than camping in Scotland or being out at sea. I like the elements. One of my favourite things is a swim in the sea, once I’ve got over the initial shock of the cold of course. The only way I can explain it is that the cold takes your breath away and reminds you how alive you are. At least that’s how it works for me.
I spend a lot of time outdoors, but more recently, I’ve been bringing the outdoors in too. It’s hard, because I’m not ever so good at keeping house plants alive. I like them, but they don’t seem to like me! Lee has green fingers and we have a conservatory full of lemons, limes and oranges which are growing well and producing fruit, but I had to return an orchid my Mum gave me, for her to nurse it back to health as I nearly killed it. So, I’m careful about what I introduce. I buy things I like, but aren’t too difficult to keep. It seems to be going all right at the moment.
I’ve been following a florist on Instagram for ages. They post beautiful pictures online of bouquets as well as houseplants, and so the other day I decided to pop in. I came away with a little hanging plant which is the first one I’ve placed in our bedroom. I haven’t had plants in a bedroom since I was a teenager, but it’s funny how much difference it’s seems to have made already. Not only is it pleasant to look at, but it just makes the room feel nice too.
I decided to look a little more into it and found that plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, which means they make a healthier environment for us to live in. Not only that, but they collect dust, which means although we have to occasionally dust them off, the dust is kept isolated in one place, stopping us from breathing it in. A lot of plants act as natural humidifiers, relieving respiratory problems as well as coughs and some conditions where skin dryness occurs. Especially in sealed environments like offices and flats and apartments, there is evidence to show that plants help to purify the air, again making it a nicer environment to live in. Research has been done into the effects of houseplants on the body’s reaction to stress, finding that we have an innate reaction to plants and trees providing us with shelter, which we have gained from our ancient ancestors. So when we are around certain plants, there is a recognition that we are protected to a certain extent. Psychologists say that the colour green is associated with health and vitality, so when we see it it promotes our wellbeing.
Plants also take our attention without stimulating our minds, giving us a welcome break from screens which actually helps us focus. Plants trigger our nurturing instincts too, by reminding us that we are alive and a part of a wider eco-system. Caring for plants also helps us to remember to take care of ourselves and others, and as you often see a direct influence of your behaviour on a plant it helps build self-confidence. This is probably why a lot of people in recovery are encouraged to look after a plant, and keep that alive before taking on relationships with more complex beings, although it also provides something for us to do, as we learn a new skill. We can keep it simple, and progress to much more complicated plants which will reward us with fruit or flowers if we successfully take care of them.
With all those benefits I might have an indoor jungle at home before long! Who else enjoys the feeling of being surrounded by plants and nature?
Take care of yourselves.