19 September 2021
I was invited to be a guest at a book club recently to talk about my book, My Not So Secret Recovery. Writing a book was something I enjoyed doing, although I am probably my own biggest critic! I find writing therapeutic and it helps me work things out, unpicking my thoughts and feelings; but actually having my book published was something else. It was nerve wracking and I did wonder what I was doing, but I suppose it grew and got a little bit of a life of it’s own. It was strange to feel so conflicted about putting something out there, nervous of what people might think, and yet proud to be able to help and inspire by sharing my story in the way others had inspired me.
A little while before my book club, a friend of mine sent me the link to a Brene Brown video of a Ted Talk on You Tube. She spoke about vulnerability and shame and the research she had done into both subjects. I’ve read several of her brilliant books, but I hadn’t seen her speak before. It was both relatable and inspiring, and she went on to discuss the fact that anyone who is creative and puts themselves out into the public arena should expect to receive criticism. I was surprised, it wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but then she said something that really hit a chord with me. What Brene went on to say was that we shouldn’t pay any heed to anyone who isn’t also putting themselves out there and therefore up for criticism. She’s right. It’s so easy to be critical, but unless you’re also opening yourself up to be in a position where other people can comment on you and your opinions, then maybe you should keep those opinions to yourself. It’s hard to be vocal, especially about things we feel strongly about, but you know, that shouldn’t stop us from doing it. Sometimes we need to be brave, and even if we get criticism, we might also be helping someone. Unfortunately the critical voices are often the loudest and the ones we remember most. She put it in a more eloquent way, but the gist of it is there. Listening to her words was reassuring, and I suddenly realised that a lot of people may not like what I write, but quite possibly those people are the ones that won’t benefit from it and who aren’t really the intended audience for my writing. I’m not saying it’s nice to get criticism, but I think it’s important to remember that not everyone will get us as individuals and that doesn’t mean that what we are doing is wrong.
With Brene’s words in my mind I joined the book club and gave them the honest and authentic version of myself. Now, I’m not really one to plan things nowadays. I think it comes from knowing I might feel anxious, and instead I bury my head in the sand, and choose to wing it. I know this isn’t always the best option, because instead of being prepared, I can land myself in some sticky situations, but it also means that what I am saying is honest and true. It’s not rehearsed, it’s literally an honest response to whatever I’m being asked, and knowing that I’m being authentic makes me feel good.
I really recommend watching the video, so here’s the link
Just remember, as long as the things you do come from a good place, then you aren’t doing anything wrong.
Thanks as always for reading,
I’ve been asked a few times recently to give advice to someone wanting to stop drinking, when they have a partner who intends to carry on. It’s not an easy thing to answer, because the dynamics of any relationship are different, but I’ve been thinking a lot about it, so here goes.
Having everyone agree with our decisions and fully support our choices would be amazing, but realistically, that just isn’t going to happen. Life isn’t like that, and I know for sure that while sometimes it would be nice to have everyone agree with me and go along with all my ideas, it wouldn’t feel nice to think I was just being humoured. If we aren’t real and genuine with each other, especially those we love, then there seems little point in going to the trouble of facing up to and overcoming our difficulties. I’ve been learning to free the real and authentic version of myself, and in doing that, I know I need to accept the authentic version of everybody else too. I’m not saying we have to like everyone else’s choices, but to accept them is different, and it can give us a little bit of peace when we realise that, and stop overthinking things that are out of our control.
Everyone’s situation is different, some couples give up drinking together, but while some find that supportive, others find it can cause conflict. There is no right or wrong. Some people are single and don’t have partners to help or hinder them. Whatever our circumstances, we need to remember that we make choices for ourselves, and so should everyone else. We can’t let other people’s decisions affect us. We can’t let it be an excuse or a reason not to try something new. Other people are not the key to our success. Changing ourselves is the key, and we can’t rely on other people to do that.
We as people are all different and so we can use the fact that we choose not to drink as something else unique about us. Sobriety doesn’t have to be a negative thing! We also don’t have to be replicas of each other, not everyone will have had the same experiences as us, and so they won’t necessarily choose the same path. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong for either party. If we can be accepting of others food choices, for example, maybe two people eating together, one a vegetarian and one not, then surely we should try to be able to do the same with or without alcohol. We need to be mindful, things won’t always be easy, especially for those who stop drinking, to be around alcohol without feeling some emotional attachment, but that can be overcome with effort, as we rewire our brains and the way we think. Don’t push yourselves too far too soon. We need to remember that it is our choice not to drink, and remind ourselves that the person that choice benefits directly is us. Of course our behaviour will also affect other people, but we have to remember, if we want it to stick, that we’re doing it primarily for ourselves. We can’t let the choices of others hold us back, because that is what it will do, and we can’t use those choices as an excuse either. Believe me when I say, I looked for any reason I could to keep drinking and to feel like my drinking was normal, but the very fact I had to do that should have showed me that it wasn’t.
Be tolerant of each other, we can’t expect everyone to understand our choices, and unless you’ve had a problem with alcohol, it is doubtful that you’d understand the way some of us think. That’s okay, we’re not asking you to change, just to accept and not make jokes at our expense, and in return, although we might not understand why others still choose to drink, we’ll try to do the same.
Remember too that when we become sober and experience life free from the ties of hangovers and addiction, we shine a light on the worries others might have. We can’t push them into changing, everyone needs to go at their own pace, and find their own way. I know I would not have reacted well to anyone telling me to stop, or highlighting my drinking as a problem. It was a lesson I had to learn on my own.
Tread carefully, many people are fighting battles we know nothing about, but most of all look after yourself. Be kind to yourselves and to everyone else too.
I had such a lovely time today, meeting the lovely Belinda from @beesobersurrey and playing in the waves!
Here's what she had to say about it!
#Repost from @beesobersurrey
Bee Sober Surrey meets Bee Sober Cornwall
Thank you to my beautiful fellow Ambassador @soberme_claire for meeting me in Newquay at the end of my @welovelucid holiday for a sea swim and christening of my new body board
Was an absolute joy to meet IRL and share stories. This lady is 5 years sober, a working wife and mother to 4 children, a sober coach and ambassador for @beesober.cic and has her very own book ‘My Not So Secret Recovery’ (available to buy on Amazon with rave reviews). I’m just in awe of all she has achieved and with so much more planned ahead of her too. Girl you are rocking sobriety
Much love to you Claire my sober sister I’m already looking forward to seeing you again next year!