26 April 2020
I've been writing for years on and off although it wasn’t until this blog that I let anyone else read anything. Even then I thought I’d post secretly, that I wouldn’t let people know it was me, I wouldn’t give myself away in my profile picture or put my name on it. It gave me more freedom to write without worry. But then one of my posts got shared and people I knew saw it. It was both scary and such a relief, all at the same time. I’d not ever felt comfortable admitting I had a drinking problem and yet here I was, opening up and telling people, most of whom I had never met, all about it. It’s bizarre if you think about it, and yet for me, it works. Writing helps me work through my thoughts and feelings. It helps me process and make sense of things. I have a habit of circling on things otherwise, but if I write them down I can let them go.
Talking to this wonderful and diverse online community made me feel understood, accepted and myself in a way I hadn’t done for a long time. It’s hard to change when everyone knows you or you’re stuck in a rut and have almost forgotten who you are. Being part of a community again, albeit an online one made me feel that I wasn’t alone. It’s isolating thinking you are different to others and for a long time I felt a lot of shame about my drinking. Isolation feeds addictions of any sort. Being able to connect with others made me feel that I wasn’t odd, that instead, I was one of many. There are so many women (and men) out there like me, who have families and jobs and interests and also have a drinking problem. Connecting with people with the same sort of experiences as me made it much easier. It didn’t fix anything but it helped me on my way.
Talking helps, but I didn’t want to talk, so instead I wrote. I wrote on chat groups, in my journal and I wrote on my blog. I didn’t want to post everything, sometimes I wrote a post and deleted it again, but it made me work through my thoughts and unpick them. It helped me to understand myself. Of course once I was brave enough to start posting, people started to comment, and talk to me directly and that was wonderful, although nerve wracking in itself. If I got a notification or a comment, I had to check it straightaway (I still do!) - feeling scared that it might be negative. My mind always jumps to the worst conclusion first. And yet, it wasn’t negative, it was good and it was encouraging. It is lovely to share my successes and hear of those also winning in their battles.
Not every one of my posts is about drinking (or not drinking in my case), but my life is more than just that. I am more than that now. Of course, my battle with addiction is a part of me, but it is only one part. It has changed who I am, but that isn’t necessarily the bad thing I thought it might be, and there are lots of other parts of me too. As with most of us, there is more to us than meets the eye. I know that I’m enjoying this process of discovery and uncovering new things about myself. We’re stuck in an unusual time at the moment, but who knows what a bit of introspection might help us all find?
Thank you for reading.
I was happy to hear that the Prime Minister and his partner had a healthy baby boy earlier this week. It’s really nice to hear the occasional bit of happy news mixed in with everything else that’s going on at the moment. It proves that life still goes on. It was a surprise to me actually as although I knew they were expecting, I thought the arrival was much further away towards the end of the year. It made me think what a lot of stress the poor woman must have been under recently. Not only has she been ill herself and self-isolated for some time, but her partner was in intensive care for quite a while. What lovely timing it was that the PM was better by the time the baby arrived, it’s almost like she was hanging on for him!
I can’t imagine the stress she must have ben under recently. But no one really knows what anyone else is experiencing do they? We all just look in from the outside on other people and make assumptions. Of all the times someone should be able to relax a little it should be in the late stages of pregnancy and yet many women have sick family members or are unwell themselves at the moment. Even those who aren’t affected aren’t able to get the ‘usual’ medical treatment and care because of the additional pressure on the NHS. There probably isn’t a worse time to have a baby, and yet of of course, no one could have predicted this, and indeed many people have given birth in far worse circumstances. It just isn’t what we are used to in the UK, and in this day and age.
I really feel for all the families at the moment who have been affected or will be affected by this virus. It’s changing everything and it probably will do for the considerable future. I can’t imagine bringing a little one into the world during this chaos, but I suppose there is always something. It seems to be unavoidable. It wasn’t a virus for us, but when Joe was a week old the Twin Towers were hit on 9/11, Katie was born not long after the U.S. declared war on Iraq in 2003 and Barn was born a week after the 7/7 bombings in London. It was very unsettling. I thought we wouldn’t have any incidents like that to worry about with Stanley considering he is so much younger, but of course he was born in 2017, the year of multiple terrorist attacks across the world including several in the UK. The Manchester bombing at the Ariana Grande concert happened when he was only twelve days old. Maybe I remember those events specifically due to the birth of my children and they stick in my head a little more? I just know that they made me feel even more vulnerable and super protective, and from that I can only imagine what new parents are going through now.
I suppose it just proves that we can’t really predict anything and we have to make the best of what we have. Although times are hard, they can still be good. As a society we are all in this together. I hope that soon we’ll be coming out the other side, and moving on to brighter things.
Take care everyone. Stay safe.