SoberMe

My Not So Secret Diary

The Effects of Alcohol on our Children

Just before Christmas I read an article called, “The Damaging Effect of Alcohol Culture on Our Kids.” Although it is written from an American perspective, I think the effects are the same here in the UK too.

It’s a sad fact that the more children see adults using alcohol as a way to manage stress or emotions, the more they will turn to it for the same reason as they get older. The author of the article points to an event where she was stressed and upset with her children and the youngest, only a toddler, brings her an empty wine glass, already seeing the link between the glass and a calm mummy. Is this what we want for our children? She states, “Children don’t copy what we say, they copy what we do. And what we are doing is drinking in almost every social situation and glorifying booze without a second thought.” Every advert they see and all our actions are modelling what we perceive is normal, and teaching our children that we need an external source to manage our behaviour and emotions, which is often found in a bottle.

The article goes on to discuss the messages we are bombarded with, regarding drinking, you know the ones, where you buy a glass reminding you that it’s prosecco time or something equally as bizarre. These bother me, but I always wondered if I was just being over-sensitive. It’s quite refreshing to read that I am clearly not the only one who hates the justification all these gifts provide.

I like the clarity of one of the final statements given by the author when she says, “Lastly, and most importantly, if you’re drinking daily in front of your kids, stop. It starts and ends with your example. If you cannot get through the day without a drink, if you use wine as the fix-all for your stress, and you’re showing your kids that alcohol is a required part of adulthood, you are sending them the message that substance = stress reliever.” When you read it like that, it’s quite clear of the example we send to our children by drinking regularly, and yet we are surprised when our youngsters grow up and begin to ‘experiment’. They are only replicating what they see, in the culture of our society, and reinforced by our behaviour at home.

I’m not trying to demonise alcohol for recreational purposes, I know many people out there can moderate and that drinking at home is only an occasional experience. There are however, a lot of people like me, who cannot moderate, and by drinking regularly around their children we are only encouraging them to do the same as they get older.

I hope that by gaining my sobriety, I have broken the circle for my children, and they won’t fall into the same traps that I have. On the other side, though, at least if they do, I’ll be there to understand and help them pick up the pieces.

Here’s the link if you want to have a read of the article by Emily Lynn Paulson,
https://community.today.com/parentingteam/post/the-damaging-effect-of-alcohol-culture-on-our-kids

Thanks for reading.

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Yoga

Yoga
After run yoga!

A famous yoga teacher called Kino MacGregor once said, “Practice yoga and change your world.” It sounds a bit airy fairy doesn’t it, and yet it works. Yoga was always something I had wanted to do, but didn’t, a bit like running, because all of the stereotypes were these fit, skinny, bendy people, and I wasn’t like that.

I finally stumbled into a yoga class on the advice of my midwife, when pregnant with number four. She thought it would help my anxiety and also help as I had a lot of pain in my hips. Being part of a pregnancy yoga class took a lot of the pressure away, I wasn’t expected to be super bendy, and in fact was told that, ‘now is not the time to push yourself’. It was the gentle introduction I needed. I didn’t have the greatest relationship with my body, it was never thin or strong enough, and when I stopped drinking, with the increase of anxiety and recognition of other issues, I found I was actually disliking myself. It was almost like the wine had washed away everything I had ever thought good about myself. Slowly, slowly, I started to gain in confidence again. Slowly, I started to feel good about myself again.

As I said, I wasn’t particularly flexible, but yoga taught me to be strong in body and stronger than I had been in mind. With practice I got more flexible and learned to stand on my head, something I never thought I’d be able to do in my mid-thirties. I found it a calming way to reconnect with myself again. If I hadn’t started yoga, there would be no way I’d be a runner now, so I have more to thank it for than just the peace it gives me.

Like most things, I find it easy to put off even the things I love or benefit from, so I’ve signed up to a 30 day yoga challenge to jump start my practice into the New Year! I find challenges really help with my motivation, and often find one on Instagram if I need a bit if encouragement. Knowing I need to post a pose each day as part of the challenge helps keep me accountable! If it hadn’t been for yoga, I would never have started running, and the two of them together have been fantastic for me.

Do any of you practice? What helps motivate you?

As always, thank you for reading.

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New Years Day Parkrun Double

New Years Day Parkrun Double
At our second New Years Day Parkrun yesterday.

You’ll have seen me talk about parkrun before, as nowadays I’m a huge fan, but I’m going to mention it again, to tell you about yesterday. Normally a parkrun only happens at 9am on a Saturday morning all across the world, with a couple of exceptions in some countries due to heat. The idea is that runners can only complete one run a week, so it makes the milestones that are awarded a little more special as it can’t be rushed and takes time to achieve them. The only exception to the rule is that some parkruns do host events on Christmas Day and New Years Day, regardless of the day of the week, and extra to that, sometimes you get to do two on the same day on New Year. That means three in one week if you do the normal one on a Saturday!

It took a little bit of organising, because it is a rare occasion that parkrun times change, and so we tried to work out what would be possible for us to do, considering the distance we’d need to drive and the time it would take us to run while we were there. Luckily, there’s a website which helpss you to plan. You input your postcode, your predicted finishing time and it works it out for you, giving you the possibilities you can run and the distances to drive to get to them. As we are in Cornwall, there aren’t as many parkruns as in other parts of the country, but we had three options, run at Eden, as Lanhydrock wasn’t running, but that would give us no time for a second run. Our second option was to go to Plymbridge and follow up with one of three in Devon, but they were all new to us, and a little further to go. Our third option was to get up earlier and drive to Heartlands as they were running an early parkrun at 8.30. Once finished we had an hour or so to drive to Penrose to start the second run at 10.30. It was a mission as it meant waking most of the family, (including two of the teenagers), up early enough to leave the house at 7.30 and of course, that was after staying up for New Year. We decided to leave the eldest at home, after his night out, he didn’t get home until after 5am!

It was worth it though, what a lovely way to start the New Year, even if it was a bit wet at the first parkrun and dry but colder at the second. It’s the furthest Katie has run, and she did so well, despite getting a bit cold on the drive between the two and struggling to get going again at the second start. Barn missed the finish and decided to do start an extra lap at Heartlands, costing him three minutes, but his time was still great.

I wanted to run 1000 miles in 2019, but was a bit short, but with 6 miles already done on the first day of January, maybe this is the year I’ll do it!

What are your targets for this year?

Thanks for reading!

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Connection

Connection
Feeling connected stops us from feeling alone.

A few years ago I was really struggling. I was at the point of realising, coming to terms with, and dealing with my alcohol addiction and it was wiping me out mentally. Everything I thought I knew about myself changed. The ‘fun’ me wasn’t there anymore, just this nervous wreck who was scared of her own shadow. I felt awful about everything I could remember doing, and worse about the things I had forgotten. I had a lot of time on my hands, but no concentration to focus on anything. I wanted to get better, but I didn’t know how. I thought by removing wine, everything would be okay. I guess what I hadn’t thought about was how long it took me to get there, how many nights and days, so it was of course not going to be a quick fix.

So I began to devour books. I’d always loved reading, but in the last few years, had neither the time or inclination to read like I had used to. Even when I enjoyed a book, I struggled to remember what I had read, so missed bits or had to re-read. There seemed little point.

With my new alcohol free mind, I re-found my love of reading and started to read anything and everything about alcohol addiction, anxiety, mental-health and loads of self-help books. I could probably open my own library. I began to understand that my addiction was only part of my problem and my mental health needed a fair bit of attention too. I felt pretty low, for letting myself get into such a state, and for not being able to fix it more easily. To be honest, I thought for a long time that if I admitted my problem, people wouldn’t believe me, and because of the way I presented myself to the world, they’d just think I was attention seeking.

Then one day, I found a blog. It wasn’t about addiction, it was just a woman, writing about her imperfect life. She was quite new back then but has gone on to release several books and do some amazing charity work. She wrote about the good, the bad and everything in between. She challenged women to rethink the way they thought about themselves and about others. Conversations followed her posts and I began to realise that other people out there struggled too, that no-one had a perfect life and that I didn’t need to hate myself for my imperfections. She called her readers ‘Queens’ and reminded us that it is okay for your crown to slip once in a while. You can always straighten it up again.

I think connecting with other people is vital to recovery or any sort of mental health difficulty. Actually I think connections are vital to life. I know there is a lot of negativity surrounding social media, but for me, I found myself isolating myself for a long time. I didn’t want to meet people, but talking in the safety of my own home, via my iPhone or computer made it easier. If it hadn’t been for being able to make connections with like minded people on platforms like this, I’m not sure I would be where I am now. Even my running club is an online group. I run alone, don’t go to club nights but when I want to chat, there are a whole herd of runners there for me.

Recently my hard work has started to pay off and I’ve noticed I’m not analysing all my conversations with ‘real’ people quite so much. Instead I walk away feeling quite chuffed with myself that I’ve managed to have a chat with someone. It’s such a small thing to many, but to me, it gives me a bit of a warm glow inside, how ever soppy that sounds!

Thanks for reading!


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Couch to 5k

Couch-to-5k
At the end of a Half Marathon with my son back in the summer.


I want to take a minute to talk about Couch to 5k (C25k), I know many of you probably know about it, but a lot don’t and as I have found running really useful in my recovery, I thought this might help someone out there. The program takes a complete non-runner to progress to run 5k in between 8-12 weeks. I was a total non-runner and started in 2018, 18 months into my recovery and new sober life. Before that, I think I was still a bit in shock and had no extra energy for anything like running.

I heard running was good for mental health, as I have quite severe anxiety, I was happy to try anything. I didn’t have a great deal of confidence in myself or in my body, so didn’t really love going out in leggings to start with, but persevered, just picking places that I wouldn’t find too many people to make me feel uncomfortable.

So, with my new plan in my head, I downloaded the C25k app, and put on my headphones. This was great for me, it meant I could zone out and just try to run, while a voice in my ear told me when to walk and when to run. There are lots of running clubs and groups that run c25k training sessions and for some people, the camaraderie of training in a group will be great, I just wasn’t ready to run with people back then, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up. My app wasn’t complicated, but the running was! I couldn’t even run for 30 seconds at the beginning. I felt terrible, I couldn’t believe I was so unfit! Before I stopped drinking I was quite skinny, so I convinced myself the two things were linked. They aren’t, and with my healthier lifestyle, I put on a bit of weight, which obviously also needed moving too.

Although it was hard to start at the beginning, I did feel that the way the programme is broken down really helped me see improvements quite quickly and if I struggled, I’d just repeat a week. It wasn’t many weeks before I could run for five minutes continuously, which may not seem like a lot, but believe me, for a non-runner like me it was amazing. As I had the little one at home, we looked out for a treadmill, so for the days I couldn’t get out, if it was too dark or anything, I could run at home instead, and it really helped with my training. They say to book a race, as it helps with motivation, and I chose to run a 5k fundraiser for The Cornwall Air Ambulance. It was great, my son and I raised over a hundred pounds, but it did put quite a lot of pressure on me. I felt like I might not be able to achieve it, or I’d be last, and I ended up hurting my knee and having to take a couple of weeks off.

Soon enough, I could go out again and learning from my mistake, I took things a little slower. I stopped worrying and tried to enjoy it. I remember a turning point quite clearly when I had to run for a set amount of time, and I thought to myself, “Only eight minutes left.” Suddenly I caught myself and realised that I had achieved something I never thought I would! I still struggle a little with my mind when I run, I often have a little voice telling me that I can’t do it. Worrying about completing a distance, however long, worries me, but I know now logically that I can do it, so I just try to push through it. That voice has got to give up one day surely?

So for anyone out there even contemplating running, get out and give it a go. There are so many people of every shape and size having a go, it’s so much more inclusive than I ever thought it would be, and there are so many opportunities for socialising too, whether it is joining a club or having a drink in the cafe after parkrun. Giving you a bit of time to yourself and a a sense of achievement, it’s a great hobby to have, I never thought I was a runner and yet here I am, enjoying it and running distances I never thought I could. You never know, taking up running could be a great New Years Resolution!

If any of you are new to running or doing C25k, let me know how you’re getting on, I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading!

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Saturday Morning Parkrun, (the last one of the year!)

Saturday Morning Parkrun, (the last one of. the year!)
End of parkrun photo with my son Barn.

I haven’t run properly in the last couple of months. First I wasn’t allowed to, because of my eye surgery, then I used being busy at work as an excuse -although, in fairness, it has been very busy! After that of course it was Christmas. Like most people, I’ve felt like I’m running about trying to get things sorted out and running has unfortunately been the thing I’ve let slide which is a shame, because I like the way it calms my mind. Even when I don’t feel like going out for a run, I always feel good when I get back, I feel like I’ve achieved something and my head feels clearer. It’s funny, I don’t necessarily notice the difference running makes to me, except when I don’t go out for a run.

A couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d try to make the effort to go to parkrun every week again. I find my home run a bit too busy in the summer and with all the rain we’ve had recently, the hills would be pretty tricky too, as it is one of the hilliest in the UK, so we’ve been going to our next local one which is at the Eden Project. Afterwards we get a cup of tea in the cafe. There is a lovely community feeling to it, and we are home and done by 10:30 leaving the rest of the day free.

On my first week back I was shocked as to how much slower I was, almost three minutes slower than my fastest time there back in July, and I couldn’t run up all the hills anymore. But, however disappointed I was, it was probably the incentive I needed and it was better than staying at home on the sofa. The saying that I was lapping everyone on the sofa did come to mind a few times! The next week was a minute faster and closer to my PB, and this week I took another fifteen seconds off again, which isn’t bad considering how much I’ve eaten over Christmas! The main difference is that a few years ago I would have added quite a lot of wine to the Christmas consumption list, and there would have been no way I would have gone out for a run.

I’ve got four half marathons booked in the next few months, so I’m glad I’m getting back into the swing of things, and I think being slower than I was has given me the kick I needed to get myself moving again. It’s so easy not to, and I always feel better when I have.

Thanks for reading.


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Understanding

Understanding
My family.

Trying to explain to your family that you have an addiction is not easy. For a long time I felt that I didn’t have a problem and even when I realised I did, there was still a voice in the back of my mind that said I was just attention seeking, that someone like me couldn’t have an addiction, and that everyone would think I was just after attention.

Just to be clear, when I say everyone, I mean everyone except for my close family. My husband lived the ups and downs with me. He was there for me, even when I wasn’t there for myself, and tried to do everything he could to help me. I thought I’d hidden it well enough from my children, I thought they were young enough not to know, that they wouldn’t remember, so I didn’t tell them. One by one though, in the last year they have all spoken to me about it. My eldest has asked me the least, so perhaps he remembers more than I’d like. My second to youngest was the first to ask me, one night when we were driving home. He must have been 13 at the time, and was so nervous asking me. I’ve always had the rule, if one of the kids is mature enough to be able to ask me something (this could be anything at all) then I will do my best to answer. I hadn’t been expecting it to be this though. It surprised me and I wasn’t sure what to say, should I tell the truth or gloss over it? I don’t think there is a right answer for this question and what worked for me, wouldn’t necessarily be the right thing for someone else, but I went with it and told him everything. Over the past year he has had more questions and I’ve answered those too. It’s been tricky trying to explain something that I was so ashamed of to someone I cared so much about, I didn’t want him to hate me, but, I really feel it has made us closer. He certainly knows now why I find things difficult sometimes, or why I might avoid certain situations. It isn’t a conversation I wanted to have, but I am glad I did.

Not long after this, my daughter and I were talking, also in the car. Driving seems to be a good time to talk. She wasn’t talking about me, but a character on the TV show Grey’s Anatomy. We were talking about family gatherings and saying how awkward they could be, and I said I understood. She was surprised and told me yes, but I don’t have a problem like Amy. Amy was an addict in the show. I said actually I did. The conversation went from there, and again, although it wasn’t something I wanted to bring up, I am glad I did.

I always felt like I was stepping on egg shells, I didn’t want to admit to my problem but with it in the shadows I also couldn’t really comment on a lot of things. We’d be watching TV and there might be a portrayal of an addict that was done really well, or really badly, (they do get blamed for everything) and I felt like I couldn’t comment. Now I have the freedom to say what I think about it, and my family knows I am talking from experience. I do find TV shows difficult. They often make addicts out to be awful people who let everyone down and that isn’t always true. Sometimes they are doing the best they can.

Recently my middle son told me that he found me inspirational. Followed by, “Wow, that sounded cheesy!” But he went on, that it showed him he could overcome something difficult, like I had. I hope they never go through what I did, but if my hard-times have shown my kids that they can overcome literally anything if they put their minds to it, then at least there is a point to it.

Thanks for reading!

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