SoberMe

My Not So Secret Diary

Socialising

Socialising
So, it’s been a whole year... but gradually the world might be beginning to open up again. At least for a little while, but who really knows how long it will all last. Things are going to be different, because nothing is the same.

I saw this article this morning, from
The Guardian, please ignore the drinking in the photo, apparently some people still think we need to drink to have fun! The article is about socialising again after lockdown, but I thought actually a lot of the principles from it apply to those of us who are beginning to socialise again after stopping drinking. I for one have quite enjoyed the simplicity of lockdown, but I know I am one of the few. I don’t miss socialising, or shopping, and I am more than happy to go between home and work and spend time with just my family. I can’t imagine life will change hugely for me when restrictions are lifted, except that the kids are going to need taking to activities again. I’m not anti-social but I do struggle with social situations, even with those I know well. I tend to over-think, not out of choice, it’s just the way my mind works. I can say something perfectly normal, but then feel like an idiot for saying it. I also don’t like the competitiveness that comes with some interactions, particularly those that revolve around my kids. I know other parents are proud of their children in the same way I am about mine, but I don’t understand why some need to make it a thing to advertise. I don’t like the one-up-man-ship so I tend to avoid situations like that, which can isolate me a little.

Reading this article from The Guardian was interesting, some of the bullet points being to remember that social skills don’t disappear when not used, although I’m sure I’m not the only one who may be a little rusty! The writer also suggests that social situations shouldn’t be avoided and confidence built gradually. The one that stood out most for me was to be aware of what you can tolerate. I think that applies to all of us and for the majority of the time. Whatever our circumstances, we shouldn’t feel the need to push ourselves into situations that don’t make us happy, or don’t help us. These occasions only result in us feeling like we’ve failed or got it wrong, and tend not to be in our best interests. We need to have reasonable expectations of ourselves, not pushing too much, or setting ourselves up to fail. We need to be kind to ourselves and remember where we are, while not comparing ourselves to everyone else. Who knows where those people are at, and how they’re feeling? I know that even those of us who look strong, can sometimes just be operating behind a carefully constructed mask. Our feelings can feel overwhelming, but often no one else knows how we are feeling, and how can they, unless we tell them? I’m not suggesting we walk into a venue and announce our feelings to the room, but maybe, perhaps you can have a wingman who you trust that you can talk to?

Possibly my favourite point is to celebrate small wins. I think that has to apply to all of us really, doesn’t it?

Just remember whatever you choose to do, or not do, to do the best for yourself. No one else knows quite how you feel, and how hard or easy something is for you.

Most of all, stay safe.

Much love,
Claire xx

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/mar/15/how-to-address-social-anxiety?fbclid=IwAR0g4kcDzEw_gEz514PrMp94NBHpJ0DjLrF2HKYYSg3a4nP3lbeFMuEwrGI

It’s my birthday!!

My birthday
Today is my birthday! I’m not telling you for any other reason than I’m proud of myself for how far I’ve come. What I mean is a few years ago I would have seen my birthday as a reason to have a drink (although not this early in the day). Like many other celebrations, they seem to be intertwined with alcohol for a lot of us.

Today is different. I know I won’t have a drink today. I don’t have to think about whether I will or I won’t. I don’t have to have an argument with myself over how much I’ll drink. I won’t have to worry whether I’ll have one too many. I won’t wake up tomorrow with a headache. (Well I might, but it won’t be alcohol related). I will more than likely remember everything that happens today.

It’s a relief. I never in a million years thought I’d be able to say that, as someone who relied on wine for all the ‘good times’, not to have to even think about it is lovely.

I’ve always thought the simple things matter more than anything. So today, is about me and my family, well after I finish work at least. I don’t need anything else, and that is a really good feeling.

Have a lovely day!

Much love,
Claire xx

Freedom

Freedom
We’ve all been stuck indoors and at home far more than we’d like to have been over recent months. Even me, and I’m quite a homebody. We live in such a beautiful part of the world, and we haven’t even been to the beach much because of lockdown. It’s not too far to go, but I stay close to home, worried that I’ll be the one that the police decide have gone too far for their reasonable exercise.

Anyway, with the world opening up more, gradually we’ve been able to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Last week, I had a couple of errands to run on my day off and as the weather was nice, so instead of jumping in the car, so I could get there and back as quickly as possible, I decided to walk down with my little man Stanley. After a lovely walk that took far longer than I anticipated, we bought a little bit of lunch from the bakery and walked to the park.

I’ve avoided the park in recent months, just because a three year old is hard to keep contained, and not great at socially distancing with other children. We took him out of nursery when the schools closed down again, as he was our only link to the outside world, the only way our bubble could be broken, so he has been largely at home with us, at work with us, or with his grandma. He has a lot of attention, but not much from children his own age. We’ve decided when the schools go back, he will too, we don’t want him missing out when our other kids go back.

Anyway, the park was quiet, with only about three other families, and all the kids were of a similar age to Stanley. Without a word, he shot off, and made friends with two little girls. The three of them didn’t play together all the time, it was more him with one, and then him with the other, but it was so lovely to watch him playing and being so social after such a long time.

I’ve wondered how this pandemic and these lockdowns will affect the children all over the world. So much is different for them, they can’t see people they normally would or do things they’d normally do, whether they are small or much older. I worry too about teenagers, I’m not sure how they’ll explore the normal age appropriate ways of meeting people they like, not when they aren’t even allowed to hold hands. I can’t imagine how this generation of children will grow up and go into the world with so many safety precautions in the world keeping them apart. It’s certainly going to be very different for them than it was for most of us that are a little older.

It was so nice to sit in the park and watch the kids play. It was innocent and normal, in this world where there isn’t a lot of normal. I hope we’re coming through it, that the end is in sight, not only of the pandemic, but also with the better weather and leaving winter behind, everything just feels a little more positive. At least to me.

I think that while we need to keep our precautions in place to keep us safe, we also need to remember that we all need a bit of kindness, and freedom where we can.

Thanks for reading, take care of yourselves.
Claire x

Secret Lives

Secret Lives

I'm fairly open in all I write on my blog, and as many of you know I've recently written my first book about my recovery. Things have changed a lot for me over the last few years. I've faced up to an addiction and come out of it stronger than I ever thought possible. On the surface it must look like I’m dealing well with everything. I'm certainly in a much better place than I ever was before, when I was drinking. I feel happier and healthier and calmer. I’m the same person, just an improved version.

So, it catches me out when I panic about what I'm doing. Since I've released my book I've had countless sleepless nights worrying if I've said too much or if I've upset anyone. The truth of it is that I've been honest. I haven't intended to upset anyone and the feedback I've had so far has only been good. So why do I worry so much?

The other night my daughter asked if she could share the link for my book to her social media. I told her I didn't mind although I do worry that my experiences reflect on my kids and above all, I don't want to let my family down. I don't want to disappoint them. I see my sobriety as a strength but worry that others no doubt will see my past drinking as a failure.

So anyway Katie shared it and I felt really proud that she thought highly enough of what I'd written to share it and admit that I was her Mum. It made me feel so good that I shared it too. For some that will sound like nothing, but for me it's quite a big deal. I keep myself to myself and don't really post much on my personal page, but something made me do it. The thing with stories is you can see who has seen them; with posts you only see who has interacted with your post. Within minutes I had a love heart from a dear friend of mine before other people popped up. It shouldn't worry me. It certainly doesn't change who I am, because I'm talking about something that happened in the past, but it did. One of the people who saw it works for us, another is a teacher at our little one's nursery and I immediately felt like they'd judge me. Those people are lovely and in hindsight I don't think they would judge, but in the moment I'll admit I panicked. I'm surprised that I'd jump to conclusions, especially when I hate when people doing it to me but it made me panic, and after several panicky events caused by my mother-in-law reading my book (it mentions her). I began to worry a lot and in the end, I deleted the post. Maybe there's a reason my blog was secret. Maybe, I should keep it that way? I'm proud of my achievements and I know those closest to me are too, so why should it bother me what anyone else thinks?

I've discovered I'm a perfectionist. I guess underneath I've always known it, and I deal with it now, but letting people in is lovely, but scary, because I have to admit to them that I'm not perfect. But then who is?

I know I'm doing the best I can, and I think that is all we can really ask of ourselves isn't it?

Claire x

💖💖💖

Lockdown Drinking

78
I’m forever grateful that I don’t drink anymore, especially now, during the pandemic and our repeated lockdowns. I’ve said before, that I worry enough now, I can’t imagine what I would have been like with the additional worries of getting wine, considering I don’t like to shop at the moment. The lack of structure in the day would probably have given me more time to drink or at least bring the time when I opened the first bottle earlier. Last week, our grocery delivery arrived and the driver commented on how much chocolate I’d bought. In my defence there are six of us in the house and it was on special offer, but my daughter tried to explain, only for him to laugh at her. As it was chocolate, I could brush it off, but if it had been wine, I would have been upset, angry, defensive and who knows what else? I’m glad I’m not in that position.

I was reading this article recently, link included, about how lockdown is pushing women to drink. It’s interesting to read as I wondered if I just saw a problem that might not be there due to my past. Reading this, it seems it is a real possibility. I’ve seen family members laugh and joke about drinking over the first lockdown, not so much now, because to be honest, I had to unfollow a couple of social media accounts as it really bothered me. Comments like ‘Forget weight watchers, I’ll be needing AA after lockdown’, might be funny to some, but in honesty, they just make me feel uncomfortable.

It’s said that in the first lockdown, we all had to deal with how our lives were changing, not only due to the lockdown itself, but also down to the anxiety and stress from the unknown and the pandemic. Now, and as I write this we’re in our third lockdown here in the UK, it’s more common. We know we can’t go out, and everything is sort of normal. Some of us are still working, some of us are used to working at home. Some of us have our kids at home more than we used to, and of course, shopping in the high streets is a thing of the past. The thing is we’re used to it, we may not like it, but for the most part, we know there is little we can do about it, until lockdown is eased and so we get on with it.

For many of us, we find we have more time, whether that’s because we aren’t working, or because we aren’t commuting, it has affected all of our lives. For some of us self-medicating with alcohol seems like it’s becoming the go to choice. It seems to relieve stress and worry, gives us a way out of the monotony of life. Without our normal daily structure, it can feel like every night is a Friday or Saturday night, which can lead us to feel like it’s okay to have a extra drink or two. Of course, this isn’t a short time, like Christmas for example, it’s weeks if not months, and it’s very easy to form a habit over this sort of time period.

The problem is, at least as I see it, that we aren’t going to see the back of Covid-19 for a long time. It’s already been with us for a year, and there isn’t really an end in sight yet. We can choose to stay indoors, or form habits that in the long run aren’t really helpful to us, or we can choose to try to live in the best way we can, to do the best we can, because at some point, hopefully things will go back to something we recognise as normal.

Take care of yourselves and stay safe,
Claire xx


https://metro.co.uk/2021/01/30/in-focus-how-lockdown-is-pushing-women-towards-an-alcohol-crisis-13960279/amp/?__twitter_impression=true&fbclid=IwAR0CJCJGkF5nO8Y-ueK02dXxFEjB13G7sos-1Tl59hPuXyI-bEJG85kTioI


How True Is This?

addictiveHow true is this?! 💖💖I saw it and just had to repost, thanks @clare_pooley 🙌👏

Addictive Personalities

Me
Everyone has probably heard the term ‘an addictive personality’, referring to those of us who are more likely to develop an addiction. It wasn’t something I’d thought much about, almost a throw away comment but then I began to think about it more. For some of us, one thing, whether it’s a drink, a lottery ticket or a bit of chocolate, can be enough. For others, (like me), one of something is seldom enough.

I knew a long time ago, and others have noticed, that when I like something I tend to through myself into it wholeheartedly. Like drinking; I gave that my full attention and I got really good at it. Now I don’t do it at all. There have been other things too, but probably the main one that stands out over recent years is running. I started as a hobby, to try to calm my mind, to help me relax, and hopefully lose some baby weight. Instead, I started a competition with myself. It had to be further and further and faster and faster. On the days I had as rest days, which you are supposed to have, even as an elite athlete, I used to worry that I was being lazy. I would think that in those few hours that I didn’t run, that my fitness and speed were ebbing away. It was just another thing for me to worry about and I hated it.
I started to run for fun, I never anticipated doing anything more than enjoy it for myself, but less than a year after I started running I had done four half marathons. I just kept throwing challenge after challenge at myself. Once 5k was an achievement, then 10k, then a half marathon. I was up to 20 miles and hoping for a full marathon when Covid stopped me in my tracks.

Some habits aren’t so bad and I think in hindsight being obsessed with running is a lot better than being obsessed with wine, but I find it interesting how certain people get grabbed by that insatiable need for something when others can take it or leave it.

It’s thought that genes might have something to do with your personality. Studies that followed some children, focussing on those from addicted families who were adopted by those without addictions found that genes are responsible for about 50% of the chance of you becoming addicted. Other factors are also in play here though, for example friendship groups, education and the environment you grow up and live in, all contribute to the way you become.

Interestingly, it is also thought that those who experience anxiety and depression can be at a higher risk of experiencing an addictive personality. It is thought that those suffering from this type of personality can be very sensitive to emotional stress and struggle with certain situations, even if those situations don’t seem challenging to others. It is also suggested that those with an addictive personality jump from one addiction to another. I can see how this might happen, at least in my case, and to be honest, it is something I am aware of, although as we all know, addictions can creep up, seemingly out of nowhere.

I suppose it’s just something to be aware of really isn’t it? I assume these things have been affecting others for years, it’s just now we’re more able to be vocal about it, to talk to others and share our experiences. I know from the way I worry and how anxious I get, that it is easy to fall into the trap of setting up coping strategies to help me through. I also know that when I can’t employ these coping strategies for some reason, things get worse. I feel worse. So while it may be important to learn ways of coping and dealing with stress or difficult situations, we should be aware that we aren’t creating other habits that we come to rely on instead of our original habits.

I think like a lot of things, being aware, and not hiding from our problems helps here. We need to catch our problems before they become too big, whatever they are, and sometimes that means dealing with them head on, even when it’s scary to do so.

But, as always, whatever you’re doing, just remember to be kind to yourself. We’re all doing the best we can.

Thanks for reading,
Claire xx


Sad news…

eighth

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-55900624?fbclid=IwAR13HUNTj2tL83uha0IttStexkLY_e3RNNCbFS9Dh3IvOfJu2E9UOY2hevE

Beautiful

fourth

I love this feedback! 😍💖💖💖

145415661_475137833876791_4142083852784644239_o

Sober Thoughts

144276707_474028630654378_6457857238227731362_n

My Book!

thirdI never thought I'd be able to hold a book in my hands and say, "I wrote this!" - Feeling pretty proud of myself!

Reality TV

Reality TVSince the start of the pandemic, I’ll admit I’ve got a little sucked in to reality TV. Before I might occasionally watch a show, but not religiously and I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t and don’t watch all of them, even now.

I think it’s the escapism for me. The break from reality. Watching ‘The Great British Bake Off,’ and I’m not a great cook, is just nice. There’s no drama, unless a cake burns, and no arguments. In the world we’re living in right now, with all the worry and illness and death, it’s just nice to enjoy something safe and happy.

On the other side of it I’ve also enjoyed a bit of ‘Love Island’, I think mainly because I like the romance of it, and hope everyone will end up happy ever after. I know that’s unlikely, but it still makes me smile.

Just recently we’ve started watching ‘The Cabins’, and while I can’t say I was too fussed, I said I’d watch it with my daughter and it sucked us in a little. The idea is two people get matched and put in a cabin to see if love blossoms. There’s three couples on the site at once and they don’t see each other at all. It sounds random, but in some ways it’s quite sweet seeing people getting to know each other, a kind of socially distanced ‘Blind Date’. The thing that surprises me is that how much some of them drink. Now I know they’re young, and most probably nervous, but I really don’t know how healthy it is to encourage that sort of behaviour. That possibly sounds a little high and mighty and I don’t mean it to, I just worry that by showing people who seem to need to have a lot to drink just to be able to talk to someone they like, I feel we’re reinforcing the need to drink. One couple seemed to really suit each other but I really felt for both of them when one drank so much he was sick in the bed, leaving the other to tidy up the mess and sort the dog out.

It’s hard viewing to see someone drinking so much for dutch courage that they spoil their night. It was even worse to see the other being so kind and generally picking up all the pieces. I’m not sure which one I felt more sorry for.

I’m not saying that we should remove all alcohol from TV, I just worry that by showing characters, whether fictional or real on it, relying on drinking then we’re showing our youngsters that is what we should do. We’re also reinforcing the behaviour for people who struggle to regulate, because I know full well I would have loved an excuse to make my drinking seem normal.

The other thing that was interesting was seeing one or two of them wake up with hangovers. It really reminded me of how I used to feel, and I tell you what, it really made me think how grateful I am not to feel like that anymore. Ever.

It’s funny how things change isn’t it? It’s nice to look back and realise how far I’ve come. It’s refreshing to see the odd person on the shows admit that they don’t drink either. It reminds me that I’m not the only one in the world who doesn’t drink. It also reminds me that it doesn’t have to be a choice because we have no other. Some people are just wise enough to not need to start drinking in the first place. In some ways I’m envious, in other ways I think I had to walk the path I did to get to where I am now.

I can’t say seeing people drinking to excess is enjoyable, but at the same time, it’s easier than it used to be and if it serves as a reminder of how I was then I don’t suppose that’s a bad thing.

Thank you as always for reading.
Claire xx

Reasons to be Grateful

2
Getting sober was a massive challenge for me as many of you probably know. I was afraid to admit I had a problem with alcohol, because by doing that I was effectively saying I was going to do something about it and I didn't know how. Back then I literally didn't see the point in a life without wine.

Fast forward four years and four months and I can tell you it's a different story now. I'm not saying getting here was easy, because as anyone who's ever been addicted to anything will tell you it’s not. Is it worth it? Yes! 100% and that is something I never thought I’d say.

Let me tell you why - in no particular order of greatness...

  • No hangovers in the morning. I don’t miss that foggy headedness one little bit!
  • No regrets about drinking the night before, because I haven’t!
  • No worrying about whether I’ll be able to drink later, because I won’t.
  • No random illnesses, worries about illnesses, or concerns about illnesses (all drink related).
  • The ability to concentrate on something I'm reading or watching, to get to the end and generally be able to remember it in the morning.
  • The freedom to be able to go out and drive my car whenever I want without even thinking about it. No matter how late it is!
  • Keeping a level head in an argument, although arguments happen less often now anyway. I used to lose the plot a little, lose track of what the argument even was about and get muddled up. Now I can make my point and keep a clear head.
  • I’m less likely to embarrass myself, either in public, or on social media.
  • I don't panic in the morning and have to check my phone for things I've said or posted or sent that were supposed to be funny and weren't.
  • I don't have to pretend to remember things I don't.
  • I’m not constrained to what I can or can't do based on whether I'm planning to get home for a drink or not.
  • I don't wake up in a panic in the morning. Okay this one is a lie; I sometimes do, but it's because of my anxiety, not because I've been drinking.

In general, everything is a little easier. I’m calmer, more balanced, more settled in my mind. I don't escalate quite like I used to. Life isn't such a challenge oh, and I'm not panicking over wine supplies or stock-piling during Lockdown. I honestly don't know how I would have managed!

All in all life without alcohol is a good place for me to be! Just remember the hard work pays off in the end, and by choosing not to drink, we really aren’t missing out on anything!

Much love as always.
Claire
x

The Fragility of Life

The Fragility of Life Stanley Hatwell my little boy covid 19 lockdown in cornwall writing for my blog my not so secret diary
What a year last year was! Who could ever have predicted at the beginning of the 2020 what a bumpy ride we’d be in for? But we had good points too, spending time together, getting to know people we live near that we wouldn't normally chat with, getting to help people…

For me, I enjoyed the slower pace of life that lockdowns have enforced. I've enjoyed making time for the simple things. But, times have been trying too. We haven't been able to connect. We've been kept apart from those we love and care about. We haven't even been able to visit our loved ones in hospitals. It's difficult when we live some distance from our family when it's not just counties dividing us, but tiers too. When we hear someone is in hospital we are powerless. We can't see them and even if we could get close we wouldn't be allowed in. It’s for our protection too though isn't it? Most of us do understand the reasons for the distance - we know we're protecting ourselves and our families by following the rules, but that doesn't mean it feels any better.

We had some bad news recently. We're lucky in a lot of ways because we have a lot of older or 'at risk' people in our family and so far we've been okay. We’ve counted ourselves lucky and kept as safe as we could. Recently however, things have changed and several (younger) members of our extended family have contracted the virus. They all seem to be on the mend but then both of my husband’s Grandads fell ill and ended up in the hospital. One contracted Covid-19 while he was there. He did seem to be improving but I guess with these sorts of diseases, you never really know what's around the corner.

It got me thinking really, when you see it happen in front you, you realise just how fragile life is. How can it be that people who were 'fine' and relatively well a week or so ago are now needing ventilators? It's frightening how quickly this disease moves and how fast things change. It’s unbelievable to think that someone who was with us is no longer there and we can't even see them to say goodbye. At the end of this long and challenging life, they just slip away.

It’s so sad, but it also makes me think just how lucky we are. I know things are difficult at the moment. Everything is hard, whether you are young or old. I really feel for the kids who are still trying their hardest to learn but have lost the structure of school. But... just think of all the things we can do, even if we're in Lockdown. I'm sure all of us could find at least one thing we can be grateful for. Even during hard times I try to remember that, to remind myself the struggles usually have a reward and that, "Rainbows often follow storms.”

Especially now, but always I think we need to remember to be grateful for what and who we have and to take care of them, and ourselves.

Much love,
Claire xx


💖💖💖

My Book

My Not So Secret Recovery by Claire Hatwell my blog My Not So Secret Diary - recovery addiction and life
For a long time I've been toying with the idea of writing a book about my journey. It's something I've always wanted to do, but however much I share here, it's almost scarier, even when I have so many of you that are so kind and encouraging.

I am so very excited, and also a little petrified to share this with you all....

I hope you like it!
Kindle version is available now, and the paperback will be available very soon, both on Amazon.

Much love,
Claire
xxx






Here's the link to it on Amazon -
https://www.amazon.co.uk/My-Not-So-Secret-Recovery-ebook/dp/B08TB8H6B8/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=my+not+so+secret+recovery&qid=1611231000&sr=8-2

Lockdown Stockpiling

Lockdown stockpiling
Lockdown stockpiling... I have been caught, and to be fair it’s not really lockdown - it started as I didn’t want to run out over Christmas. That’s nine boxes of coke behind the door in the utility! I’m just glad it is coke and not wine! Can you imagine what that would have looked like?! 😂😂