Piece by piece

I have been away on my holibobs. We went up to stay in a converted barn in the North East of England, just south of Durham and north of Yorkshire. We went with both sets of the boy’s Grandparents. Some may say that was lovely, others would call it brave. A few may consider it sheer lunacy. My parents and my in-laws actually get on very well and I find being away less stressful when we are with both sets rather than one. I suppose I find some free time and space for me if I’m not under the microscope. That said, it is quite an undertaking!

The cottage/barn was advertised as being on a ‘working’ farm. In reality, it was on a bit of a building site where a new housing estate was being developed. The ‘farmers’ had clearly sold all the farm land to a housing development company and all that was left was the farmhouse and our ‘shed’. The accommodation itself was lovely. Spacious and comfortable with a hot tub in the garden. The ‘village’ that was within walking distance did not really resemble a village and was pretty much deserted the whole time. All very strange. All a little random. Still, we ventured out each day and saw some beautiful scenery. The coast, long sandy beaches, waterfalls, gorgeous moors and countryside and stunning villages. Loads to do and see. Plenty to keep the over 70s and under 18s happy. Very poor WiFi which was a big negative for many but we survived.

On the first day we arrived, we unpacked and I watched my husband and his Dad grab their first beer, clink glasses and say ‘cheers’. Then my Dad joined in with his beer and the two Grandmas enjoyed a large goblet style glass of wine each. One white, the other red. There was lots of “… and relax” and ‘the holiday starts here …” type comments. I suddenly started to panic. I didn’t think I was going to be ok with this. There was a real sense of ‘group drink’ and I really bloody missed alcohol. I couldn’t ask them to stop but how was I going to cope? I began to get upset and dread the week ahead. Then, out of the blue, I considered drinking. Just for the week. For social purposes. My little addict voice told me all sorts of convincing reasons as to why this was a great idea. I wanted to relax and chill out. I didn’t want to be the dull grey person who would, in all reality, rather sit on her own, eating chocolate and drinking tea, whilst doing a jigsaw. Why not just do what the others do and enjoy it? It’s a bloody holiday for goodness sake!

Then my Dad began to irritate me a bit. Well, quite a lot actually. I always feel disloyal when I blog about my parents. I’ve said before that I love them and I know they really, really love me. They are just quite difficult at times. In different ways. My Dad is the most tricky though. He is a know it all. He has a comment on every subject and strong opinions to go with that. He’s fundamentally a misogynist as well as having other opinions that tip into the offensive and prejudiced categories. He has diluted this over the years but it’s always there. He monopolises conversations, rarely listens to others and is constantly in ‘impress’ mode. It is immensely annoying. Well, I find it annoying. I get snappy and a bit mean, which I know upsets him. We have had some huge fights and arguments over the years and they all had one thing in common. Booze. Lots of it. He would get louder and more obnoxious and I would get nastier and very intolerant. It wasn’t a pretty sight or experience.

So this holiday, on the first night, instead of pushing the ‘all systems go go go … let’s drink!’ button, I took my foot right off the pedal. I had a bath. I read some of my book ‘the happiness project’ by Gretchen Rubin (which I highly recommend) and made the decision that drinking would only make what was already going to be challenging, much much harder to bear. I poured a cup of tea. I went to watch tv with my eldest son and by this point the grandmas had stopped drinking alcohol. They joined me with cups of tea. The evening passed uneventfully and no argument occurred. No regrets and recriminations in the morning.

It remained the same for the entire week. I took my time out when I needed it. Not always easy when the mum and mum in law want to follow you around and sit with you and talk to you. ALL THE TIME! I completed a jigsaw and in the end all adults were clambering to get pieces in. I adored being with my boys and eventually I became less snappy and I relaxed. I did it without the help of alcohol. I found other ways to get my kicks. They might sound boring to some but they are how I find happiness and peace nowadays. No longer in a wine bottle. It’s in the nuggets of a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. Who knew? 🤷‍♀️

Claire x

26 thoughts on “Piece by piece”

  1. You are AMAZING!!! I mean that with all my heart too! That would have been so hard for me to do and you have truly inspired me. I love the part where you said “I took my foot off the pedal…” I love the way you put that! I am so grateful for your friendship and you keep me going in the right direction. Thank you and love you! Great post to read after a frustrating day of work, just what I needed. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

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    1. Awwww shucks you! I’m blushing. ☺️
      Thanks for the lovely words. I don’t always know what I’m doing and I still very much feel like I could take a tumble and drink at any time. But I try to carry on and I honestly do believe this is the better way for me. It might not suit everyone, but it has given me so many positives I am reluctant to give those up now!

      Sorry to hear about your frustrating work day though. You work so hard. I hope you can get some rest soon xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good for you! I know what you mean about finding that new kind of contentment in just being with what is! Without booze. There is a simple enjoyment to be found there- and you feel good the next morning!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The next morning is the absolute cherry on the cake I think. I often get into my pjs and feel so cosy and happy that I’m going to wake up feeling well with no worries about hangxiety. I sleep so much better now I don’t have that 3/4am waking after booze.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Unfortunately, I’ve still been waking around 3/4 AM (why that time, I don’t know!) feeling heated, nausea, and cramps. But I’m continuing living healthy and clean- this too shall pass. No alcohol is one less thing to worry about- and I’m excited for the future me. It’s certainly healthier.

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth. It’s a daily project and a work in progress. I try the not forget that. There is a danger in taking sobriety, and all it’s benefits and positives, for granted. I need to find ways to remind myself of them every day. Xx

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  3. Way to go Claire!! That’s so difficult to be in that kind of situation and not drink. But it’s all just SO worth it the next morning when you feel great and everyone else is hungover. I think you have great strategies, just distracting yourself with something pleasant like a bath, chocolate, tea. That seems to be the key! I was triggered last night at a family birthday party where everyone was drinking a LOT but I just focused on enjoying the food, drinking my sparkling water and enjoying having non-slurry/blurry conversations with people. The night ended with me being cozy in my bed knowing I would wake up feeling great and proud of myself. Thank you for your post. You’re an inspiration!! xo

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    1. Thanks so much for the comment. It is so difficult at times and I think we forget that we have taken on a huge challenge to give up drinking alcohol. We won’t always get it right but being prepared is key I think … mentally and with practical strategies too. I also need to remind myself on a daily basis why I gave up and the real benefits not drinking brings. It’s amazing how quickly you start to take feeling great in the morning, cozy at bedtime, not anxious and not constantly in a battle with yourself for granted! The relief when all that anxiety stopped was huge and life changing, yet I am willing to a risk sometimes and reopen it all. The brain is a powerful thing! Hope you are ok. Well done for resisting at the party. The more we do if the easier it becomes. But it’s never the ‘easy’ path I’m afraid. Xxx💕

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  4. That is an awesome story Claire, thank you for posting, it serves as a good reminder to many of us. I think it takes a lot of practice to trade the instant gratification of alcohol for what you know will be longer term happiness!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes, that does sound like a big undertaking! Lovely to be on holiday though. Our dads sound very similar. And you are right that drinking would have added to the stress of it all. And how brilliant to take your time when you need it! Very proud of you. I love puzzles too these days! Xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fancy your Dad being similar. It’s hard work isn’t it? I start to get cross and upset with my behaviour and reactions around him though. I wish I could let it go over me head! Frustrating. We were glad to get away and hopefully we will take our little van away soon too 😊

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      1. Yes, I usually just don’t go there anymore with my dad. We used to have “debates” but I’ve come to realize he is the way he is and his mind won’t change. He’s gotten worse as he gets older though. I know his drinking and dependence on pain pills doesn’t help things. I’m mot even sure I could handle a vacation with him… good on you for going with yours. I’m sure you’ll be glad you did! Xx

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      2. I have done the same. I try very hard not to get into discussions which is easier sober. I do snap back sometimes which I’m trying to stop. He has lots of good qualities but he and I definitely clash. Xx

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