Category Archives: challenge

Easter kindness

I have to say, I don’t always find writing on my own blog very easy. I love reading other people’s and commenting but I just can’t seem to find the right words for my own post. Having said that, I’ve sat myself down in front of the lap top and I think I’m just going to chat about my Easter weekend. Just roll that dice, take a chance and have a ramble!

On Friday (Good Friday) it was a luxury to wake up late and not have to switch on my work laptop or check my phone for work emails. I have been grateful for work in recent weeks, its kept me occupied and stopped me descending into the Claire world of over thinking life, the universe and everything. I was so exhausted by Friday though and I made a purposeful decision to not ‘work’ at all for the Easter break. I lounged about in the morning, drinking tea, reading blogs and catching up with friends via what’s app. Then I went into the garden. Boy did I go wild in the wilds of our little oasis. The bushes and trees that run the length of the left hand side have not been touched since we moved in … 16 years ago!!! Once I start, I’m unstoppable. I pulled out weeds, that then suddenly became whole shrubs. There were trees with stumps as big as a bowling ball that came out in my hand when I pulled … because they were dead! I left huge gaping holes in the bushes. The neighbours are going to be delighted we can watch them sunbathe and also see what they are up to in the kitchen. Literally 3 days of cutting, pulling and bashing and its still no where near finished. You can imagine the pile of garden waste that now sits under, behind and in front of the trampoline. Oh and no garden waste collection (I forgot to renew it) and no refuge centres open. Oooooops. My husband is still not really speaking to me!

The gaping hole where the holy bush once stood.
Look what I did!!!

On Friday night we had a family quiz with my ‘in laws’ using Zoom. It was great fun. My parents joined in but I think I’m going to ban them from any similar activities until they agree to have their hearing tested. Multiple repetitions of each question becomes rather …. repetitive. By the end of the game people were clearly drunk, falling around and shouting at their respective devices. I sipped my alcohol free wine and was thankful that I gave it all up nearly 5 months ago. Sobriety has enabled me to cope with this lockdown and Covid-19 situation with a positivity and calmness than would not have been possible had I been still addicted to wine. Sure, I have bad days, but as Anna (Storm In A Wine Glass) said in her recent post ” I realise how my worst day sober is still a million times better than my best day drunk.”

Saturday and Sunday followed much the same pattern. Lots of gardening (well, destruction and demolition), chilled out lazy mornings and a trip to the supermarket for our food shop and one the for lady down the road. I arrived home from delivering her groceries to a little ‘care package’ left on my door step by my brother and his partner. He lives about a 40 minute drive away and had made the journey over to bring me some gorgeous goodies and treats. Their kindness overwhelmed me and I already knew I had a wonderful brother, but he really is the bee’s knees. I started thinking about ‘kindness’ after I’d checked out all the little gifts. It’s a quality I value greatly and true kindness is really a beautiful thing when it happens. I’ve had a lot of criticism throughout my life. Self-criticism, overt criticism, ‘subtle’ criticism and criticism meant to be constructive but really not. It has led to me being a little too judgemental and often having mean and unkind thoughts about others. In the past I have slipped into, not particularly nice, conversations about certain people and not really given it much thought. Since ditching the booze I have made a conscious effort to not do any of this, practicing kindness in how I act, behave and think. It’s actually an easier way of being. I still can find people irritating as hell and that’s ok. I’m not super human and people piss me off. I am, however, more able to understand a situation. I’m less bitter and resentful of what other’s have and do and I’m more at peace with my own world. In a selfish way, being kinder towards others has improved my ability to be kinder to myself. It’s a quality I want to instil in my boys. Plus you get really cute little gifts every now and then too!! Its a win win.

My little treats in the ‘care package’

Today, Monday, I have stayed out of the garden and left my husband to try and salvage something from the wreckage. I ran 5 miles and cleaned the house. I’ve made a tandoori chicken and rice tea for the boys and now I am sat typing this blog. My life is so different than it was 6 months ago. I am living under government restrictions but I am the most free I have been in a very long time. That’s a lovely feeling and I am going to savour the moment as my first sober Easter weekend draws to a close.

Love Claire xx

Cows spotted on my run, not following social distancing rules.

No respect for social distancing …

In the midst of social distancing and self isolation I still get two visitors knocking on my door. They don’t stick to guidelines or obey rules. Nope, they let themselves in and take over.

Anxiety has been here for a couple of days now. I kind of know how to deal with him (or is it a her?). I’ll refer to it as male for ease. He winds me up, throws all sorts of questions and ‘what ifs’ in my way. Dishes out problems I can’t solve and situations I can’t control. When I come up with a solution, he won’t accept it. Like a toddler repetitively asking ‘why?’ and ‘when?’.

I can handle anxiety. I use techniques to bring me to the present and the strategies do work, now that my body and brain are no longer muddled and confused with alcohol. Yesterday morning was particularly bad but I persevered. I cleaned, I ran and I listened to my buddhify app. So far so good. Or so I thought.

With a huge hit of anxiety I can sometimes have a visit from depression. She (I’ll switch genders in the name of equality) hasn’t been in my life for well over 6 months. I haven’t missed her, not one bit. I thought I was rid of her but like the proverbial bad penny, here she is! I could feel her coming late last night. I know that sounds weird but I know the signs now. Sure enough, 3am there I was. Wide awake and hanging out with two old ‘friends’.

This morning, anxiety had moved on for a break but not depression. She’s moved in, feet right under the table. That awful feeling of no feeling. Knowing there is so much you can do to help yourself and so much to be personally grateful for but absolutely no way to reach through the black fog and grab it. Not even a desire to do that. No energy, no interest in things that made you buzz with excitement only a few days ago. Most of all, no bloody reason. There is nothing in my life that others aren’t struggling with right now. Many many struggling with more challenges than I am.

At the moment I don’t have a positive, inspiring ending to my post today. I wanted to describe the feelings and emotions to try and depersonalise them. I’m furious that they, particularly depression, have returned to this extent and I’m praying it lifts quickly. I need to face what we are all going through as ‘Claire’ with my friends, family and loved ones by my side. There is no room for anxiety or depression. Quite frankly they can both fuck off!

Stay safe all

Claire xx

Up and running again

One of the weirdest weeks ever! Every single day, four or five times a day, things change. Plans are made, then unmade. People can’t work from home, people MUST work from home unless they absolutely can’t. Some of my staff are all guns blazing … let me get out there and fight this thing, others wanting to run away and hide. So challenging to deal daily with tears, tantrums and hysteria .. and that’s just my own.

So, I am finally set up (kind of) with the technology required to work from home for some days. How long for is unknown, like so many things right now. I may be redeployed to help elsewhere. God help anyone I have to care for. I’m not even sure where you shove a thermometer.

My first experience with Zoom teleconferencing was hilarious. Clearly the NHS world is not used to this type of futuristic magic. There were people who just did not realise they needed to mute their screen. We heard someone home schooling and yelling at a very bored child, saw someone relaxing on his hammock in his back garden and listened as a member of staff went to the bathroom. It was the highlight of my day.

Today I had an SOS call from a neighbour. They’d seen my leaflet and wanted someone to get supplies as they are elderly, in poor health and their son is now self isolating. She sent me her shopping list and told me it might be difficult to get her bread as she’s glutton free! I wish I was glutton free. Then I might not have this wobbly chocolate belly,

Finally, today I managed to go for a run. I have really lost my exercise mojo over recent weeks, even months. Today, however, with the sun shining, I stuck on my trainers and off I went. I walked/ran for two miles and ran for another 3. Shattered but good to get out after 3 days of high stress and anxiety (not mine for a change, other people’s). I’m planning to run most days now. Make it a routine.

I was asked by a fellow blogger to post some photos when running, so here they are …

It’s been a week of many firsts and of rising to challenges. I’m coping with change without panic and emotion and with a little bit of humour. I’m doing all of it sober. In fact, what I now know is that I have to be sober to deal with it. As people around the UK clapped for NHS workers, care staff, frontline employees, supermarket assistants, delivery man … etc etc … I realised that we have to ride this storm. I intend to do just that and to do it sober.

Stay safe, look after yourselves and keep in touch by blogging or commenting.

Claire xx

The only constant is change

As usual I have no plan for what I’m about to write. I haven’t posted anything in over a week but I still regularly check, read and comment on others’ posts. It comforts me to do that. This past few weeks have been a total whirlwind. So much happening in such a short space of time. I have no idea what emotion I’m feeling from one minute to the next!

Watching it all unfold has been surreal. Daily counts of those infected and those sadly that have lost their lives because of Covid-19 has quite simply shocked me. Heading into work this week (I work at a children’s hospital in a city centre) on a near empty rush hour train (hence the photo) the reality started to sink in.

The past few days has been full on with decisions and plans at work being made, remade and changed. The impact of each decision being reviewed and considered. Staff in my team in tears at one time or another with the stress and fatigue of the unknown. Then, the schools announced closure, but not for offspring of key workers (NHS staff, children in need, teachers etc). My two boys (15 and 12yrs) went into meltdown. Resolutely refusing to go because no-one else will be. This is still ‘under discussion’.

My mum was diagnosed with skin cancer on Tuesday. Two different types in two locations. She is 76 and already ticks ‘underlying health condition’ boxes. It was upsetting but treatment decisions have been made now and she has astonished me with her positive attitude about it all. I think she can see the bigger picture and is for once not asking ‘what if?’. She and my dad are self isolating and I’m feeling so proud of them both because I know they are feeling scared and isolated right now.

Interestingly I don’t think in my 25 years of working for the NHS I’ve ever felt this valued by so many. All sorts of shops, cafes and businesses are giving out free drinks, 50% off food and even free bottles of hand moisturiser to NHS workers. People are being lovely and so supportive and considerate. That’s such a positive to come out of this.

So, with all the drama and the stress, the sadness and the worry, my anxiety levels have of course been sky rocketing. Change is often so tricky and we are dealing with it daily, sometimes hourly. But for every moment of anxiety, there has been a glimpse of calm and peace brought by all the lovely, kind deeds that I’m witnessing. The renewed sense of community is palpable. Yes, there are stories of selfish idiots and acts of pure nastiness, but I’m not focusing on that. We are all in this together and I hope that after it is over we are all better humans and an improved society in many ways.

Finally, I’m not going to lie, there have been moments of ‘fuck it, I am going to drink’. I haven’t and I’m actually really, really glad about that. It would not help me right now.

Stay safe, be kind and take good care of yourselves. Oh, and keep blogging … reading your posts certainly helps me stay positive when it all gets a little too much. 😊❤️

Claire xx

Sweet Dreams

This morning I woke up and felt I’d had a very deep sleep with few episodes of waking, if any at all. That’s very unusual for me. Even without the alcohol I wake up a few times but now I can usually turn over and go back off. After a few minutes coming round I suddenly remembered my dream.

I also haven’t really dreamt as much since becoming sober, not ones I can remember very well. This week I’ve been able to recall more of them. Last night’s was vivid. I was totally trashed!!! Trolleyed, kayleyed, plastered 🥴. I’d gone to a fancy, posh party with three girlfriends and I drank a shed load of Prosecco. I remember just pouring glass after glass into my mouth and then feeling sick and dizzy. We stayed over at a hotel after sorting problems with crap rooms. I woke up the next day with another party to go to that evening and I felt shocking. The day was subsequently spent trying to find a different hotel, being given more awful rooms, changing said rubbish rooms and then hotels. My husband and dad appeared and refused to stay in the final hotel. I’d decided not to drink again that night but the second party never occurred anyway. I was too busy moving hotels and having room issues.

Completely weird. Bonkers I know. I don’t think I want anyone to analyse all that thank you. I do, however, remember the feelings and emotions it generated. I felt ill, fuzzy, stressed, unclear and generally very out of control. Not just when I was drunk either. I felt on edge all the next day trying to get to the next hotel room. I knew for a fact I was not going to drink again but I couldn’t fathom why I’d drowned myself in Prosecco the night before. I’m not even that keen on it to be honest! Red or white wine, maybe.

Boy it was good though …. No!!! Wait! …. not the getting pissed bit. The good part was waking up this morning and realising, in a Sue-Ellen type Dallas moment, that it was all just a dream. I have spent my day today feeling I can achieve anything. Work has been stressful and busy, with all sorts of things not falling right. I dealt with what I could, remained calm and kept others reassured. There was no panic, no anxiety and no emotional reaction. I felt really in control without having to control everyone and everything, if that makes any sense at all? I enjoyed that feeling and I appreciated it all the more because my dream had reminded me what I would have felt like 4 months ago. That would have been a very different day and an ‘on edge’ Claire to say the least.

I particularly like the new confidence I have that I can’t be so easily thrown off course now. I sense a new strength that comes from understanding my emotional reactions a little more. Rather than seeking affirmation externally, I can often find it within. I know that sounds airy fairy and a bit OTT but quite honestly fuck it!

I generally write these posts with no idea what I’m going to talk about when I begin. Sometimes I delete them because, well because they are a bit shit and I even bore myself. Mostly though, I publish them. It’s a reminder of the ups and downs of sobriety and how far I have travelled. If it helps someone else to kick start their own journey then all the better. Plus, I selfishly love hearing from you guys and knowing you are there 😉.

Sending love to you all

Claire xx

I went!!

I’m not going to write a long drawn out post but I thought I’d update those of you that took the time to read, like or comment on yesterday’s dilemma! If you didn’t read my last post then you’ll probably want to skip this one!!

I do go. I drank a glass of AF wine and got myself dressed up. My husband and I walked in, straight into Di and as expected we were ignored. My stomach churned but I carried on past as if I hadn’t noticed she was there. I remained calm. There were others I hadn’t seen for a long time, all ready with kisses and hugs for me. We stayed for 2 hrs. Di’s boyfriend arrived and sat at the end of the bar staring at me, or it felt like that anyway. She started to get drunk and sashayed past us a few times. I remembered the advice you all gave yesterday and we got the hell out of dodge! Said our goodbyes before it became tricky and ducked out. No drama, no anxiety, just left.

This morning I don’t feel relieved or elated but I’m glad I went. I’m so glad I don’t drink because the outcome would be different today and I know for a fact I’d be struggling this morning with a hangover from hell and feelings of low self esteem and self blame. I do recognise however that I feel sadness. Sad that there was no way to resolve what happened in the past, sad that people can’t forgive and at the very least end the friendship on good terms. That might be naive and linked to other deeper issues I have going on. I am however just going to accept that the emotion I have after going last night is sadness. It’s not overwhelming, it’s just there. I can’t numb it, change it or make it go away and I really don’t like it! What’s that about? Hmmm 🤔 another bout of navel gazing might be needed.

It’s ok to be a little blue sometimes.

Anyway, thank you once again for the lovely comments and support. So grateful you are all out there in the universe 😍

Claire xx

To go or not to go …

Today I am anxious. I have had slow growing anxiety over the past couple of days and now it’s reached the level where I am lying in bed because I’m not sure how best to manage it.

Those of you that have read past posts of mine will know that I have had some tricky situations with friendships and relationships over past months. One friend (I will call her Di) has disappeared from my life completely after a couple of intense years of friendship. Following the final ‘split’ I gave up alcohol. It was one of the ways a managed the whole fall out. I’m not going to go into the in and outs of what happened, mainly because to this day I’m not really sure. There was lots of made up stuff about me which hurt a great deal but I don’t know why she said it or behaved as she did.

Anyways, tonight I am attending a mutual friend’s 50th birthday celebrations. This friend (B), I have known for 40 years. I met Di through her. I haven’t discussed Di with her or even so much as mentioned her name in 3 months. They are exceptionally close. I know Di and all her friends will be there later. I know I’m going to be catapulted back to teenage angst and playground ‘mean girl’ bullying. I know I could just not go, but my long standing friend B would be sad about that. My family (brother and parents) were invited but can’t attend. My husband will come with me so I’m not totally alone (although Di and her ‘was married but now estranged’ boyfriend hate him too for some unknown reason). The whole situation is petty, ridiculous and frankly boring but seeing her and having to stand in a room and be pointedly ignored fills me with dread.

Luckily I’m not drinking which means I won’t lose control and say something I’ll regret. Plus I’ll be driving and we can show our faces and then quickly get the hell out of dodge. Still, I’ve told myself all this over and over but it doesn’t help me. People keep saying it’ll be fine but I’m tipping into unmanageable anxiety which then descends into ‘switch off’ and disengage because I can’t handle how it feels.

Wow, this is the first time I’ve actually described my anxiety and subsequent low mood as it happens, in real time. Blogging is good for that, right? I have an appointment to get to in an hour’s time and I’ve already tried to think up excuses how to avoid going. It’s a work based commitment but the overwhelming feeling at the moment is to just stay here, in the safety of my bedroom!! What to do? Should I not go this evening, just bail out totally which will stop the anxiety. Or is that not facing difficult emotions and pure avoidance.

Before sobriety I would drink. I’d start at 5 ish to give me courage. I’d be totally wasted by the end of the night but I’d survive it. I don’t have that crutch now so I need to either not go or find a way through this. I think writing it down has helped a little. I will go to my work appointment. I’ll force myself to achieve at least that today. One thing at a time.

Agh! I hate anxiety and I just want it to leave me alone.

Claire xx

I’m doing ok!

3 months of sober life!

Not going to say much other than thanks to all of you who over the past 3 months commented and liked and supported and are just plain amazing! It isn’t easy and some days just feel like the pits. BUT it’s (close eyes if you don’t like bad language) fucking fantastic to be in this position right now. I would not and never want to be anywhere else!!!

Thank you all

Love Claire xxx