Category Archives: mindfulness

Finding Zen

I’m just going to start writing and maybe add things as the day progresses. If I don’t start somewhere, it’ll never happen and I’ll basically be a very lazy blogger. One who just reads and comments but never creates anything of their own. That will never do. Though I do love to keep up with people’s blogs and give my four penneth worth, busy body that I am!

Life has not changed very much since the ‘easing’ of some restrictions. Not for me anyway. Clearly for many others it meant no more social distancing, hanging out with friends and throwing any caution to the wind. Not helped by the total confusion caused by the government’s mixed messages. As far as I could make out it was chaos and bedlam. So I stayed home. Worked from my bedroom (which I’ve come to hate doing) and ate shed loads of chocolate. Think I’ll let the others who appear to have either no fear or sense be the guinea pigs in this little trial.

I’m trying hard to find ways to relax and de-stress when I’m not working. It’s difficult sometimes and on Saturday morning I completely lost my cool. Shame really as I’d just completed my very first ever yoga session and the lovely relaxed and positive feeling lasted a grand total of 5 minutes. It all started when I noticed chunks taken out of the sideboard, a smashed Xbox controller, random mess and crap everywhere and …. wait for it …. no milk left for my mid morning coffee!! Yup, that’s right. I saw red, blew my top, the proverbial hit the fan, I went bat shit crazy. When that happens in our house the boys tend to know it’s a very bad situation. I yelled, shouted, stomped around and there were even tears and a few words the children should not have heard. In the end I had a new office space set up in a warm corner of the back room overlooking the garden. Said room and kitchen were cleaned and hoovered. My bedroom was reestablished as a bedroom. Milk was purchased and coffee drank. Calmness ensued and Mum was chilled once again.

I have persevered with the yoga app and actually do enjoy it. It’s very basic and short but it’s what I need right now. I’ve managed a few runs too, still not kicking it’s ass yet but I get out. That’s enoogh. Anxiety, and particularly depression, is always lurking, never far away. It takes hard work to keep them both at bay. I have a much better understanding of myself and my triggers but some days I just want to hide away. That’s ok though. Just as long as I don’t hide for too long I guess.

Sadly it would appear I am better at demolishing and destroying the garden than nurturing or growing it. Two plants are already looking decidedly dodgy yet the weeds respond well to my green fingered attempts. We have become quite friendly with two sets of neighbours as we can now practically walk into their garden. They thought they had an intruder the other day, but it was my eldest son picking up his football. There are plans for fencing very soon so I will be safe to hang the washing out dressed only in pjs once again.

The most amazing thing about all of the above, the quiet calm, the loss of temper, the anxiety and low moods and the gardening, is this. I am doing it 100% sober. I reached my 6 month sober milestone yesterday and it felt like a regular, everyday thing. No booze for 6 months. So what? Easy peasy. Except those of you on this journey of sobriety know it’s not. It wasn’t for me anyway. It involved a lot of change. It meant becoming a different person to the one I had been for many years. I had to challenge my identity and adjust my view. I’m still changing now, 6 months on. For the better I hope. No, scrap that last comment. For the better I’m sure. I am the happiest I have been in a long time. Not with the global situation as it is, not necessarily with some aspects of my life but with myself and who I am. That might sound intense and dramatic but it is also true.

Right, time for session 3 of yoga, lunch and swotting up on some new vocabulary for my word feud scrabble challenge.

Just a pose I learnt yesterday

Love 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

Fed-up Friday Feelings

Struggling tonight folks. Really have found today hard and I’m trying to think about why that might be the case.

This weekend I’m approaching my 3 month sober milestone. My head tells me that’s a huge achievement but my heart doesn’t feel the same. Tonight I just feel exhausted. Overwhelmed by life and shit. There isn’t really anything specific I can blame it on. I’ve just lost my mojo. I actually sat on the train on the way home from work and really fancied coming home and pouring a large glass of Shiraz. For the first time in a while I thought ‘fuck it, I want to experience that first sip on a Friday night feeling’. I didn’t. I poured a glass of AF wine and drank that instead, whilst taking a bath with bubbles, candles and classical chill tunes on Alexa.

I wonder if I’m spending too much time alone when I’m not at work. Without alcohol I have felt far more at ease in my own company and less inclined to go out and socialise. I still have lots of contact with friends. I’m just not instigating evenings out and they therefore don’t happen as much. I’m fine with that but maybe there is only so much ‘alone’ time one can tolerate.

I suspect myself and my husband often spent our Friday evenings drinking together. Now I just start to get bored of the TV very quickly and tired much earlier. I think our relationship has changed and we aren’t as close because alcohol isn’t there to glue us together. It was what we did. What we’ve always done. Now I’m not drinking the cracks are beginning to show. To be honest they were appearing before but alcohol just papered over them. I can’t address that at the moment though. It’s too big. Just too scary.

I don’t ever regret giving up alcohol though. In spite of evenings and days like today, it was without a doubt the best decision I ever made. If it means I’m going to have to face tough challenges that I have been denying exist or ignoring then so be it. I’ll be better for it. For each ‘bad’ day there are now countless ‘good’ days. I am grateful for that. I’ll start my journal tomorrow. I think it will help. Thoughts still whizz around. I’m learning to pay attention to them but not to hold onto them. Meditation is still new to me but I’m practicing.

It’s hard work isn’t it? Changing, developing, managing without our crutch. Stopping addiction. I’ve become more introverted and introspective than I ever believed I could be. I like being that way but I guess I forget how much I effort this takes and that there will be times where it’s emotionally draining. Tonight I don’t feel there’s much left in the tank. I don’t want to appear negative because none of this journey has been negative. Challenging yes, negative no. It’s important to write about the tough stuff too.

So my lovely sober gang, I’ll go to sleep feeling a little better that I’ve shared with friends how I’m feeling. As we all know, sometimes all we can do is sleep it off. Tomorrow is a new day.

Claire xx

Photo of one of my favourite places just to cheer myself up 😊

Claire’s Disappointment

Hmmm 🤔 I have been self reflecting (or is that self obsessing?) this past few days. I’m not sure it’s been particularly helpful and my brain is a bit addled with thoughts and questions. Forgive me if this post is disjointed and incoherent. I haven’t been drinking, honest! It is also likely to be long and wordy so if you bail now I totally understand. 😉

I’m a 47 year old woman. I work 30 hrs a week in a professional career and I would say I’ve been successful (as far as the NHS allows you to be these days). I have two boys and I am, on the whole, a good mum. I manage a home, the bills, the cooking and food (mostly) and a husband (or does he manage me?). I have a wide social circle that includes good friends (and some not so good but I’m sorting that out!). Why then do I become overwhelmed with crazy feelings of inadequacy, disappointment and fear of being let down? Answers on a postcard. Just kidding – you don’t have my address thank goodness 😅

Anyway, some ‘know it all’ keeps coming up with possible reasons or subtle suggestions as to why this might be happening. Sure enough, when I read up about them I find that this person could, in fact, be spot on.

Today I’m thinking about the feelings of disappointment and not feeling good enough. I hate disappointment. I hate feeling it myself and I hate feeling I’ve disappointed others. Letting someone down is soul destroying for me and I live in fear of being let down. It all ties in with not quite cutting it. Why? Let me see ….

My mum, God love her, has always lived her life as a ‘what if?’, ‘if only’ and ‘we should have’ type of person. I can find it hard to decide what to do sometimes because I’m scared I’ll wish I had done something else and the chosen event/activity will be ruined. This has improved for me but sadly not so much for mum. She’s proud of me but there has always been an undercurrent of ‘I wish Claire had done a different job’, ‘if only she’d married someone more outgoing or wealthy’ etc etc. Sometimes it’s not such a subtle undercurrent with direct statements like “you and your brother went to a good schools and neither of you have done particularly well” and “perhaps don’t wear baggy tops, they can make you look bigger”.

My dad, well he didn’t really have many expectations. I was a girl so why would he? He clearly adored me, his little princess, but all the focus was on my brother to be the sporty champ. Ironically he was never interested in sport and preferred the world of the IT geek! I tried every sport going to prove myself worthy (I just realised that now btw). Over the years he’s mellowed in his opinions of women, a little. He’s proud and very surprised that I’ve achieved all I have. Please don’t misunderstand, my parents are amazing and it’s not my intention to blame them. They have supported me through so much and we none of us are perfect. I love them, I’m just trying to make some sense of this.

In secondary school I had a ‘best friend’. We were thick as thieves for the entire 7 years. She was amazing. She was sporty, beautiful, very clever, popular, cool and loved by all. I was her ‘side kick’. Seriously, I was! She’d get invited to parties and had to beg people to include me. Sometimes they refused. Boys fell in love with her and I might end up with their mate chatting to me if I was lucky! Same at university. I had two girlfriends who were stunning and popular and had a string of men after them. I was the ‘ugly’ friend but a good laugh. Indeed, about 5 men have dumped or left me because they ‘preferred’ one of my friends. Some even got to know me just to get closer to my mates. Don’t feel sorry for me. I was a late bloomer!!!

There are other events that have happened. Some very traumatic and not for this post, but again, all contributing to general disappointment, not feeling good enough and being ‘let down’.

So I guess my period of reflection has allowed me to understand what the feelings are that trigger anxiety and where some of them may have their roots. Now I just have to work out what I do with the feelings when they pop up. Or maybe I do nothing, let them be and accept them. Easier said than done but definitely easier when you are sober! I read something earlier though that I think is important for me to remember:

“people around you won’t disappear or leave just because you’re feeling and showing your emotions in an authentic and OK way”.

Love Claire xx

A lovely quote …

At 7 weeks sober (half way to the 100 day milestone) I felt I wanted to share this quote.

I can’t remember where I saw it. It may have come from a post you previously wrote and if it did, thank you.

It’s incredibly meaningful for me at this moment in time. I’m on a journey and learning so much about myself, my life and others.

Sending Sunday night hugs to all you fellow bloggers, whatever is happening for you at the moment. Keep safe, look after yourselves and reach out if you need to. No one will judge. We all ‘get it’.

Love Claire xx

Musing over mindfulness, meditation and me

I’m looking for some advice. As I move into 2020, having now completed 6 weeks AF (I am allowing myself a teeny smug moment here!), I’m thinking about what I’d like to work on. Many of you refer to meditation and yoga on the blogs. I’ve looked into and attempted to use mindfulness apps and programmes. I just can’t get my head around it all (or, in the case of yoga, my legs and arms).

I think it might help me in many areas of my life, including the periods of anxiety and depression (though thankfully they have lessened since the drinking stopped). Mostly though, I’d like to give myself the skills and tools to deal with situations and challenges that arise and the emotions that come with them without feeling like I need to rely on alcohol to get me through (or indeed any other unhelpful or damaging crutch).

So what are people’s thoughts on it all? Is it helpful? Where does one start? Can I teach myself? It’s a minefield and I’m keen to know your views .. pros and cons.

By the way, I do realise I’m unlikely to suddenly look like the woman in the photo! I’ll give it my best shot though. 😊

Thanks

Claire xxx