Category Archives: sober life

ONE YEAR

Well who would have thought it? 🤷‍♀️

On the 17th November 2019 I woke up, realised I had a serious problem and made a massive decision to change my life. After promising myself I would not drink that weekend and subsequently downing a bottle of red wine the evening before, it was painfully apparent I was unable to moderate my alcohol intake. I found the app that counts the days, hours, minutes without a drink and I started it. Day One of sobriety.

I have no words to describe this past year for me. I was a total mess. I wasn’t living, I was surviving. Just. I wasn’t aware of how I felt, I had no control over my life and I was the unhappiest I had ever been in my life.

When people tell you giving up alcohol is the greatest gift you can give yourself it’s hard to believe it. I just didn’t understand how or why that would be. For me it hasn’t only been the greatest gift I have given myself, it’s the greatest gift I could have given my family and friends. My mum told me the other day, she and my Dad feel I have returned to them. They thought they had lost me. God that makes me cry just thinking about it.

I am not going to lie. It’s been the hardest thing I have ever done. Not because I miss it particularly or because I wish I was able to drink again. It’s been hard because it has forced me to shine a light on myself. I have had to examine why I hid behind wine. I have had to uncover the ‘real’ Claire and discover things about myself and my life that I never knew existed. This has not been easy. It’s still a process and is far from over. There have been days, and sometimes weeks, when I have felt anger and fear, loneliness, anxiety and depression. I have wondered why I am restricting myself and wished I could just lose myself in a bottle. But, and this is a big but, there have been many many days where I have caught myself feeling true joy. For no reason. Just deep down inside. There is a peace and calm on some days that I can’t ever remember feeling. Those days of joy, calm and peace keep me going. I want more of those please.

I started my blog just a few days after my Day One. I have met many amazing people in this blogging world. People I now consider friends and people I care for deeply. So, newbies to this world, if you are reading this and wondering if you should start a blog or write a comment. My advice, for what it’s worth, don’t think, just do it. Engage with this community. It has brought me so much unexpected happiness this past year. Without a shadow of a doubt, I would not have reached this phenomenal milestone without the love, support and advice of my sober tribe. I have formed friendships I hope stay with me for many years to come.

Approaching the year mark has thrown up all sorts of questions and some worries. I honestly never thought this far ahead. I didn’t think this day would come. I focused one day at a time and never said ‘forever’. I have decided this is how I intend to continue. I am a work in progress and I don’t know where I will end up. I will take this one day at a time. I will carry on peeling back the layers. It’s exciting to discover that I am liking what I uncover!

Signing off at 365 days; 52 weeks; one year.

Off to treat myself to fish and chips and chocolate to celebrate 😊

Love Claire x

Boredom and bikes

I haven’t written recently mainly because I haven’t had too much to write about. No naval gazing or soul searching to speak of and, much like the rest of the world, opportunities to head out and find excitement and interest are few and far between. Work occupies most of my weekdays and my weekends consist of house cleaning, reading, watching tv and not much else. I’m not complaining but it is a strange kind of existence.

I have been thinking that I need a new focus. Something outside of work and something that takes me outside and away from my bed, sofa and iPad. I’d love to have a dog but I need to be realistic about that. Though I am working from home quite a lot right now, that won’t always be the case and the rest of the family are out everyday. It seems that the world and his wife are all getting dogs. Every second conversation I have with someone they tell me they are about to have a new puppy. It is definitely on my bucket list but not for a good few years yet. I have to shelve that one for now.

So, it was back to the drawing board and I hatched a new plan. Last week I bought a new bike. It arrives in a couple of weeks (yes it is the bike in the photo) and it cost me more than I ever dreamt I’d spend on a bike. I’m not big into cycling but I want a hobby that I am able to do on my own as well as with my family. My Dad also adores cycling and I’m hoping it is an interest we can share and participate in together, even with the strictest of restrictions in place. I’m excited for it to arrive and hoping it lifts me out of my ‘meh’ mood. I used to run a few times a week but that has fizzled out. I still practice yoga every day and I am loving it but I need something more. I can feel boredom creeping in and for me boredom is very dangerous. It brings with it risks to my mental health, it triggers unhelpful behaviours and negative thoughts and is generally a state of being that I need to prevent and avoid.

I have also picked up my cross stitch again. I have such a complicated piece going on that mistakes are all too easy to make. Unpicking is not fun but when I hit my flow I find it really quite relaxing. It keeps me from reaching for the wine so that’s got to be positive. I started the current project last Christmas, intending it for a baby’s christening present in February. It’ll be about ready for her 18th birthday by the time I’m finished. It’s the thought that counts I guess.

Slowly but surely …

Does anyone else struggle with boredom? It isn’t that I find it tricky to be in my own company. Quite the opposite. I do worry however that I could become too introverted and lock myself away within a virtual world. I am aware that whilst boredom is not good for me, I am becoming less and less motivated to engage in physical ‘in person’ social contact. I noticed that was happening before the pandemic hit us. Removing alcohol removed my desire to mix and socialise. Or maybe it just removed my desire to mix and socialise with others who are drinking. I don’t really know. Something has altered within though and I need to be careful it doesn’t lead to unhealthy levels of solitude and eventually loneliness and isolation. I’m am always grateful I have this blog and my word press friends. This community helps me connect and engage which is so important, especially in the current climate. And who knows, in a few weeks you might see me whizzing around on my bike. Laura Trott … eat your heart out. 😊

Claire x

The unexpected (missing) joy of holidays

My last post was all about my saying ‘yes’. It was a kind of poem, sending out a declaration of intention. Sadly I haven’t really abided by many of the statements I made. All too quickly the negatives and the ‘if only’ thoughts crept in.

I’m away on holiday right now. It’s drawing to a close. I was really looking forward to coming away. I told myself I’d just sit, be happy with chilling and not doing anything much. I would be the queen of zen and tranquility. I even brought my yoga mat to take to the beach. What was I thinking?

In reality, the whole arrival and setting up the caravan was a complete fiasco. The drive took almost 5 hrs. The site information had clearly stated “levelling blocks would be required” but my husband had chosen to ignore this little nugget. As we perched at a very precarious angle on the side of a slope he finally admitted defeat and I had to race down to a caravan shop to buy ‘recommended’ levelling blocks. The van would still not level out and we enlisted the help of 5 other caravaners and a ramp, kindly donated by some bloke that felt sorry for us. Eventually we were level. Two hours later.

Level and ready to go, we started the mammoth task of unpacking. We have an old, small van and a large awning where most of our junk gets housed. Last year the awning broke. We got it fixed but one of the new poles was a little awkward. Holding up the proceedings even further. Then, no running water. The pump was doing nothing. This was something that had been a problem when we last used the van. Something that was on the list of jobs that my husband had a year to sort. You can see where this is going can’t you? No running water in times of COVID-19 is absolutely not my idea of fun. The shower blocks were set up for social distancing, two people at a time. Not only would we have to queue every time we wanted a shower or a wee (my husband bans using the toilet on the caravan) but to wash our hand and brush our teeth too. Deep sigh.

So, at around 9.30pm I had to start cooking burgers and sausages. By this point, I was seething. I kept trying to channel ‘the power of now’. This isn’t a problem. This is holiday time. Stop yelling at the world and your family and get over it. I’m ashamed to say that I couldn’t and I didn’t. I raged against humanity. I spiralled into ‘poor me’ and ‘this is so unfair’ territory. I was a complete toddler and I became more difficult, with an increasing bad temper, as the night (and next day) wore on.

We managed to buy a new pump eventually. My husband was slow to sort it, waiting for me to go buy it no doubt. My mood remained uptight and stressy for a good few days. Not helped by observing my 15 year old giving me the finger when he thought I wasn’t looking. He was upset I’d asked him to put his phone away for a while. I resented everyone and everything. I knew I’d reached crunch point when I suddenly had an overwhelming desire to go and buy a bottle of wine and drink it. I’d even reasoned that although sobriety had improved my mental health for many months, it was doing nothing for me now. I was grouchy, cross and stressed. I wasn’t enjoying the moment and peace evaded me. Why not just go back to having something in my life that I could look forward to and enjoy? It was the closest I have been to drinking again in 8 months. I chose not to drink but my resolve is wavering.

Eventually, after a torrent of tears yesterday evening, I picked myself up and made the decision to say ‘yes’ to enjoying the rest of the trip. The little that was left of it. My son apologised, told me he loved me and it was a sudden ‘reaction’. We moved on.

Today has been better. I ran this morning. I haven’t done that in weeks. I wrote an email to a friend and read her lovely long reply which was immensely supportive. Her suggestion, that I maybe reconsider taking antidepressants, is something I have thought a about a great deal. I’m still very undecided. I don’t want to but I also don’t want to waste my life worrying and stressing about unimportant issues and small hiccups. The peace, calm and sense of ‘all is ok’ is not with me as it once was. I’m not crazily anxious and nor am I ‘depressed’. I just don’t have the ability to give myself a good (and well deserved) kick up the bum.

Well that’s me right now. In the morning I’m up early for seal watching with my younger son. Some quality time (another bit of good advice I followed). I’m trying not to be hard on myself and I’m trying to ignore the guilt and regret I feel at wasting this precious holiday time. I know it’s time I won’t get back. I guess there’s a lot of sadness and some deep rooted unhappiness that prevents me really feeling at ease. I can see the caravan holidays are coming to an end as a family of four. The eldest is outgrowing it both physically and emotionally. I suspect their growing up is an event I have not wanted to face. The grief it stirs up is too painful for me to even allow in. Perhaps that is something to reflect on and maybe a post for another day.

Love Claire x

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.

100 Days

I really wasn’t sure what to write. I wanted to mark the day but I thought I’d feel different somehow.

I thought I’d wake up this morning a super sober sassy sister! But no. My eyes opened and low and behold … I’m Claire. Still dealing with the daily grind including a frantic search for missing keys, getting soaked on the way to the train station and the usual madness of work. On my commute, no-one recognised me as the famous ‘Queen of Sobriety’. I wasn’t stalked on my walk through town. No demands for my autograph. Not even a bloody selfie request! I arrive home to the familiar silence of two teenage boys plugged into their Xboxes and a double grunt of ‘hi’. Well I think that’s what they said. No fireworks, no special little gifts and no cards telling me I’m an amazing human being. What was all this for eh?

I’m a star for Christ’s sake!

In all seriousness, I am astounded that I have now not touched what was once my beloved wine for a total of 100 days. I am even more astonished that it actually feels so, well, normal. I was a person that congratulated myself if I managed Monday to Thursday alcohol free (and let me tell you, congratulations were therefore pretty rare!). I would never drive if a drink was on offer. No way, Jose. I felt hard done by if I didn’t have as much wine in my glass as the next guy and I would plan an outing centred around booze. You’d think then that today, my 100th day of sobriety, would feel like a huge event for me. It doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong. Its bloody great and I’m really proud of myself because it was hard to do. What I’m learning, however, is that the hold it had on your life and over you fades with time and therefore the pull to drink is less. What that means in reality is you have to function day in and day out without it. Once the initial euphoria wears off and the ‘newness’ becomes ‘old hat’, you are left with the new challenge of ‘living life sober’. That is very different from simply not pouring a bottle of wine down your throat when you feel the urge. It’s much tougher than that. I don’t want to put anyone off deciding to quit drinking if they read this post but its important to be honest. It is about changing your life, for the better sure, but change is often difficult and it has certainly been challenging at times.

I am grateful for the challenge though. The past 100 days has been an extraordinary experience. I’ve learnt so much about myself, things I never knew. Fundamental and very important aspects of my personality that were kept hidden. I’m actually fairly introverted, I find making ‘pleasant’ conversation in groups quite difficult and I have discovered I am calm under pressure. That’s Sober Claire anyway. Drinking Claire was a total extrovert, very sociable, talked to anyone and everyone and a complete stress head. She also didn’t ever feel quite ‘right’. Sober Claire is much more comfortable in her own skin. I have also learnt that gratitude is good for the soul and so I’ll end this post and my 100th day with a few gratitude thoughts.

I am grateful …

  • that I now regularly sleep for 8 hrs and don’t wake up every morning at 3am feeling like a shit person, full of self loathing and desperation. Then can’t sleep for 2hrs due to anxiety and a sore head.
  • that I don’t need to buy shed loads of ibuprofen.
  • for having the chance to re-engage with my gorgeous boys and to thoroughly enjoy being their mum.
  • to no longer be imprisoned by alcohol, anxiety or depression.
  • for more clarity, calm and peace in my daily life and in my mind.
  • that I can remember things again.
  • for finally letting go of people and relationships that were harmful and toxic.
  • for the new friendships and relationships I have found and that fill me with love and joy.
  • for this blogging community … Nadine, Jackie, Emma, MsNL, DrGS, Jim, Dwight, Wendy, FG, Limetwiste, Anne (no more beer), Collette, Elizabeth, Nelson, Boozebrain, Lovie, Ashley, Amy, Anne (Ainsobriety) … to name just a few. I will have no doubt missed people off the list and my gratitude extends to all those that have read, liked and commented on my posts. You are all a vital part of this journey.
  • for being able to laugh again, proper belly laughs that feel wonderful.
  • to have finally forgiven myself for the stupid mistakes of the past.
  • for having this opportunity to live a sober life. Its fucking awesome 🤩.

So I guess I just keep on going. Growing, learning and, what’s that phrase 🤔… living my best life!

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

Can I be an Avenger now?

It’s Friday and after a lot of soul searching and navel gazing at the end of last week and beginning of this one I am delighted to say, I feel pretty darn fabulous tonight.

I have had a great few days. Nothing to mention specifically. I just find myself appreciating the really important people in my life. I am also no longer grieving for those people I have had to leave behind. In fact on Wednesday I was able to engage with a work colleague after over a year of a ‘difficult’ relationship and stand up for myself in a calm and considered manner. I didn’t try to impress, cajole, ‘win’ him over and I didn’t get upset, angry or take his remarks personally. I felt like I had some form of invisible protection, a shield that ensured barbed or suggestive comments bounced off. I stood back, processed, said what I needed to and left politely. HUGE step for me.

I have to admit. This shield, cloak, bubble (not sure how to name it!) of protection is existing more and more for me. Don’t worry, it isn’t a barrier I put up. It momentarily deflects situations and comments. It allows me breathing space to think about how I feel. It’s only a split second but boy does it help! It provides me with resilience and reduces my vulnerability.

Where has it come from? It certainly wasn’t there a few months back and hasn’t been there for a number of years. I’m not even sure I’ve ever held it in my possession. Not as it is at this moment. Is that sobriety? Is it knowing that the company I now keep value and love me? Is it the support and kindness I have received from the community on this blog? Is it one very special person who has helped me see I’m worth so much more than I thought or could believe? Likely it’s all of it and it all mixes together in one big pot to create strength and build self esteem.

I know the first step was stopping drinking. If you stumble across this post and you are wondering if you drink too much and if you should give it the old heave ho …. DO IT! Don’t say it’s forever, but start. You too could have an invisible protective shield just like mine 😉

Claire xxx

The long and winding road

Yesterday evening was not good for me. I did start to write a post but ended up giving up half way through … I just couldn’t get my thoughts and emotions straight. This morning however I feel very different. I had support from two very wise and caring friends and one of them (I’ve mentioned before .. my soul mate) suggested it might be good to blog about it. So here it is …

This week has been tricky. Back to school and work and routine. My boys are 15 and 12. Both are very addicted to games consoles which drives me mad on a regular basis. The 15 year old, B, is however becoming more aggressive, rude, furious and generally uncontrollable each time he plays it. He has broken things .. 3 controllers, tv remote and the tv itself. The anger, mixed with usual teenage hormones is really distressing for everyone and I can’t reach him. Tuesday evening it was at its worst. I disengaged totally because I didn’t know what to do, so I did nothing!

Last night I arrived home from work at nearly 7pm. Both boys and my husband had been in since 4pm. Granted my husband had had to go out for an appt but nothing had been done. I then cooked tea, had my youngest, S, moan about not going back on his games. Listened to B moaning because I wouldn’t let him buy a new game (for 18 year olds and very violent) and my husband moaning because tea was late.

Added to this, I had a personal issue to contend with. Over the past few years I have had contact with someone who comes and goes. Pops up when he needs attention and then disappears with usually no explanation. I have continually allowed him to do this and never really challenged it. There have been other people in my life recently who have also made me doubt myself, lowered my self esteem and basically been unkind and frankly, at times, cruel. I always end up apologising, making excuses, try to find the good in them all. Well last night, this one particular person suddenly blocked me. We’d had no contact for while, I’d been honest about how it was making me feel before Xmas. He messaged me Tuesday and stupidly I engaged. Wanting to please and smooth the situation over. In the middle of the chat he disappeared. Same old story. I said and did nothing. Last night, I notice he has blocked me. He has done this before. I never really know why. My anxiety went sky high. I will be honest; I felt sick, hurt and mortified all at once. Plus, I’d already had a shit night at home and felt pretty lonely. All this led to “I WANT A DRINK” . I was so desperate to just get pissed. I cried, I hid out in my bedroom, I refused to talk to my family (I did tell my husband I felt low). I was miserable. Sick and tired of people treating me like shit. Totally hacked off with myself for continually allowing it to go on. Frustrated that I’m such a bloody excessive person I can’t even have a fucking drink when I want. It was horrible.

I messaged a friend. I spoke to my soul mate. I didn’t drink. I went to bed and slept. I woke this morning, still feeling hurt, used and unappreciated but not down about it. I could see that it wasn’t a reflection on me and that I could do something about it. I got up, sorted out my work day to work from home. Blocked the ‘friend’ from any means of contact to get rid of him once and for all. Made a plan of how to deal with B and how to help him keep calm and control the gaming. I’ve tidied, decluttered and dealt with emails. I feel good.

The important thing here is not the content of what happened, but the way I dealt with it. This stuff happens to everyone all the time. When it happened to me, my default was to drink. I’d probably already be drinking anyway and then I’d just drink more. I would still have been upset, tearful, angry etc but I would also have been pissed. I’d have argued with my husband, shouted at my kids, found a way to send a spiteful message to this guy, then regretted it and apologised, passed out and woken up feeling depressed, guilty and useless. Probably called in sick and slept all day. That is the truth of the matter.

I did none of that, I felt none of those feelings. I saw the positive in the fact that there is no more contact with someone who uses me and abuses my friendship. I didn’t wallow in ‘should have’ and ‘what if?’. I didn’t lie in bed, staring into space, going over and over everything in my mind. I took control of what I could change and let go of what I couldn’t. I didn’t bloody drink and it was the BEST decision I have made since the day I made the choice to give up booze.

I am ok. I am strong, hard working and kind. I am worth people’s time, care and respect. I need to be sober to navigate the long and winding road of self discovery!

Claire xx

Relationships

It’s been a weird few weeks with an overarching feeling of standing on the sidelines, watching from a distance. I’m normally in the thick of it all but I just haven’t wanted to be. I’ve had a few episodes of truly craving an alcoholic drink. One particularly bad moment on Monday where I was almost persuading myself to go to a bar after work whilst walking through town and sit with a large glass of wine. I didn’t. I downloaded and tried out mediation apps (following the advice from all you lovely people), I read some of ‘This naked mind’ and I took a very long bath. It helped the edgy feelings pass.

I will have been 7 weeks sober this weekend and there have been lots of changes within me. I have mentioned them in previous posts. What I didn’t account for was the impact my not drinking would have on my relationships. Not all positive either.

I am slowly becoming more sure of myself, beginning to accept how I am and confident that I deserve to be treated well by others. “Yes, yes, yes!” I hear you cry and it is good. It’s a massive shift and is definitely the right way for me to be heading. It does mean, however, that I’m also less accepting of the poor behaviours of others. I’m allowing myself more ‘me’ time and because I’m now enjoying my own company, I’m spending less time seeking out company of others. I’m still keeping those I love and have supported me throughout close but my friendship circle is becoming much smaller.

I also didn’t account for how exhausting this journey would be. It takes effort and work to not turn to wine to block out difficult emotions. The things that are coming to the fore now I’m sober are challenging to deal with. I’m having to learn new skills to work through all this. I’m ok with that but it takes time and energy. This impacts on my nearest and dearest who also want my time and energy. Some days I just don’t have much left of either. I’ve been using it all up on myself. I feel selfish about that. It’s hard. Who’d have thought giving up booze would feel like a selfish act?

I think my husband also feels I’m being a little too self centred. The ‘wow, you’ve done so well’ comments have all but disappeared. Now I’m sensing resentment and boredom with it all. I’m different, I’m changing and the thing we used to share, drinking, has gone with nothing to replace it.

I guess that the issues that are now becoming apparent in my relationships have always been there. I just dealt with them differently before and buried things under a cloak of wine. My default position was to blame myself: what did I do to cause this, what should I have done, I’ll apologise and smooth it over. I don’t do that so much now. It’s a huge relief to not take the weight of every relationship and friendship on my shoulders but it’s clearly difficult for others to get used to the change.

Maybe being Alcohol Free in 2020 will mean some relationships naturally come to an end. That feels sad but I have to believe, if it happens, it’s the right thing for me. What I do know is that being sober will help me develop new relationships and friendships that are positive, supportive and exactly what I need.

Happy New Year to you all

Claire xxxx

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