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

Tangled again!

It’s been an odd couple of weeks. I’ve had moments of feeling totally at peace with lovely feelings of contentment and happiness and then suddenly it goes.

The family have been sick but are all recovered now. One of our guinea pigs died .. he was only 2 and my 12 year old has been very upset and distressed about it. I managed all that though. I was a ‘good’ mum and took care of the boys physical and emotional needs and for the first time in a long while I felt I was ‘there’ for them. It was a positive experience even though it had been a tough time. Work has been busy, with a few ‘situations’ leaving me feeling undervalued and overlooked but I’m trying to see positives in what’s going on.

Unfortunately though, as this week has drawn to a close I have felt more and more uneasy. I can’t put my finger on why. I’m not going to drink but I am kind of missing it again. It’s strange because I honestly thought I’d pushed through the ‘cravings’ and that sobriety was becoming more of a natural way of living for me. Have I been terribly naive to think I can do this forever? I don’t want to sit night after night pouring that poisonous crap down my throat. I really don’t. I’m just not sure how I feel about sobriety forever. It scares me still and I’m a bit pissed off about that.

There are so many positives that have directly come from me giving up the booze. Unbelievably great changes to my life that I have been trying to make for a long time. Why then would I even contemplate drinking again? What is wrong with me that I am unable to allow myself to be happy? You know, I’m not even sure I’m going to share this post publicly. I’m reading it back and frankly wanting to give myself a slap!

Right, Claire .. be honest with yourself! Q: How are you feeling right now? A: A bit lost and lonely. Probably edging towards the ‘anxious emotions’ more than I would like.

There, I said it. Anxiety. It’s still there. I’m not ‘cured’ and the disappointment is hard to take. I hate it, and the low mood that follows it. I want to stick my hand inside my chest and rip out that uncomfortable sensation. The worst of it is, it’s about nothing. I have nothing to be anxious about and I’m so bloody angry that it still exists and I can’t control it.

I know it’s improved and is far less than it was. I know I’ll get past it and drinking will not help matters. I know I should meditate, or have a bath, or sleep, but I just want to stamp my feet and shout ‘it’s not bloody fair’. Which I also know is totally pathetic and really very silly!

Actually, I feel slightly better for just writing it down and ‘getting it out’ so to speak. Maybe I will post this after all. This blog is about the ‘ups and downs’ of my journey and my toddler tantrums are part of the process. I will get up, out of my bed and eat. Make a cup of tea and be sociable. Spinning about in my own brain, overthinking, will not help me.

God, what a waffling, confusing post. A reflection of the current status of my brain right now maybe? Here’s hoping for clarity and calm tomorrow. 🤞🤞

Love Claire xx

Note to Claire

Dear Claire (Nov 2017 – May 2019)

I know you are feeling totally lost and pretty much alone right now. I know you can’t see a way out and this feels never ending. If I could send a letter back in time to reassure you I would. I’d promise you that it will and it does get better.

I don’t know why it happened to you, this anxiety and depression. I’ve tried and tried to pick out one occasion, one single cause, one momentous event but to no avail. There is nowhere to lay the blame and right now you are placing it firmly at your own door. Try not to do that. None of this was your fault. There were many triggers and it was a spiralling road downwards. You can’t stop something that you aren’t aware is happening. You do become aware though Claire and you begin to make changes that turn it around. So have faith in yourself and your own strength.

What would I advise? I’d definitely tell you to stay well away from a few people who appear/reappear at this time. You will invite them in with open arms because you need and crave attention and what you believe is love and friendship. It will almost destroy your self confidence and the cycle of them being there for you and then withdrawing will only serve to confuse you and undermine your self belief. Try to remember, how people treat you is more important than how much you like them. Say ‘no’ to toxic people Claire. Don’t allow them to ‘persuade’ you into situations and circumstances that you know are wrong and are not congruent with who you are inside. That mismatch increases anxiety tenfold and these people thrive on your anxiety, having control and playing the game. Losing certain people might feel like a hole in your heart but it won’t last long and is replaced by a sense of calm that will blow you away.

I would also tell you that you will find ‘true’ people. Learn to identify who they are and stop giving your heart and soul to those that aren’t ‘true’.

Give up alcohol. As soon as you feel ready, do it. Don’t waste any more time pouring the poison down your throat. For every ‘buzz’ it gives you, it takes away something so much more important, part of you. The internal battle you are constantly experiencing, where your outsides don’t match your insides, that disappears as soon as you remove booze from your life. I know you won’t believe me but giving it up brings so many unexpected pleasures and positives to your life.

I’d tell you to give yourself a break. To sleep when you need to, to let the house get messy, to allow yourself time to heal. Take the antidepressants. This happened but you are not a failure. You’ve made some shit choices and decisions along the way and recognising that will be the moment you start to pull yourself out, the moment the fog clears and the moment Claire begins to reappear.

More than anything I’d tell you that you are a good person with some amazing qualities and that a few mistakes do not define you. Forgive yourself. I, your future Claire, am proud of you and all you have achieved. Hang on in there … this too shall pass.

Love Claire (Jan 2020) xxx

9 weeks sober (64 days)

Two months and I still can’t come up with a catchy title!

Well ‘hello’ my fellow bloggers. To those who have been at this sobriety thing an impressive amount of time, the newbies just starting out, my ‘twins’ who are at the same stage and all the others giving support …. thank you all. 🙏

Sunday 17th November I woke up, feeling utterly shit and told myself enough was enough. If I’m honest, I didn’t truly believe I could do it. Before that day, I’d never read a blog or even knew how to access them, or even why anyone would. The literature I had read recommended Belle ‘tired of thinking about drinking’, I looked her up, followed a few links and a few days later stumbled across Word Press and two sites: Angie’s (liftingweightsnotwine) and Jim’s (Life Beyond Booze). I reached out and they grabbed my hand.

The rest, as they say, is history. I’ve posted ups and downs and changes and feelings over the 2 months I have been sober. I know you’ve already heard what a fantastic decision it was. That 2 months on, I am becoming a different person than the one that’s stared back at me from the mirror for the past 2 plus years. I don’t want this post to be a list of all the many many positive changes that have happened. You mostly know them anyway.

What I really want to say is this: Two months ago, when I finally made the choice to be alcohol free, I had absolutely no idea it would open the door to all this. I could never have imagined that it would introduce me to such an incredibly diverse, supportive, caring and compassionate group of individuals. I feel honoured to have been welcomed into your community. I honestly could not have got this far without you.

So once again ….THANK YOU ❤️

I’m now aiming for the next goal of 100 days sober (plus attempting a little yoga to add to my new meditation routine 😉). Have a great AF weekend 😘

Claire xx

What comes first? Anxiety or depression? (second attempt!)

(I had to re- post as for some reason my previous attempt didn’t allow comments. I’m hoping this works!!)

I know from all my reading and research that they are closely related and one can trigger the other. I also know from my own personal experience that 8 weeks on (YES!! 8 WHOLE WEEKS! … sorry couldn’t help myself) my own depression has lifted and my anxiety, though not completely gone, is definitely reduced and manageable (mostly). I am a little fearful when I write that here because it feels like it’s tempting fate but hey ho, it’s the truth in the present moment and I’m trying to be more ‘present’. I don’t know if I can find out the answer but I wanted to process it because it’s important to me and my overall progress and self awareness.

Why is it important for me?

I’m not really sure. It’s definitely not that I want to find an excuse to drink again. I don’t think that’s the case anyway. It’s more that I have always had an internal struggle accepting my diagnosis of anxiety and depression. I was all “No way, not me. You got it wrong! I’m just tired, fed up, stressed, lonely …. anything but A & D. I’m not ‘that’ sort of person. I’m tough, I’m upbeat, I’m a ‘can do’ woman”. I was soooo angry and I flatly refused to accept it, although I did acknowledge it. I told people about it and I dealt with it. That’s what I do. Problem … sort it. I refused antidepressants; no way, no how. I had counselling and I was going to get better. 8 months later, 2 stone lighter and still engaged with toxic people and unhelpful situations. I was drinking more than I ever had before. There was no choice, I ‘gave in’ .. antidepressants it was.

Meds

I took them, I cried, I was off work for 3 days and I felt like a complete and utter failure. I set a target, 6 months and then no more. I didn’t drink for two weeks because that was sensible and advised. I still had counselling and I didn’t make any other changes. The alcohol consumption once again increased. My behaviours remained the same. My self esteem was nil but I ‘appeared’ to be improving. 6 months later (and actually spiralling into more dodgy, toxic friendships and relationships) I came off antidepressants and my counselling had finished.


That was a year ago. For the next 5 months I rapidly went downhill. My weight was better but I wasn’t sleeping and I was drinking fairly heavily. I was anxious and sliding into depression. I was disappearing and self medicating with wine and unhealthy interactions.

The past 6 months

In June I started different antidepressants. They suited me better. I went back to counselling and I began to examine what was going on. Sure I was only skimming the very surface but it was a shift. I still drank – A LOT! The meds worked but in truth I still wasn’t well. Counselling had stopped. I could go either way. It felt like balancing on a tightrope and any minute I’d fall into the abyss. (God I’m so dramatic 🙄)

Alcohol

On November 17th, after a few weeks of reading and stalking the sober blogs, I gave up alcohol. It changed everything. It opened up my life again and allowed me to ‘feel’. Bit by bit I have reduced my reliance on toxic relationships and I am learning to like myself once again. I always drank .. from 17 yrs old onwards. I have always been a ‘big’ drinker and alcohol has always been a big part of my life. Did it cause my A&D? Or did my mental health issues lead me to rely on alcohol more and then that made my recovery more difficult?

What now?

My concern is this. If I stop taking my antidepressants will I regress or was giving up alcohol the catalyst for improvement in my mental health and the meds are neither here nor there? What if I stop them, I feel awful and want to drink again .. and can’t stop myself? That scares the shit out of me. Don’t worry, I have no intention of coming off meds any time soon but how do I know they are helping? Their impact was minimal compared to the impact of becoming sober. How will I ever know when is the right time to take the risk? So many questions and I suspect there is no answer. I don’t want to take antidepressants indefinitely but the past two plus years have really been a challenge and I never want to go back there again.


If you have persevered to the end of this post then you deserve a bloody medal. I felt I needed to put down what has been churning around in my head for a while so I appreciate you sticking with it. If you skipped to the end, that’s fine too.
Hugs to all you lovely bloggers. My very own ‘sober tribe’ ❤️ 🤗


Love Claire xx
(8 weeks)

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

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

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

Home alone

This whole time of year is so weird I think. It seems even more so approaching it sober. All the build up, the rushing about, the nights out, the present buying … it’s all felt a tad excessive this year.

Now the boys are getting older Christmas has changed yet again. I’m a little sick of change if the truth be told. What I’d give to just step back to one of those Christmas days when they were little. The excitement, the cuddles, the laughter. Ah sigh.

Who the bloody hell am I kidding? Talk about rose tinted eye wear. Going back would mean hung over as fuck (excuse bad language!), up half the night with one or both of the boys, desperate for a coffee whilst they tear open presents, trying to maintain some level of control over proceedings and failing, stress levels high, knowing I have to start the dinner but desperately wanting to go back to bed and then, the cherry on the top, drinking myself into a stupor to get through the day. Maybe change isn’t that bad really!?

Sadly I haven’t been well since I finished work on Monday. I kept going Christmas Eve and day but today I have had to submit. My husband and the boys have gone off to stay overnight with the in-laws and celebrate with them. I am, for the first time ever, totally alone on Boxing Day and night. This is not the xmas I had planned but I’m not going to think about ‘what if’ and ‘if only’. This is what has happened, I can’t control it, so I need to find a positive in it. My resilience is low but I will not allow it to spiral.

This is a strange post, slightly all over the place. Kind of how I’m feeling right now. Anyway …. Lemsip, bed and sleep. That’s the priority now: getting better and back in the game. 😁

Claire xxx

Getting myself sober; the ups and downs