Tag Archives: booze free

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

Why I quit drinking…

I wanted to share this post. I read it today and thought, like Jim’s post earlier about the evangelical sober authors, giving up booze is not easy. Life doesn’t suddenly become rosy and delightful. In fact you see life for what it is. I love how Charlie expresses it and for all those well into sobriety and those who are just starting out … it’s well worth a read.

Claire x

I had to. I mean I had a choice. I didn’t HAVE to. There wasn’t a disgruntled wife standing at the door, coat on, screaming startling accurate …

Why I quit drinking…

Reframing

After my last post, where I found myself in Limbo Land, I made a decision to try and enjoy today. We are back holidaying in the caravan and this time have come back to a place we have visited many times and love dearly, The New Forest. For those who don’t know, it’s on the south coast of England and is a beautiful area. Beaches, villages, gorgeous coastline and of course the forest itself. The weather is not forecast to be in our favour but today, other than one almighty downpour, it stayed dry and sunny. We cycled around 10 miles through the forest directly from the caravan site. Coming across wild pony after wild pony. Gorgeous brooks and purple heather stretching far and wide. It was gorgeous. Once back, we all sat out in the sun and I lay back in my luxury reclining chair (a treat to myself on our last trip) and I fell asleep. Completely zonked out. Likely I was snoring or dribbling, I was so out of it. I was fast sleep for an hour and woke up feeling totally refreshed and renewed. We ate dinner out (huge bonus), followed by us all doing our own thing for a while before watching a movie in the awning (tent attached to the van).

All in all it has been a better day than of late. At times, I still felt irritable and snappy. I also worried excessively that one of the boys will hurt themselves, or that we were cycling miles in the wrong direction. I just can’t seem to ‘chill’ or ‘go with the flow’. There were, however, other times when I cycled merrily along at my own speed and just enjoyed the moment. No real yearnings for alcohol today and not wishing for something different or better. A good day.

I have started to wonder if restarting the antidepressants might be a good idea. It’s been a couple of months since I stopped them and I am noticing the difference without them. I know they don’t solve underlying problems but I have lost that sense of peace and calm I had when I was taking them. The combines effect of antidepressants and sobriety seemed to reduce the negativity and endless worrying about everything and nothing. I’m not sure, still thinking, but it is worth considering.

I had another thought today, triggered by something Collette said in a comment on my last post. I am in limbo at the moment, feeling stuck and somewhat trapped. Collette suggested considering that it might be for a reason. There could be a purpose to not moving forward right now. After today, it dawned on me how little time I have left to be with my two boys doing what we have done. Cycling, having tea out, chilling in the sun and watching a movie in the awning. Maybe, just maybe, I am meant to be standing still. I have focused on the negatives of Limbo Land but there could be positives. This is an opportunity to focus on my children. To be available for them should they need it. I have been worrying about the future, when they have flown the nest, forgetting that they are still here now. This could be the time to truly build my ‘adult to adult’ relationships with them both. It is also the time to soak up the last few years of their childhood and form some everlasting memories. I am reframing ‘being stuck’. I’m changing it to ‘taking a pause’. There will be an appropriate time to make changes and move forward again. For now I will pause, tread water and be Mum for a while.

Claire x

Unanswered questions …

You can never take your sobriety for granted. Never take your eye off the ball. Don’t assume you are safely through to the other side. That is what I’ve learnt today.

This past week has been full of anxiety triggers for me. Work pressures and stress, the sad loss of a very old family friend, not having been able to see my closest friend for 4 months now (and still likely to be longer) and the outlook and reporting on the news just so bloody bleak. In addition, I am fully med free having spent 4 weeks weaning off my antidepressants. I have had virtually no sleep since Friday, struggling to go off until 2 or 3am and then awake again at 5am. Then, today, for the first time in ages, the unthinkable happened. I wanted a drink.

It wasn’t a romantic, sit by a lake, enjoying a picnic, sipping a glass of Prosecco type of longing. Oh no! It was a full on, fuck this, I want to go and buy two bottles of wine (white or red – I’m not fussy) and drink the whole lot type of craving. Nor was it a, “I’m a bit curious as to whether I can moderate and be able to live with alcohol once again” moment. Nope. It was a, “moderation is for idiots, I’m going to get totally pissed and I don’t care” attitude.

Don’t panic. I haven’t. I went out and bought plants and shrubs for the garden. I bought paint for the utility walls and white spirit to mop up the paint I will undoubtably spill on the floor. I did not treat myself to a Chablis or a Shiraz. I’m not currently lying on my bed half comatose having fallen spectacularly off the wagon. It is however a sign I’m struggling again. What I can’t work out is what is acceptable and ‘normal’? Is it ok to feel anxious because problems, challenges and change are all happening at once? Is it ok that the anxiety is kickstarting my over thinking and subsequently affecting my ability to accurately read and interpret a situation? Is it ok that sleep has suddenly evaded me after achieving a consistent 8hrs every night for months and months? I suppose the question I really want the answer to is this. Is this the return of generalised anxiety disorder and is it directly linked to my coming off the SSRIs? I honestly can’t face it all again.

How long do you wait to find out? What if I’m basically just a stress head and I need to accept it as part of me, rather than blaming it on a mental health illness? Everyone gets stressed. I’m just not sure when my ‘stressed’ tips over into becoming unwell. Mental health is so complex. The interplay between lack of sleep, stress triggers, meds, personality and, let’s not forget, the lovely peri-menopause, makes it hard to tease out the cause and therefore the best way to manage it. I used a word early on in my sobriety. Tangled. It’s such a descriptive word and is exactly how I feel once more. Tangled.

I didn’t drink. I won’t drink. I know it is not the answer. Quite what is, I really have no idea.

Love Claire x

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

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

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

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