Tag Archives: moderation

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

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

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)

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

The girl did good!

Well, it once seemed such an impossibility and an insurmountable challenge but I’m delighted and proud to tell you, my blogging pals, that I have now not touched a drop of alcohol for exactly ONE MONTH (I felt capitals were apt here!). Like, a whole god damn month!!!!!! Who would have thought?? Certainly not me (or to be fair, anyone who knew me!). However, here I am, one month on, sober and still standing. It’s probably a good time to consider what’s happened in just one month:

1. I now sleep! I still wake in the night but don’t lie there for hours feeling shocking and reliving past events or worrying about future ones.

2. I no longer wake up in the early hours bargaining with myself not to drink later that day or this week or until Thursday .. only to then let myself down every single time!

3. I haven’t had a single hangover for an ENTIRE MONTH!!! I do still have headaches, which may be related to not enough water and too much caffeine, but compared to wasting days, feeling like shit, with no energy for anything, it’s small fry.

4. I enjoy mornings. I am actually a ‘morning person’ …. who knew? All these years I’ve said I’m a night owl and it was bollocks. Utter rubbish. I especially love Sunday mornings. Quiet and peaceful, just me, myself and I, before everyone else stirs. Bliss.

5. I am calm. My mind is not frantic. I’m still emotional and I’ll cry at the drop of a hat, but it’s good emotions. Positive.

6. My anxiety and depression has finally lifted. I’m still taking my anti depressants as I was before but that great black cloud that sat above me and the feelings of panic that washed over me have all but disappeared. I still feel down at times and I still worry about stuff but it doesn’t take hold like it did. I can manage it. The more I deal with it, the less it happens.

7. I am less of a people pleaser and my self esteem has returned …. at long last. I am starting, slowly, to identify those that are important in my life, who truly care for and love me. The opposite is true, I am beginning to recognise the people that took advantage, who always put their needs first and never truly bothered about my feelings. I am saying goodbye to some of those people and I am learning to step back from others who have the capacity to hurt me.

8. I am engaging with my family. I have made far more effort with my mum and have started to rebuild our relationship, which was gradually falling apart. My two boys finally have their mum back and are so proud that I don’t drink alcohol. I do wish they wouldn’t share my sobriety with everyone we know but I guess if they want to shout it from the rooftops then who am I to stop them?

9. I have realised, through the love and support of a very dear friend, that I am a kind person, a good mum, a decent human being and, though I make mistakes, I am worth people loving and caring for me. I deserve it!

10. I am sober and I intend to remain that way. I don’t feel as though I have given anything up. Instead, I feel I’ve given myself a chance at enjoying life again.

So, I have listed just 10 of many, many positives that removing alcohol from my life has given me. What an amazing Christmas gift I gave myself when I decided to start this journey. Lastly, I want to thank all of you on here for reading my posts up until now, for liking them and commenting. I would not be here if it wasn’t for my ‘sober pals’ and I’m so grateful to you all.

Now for my next month ….

Love, hugs and thanks

Claire xxx

Same and different

Today is Saturday 14th December. It is finally time to get the Christmas decorations out and put the tree up. I feel like I’m behind on everything this year but I’m not sure why! We are doing the tree thing this morning as a change to the usual tradition of early evening with alcohol to help us. It’ll be different but I’m slowly learning different is ok.

Tonight is the 4th Christmas ‘do’ and I have to be honest I’m fed up with it now. Added to that, my brother’s 50th birthday celebrations are continuing and there’s a family get together tomorrow and then a whole day of celebrating (party, drinks out etc etc) next Saturday. It’s wearing thin and I know that sounds miserable of me and I hate being negative about it all but … aghhhhhhhh!! It’s bloody hard going.

Last night I got home at 12.30am, shattered after working all day, going to a work Christmas party and sitting in horrendous traffic just to get home. I didn’t really enjoy it. I woke this morning (hangover free) and panicked that maybe I’d never really enjoy those sorts of functions again. Then I thought about last years. Same place, pretty much the same people and exactly the same format, with the addition of alcohol for me. Do you know what? Yep, exactly that, it was a bit rubbish. Don’t get me wrong, the people I’m there with are all lovely and I thoroughly enjoy talking to and socialising with them. I just didn’t like the venue (either year), the food was crap and the music even worse. Alcohol didn’t change anything about the evening. Maybe it went quicker when I as drinking but that was about it.

So am I different now? Has my personality altered? Will I become someone that avoids certain social situations. Am I boring??? Fundamentally I’m still me. In fact, the other day I was telling someone about my first counselling session after being diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I was asked what I wanted to get from counselling and I replied, “I just want ‘Claire’ back”. I think that’s happened. Through counselling, finding like minded people, giving up alcohol and finally meeting what I can only describe as ‘my soul mate’, I am finally myself again warts and all. There are differences though. I’m not going to enjoy certain social events in the same way but actually I know I’ll enjoy and truly appreciate different occasions. I might not be the ‘party girl’ I once was, but I am becoming a better listener, less self centred and I hope a better friend. I feel my ‘social circle’ might diminish somewhat but I am building a network of people who are caring, compassionate, non judgemental and understanding.

So for every difference and change, there is a positive and a bonus. For each situation that maybe isn’t quite as much ‘fun’ as it used to be there are 5 more to enjoy! Plus, I am still me. I’m the same person with some differences. I’m getting to know myself again and for the first time in a very long time, I actually like what I find.

Claire xxx

The Alcohol Police

Why does everyone who drinks alcohol now feel the need to tell me in detail how much they themselves drink? It feels like every time I’m out and someone asks why I have stopped drinking booze, they give me a run down of their own alcohol consumption diary. Or worse, if there are a few people in the conversation, we have to discuss how little they all actually drink for bloody ages!! People suddenly go into defensive mode and start explaining that they only drink at weekends, they can easily stop at one, they only do the excess at Christmas .. blah blah blah di blah!

I kind of expected this a little and don’t get me wrong, people have generally been uber supportive, I just don’t want to have to reassure everyone else that they are ok to carry on drinking just because I have given up. Not all the time anyway. The thing that really pisses me off is the conversation always leads to how much and how often I was drinking. It’s like people are desperate to be able to say to themselves ‘Well I’m not a patch on Claire’s level of drinking so I don’t need to give up …”. Honestly, if anyone asks me again if I drank every day (and was I not able stop at just a couple) to then tell me their drinking was no where near as excessive as mine, there will be no more Mr nice guy!

I don’t care about other people’s drinking habits! Unless you have given up and are in need of support and understanding of course, then I’m happy to listen and talk about it. Otherwise, fill your boots and enjoy it. I’m not the alcohol police and please don’t set me up as the ‘bar’ or the worst example. Ironically, last night this discussion happened at the same time as every person, without fail, drank at least a bottle of wine to themselves whilst giving me a full and detailed description of how little they actually drink! Bizarre really,

Let’s hope that, as with many other things on this journey, it too passes with time.

I’ve made it to 4 weeks today .. I’m not the alcohol police but I am sober!!! 😁

Love Claire xx

Highs and lows

I’m starting to see a pattern emerge. Sunday evening, starting around 5pm UK time I dip. I have felt great all day. Really content and unshakeable. Then come 5pm (always on a Sunday) my mood changes. It’s not about going to work tomorrow or the weekend nearly ending, at least I don’t think it is. Small stuff , that I’m generally more able to let go of now I’m sober, starts to niggle. We had plans to put the tree up tonight but I’ve postponed it. I just can’t get into the spirit. I feel edgy and a friends post on FB has majorly pissed me off. I bloody hate FB a lot of the time but it was my own fault for even looking at it. Why why why???

I am now in the middle of cooking Sunday dinner and I’ve had to come upstairs to write this blog. I needed to stop the spiral downwards. I felt like I wanted a glass of wine but I’m NOT doing that to myself. I start my 4th week sober today and I won’t let some mean spirited people who I once considered friends ruin it for me. I hate injustice but I have to just let people believe what they choose I guess.

Ironically, I commented on Lovie Price’s blog earlier and was probably a little pompous but she is right – this is hard. This is bloody tough. For me it isn’t just the not drinking. It’s that I’m having to now dig deeper for tools to help pull myself up and out when these feelings of hurt and sadness strike. Hopefully in time and with practice I’ll add tools to my toolbox. For now, I’ll use the best tool I’ve found so far .. reaching out to all of you. Just putting it down here is good. The knot in my chest is lifting a little. I had a cry 😢 and now I’m ready to finish dinner, before it ends up inedible and in the bin!!!

Onwards and upwards (or perhaps just sideways this evening!)

Claire xx