Tag Archives: no booze

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

I had a dream …

A few days a ago I had a really vivid dream. One of those totally ‘in focus’, acutely clear dreams where you feel you are completely in the experience. Many of my sober gang will know what I am about to say now. Yep, it was dream where I was drinking. It was so realistic. I felt the anticipation of the first sip, the automatic ‘unwind’ as the wine settled into my body, the buzzing effects as the alcohol started to do its stuff. In the dream I was living the experience but at the same time I was also watching it unfold as an observer. Almost like a documentary. I was socialising with a variety of different people. I was on form. Chatty (outspoken), sharply funny (mean and gossipy) and full of wit and wisdom (boring and opinionated).

I watched myself become embroiled in drama and physically felt the lack of control as my behaviour and reactions began to cause situations to escalate. Different people in my life made guest appearances and I found I was in circumstances that developed in ways I was not happy with. Reliving situations that have happened to me during my drinking days.

The most tangible aspect of the dream was the experience of waking the next morning. I don’t mean ‘actually’ waking, but dreaming I had woken up. I felt that crushing sense of shame as I remembered what I had done and said. The itchy skin feeling I used to experience when it dawned on me that I couldn’t undo what had been done. Feeling sick with wine swilling around my body and feeling sick with remorse and guilt swilling around my brain and heart. Horrendous.

This used to be my life. Not always but often. I have to say the overwhelming and intense emotions and feelings I used to experience were, for the most part, completely over the top. I generally didn’t deserve to direct such anger at myself. I had rarely behaved ‘that’ badly. It didn’t matter though. It was a pattern and a hard habit to break. I have come to realise I really had no self respect or self compassion and I could not, and would not, give myself a break.

The dream was so real. It stayed with me all day. I kept thinking about it. Revisiting those old feelings. It absolutely reaffirmed why I gave up my once beloved wine and why I remain sober. Nowadays, even when I have struggled with depression or anxiety, I still like myself. I can honestly say, in the latter years of drinking, I did not like me. I could see that I had skills and abilities but I did not like my very core. If your opinion of yourself is that low, you are vulnerable. It taints your view of what other people do and say and colours the things that happen around you. It adds a negative lens to life. Removing alcohol hit the pause button. It gave me the space and ability to work out that change is possible and that sober I could be pretty awesome! The negative lens does not switch to a positive lens, rather it becomes a ‘realistic’ lens. I still reflect on situations, my behaviour and reactions but I have the ability to recognise when comments, circumstances and others’ behaviours are absolutely nothing to do with me. What is apparent is that in sober life, it is rarely to do with me.

Making these changes has taken work. Calm, compassion and gratitude take practice. Integrating them into daily life is a challenge some days but was an essential part of me starting to like me. I haven’t always been aware that change is happening but I can see now that it has. I have had to show up day after day and live with feelings and emotions, thoughts and situations that, quite frankly, scare the shit out of me. I’ve had to take responsibility for past behaviour, accept it and move on. But oh! the freedom when you are able to do that. That’s what sobriety brings. Freedom. No crutch required. No prop needed. I have all the resources inside of myself. Yep. Freedom.

Claire x

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

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