Tag Archives: self awareness

The only constant is change

As usual I have no plan for what I’m about to write. I haven’t posted anything in over a week but I still regularly check, read and comment on others’ posts. It comforts me to do that. This past few weeks have been a total whirlwind. So much happening in such a short space of time. I have no idea what emotion I’m feeling from one minute to the next!

Watching it all unfold has been surreal. Daily counts of those infected and those sadly that have lost their lives because of Covid-19 has quite simply shocked me. Heading into work this week (I work at a children’s hospital in a city centre) on a near empty rush hour train (hence the photo) the reality started to sink in.

The past few days has been full on with decisions and plans at work being made, remade and changed. The impact of each decision being reviewed and considered. Staff in my team in tears at one time or another with the stress and fatigue of the unknown. Then, the schools announced closure, but not for offspring of key workers (NHS staff, children in need, teachers etc). My two boys (15 and 12yrs) went into meltdown. Resolutely refusing to go because no-one else will be. This is still ‘under discussion’.

My mum was diagnosed with skin cancer on Tuesday. Two different types in two locations. She is 76 and already ticks ‘underlying health condition’ boxes. It was upsetting but treatment decisions have been made now and she has astonished me with her positive attitude about it all. I think she can see the bigger picture and is for once not asking ‘what if?’. She and my dad are self isolating and I’m feeling so proud of them both because I know they are feeling scared and isolated right now.

Interestingly I don’t think in my 25 years of working for the NHS I’ve ever felt this valued by so many. All sorts of shops, cafes and businesses are giving out free drinks, 50% off food and even free bottles of hand moisturiser to NHS workers. People are being lovely and so supportive and considerate. That’s such a positive to come out of this.

So, with all the drama and the stress, the sadness and the worry, my anxiety levels have of course been sky rocketing. Change is often so tricky and we are dealing with it daily, sometimes hourly. But for every moment of anxiety, there has been a glimpse of calm and peace brought by all the lovely, kind deeds that I’m witnessing. The renewed sense of community is palpable. Yes, there are stories of selfish idiots and acts of pure nastiness, but I’m not focusing on that. We are all in this together and I hope that after it is over we are all better humans and an improved society in many ways.

Finally, I’m not going to lie, there have been moments of ‘fuck it, I am going to drink’. I haven’t and I’m actually really, really glad about that. It would not help me right now.

Stay safe, be kind and take good care of yourselves. Oh, and keep blogging … reading your posts certainly helps me stay positive when it all gets a little too much. 😊❤️

Claire xx

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Sweet Dreams

This morning I woke up and felt I’d had a very deep sleep with few episodes of waking, if any at all. That’s very unusual for me. Even without the alcohol I wake up a few times but now I can usually turn over and go back off. After a few minutes coming round I suddenly remembered my dream.

I also haven’t really dreamt as much since becoming sober, not ones I can remember very well. This week I’ve been able to recall more of them. Last night’s was vivid. I was totally trashed!!! Trolleyed, kayleyed, plastered 🥴. I’d gone to a fancy, posh party with three girlfriends and I drank a shed load of Prosecco. I remember just pouring glass after glass into my mouth and then feeling sick and dizzy. We stayed over at a hotel after sorting problems with crap rooms. I woke up the next day with another party to go to that evening and I felt shocking. The day was subsequently spent trying to find a different hotel, being given more awful rooms, changing said rubbish rooms and then hotels. My husband and dad appeared and refused to stay in the final hotel. I’d decided not to drink again that night but the second party never occurred anyway. I was too busy moving hotels and having room issues.

Completely weird. Bonkers I know. I don’t think I want anyone to analyse all that thank you. I do, however, remember the feelings and emotions it generated. I felt ill, fuzzy, stressed, unclear and generally very out of control. Not just when I was drunk either. I felt on edge all the next day trying to get to the next hotel room. I knew for a fact I was not going to drink again but I couldn’t fathom why I’d drowned myself in Prosecco the night before. I’m not even that keen on it to be honest! Red or white wine, maybe.

Boy it was good though …. No!!! Wait! …. not the getting pissed bit. The good part was waking up this morning and realising, in a Sue-Ellen type Dallas moment, that it was all just a dream. I have spent my day today feeling I can achieve anything. Work has been stressful and busy, with all sorts of things not falling right. I dealt with what I could, remained calm and kept others reassured. There was no panic, no anxiety and no emotional reaction. I felt really in control without having to control everyone and everything, if that makes any sense at all? I enjoyed that feeling and I appreciated it all the more because my dream had reminded me what I would have felt like 4 months ago. That would have been a very different day and an ‘on edge’ Claire to say the least.

I particularly like the new confidence I have that I can’t be so easily thrown off course now. I sense a new strength that comes from understanding my emotional reactions a little more. Rather than seeking affirmation externally, I can often find it within. I know that sounds airy fairy and a bit OTT but quite honestly fuck it!

I generally write these posts with no idea what I’m going to talk about when I begin. Sometimes I delete them because, well because they are a bit shit and I even bore myself. Mostly though, I publish them. It’s a reminder of the ups and downs of sobriety and how far I have travelled. If it helps someone else to kick start their own journey then all the better. Plus, I selfishly love hearing from you guys and knowing you are there 😉.

Sending love to you all

Claire xx

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 went!!

I’m not going to write a long drawn out post but I thought I’d update those of you that took the time to read, like or comment on yesterday’s dilemma! If you didn’t read my last post then you’ll probably want to skip this one!!

I do go. I drank a glass of AF wine and got myself dressed up. My husband and I walked in, straight into Di and as expected we were ignored. My stomach churned but I carried on past as if I hadn’t noticed she was there. I remained calm. There were others I hadn’t seen for a long time, all ready with kisses and hugs for me. We stayed for 2 hrs. Di’s boyfriend arrived and sat at the end of the bar staring at me, or it felt like that anyway. She started to get drunk and sashayed past us a few times. I remembered the advice you all gave yesterday and we got the hell out of dodge! Said our goodbyes before it became tricky and ducked out. No drama, no anxiety, just left.

This morning I don’t feel relieved or elated but I’m glad I went. I’m so glad I don’t drink because the outcome would be different today and I know for a fact I’d be struggling this morning with a hangover from hell and feelings of low self esteem and self blame. I do recognise however that I feel sadness. Sad that there was no way to resolve what happened in the past, sad that people can’t forgive and at the very least end the friendship on good terms. That might be naive and linked to other deeper issues I have going on. I am however just going to accept that the emotion I have after going last night is sadness. It’s not overwhelming, it’s just there. I can’t numb it, change it or make it go away and I really don’t like it! What’s that about? Hmmm 🤔 another bout of navel gazing might be needed.

It’s ok to be a little blue sometimes.

Anyway, thank you once again for the lovely comments and support. So grateful you are all out there in the universe 😍

Claire xx

To go or not to go …

Today I am anxious. I have had slow growing anxiety over the past couple of days and now it’s reached the level where I am lying in bed because I’m not sure how best to manage it.

Those of you that have read past posts of mine will know that I have had some tricky situations with friendships and relationships over past months. One friend (I will call her Di) has disappeared from my life completely after a couple of intense years of friendship. Following the final ‘split’ I gave up alcohol. It was one of the ways a managed the whole fall out. I’m not going to go into the in and outs of what happened, mainly because to this day I’m not really sure. There was lots of made up stuff about me which hurt a great deal but I don’t know why she said it or behaved as she did.

Anyways, tonight I am attending a mutual friend’s 50th birthday celebrations. This friend (B), I have known for 40 years. I met Di through her. I haven’t discussed Di with her or even so much as mentioned her name in 3 months. They are exceptionally close. I know Di and all her friends will be there later. I know I’m going to be catapulted back to teenage angst and playground ‘mean girl’ bullying. I know I could just not go, but my long standing friend B would be sad about that. My family (brother and parents) were invited but can’t attend. My husband will come with me so I’m not totally alone (although Di and her ‘was married but now estranged’ boyfriend hate him too for some unknown reason). The whole situation is petty, ridiculous and frankly boring but seeing her and having to stand in a room and be pointedly ignored fills me with dread.

Luckily I’m not drinking which means I won’t lose control and say something I’ll regret. Plus I’ll be driving and we can show our faces and then quickly get the hell out of dodge. Still, I’ve told myself all this over and over but it doesn’t help me. People keep saying it’ll be fine but I’m tipping into unmanageable anxiety which then descends into ‘switch off’ and disengage because I can’t handle how it feels.

Wow, this is the first time I’ve actually described my anxiety and subsequent low mood as it happens, in real time. Blogging is good for that, right? I have an appointment to get to in an hour’s time and I’ve already tried to think up excuses how to avoid going. It’s a work based commitment but the overwhelming feeling at the moment is to just stay here, in the safety of my bedroom!! What to do? Should I not go this evening, just bail out totally which will stop the anxiety. Or is that not facing difficult emotions and pure avoidance.

Before sobriety I would drink. I’d start at 5 ish to give me courage. I’d be totally wasted by the end of the night but I’d survive it. I don’t have that crutch now so I need to either not go or find a way through this. I think writing it down has helped a little. I will go to my work appointment. I’ll force myself to achieve at least that today. One thing at a time.

Agh! I hate anxiety and I just want it to leave me alone.

Claire xx

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

Fed-up Friday Feelings

Struggling tonight folks. Really have found today hard and I’m trying to think about why that might be the case.

This weekend I’m approaching my 3 month sober milestone. My head tells me that’s a huge achievement but my heart doesn’t feel the same. Tonight I just feel exhausted. Overwhelmed by life and shit. There isn’t really anything specific I can blame it on. I’ve just lost my mojo. I actually sat on the train on the way home from work and really fancied coming home and pouring a large glass of Shiraz. For the first time in a while I thought ‘fuck it, I want to experience that first sip on a Friday night feeling’. I didn’t. I poured a glass of AF wine and drank that instead, whilst taking a bath with bubbles, candles and classical chill tunes on Alexa.

I wonder if I’m spending too much time alone when I’m not at work. Without alcohol I have felt far more at ease in my own company and less inclined to go out and socialise. I still have lots of contact with friends. I’m just not instigating evenings out and they therefore don’t happen as much. I’m fine with that but maybe there is only so much ‘alone’ time one can tolerate.

I suspect myself and my husband often spent our Friday evenings drinking together. Now I just start to get bored of the TV very quickly and tired much earlier. I think our relationship has changed and we aren’t as close because alcohol isn’t there to glue us together. It was what we did. What we’ve always done. Now I’m not drinking the cracks are beginning to show. To be honest they were appearing before but alcohol just papered over them. I can’t address that at the moment though. It’s too big. Just too scary.

I don’t ever regret giving up alcohol though. In spite of evenings and days like today, it was without a doubt the best decision I ever made. If it means I’m going to have to face tough challenges that I have been denying exist or ignoring then so be it. I’ll be better for it. For each ‘bad’ day there are now countless ‘good’ days. I am grateful for that. I’ll start my journal tomorrow. I think it will help. Thoughts still whizz around. I’m learning to pay attention to them but not to hold onto them. Meditation is still new to me but I’m practicing.

It’s hard work isn’t it? Changing, developing, managing without our crutch. Stopping addiction. I’ve become more introverted and introspective than I ever believed I could be. I like being that way but I guess I forget how much I effort this takes and that there will be times where it’s emotionally draining. Tonight I don’t feel there’s much left in the tank. I don’t want to appear negative because none of this journey has been negative. Challenging yes, negative no. It’s important to write about the tough stuff too.

So my lovely sober gang, I’ll go to sleep feeling a little better that I’ve shared with friends how I’m feeling. As we all know, sometimes all we can do is sleep it off. Tomorrow is a new day.

Claire xx

Photo of one of my favourite places just to cheer myself up 😊

Fade to grey

Earlier today I read a post by Ashley at mentalhealthathome.org focusing on major depression and the impact it can have on someone’s day to day living. It’s a beautifully brave post, honestly expressing her experiences. Ashley’s words led to a moment of personal reflection and I wanted to share how ‘depression’ felt for me.

At its worst my depression probably lasted a year, maybe two, with a brief reprieve in the middle. It didn’t feel like I’d imagined depression was supposed to feel. Yep, I was a person that ‘judged’ depression. I’m ashamed to admit it but as they say, ignorance (although stupid) can be bliss. As Ashley describes, depression is not just about feeling ‘sad’. It’s so much more and affects individuals differently. I was unaware that the awful, soul destroying feelings I was experiencing were all part of the label ‘depression’.

For me, by far the worst aspect was the complete disengagement and disinterest in life. All colour gone, not even black and white. Just grey. No spark, no pleasure, not even a flutter of excitement. Added to the this was the debilitating feeling of not giving a shit. About anything or anyone. Seriously, even writing that down makes my chest tighten and triggers an overwhelming urge to go hug my boys. I was no longer there, I had disappeared.

Ashley lives daily with that feeling and talks about dealing with the grief of maybe never finding that person again. I am currently not depressed and I definitely have all the colour back in my life. That being said, I am not the person I was. She has also gone, as Ashley’s old self did, never to return. I am not sad about that. I like who I am now. Depression has changed me, for the better I think. I have a greater understanding of others and a compassion that wasn’t there before. I thank the universe on a daily basis that I feel well and I hope I never stop appreciating rainbows in all their colourful glory.

Claire xx

Can I be an Avenger now?

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

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

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

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

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

Claire xxx