Enough is enough.

As a woman and the mother of a daughter I am angry. I am angry that cases like Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa are still happening. These young women were just walking home and were picked off by Men who harmed them purely because they can.

I am sick of a culture that makes it acceptable to treat women as possessions, to use and abuse women, to vilify women, to blame women and to mistreat and murder women. Since the death of Sarah Everard there have been 80 murders of women in this country by men; see the article below from the Northern Echo

https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/19618877.sarah-everard-80-uk-women-killed-men-since-murder/

I am sick of worrying about my own daughter walking short distances and she is sick of being catcalled, of men shouting out of cars at her and those men thinking she should like it.

I am sick of women being blamed for men’s atrocious behaviour because of how they were dressed, where they were, what they did. There is never an excuse for violence, EVER.

I am sick of women in power not supporting women, god knows, Margaret Thatcher didn’t and Priti Patel and Cressida Dick certainly don’t. Women are being told to flag down a bus if a lone policeman tries to arrest her. The North Yorkshire police commissioner, Philip Allott, has stated that Sarah should never have “submitted” to a fake arrest and that women “need to be streetwise” about the powers that officers have. What chance do we have when that is the attitude of those who are supposed to protect us?

My first job after university was for a massive corporate company where sexism was rife. I was agency staff and really wanted a permanent job there. My boss at the time told me that I could have the job if I slept with him, it was terrifying, I was a single young girl hundreds of miles from home. I was petrified of the man, he bullied me continually. I got the job without sleeping with him, but the culture there really shocked me. If one of the male managers put their hand on your arse while talking to you, you accepted it and you didn’t complain. I hated it.

That was over 20 years ago and yet here we are, women may have more rights at work (allegedly) but attitudes to women in this country have got even worse. When Incels are not treated as a terrorist group even after murders, when measures which could protect women are not maintained. When women are described as ‘ bodies with vaginas’ in a medical paper and when women are being murdered by men at an alarming rate, it’s time to say enough is enough.

Men need to start saying this isn’t right, men need to be pulling other men up on their behaviours, men need to whistle-blow in the workplace when women are too scared to. Women need to support other women, none of this competitive crap. Let’s look out for each other.

We all as parents need to educate our boys better.

I can’t believe we are still dealing with this bullshit, but we are, and we need to deal with it now. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

Escape Artists R US

Photo by Christina Chekhomova from Pexels

Are you an escape artist? I know I am, constantly feeling like I want to run, to move to a new house or even country, go on holiday or even just go to bed, the need to escape is real.

I used to think it was only me but then I look at the TV and what is popular and I realise that it really isn’t just me. Programmes like Escape to the Chateau, Four in a bed, A new life in the sun, Ben Fogle- A new life in the wild, do really well in the ratings and they all have something in common, they are about escape, about being somewhere else.

Indeed, I am in an excellent sober group. The members are intelligent and successful women yet start talking about reality TV and the excitement is real! Loads of us absolutely love the real housewives, below deck, married at first site etc etc and this made me think, do we love them because they too are a little bit of escapism and is that also why we drank, were we trying to escape?

I have been running for years, I moved hundreds of miles from home as soon as I could and then within a couple of months of moving, I took myself off to Greece for two weeks on my own, because again I was feeling trapped. Not the greatest idea for a young blonde girl who drank way too much, but off I went. I took two books with me, Bridget Jones Diary and The Liars Club. I must have read them both at least twice whilst away, but again reading was another form of escape. Whilst away, surrounded by the beautiful backdrop of a Greek Island, I realised that I could run as much as I wanted and as far away as I wanted, but I would never escape the real problem, me.

I wish I could tell you that this was my epiphany moment but it really wasn’t. I carried on moving house every six months until eventually I settled down and got married and had children. But now my escape was most definitely in the bottom of the glass. I guess this goes back again to my earlier post about emotions. If you are feeling uncomfortable in yourself then drink it away, escape those feelings, actually numb them and then don’t remember then.

So, what do I do now, now that I am not drinking? I’ll admit I am always thinking of other places, I have flashbacks constantly of past holidays and a need to be somewhere (anywhere) else. I am reading fiction again, not just quick lit, I need to be able to escape into someone else’s world just for a while. I am desperately just trying to escape and this is one of the hardest realisations of not drinking for me. I can’t easily escape feelings.

I am struggling with acknowledging people from the past have gone and I am escaping into thoughts of when we were all together. The pool I swim in at night has lights under the water which remind me of holidays with my family when we were children in Spain. And when I swim, I stare and stare at the lights to get that feeling back. I guess I am escaping to my childhood again for a little while.

The really stupid thing is, that I am really happy where I am! I have a lovely family; a happy marriage and I live in a beautiful part of the country. I know what is happening, I am learning again how to sit with feelings and my brain is really not happy about that. If I can no longer escape with alcohol then my brain is looking for new escape routes. But this time as uncomfortable as it is, I am trying very hard to just ride it out. I need to feel these feelings and I need to acknowledge them; which I believe I am starting to do. But it really really isn’t easy.

So, for those other ‘escape artists’ out there I see you and I understand, real life is really hard and no wonder we want to run sometimes.

B xx

Day 92 – All the feels!

Not me in the pics but all the emotions are there!

Emotions..

So, here we are 92 days sober and feeling all the feels! Alcohol numbs feelings, it’s one of it’s plus points for us addicts. Why feel something if you don’t have to? I mean, sad? have a drink, stressed? I know what will help!, worried?, a drink will calm those nerves, happy? let’s drink to celebrate and on and on. So how the hell are we supposed to cope with life now? How on earth do we deal with life without that massive crutch, that not only have we been using for years, but we have been actively encouraged to use for years.

Look at the alcohol companies, they share images of attractive people enjoying an attractive looking beverage, normally in attractive places. The people are happy, they are having fun, they are someone to aspire to. Imagine if they actually posted the truth, that people drink quite often to numb emotions, because they are bored, depressed and quite often are living quite a shitty life. Wouldn’t be so attractive would it?

Friends on Facebook, posting post after post of them having champers or tasty looking gin and tonics in lovely bars, or on holiday, living the dream, making us feel jealous. I can’t help but wonder (went all Cary Bradshaw there!!), are they going home after those lovely attractive locations and drinking themselves into a stupor and waking up on their sofas the next day feeling like utter shit? Later in the evening did they make a total tit of themselves in the gorgeous bar we saw featured? We don’t know and perhaps they didn’t, but perhaps they did.

Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed nights out, especially when I was young, I loved going to the indie clubs, drinking pints and getting hammered, watching Dawson’s Creek the next morning with friends and going over the events from the night before. That was fun and to be honest I would say that it was genuinely just going out to have fun.

The issue is when you are drinking because you now need it, you need it to deal with feelings and emotions. I don’t know when I started using alcohol to numb feelings, I suspect that it was trick that I learned in my late teens after the death of my Mum. I have always suffered with anxiety too and a quick glass of wine when feeling really anxious works wonders. Not so much the next day though or when you wake in the middle of the night with your heart racing and your brain now on anxiety overdrive. For years though I saw that quick respite as worth it.

So, when you stop drinking, we now have to cope with these feelings in a different way and it is hard. It’s also really quite alien. I actually thought that something was wrong, I was feeling really happy one minute, sad the next, bored, irritated, down all the feels. I even mentioned to my husband that perhaps I needed anti-depressant (typical, looking for another way of not feeling) I then realised, that I have been numbing my feelings for so long that I don’t recognise them. I see them as something wrong, alien and not right. When in fact they are completely normal and it’s just my brain now doing what it should be doing.

So now I have to learn to cope with the feels, I have found that exercise definitely helps, especially when feeling anxious or angry. But mostly I am just going with it and talking when I need to. People feel things, that’s what humans do. I have spent so long masking it that now really, I need to embrace it. It isn’t easy and at times I have actually been shocked by my reaction to things. I watched a film at the weekend that triggered some grief from the past, and I sobbed, really sobbed. I hadn’t done that for such a long time, obviously it was distressing , but it was also normal. I have a feeling that I have years of grieving to catch up on.

It’s not all bad though, I have a real optimism going on in my thoughts, I haven’t had that for a while. I am finding joy in really little things that I would have found boring before and I like feeling things. It’s what we do. I know I have such a long road ahead and I am sure that the next time I feel really down I will be wondering what I can have to take the edge off, but I am building up my tools now to take the edge off in ways that are healthier, less harmful and not just delaying the inevitable.

Day 88- Grief and missing Mum

Yesterday was my daughter’s prom. We didn’t have prom when I was at school so I didn’t for one moment think of it as something that I would find anything other than joyful. I lost my Mum when I was 17 and this has led to any special life occasion being tinged with sadness. Of course, as I have got older it has become easier but there is always a sadness.

We awoke yesterday bright and early, we were popping to town to pick up some last- minute things for the prom. Just before we left I randomly had a look through a drawer and came across a jumper that my Mum had knitted for me when I was a teenager. As nineties fashion is now a thing, I gave it to my daughter with the strict instructions not to ruin it! Then seconds later I received a message out of the blue with photographs of my Mum when she was young attached. This set me off thinking about her for the rest of the day.

My daughter looked beautiful for prom, she really did, I was so proud of her and suddenly I was hit with just a massive wave of grief. I wanted to send my Mum photographs of her granddaughter, I wanted her here with me to enjoy this moment, to meet her granddaughter, who I know she would have loved. But she wasn’t here, she hadn’t been here for any of my adult life and she never would be and I felt so bloody awful and sad.

It’s strange how it can still hit you, sometimes I worry that I haven’t moved on, I am still that lost 17 year old and then I think of my achievements and I know I am not. It’s just still sad. I think at the time, the feeling around me with my peers was probably relief that it had happened to me and not them, I could be wrong but we were young, I wouldn’t judge them if that was how it was.

Losing your Mum at an early age has a definite impact, my world went from being loved and protected (mollycoddled even) to having to stand on my own two feet. My Dad took it really badly and I was left to deal with him and his issues until he met someone and he moved on.

My grandparents were stars, they tried so hard to take on the role that was left by my Mum, but I was angry, I was being influenced a lot by my Dad and it took a while for me to let them in. I am so glad I did, My Nana and Granda were amazing to me and when I felt like literally my world had changed so much that I no longer recognised any of my relations with family, they were there to unconditionally love me. I was and am forever grateful.

It’s amazing though how your world can change, I had always thought that I was from a really close family, that my Aunts and Uncles and other family members looked at us as we looked at them. I assumed that they would want to help, that they would at least be interested as I know my Mum would have been if the shoe was on the other foot, but this wasn’t the case. They had their own family and that was that (apart from one Aunt and Uncle). I was so disappointed and rejected. It’s hard to go from secure and loved to mostly alone.

This is when I started drinking heavily, I just needed a release from my feelings and alcohol provided that. I don’t even think I realised that is what I was doing, probably not for years and years but I was.

Then of course there is the issue with your Mum dying young that for some, and I definitely felt this, we feel that we will go early too. I was convinced that I would go the same way as she did. This resulted in brain scans and investigations by the doctors and even though it really was a risk that I too would have an aneurysm, I do wonder if the investigations were mostly done to put my mind at rest. It’s hard not to be self-destructive when you think you’ll die soon anyway. Reaching the age she was when she died was a turning point. On the actual day I had a mini breakdown, I cried most of the day and was not nice to be around. As the days followed and nothing happened, I began to relax. I still struggle with the worry that I am not here for long, but I am managing it better. I still can’t watch a film where the Mother dies early without becoming completely distraught!

The problem with feeling like you will die soon is that it also means you can’t see the point in getting healthy. I couldn’t see the point in dealing with my issues around alcohol if I was going to die soon. I stupidly thought I loved alcohol so much that I would be wasting drinking time if I stopped as I was off soon anyway. If only I had known how special life is without it.

I had a bit of an issue with self -pity too, all of these women moaning about their Mums, the same Mums that were there with them! The same Mums who were there to help and advise with childbirth, parenting, husbands everything. I had none of that and they really annoyed me. It didn’t help that my Nana died when my children were still very young either. I just wanted and needed that older lady in my life and I didn’t have it. I was angry and lost and I felt really sorry for myself, which of course meant that I deserved a drink, I mean who wouldn’t?

So where am I now? I am still shocked that days like yesterday happen, when I am once again overcome by the loss, by the grief, by the sadness, by the anger but by not drinking I have given myself the permission to move on, to feel better today. I still miss her, of course I do, but I am not hurting myself and using her death as a reason to do it.

Not having a Mum (or Mam in my case) is shit, utter shit. I have hated it and wish it wasn’t so, but it is how it is. So today I have calmly explained to my daughter why yesterday was hard, I have lit a candle for my Mum and I am calmer and appreciating what I had with her and I am appreciating all of this sober. Which I am truly grateful for.

Sending so much love to anyone who is grieving, it’s a big ball of cat shit xxx

Day 86- The Archers

What I hear you cry? Am I on the wrong site? No, you aren’t, and I’ll tell you why. I have actually been listening to the Archers since I was in my late twenties. Drink isn’t my only form of escapism, I love any form and the Archers has always been a good way of escaping my world for a while. Yes, it’s twee and yes, it’s very middle class but it also tackles some tough subjects.

What I like about it is that it often tackles subjects in real time, they can take years to develop. This was done famously with the Rob Titchener gaslighting/coercive control of Helen, this gathered loads of press attention and the writers were commended. But the storyline that interests me at the moment is that of Alice and her alcoholism.

Presently, (I am a few behind so this may not be the case) Alice is in rehab, having burned her bridges with practically everyone she knows. She has caused rifts within her family; she has spilt up with her husband and lost her baby. She has hit rock bottom and is hopefully starting to climb back up.

The clever thing about Alice’s story is that the writers have been developing this over years. We have always known Alice to be the beautiful, clever and successful daughter of Brian and Jennifer. The party girl, the girl who works hard and plays hard and for years this was celebrated. We started to see cracks when she was so drunk at a funeral, she wanted to know why the attention wasn’t on her! We’ve also had times when she and her husband have tried to abstain from alcohol to give them a break and it hasn’t worked. It was never suggested that she had an issue, and no one said that she did. Yes, people would be annoyed about her behaviour, but they didn’t for one second think she had a real issue.

It was only really introduced as an actual issue during the lockdown recordings when we could hear her thoughts. We found out that she was hiding alcohol from friends and family and it was obvious she had lost her job due to her drinking. We heard her being very manipulative about drinking alcohol and eventually she was found collapsed at the side of the road in a drunken stupor. This is also when she found out she was pregnant. But people still didn’t think she had a problem until she admitted it. She and her husband paid for her to go to detox, which worked while she was pregnant, but once the baby was born, she stopped breastfeeding and was off again.

And isn’t this real life? Quite often in soaps the alcoholic character is fine one week, rolling around the street drunk the next, shipped off to rehab the next and then fixed! If only eh? Alcoholism creeps up on people. Alcoholism is secretive and shameful. Alcohol affects many many people, not just the alcoholic but the alcoholics families and friends.

Most of all, talking about alcoholism is uncomfortable, I remember when I was still drinking feeling a sense of panic, a feeling of being left behind when I heard others had stopped. Did this mean I should? Are they thinking I should? I am pretty sure that is why we meet resistance when we tell people we have stopped. People don’t like admitting that alcohol isn’t for all. It’s a nasty addictive substance, we are sold the lies that it will make us happy and attractive. We are boring without it. I can tell you now, I was very boring with it. I was lazy, slurry, sometimes a bit nasty and always unhappy.

Back to Alice, I have seen people moaning on groups on Facebook about the storyline. Complaining that it has gone on too long. Alcoholism does go on for a long time, that is the nature of the beast. If only we could all be fixed in a week like the other soap characters are! It takes work and it takes time and I want to thank the writers of the Archers for being brave enough to show us this.

Day 84-Alcohol and hormones

PMS and alcohol

Pesky hormones

Day 84 and the pink cloud is definitely not so fluffy today. I, like many women really struggle with hormones and mine are not playing ball today. I am feeling low and a bit weepy to be honest.

Escape

Pms is one of the main reasons I struggled to stop drinking. I could be feeling happy and relaxed, trying really hard to abstain then BAM! PMS would strike. This would lead to me feeling like I needed something to escape how I was feeling. Alcohol gave me that result (for a very short while).

Just before ovulation progesterone and estrogen hormone levels spike. If there is no pregnancy then the levels drop, this rise and fall of hormones is thought to lower the serotonin levels in the brain which can lead to depression and anxiety. Sadly, this led to me (and may other women) to reach for the wine. Not doing this is difficult, if like me you have done it for years and see it as an easy fix then it is very difficult to challenge this idea in your own mind.

Vicious cycle

Analyzing 19 previously published studies of alcohol and PMS, researcher found that risk for PMS risk was 45% higher in women who reported drinking than in non-drinkers.  Women who were heavy drinkers, drinking more than one drink per day) were 79% more likely to have PMS than non-drinkers


Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD

It’s a vicious cycle, several studies have shown that PMS is linked with an increased use of alcohol and an increased use of alcohol can increase the symptoms of PMS. So, drinking for a sustained amount of time was actually making me worse, but the feelings brought on by PMS were making me feel like I had no choice but to drink. It was a very hard merry go round to get off.

Good News

It’s been a few months now and yes I do feel a tad rubbish today but in general since I have stopped drinking alcohol and started exercising, I am feeling so much better. Fluctuating hormones are an absolute nightmare for moods and can actually be completely debilitating. When I began my sobriety journey, I had no idea that this would be a benefit of no longer drinking, but I am delighted that it is.

Day 82- How I got here

How I got here

I am so relieved that I am not on day one again or the first few weeks. The constant conversations in my head about what I was doing what I had done was horrific. I was exhausted, I have never felt such tiredness. I would wake up tired after a full nights sleep (although there was very little sleep for the first few days).

No pink cloud this time

As this wasn’t my first try at sobriety, I didn’t feel the pink cloud for a long time, I already knew that stopping in the end was the easy part, staying stopped was the hard part. I had done almost a year before and still had slipped so I was actually really fearful that this wouldn’t stick.

I felt so lonely too, I couldn’t really talk to anyone about this as I wasn’t sure I would wanted to stay sober and surely sharing my aims would mean there was no going back. I was an emotional mess, feeling all the feels, shame, guilt, anger, self pity, the lot. I was angry that I had to even start this journey but the fact is I not only needed to start this journey but I needed to stay on the bloody thing! I also think I didn’t want to hear anyone say, ‘you aren’t that bad’ or ‘well just have one or two’. I heard that a lot, I wish I could have one or two but sadly I can’t.

I found my tribe

I was so unhappy on this journey, still pissed off and still angry that I was missing out. I then found my tribe, entirely by accident. I was looking around for someone different but with a similar name and I found the most wonderful Female sobriety group online, ran by a wonderful and quite magnificent Irish lady. There was no judging, no competitive comments on who did or didn’t drink more, just straight talking and care. I needed a tribe, independent me had always done things alone but this time, I needed help and I found it.

Pinkish cloud right now

So right now, I do have a bit of a pinkish tinge to my sobriety, I love being much more present for my kids, I love that there is never any question over if I can drive or not, I love that I am doing exercise and loving it for the first time in years. I am writing! Good or bad, I’ve always loved writing but stopped years ago (perhaps you are now mentally passing me a drink to get me to stop again 🙂 )

Early days

I am not silly, I know that I am still in very early days, but I have definitely had a shift in feelings. I now feel relieved that I don’t HAVE to drink not fuming because I can’t. Long may it last.

What I hated about drinking.

Remember this?

I am sure that this is no surprise to anyone, I hated the anxiety! It’s not just the anxiety the next day either about what you have done or said (although that is hideous) alcohol brings on so many more worries (this isn’t going to be scientific by the way, I am not that clever!)

  1. When is it okay to drink? – Ever felt like this? You really really want a drink but it’s far too early. I used to get this especially on a weekend, waiting until it would become an acceptable time to drink, my favourite (and expensive) trick was to want to go out for lunch early, perfectly acceptable to have wine with lunch yes? I’d always race the first one down and then have another as my partner drinks pints and of course would have lots left so it was the obvious thing to do.
  2. Would anything get in the way of a drink? – This is awful to admit but I used to really hate having anything late in the day that I would need to drive for. This would mean that I couldn’t have a drink until afterwards. Being a parent, I am often the chief taxi driver and it would make me so petulant if I knew I was going to have to wait a really long time to drink….
  3. The worry people knew – It wasn’t often that I would be found in a pub , but I did worry people knew that I was drinking most nights. I sometimes felt like they just knew. I am sure they didn’t, or did they?
  4. I am the only one who drinks like this– the feeling that everyone else drinks normally. It’s only me that needs those extra drinks, it’s only me who goes and buys more wine after the pub and drinks the lot.
  5. The morning after anxiety– well it really isn’t just that is it? After a particularly heavy night I would wake ( usually around 4am) feeling like someone was sat on my chest and squeezing my heart at the same time. I could barely breathe I was feeling so anxious. I would curl into the foetal position all the while repeating over and over that I hated myself. Eventually I’d fall back to sleep and wake later feeling the same. What had I done; how did I get here? Was my husband unhappy with me? Could I just be anaesthetised for 3 days and sleep until this feeling passes?
  6. Did I annoy/upset/horrify you anxiety– sending innocuous texts to those you were out with to gauge if they were angry or not. Trying to casually chat with the family the next day, checking their faces and how they respond to see if you have anything to worry about.
  7. The memory game– desperately trying to piece together what happened without actually asking anyone, check the fridge, any wine left? Checking clothes, was I able to put nightclothes on? Where are my clothes? Did I clean my teeth? Casually trying to guess events through snippets of conversation!

This list could probably go on and on and I am sure that I will visit it again, but I’ll leave it there for now.

What are your thoughts? Did I miss anything? I’d love to hear from you. Xxx

Hello!

I am delighted to meet you!

I am newly sober* and my head is full of thoughts! Not just about being sober about everything. I think all of those years of drinking so much dulled my thoughts a little so I wanted somewhere to get them out!

*newly sober – I have actually been sober for 80 days, but this isn’t my first rodeo, I’ve been sober many times before, it just hasn’t stuck. This time I have met a fantastic group of women and I have a new routine which seems to be working.

I guess I need to write here the bit that I am doing this to keep myself accountable as seems to be the usual way. I guess I am but I am also doing it because I just want to. I want to share my musings with the world. Right or wrong they are how I feel. 🙂