My sober sister

Today my sober sister celebrates her first year of continuous sobriety. She is just 19 days behind me, and made a wonderful, brave decision to stop drinking, and on March 30th last year she had her last alcoholic drink.

I don’t want to ‘out’ her on the blog, but I want to write about what she means to me because I am so blessed by our friendship and so proud of what she has achieved.

SS (for sober sister) and I met ‘online’ in early April 2016. We were on a long running mumsnet forum for people who have given up drinking. I was about 3 weeks into my sobriety, and she just starting. I immediately felt warm towards this woman who was struggling with physical withdrawal in the early days and weeks, but was so determined that she battled on anyway. Her strength and commitment despite her physical and emotional vicissitudes, impressed and bolstered me when I felt weak. I started messaging her on the mumsnet PM system; she replied and we started an infrequent but supportive personal relationship.

Like me SS is a professional woman; like me she was a high functioning dependent drinker who had been concerned about her alcohol intake for many years; like me SS has teenager children and like me she had committed to sobriety.

We emailed on and off through our first months of sobriety, offering support and encouragement to one another. I felt listened to, and understood by her in a way that perhaps only someone else who is treading this path could understand.

Just before Christmas we met in person. We live about 100 miles apart in the UK, but there is a frequent train service between our nearest cities and we wanted to meet. I was curious, excited and nervous before our first meeting. Ironically we chose to meet in All Bar One – a chain of wine bars that we had both visited in our past lives.

It was a very special meeting. I think we just ‘got’ each other. We smiled and laughed and talked through a few hours, drinking Becks Blue and just .. connecting.

Since than we have texted and been in touch quite a lot. I took a day from my annual leave and travelled up to see her earlier this month, we walked and talked and laughed and shared experiences and feelings. It was again, a really special, affirming, confidence building day.

I have lots of acquaintances, and a few close friends, all of whom I have known for a long time. My SS is different, I feel that she is walking with me on a special path, that we are connected by our  circumstances, drawn together –  meant to be friends to help and encourage each other.

We are not involved in each others day to day life and a consequence of our geographical distance from one another. We don’t know each others friends or family, although we talk about them and about our lives, but we have the shared wisdom of a year with no alcohol, and the shared future goal of long term sobriety and a pretty unique understanding of how each other ended up needing to stop drinking.

I don’t judge her and I know I am not judged. I am sure for every awful drinking story she has I could share one just as bad. I know her struggle because it is also mine, and I celebrate her achievement today, as though it is mine.

My SS means something special to me. It takes nothing away from those I am so close to at home, its a different closeness and a different relationship but one that I value immensely and cherish. It’s a friendship just for me

so fabulous sober sister – Happy soberversary – the first of Many. And Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your ongoing support & caring.

You brighten up my life 🙂


Finding me….

This is what I’m doing. 

What do I want? What do I need? What sustains me? What drains my energy?

Now this process could have begun a long time ago as it does for many people (most people) but people with addiction issues run away from some of life’s difficult decisions and hide Ina glass / bottle / cocktail. So now I’m sober – 383 days sober,I’m doing what I should have done a long time ago – and looking st myself.

What do I see

I see a woman who is vulnerable. I see a woman who has a cyclothymic personality – i.e. Very up and down. I see a woman who is loyal , honest, kind and generous. I see a woman who feels passionately and is struggling to deal with the emotions generated by ‘normal life’. I see a woman who has raft of insecurities about her weight and body image, but also about her past choices , her parenting, her relationships. 

I’m beginning to look at my part in the breakdown of my marriage; how my personality and actions impacted on my family. I’m Not blaming myself at all, but I’m looking at my traits which allowed me to give a man I was afraid of and no longer loved back into my and my children’s home. 

Why do I find it so hard to enforce and stick to the boundaries I believe to be right . …

This is an interesting question. I don’t yet know why, where this enormous fear of abandonment comes from

 Because at the bottom of all this mess is that basic problem. I’m like a child, terrified of abandonment. 


Today I had my therapy session.

I have been very ashamed of my feelings regarding my exPartner. I think that I should NOT still care for him and should firmly reject any contact. But thats not how I feel. At all.

I discussed this with my therapist this evening,

For the first time in my adult life I feel I have a place where I can say what I genuinely feel and I will not be judged , whatever it is. I can be honest. Its not that I cant be honest with other people, just that I am sometimes guarded when I am asked about things I feel ashamed of, or anxious about. Things that I disapprove of, or worry about in myself.  Im judging myself and therefor I imagine that others will judge me as harshly as I do myself… of course they don’t in real life. But I grew up with a father who was not emotionally available and a mother for whom nothing I did was ever good enough … and many things were positively BAD …

The problem is mine, I expect (with my head) that others will NOT judge me, but I am afraid (in my heart, because I feel so basically worthless) that they WILL , so I keep quiet, share half of the truth, carry the rest by myself.

Talking to Angela, being honest about how I feel about my ExP NOW. ( Confused, guarded; happy, safe, affirmed when I am with him) has really helped me. She helped me to see that it’s natural to have confused feelings, that this bargaining – maybe I can have some part of that relationship – is actually normal and natural and I should accept it, but recognise MY boundaries. Those boundaries are very clear and I feel confident I will hold to them ( at least partly because I would feel angry and resentful all over again if I did not)

In the past I was afraid that ExP would walk away if I did not do as he wanted. That he was only with me for security, financial and otherwise. Now a) I’m not providing anything to him , so if he wants to see me it is for ME and that is confidence boosting and b) I know I can manage if he does walk away. The balance of power has shifted in my head and I feel that we are much more equal on an emotional level.

We also talked about the negative side of this. It stops me from moving on; but maybe I need to explore this relationship breakup, truly understand it, truly work through it before I even think about moving on anyway/. I will not live with anyone again until my children are not living at home, so I have lots of time to sort myself out.

Today I’m really happy that I’m sober. I really feel that I have made enormous progress in the right way and I’m much clearer about what I want and that I have a right to ask for what I need.

onwards and upwards.



Love, Actually ?

This is one of the things that has been occupying my mind a bit / a lot in the last few days / weeks.

It’s about my ex partner.

Those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, will know that when I decided to quit drinking I was living with my partner, and that 5 months into my sobriety the strain of his poor relationship with my eldest son and his lack of gainful employment / income resulted in me ending that relationship and asking him to move out. We had been together for almost 6 years at that time.

I am quite sure that being sober gave me the clarity of thought and the courage to call time of an increasingly unhappy relationship that, by this time, was bringing out the worst sides of both of us and making me, at least, wretched. I tried SO hard to MAKE it work, and it was only when I was sober and cognisant that I was able to see that I could NOT “make” it work, and that my partner was too angry / stubborn / to change and my son was unwilling to do anything to improve things. The only way was out.

When he left I was very, very angry. I think the anger has come through in this blog on many occasions. I was angry with him for not changing, for not recognising that the situation was intolerable, angry with him for not changing his vocational plane /not earning, angry with him for not talking to me and, as I saw it, ignoring my distress. I’ve been in weekly therapy for 7 months now dealing with that anger, frustration and grief.

I’m not the same person as I was in August.

As the feelings of anger fade, some of the good stuff that we had comes back into focus. You know that stuff that pulled you together in the first place.

I’m not sure what to do with those thoughts. When I met my exP, I really fell in love with him. I can’t put my finger on why especially, all I can say is that he felt like my perfect fit. The person I was supposed to be with. I know that sounds fanciful and slightly deluded, but thats how it felt. We knew instinctively what the other was thinking, finished one anothers sentences, were in complete harmony and at peace when we were together. I’ve never travelled with anyone I found so ‘easy’ to be with, so easy to just be myself with.

When the latest palaver with my ex husband blew up, I had support from many people, but the support I most wanted, the hug I needed, was from him. The peace and security of being with that one person who was with me, loved me and would support me whatever.

It all went so wrong, and we hurt one another and stopped being able to talk or communicate. We stopped being able to support each other because we were both too upset and angry.

I dont know for sure how he feels, but I think its the same as me. I miss him.

I have no idea what to do about it.

I do know we can’t go back to how we were, and he can’t live with us again. I’m not willing to financially support him again. But I can’t help wondering if we could pick out the good bits, see one another, talk and see what happens. It seems that despite all the pain, and despite knowing and detailing all his faults … and all the barriers …. its not over for me …

Is this actually love ? Accepting all the bad points, all the difficulties and loving someone anyway?

Or is this the way that madness lies ?

Flat. Low. Apathy

Yesterday was ‘Mothers day’ this side of the pond

My eldest son bought me a beautiful bunch of flowers and a lovely card. My youngest son brought me a coffee in the morning and took the dogs out with me first thing, and son 2 managed civility & a bar of chocolate.

Really I am very blessed.

But flat. So bloody flat.

There are two bottle of wine in the fridge. They have been there since Christmas; gifts that are there for when the odd visitor wants a glass of wine. They haven’t bothered me at all until yesterday, when there was quite an urge to dispel the flatness with a bit of oblivion. I didn’t, and I won’t. I feel strong and very sure I don’t want to drink, but I want SOMETHING … and I’m not sure what it is. I should be content, but I don’t feel it… and I dont really understand why

so I’m going to list my blessings here .. and see if I can dwell on these instead of the nebulous ‘what’s missing ‘ feeling

  • I’m healthy. At least I have no life limiting illness that I know of, and I have my faculties and mobility
  • My children are all alive and well
  • Son 1 is doing pretty good – he’s maturing. Slowly, but it’s happening
  • Son 3 is doing just great
  • Son 2 … well he could be a lot worse
  • My immediate family are well. I have a great brother and sister in law and support there
  • My job is secure, and thus my income
  • we are coming into Summer, the days are getting longer and warmer
  • The doggies are gorgeous and love me !
  • I have some lovely, kind & supportive friends

As I’m writing this, something is stirring at the back of my head… some thought that I can’t quite catch hold of Something I’m feeling, something that might be at the root of what’s bothering me … I’m going to try and capture it ….

Clarity of thought

Now I have a small window of Clarity, this is what I am thinking.

I have such shit self-esteem that I really struggle to make decisions that go against what anyone else thinks. I don’t trust MY judgement at all. Well deep inside I do , deep inside I think I have good instincts and a good gut reaction to things, but I’m very easily swayed by others opinions / advice and I find it hard to stand firm in the face of opposition.

I say I have shit self-esteem, but this is only at ‘home’. Professionally I’m pretty confident about my judgement and will defend my decision-making, no matter who would question it. Its logical, informed and balanced. Evidence supports this opinion. So why is it so difficult to make hard decisions in my private life ?

I think this was one of the attraction of my ExP; he was so decisive and rarely appeared to doubt his decision-making, no matter who disagreed or questioned it. I felt able to lean on that surety and confidence, because he also believed in a bolstered my decisions (as long as they didn’t clash with his of course)  In fact he was often les logical and reasoned that I am, but because he believed wholeheartedly and strongly in himself, somehow that never seemed to matter.

I envy him that self belief

now there is just me, making decisions about my children, for my children that they sometimes disagree with, just me making decisions about day-to-day stuff… and I’m finding it hard to carry through unpopular edicts. No phones at night, no going out till homework done, etc etc They fight against it, I try to be clear and firm but I exhausted and get battered down. This in turn makes me appear weak and gives the impression that I can be battered (verbally) into submission and withdrawal.

I know only I can change this.

I just need to summon up the energy, resolve and determination…


When I wrote my last blog post I was in the middle of a ‘crisis’ and although I was wondering  why it had all blown up so huge, I wasn’t able to look with a reflective eye.

Things are calmer now. Since I blocked my Ex Husband, I have had some peace from his messages and an opportunity to gather my thoughts.

It has occurred to me that in the past, my response to the agitation I was feeling would have been to drink. (My response to pretty much anything was to drink if I’m honest) Drinking would have, temporarily at least, reduced my agitation. As I can no longer reduce my agitation by drinking , I’m left with the feelings. And I’m not good at managing my feelings, not good at just ‘sitting’ with them, not good at just waiting for them to pass, not good at self soothing.

I feel a bit better now that I have some understanding of why everything seems to blow up around me. Its because I cant just manage my anxiety / feelings about the situation on my own. I look for support from others, and they, trying to help me escalate the situation. Son 2 doesn’t help – he told school he was suicidal, so we have an appointment on Friday with the child psychiatry team. (And who do you think will be taking him ? Not his father that’s for sure) Sigh

I want a quiet life. I don’t want all this drama. I think I can see how to get closer to that.

I need to work on self care.


So we, I, am in the middle of a ‘shit storm’

Everything was fine until mid January, when somehow or other something tickled my ex husbands ire, and he kicked off, big time. But he doesn’t kick off at adults, at me ? no he uses the kids

This does not go well, result: a very stressed anxious aggressive ANGRY 14 year old. Part of this is being 14 , but most of it comes from being told his mother is ‘negligent’ ; does not care about him, puts her needs before his (quite amusing from a man who put drug taking in front of his family for years) and is a disgrace. He has also posed a number of ‘questions’ to son 2, suggesting that he “demand answers from his mother” … these ‘questions’ HAVE no simple answer and any explanation of the emotional complexities behind the actions that are being questioned is quite beyond the ken of a 14 year old boy. I am simply NOT going to discuss my abusive marriage with my son. I cannot explain to my son that exP made me feel safe from HIS father …I cannot explain how abused women feel and the psychological burden and scars that i bear from that marriage and divorce. So I tell son 2 I cannot give him answers because they are not straightforward, and he is enraged all over again, and says he will hate me until I give him answers. These “questions” have been put there by his father.

Everyone under the sun is involved now.

School, social services, my lawyer, friends, my ex Partner, my work colleagues (because I’ve had to take a few days away from front line duties because I can’t manage that as well) his family, my family. Emotions are running high. He said, she said / rumour and accusations are flying around.

Angry text messages between my ex husband and myself ( now stopped because I have blocked him as they were getting nowhere); between my exPartner and ex husband. between our eldest son and his father, angry conversations between my ex husband and my friends; all fuelling the fire.

How much of this is due to me? I am very grateful to the people who have spoken up on my behalf, it makes me feel less vulnerable. My friends intervention was, I believe measured, and aimed at trying to get my exHusband to recognise that it is our son who is being damaged by this. ExP was just furious and trying to protect me, I should not have asked for his support, but the need for reassurance and ‘safety’ was overwhelming –  and he is so bloody good at that bit! His response to my exH however was predictable…and probably not helpful in the longer term. I didnt ask him to do it, and I didn’t know he had until the information came back via an alternative route.

so how have we got into this mess?

I feel so distressed when i get abusive messages/ when the kids report what is being said / when I see son 2 struggling, anxious and angry. I find the demand for “answers” so difficult to manage – I understand that he wants to ‘know’ stuff, but the are things he himself did not think of; no they are about the things my exH thinks I have done wrong.  I find it hard to contain my emotion and anxiety and it spills out to (a small group of) other adults. Because they care for me, they try to help. But should I say anything, allow my own anxiety and vulnerability to show? am I overreacting ?

I just want him to stop. I want a quiet life, I want to build my home for myself and my children. I have enough stress day to day with a FT job and three teenage sons, and a house to run. I dont want these high emotion, acrimonious interactions … But maybe I’m fuelling it too. By telling my friends what has gone on, by seeking support and validation from my ExP, by calling school, social services and my solicitor – have I stoked all this into a much bigger fire than it needed to be ?

I know that I tend to catastrophise: and basically imagine the worse possible outcome from any given situation, even if its not very likely. This is especially significant when I’m tired or overstressed, and really applies only to home ‘things’ The three parts to this catastrophizing are

  • – Rumination – (repetitive overthinking)
  • – Magnification ( blowing it up to be a bigger problem than it really is)
  • – Helplessness  (feeling like I have no control over what is happening)

Once I start to take control, and believe I can influence what happens, the other factors seem to shrink a bit and become more manageable. In this situation, contacting my solicitor, arranging a meeting makes me feel more in control, as if there IS something I can do to stop this… and that calms me down. I have noticed this once or twice before in the last year, and I think it’s particularly noticeable since I stopped drinking. As I can no longer reach for a bottle of wine to manage my anxiety and fear about situations, I have few other coping techniques. So I talk to too many people, and the whole thing blows up bigger than it needs to be.

I find it hard to get a handle on how big a problem things really are. On one hand,son 2’s distress is very real, school are very worried and have contacted adolescent mental health services and child safeguarding; . On the other son 2 can be a bit of a drama queen, and social services don’t seem to be that concerned, my gut feeling is that he’s angry and distressed but that he’s milking it a bit for the attention.

so what now? I have a plan. I hope the interventions from me, and on my behalf, may have given ExH cause to reflect on his actions; and that even if he cannot grasp why, he will accept that he must not continue denigrating me to the children

well I can hope cant I ?







Yesterday night I had my second (in my life) full blown panic attack.

at least this time I knew what the pounding heart, uncontrolled rapid breathing, tearing sobs and overwhelming panic WAS. And it passed. It does pass.

This morning I am wrung out.

I feel that every single thing I have every done that was less than perfect is being totted up by some malevolent deity, and a perfect retribution being delivered. Exactly as much “wrong” as I have done is being visited on me. Not the “worst” thing (as I am a parent, I am sure you can imagine what that might be) but something pretty tough.

The flaw in this fanciful, slightly self indulgent and narcissistic view point, is that the person suffering the most is not I, but my angry, confused, anxious, insecure second son. And I know he has done nothing to deserve the suffering caused to him.

My ex husband,( who I shall in future refer to as Wormtail, (thanks JK Rowling, and Timothy Spall) has taken a young mans’ frustration and anger, and essentially capitalised on his adolescent feelings by telling him, at (as far as I can see) every opportunity, that I am complicit in abuse; that I am negligent and cruel, and that, in consequence, I deserve to be shouted at, disrespected and hated.

Son #2 is physically mature, he is the tallest in the house, and well built. Emotionally he is immature, and easily the most fragile of my sons. He has a poor self image, and a completely external locus of Control.

A person with an internal locus of control believes that he or she can influence events and their outcomes, while someone with an external locus of control blames outside forces for everything.

he is thus extremely vulnerable to a malevolent, manipulative man who hates me. Drip drip drip goes Wormtail. Stir up the teenage angst: take a nugget of truth, chuck in a dollop of exaggeration, a sprinkle of lies, and a big dose of complete fantasy … hey presto you have an angry, disturbed, anxious 14 year old who feels isolated, alienated and totally adrift in a sea of complex emotions he has no clue how to rationalise or manage.

But, in addition let’s see what Wormtail can do to disrupt my friendships. Ah, I know. When I contact him to demand (again) that he STOPS talking to son#2 about me (after all his choice is to see his kids for about 4 hours in a week, you would think he had other things to do / talk about) … he tells me that my friend J has “told him” things about me and my ex partner. If I didn’t know Wormtail, and know how he operates, I might believe that – driving a wedge between me and my dear friends and depriving me of a powerful form of support. But I do know Wormtail, and I believe – no I KNOW – my friend did not say such things.

I will not break. I must, somehow, stop this systematic emotionally destructive using of Son2. I must. I have spoken to his school, I am seeking support. Son1 and 3 are able to look with compassion on their brother and try to make him feel included.

367 days. Thank God for sobriety, for I could not have dealt with this when drinking.

364 days: 52 weeks ….

That elusive Year… almost complete. Today it is 52 weeks of continuous, uninterrupted sobriety: tomorrow, march 12th will one complete calendar year.

lots of reflection at  the moment.

On where I was last year; on drinking and not drinking (I hosted a work party last night, and obviously bought wine … it occurred to me that I have come a long way – I never considered that I would drink any wine; and also made no progress at all, if I had started drinking i know I would have finished a bottle very quick )

12 months ago I was very unhappy, and felt very stuck. I couldn’t see how things could Get better. I couldn’t see an outcome that was acceptable to me and balanced all the responsibilities I had.

Quitting drinking, really a move of desperation, and one I was not at all sure I could sustain, has actually proved to be the gateway to resolution of a number of longstanding and previously insoluble problems. Don’t get me wrong, other things have come in their place – but current problems seem To be more within my power to resolve.

Today I treated myself by attending a flower arranging workshop in our local town centre. For £15 and an hour of my time I made the most beautiful huge bouquet of 🌺… feels like a self reward… and I learned the wonder of floristry scissors!

I had the most beautiful gift from my sober sister, so thoughtful and kind – with some engraved words and a small infinity charm … my youngest son and my closest friend also remembered the day…🙂

Lots of things to think about right now, but this weekend I’m just thankful; counting my blessings and being kind to myself …

Im back in the driving seat of my own life, and that’s a good place to be.