what would it feel like to drink again?

Had a major drinking dream last night. It came out of nowhere and was one of those ones that feel totally real, even to the point where I was writing to you guys admitting I had done it and reading the kind messages from people telling me to start over, and others from very upset and vulnerable people who were devastated I had let them down and started drinking again themselves.


All I did was pick up a glass of wine and drink it at a party, as simple as that. I picked the glass up and downed it like it was normal. Then had another. The feeling of ‘this is so easy to do’ was terrifying.


The feeling after the picking up of the two glasses of red of utter relentless disappointment in myself and the message I had sent to others by starting to drink after all this time was like a thousand cuts.


Then the relief on waking and of realising it wasn’t true hit the other end of the joy scale. I don’t know why these dreams happen, but I am guessing it is simply my brain reassuring me that if I restarted, the feelings would be unbearable, so don’t go there.

no drinking

Cheese plants never give up

My little story of the day…was at my allotment, yet again pinning down the weed plastic that the unrelenting wind off the North Sea is determined to uplift, and my garden neighbour Mr Flowers appeared with half a cheese plant in his hand and an empty milk carton in the other.

cheese plant

I never found out what the carton was for but the cheese plant he said was a branch from the main plant at the bottom of their stairs which he and his wife call Mary, in honour of his deceased mother (he is pretty elderly) who had the plant for many years before they inherited it.


He said that no matter how often ‘Mary’ gets knocked over and bits broken off her, she still refuses to die. Now my thinking is well if a bliddy spangly cheese plant can keep going no matter what, I’m damn sure we all can.


I asked him if he thought his dear mum Mary was looking down on him and keeping an eye on him and he said of course, things go missing in his house all the time then reappear in odd places where they could never have ended up and he believed it was her reminding him she was there. He was pretty chilled out about having a haunted house, but in Durham people are pretty stoic about most things, so a few ghosts are unlikely to weird them out.


Anyway, the next time you feel like giving up, maybe it might help to think about Mary the survivalist cheeseplant, kindest wishes xxxx

A Top 10 to celebrate two years sober

Thank you to this swan for sharing how good sober feels after two years.
My two year soberversary takes place on Tuesday and knowing I have a busy start to the week work and family wise I thought I would take the time now to write something about this milestone.
I love a list, it must be the planner/organiser in me, so have prepared a top 10 of things that are better now I don’t drink. I have indulged a bit recently in some self pity and “fear of missing out” and I know those feelings can dominate many of our minds, so in my spirit of thinking positively and rejoicing in the good things, I thought an upbeat list would be better. Well here goes:
1. I never have a hangover.
Wow that feeling of waking up and feeling normal just never gets old and I love the fact that in the last two years I have never woken up feeling nauseous, with a throbbing head and dry mouth.
2. My skin and hair are in tip top condition.
I get compliments quite often about how good my skin is and how shiny my hair is. I don’t have a massively expensive or complicated beauty regime and eat relatively well, just a normal balanced diet ( with quite a bit of chocolate) but my skin and hair are the best they have been since I was a teenager. It has got to be down to the lack of alcohol.
3. My weight is stable.
I do have a sweet tooth and eat more sugar than I should. However, I maintain a stable weight and although would like to lose half a stone, I don’t find it as hard to maintain my weight now I am not necking a bottle of wine or two a night.
4. I am brainier!
Yes I know that sounds a bit daft, but since stopping drinking I feel so much sharper mentally and can work harder and achieve so much more. I just feel so much more on the ball.
5. I have more money.
Well not spending upwards of £5000 a year on booze means my husband and I can spend more money on other things we like doing such as family holidays and we even bought a blow up canoe this summer.
6. I am rarely ill.
Yes I am touching wood as I write this () but since stopping drinking I can’t remember the last time I was properly ill. Yes I have had the odd cold and migraine, but I can definitely say I feel a lot healthier. I also don’t have to panic every time I read something linking cancer or Alzheimer’s to drinking.
7. My teeth are in much better condition.
During my last trip to the dentist, I was told my teeth are in much better condition than they were previously and whatever I was doing, to keep it up. I guess the alcohol I used to pour in my mouth each day does your teeth no good as well as sometimes forgetting to brush them as I passed out rather than got ready for bed.
8. I feel free.
I didn’t realise how much alcohol shackles you and ends up making so many decisions for you, until you become free of it. I now don’t have to worry about who is driving, do we have enough drink in, what if I am the one drinking the most, have we booked somewhere for our holiday that is within walking distance of a restaurant, how will I get through this certain day with a hangover etc etc.
9. I am much less anxious.

I still do suffer from the blues and anxiety at times but it is so much better now I don’t drink. I don’t have the 4am strike of fear, where I worry about what I said, who I talked to, did I make an idiot of myself and think oh god why did I drink so much, I hate myself etc. Life isn’t suddenly brilliant, crappy things still happen and sometimes I let negativity way too heavily in my mind, but it is so much easier to kick myself out of it now I am sober.
10. I know I can do anything I want to.
I stopped drinking after a many years of drinking more and more as did my husband. If you knew us prior to late 2013 we were the couple you would have said were least likely to become tee-total, ever! Friends used to joke about having liver transplants after a weekend at our house and we were daily drinking to dangerous levels. I never thought I could be happy and never drink and I never thought I could just not drink, but I can and I did. So really I can do anything I set my mind to – even if I need to remind myself of that fact every now and then.
So two years on, stopping drinking is the best decision I ever made. It is so much worth persevering through the early days and weeks and looking back they were not as hard as I thought they would be. No it wasn’t all plain sailing, sometimes it seemed hard and unfair but in retrospect I have been through worse and survived. Stopping drinking was the kindest act I have ever shown myself and being kind to yourself is as I have learned one of the most important things you can do. Thank-you for listening.

illusions and confusions

Thank you to this dear swan for her share:


“Could it be that it’s just an illusion, Putting me back in all this confusion” …sang 80’s band Imagination and think it is very apt for me today as I sit here watching the rain lashing at my window and quite frankly indulging in a bit of a pity party. I am feeling a bit lost and direction less and things are not going quite how I would like, and sadly there have been times when I have been thinking about having a drink.

I am frustratingly seduced by the glossy Christmas adverts or the TV programmes showing people having fun with a great group of friends and family, always with wine glasses clinking or some expensive whisky being splashed into the crystal cut glasses. Sitting alone with my glass of diet coke in a beaker or cup of tea in a favourite mug feels just a bit like I am missing out on something fun and exciting. That if only I had a couple of glasses of wine, suddenly my life would become like a scene out of Friends or a Marks and Spencer advert. I would suddenly acquire a family who were never selfish and suddenly everyone on my street would all spontaneously start being the best of friends and popping into each other’s houses on a whim. However, I know this all an illusion, albeit a very powerful one at that.

My husband remarked to me earlier that he was actually scared to start drinking again. Explaining that the thought of that hangover, the feeling of loss of control, the fear of not knowing what you said/did and where it would inevitably lead to is quite frankly terrifying. And do you know what he is totally right. Drinking is something to fear and the illusion of it being something that enhances our lives is just that, not real. That illusion that drinking somehow adds something positive to our lives, despite all the rubbish stuff it brings is perpetuated all around us. On TV, in films, music, when we go shopping, at sporting events, we are sold the view that drinking is fun, an integral part of enjoyment and fulfilment when we know that is a big fat lie.

I was in a restaurant and gig last night in Glasgow and the reality of drinking is really quite unpleasant. It was the couple arguing with each other instead of having fun, it was the loud people at the bar shouting loudly and incoherently at each other whilst annoying everyone else trying to listen to an amazing singer then getting asked to leave, it was the young man vomiting into the gutter after staggering out of bar advertising shots at 90p and young women wondering aimlessly and staring vacantly as they tried to remember where they were. We never get sold this reality of events – can you imagine the adverts?

Once I have taken my head out of my backside, I rejoice once again in being free from the shackles of alcohol and all the negative crap that comes with drinking. I know I need to find my inner peace and happiness elsewhere. That is the more difficult thing right now as I am not sure how to do this but I do know the answer does not lie in a bottle of wine or three. Facing up to life and learning to deal with it as you are is hard, and at 42 I am just trying to figure all this out.

Five empty bottles


Thank you to this amazing swan for her share:


I hosted the evening for my book group meeting on Friday, which, had I been still drinking, would have been extremely stressful for me- although I would have identified the stress feelings as excitement and anticipation for the evening. Normally, I would have felt excited (anxious) all day and these feelings would have been centred around the fact that I was going to be able to have a drink with friends and know they would all be drinking too.
On Friday I was completely unstressed, instead of madly cleaning all day, trying to occupy myself and make the time go more quickly until (I could have a drink) everyone arrived, I started a painting! I have wanted to do this for so long! Ok, it’s not brilliant, but so what? I had the most relaxing and enjoyable day and have found that painting really keeps me calm:)

ali pic

The evening was a total success, for once, I managed to offer food and drinks around and everyone enjoyed themselves. In total there were 10 of us, the bottle count, when I cleared up -after driving someone home (what??!) was 5 empty bottles. I would dread to think what that may have been if I’d been participating, also, getting up to a tidy house, not retching all over the place and going to a craft fair made a very pleasant Saturday. Also, I mustn’t forget absolutely no paranoia and shame ridden texts to all my friends, apologising for my behaviour. Here is my very unfinished picture, which taught me a lot…

Never again, not tonight again


Thank you for this share from an inspirational lady:

Hello dear swans, today marks 6 months from the day I made my mind up to really give this a shot. The couple of weeks before I was drinking every day, and the months before my weekend drinking was getting out of control. I made so many promises to myself, every Saturday morning in fact, not to experience the hellish hangover I was invariably fighting off. In fact, I was beginning to stop fighting it, and just wallowing in it. What I mean by fighting it is, you know, getting up, dragging myself out of bed, coffee on and off to the gym to sweat it out, all the while beating the be jaysus out of myself and saying, never again, not tonight again and all the rest of the negative stuff that would flood into my mind as I pounded the treadmill.

Laterally I wasn’t even managing that, I was just wallowing in bed, feeling low, berating myself and comfort eating with huge breakfasts.

I remember the weeks prior to stopping I was coming to the decision of going for it again, I was reading a lot of blogs and in the contemplation / preparation phase. But that for me also gave me the permission to binge on it with abandon. Crazy?!

So the Saturday before I stopped I binged on red wine and snack food so much that I had some wine left in the bottom of the bottle. Sunday was supposed to be day 1 but no, I had to drink that last glass as it didn’t even enter into my head to pour it down the sink! So Monday became day 1, the first few weeks before I found SWAN I watched, read and listened to as much sober stuff on line. That’s what I did of an evening. Fridays were dire to begin with but I made sure I had things planned for the first few. For me it got easier as I became more aware of the sense of calm stopping brought me. The overwhelming sense of relief that I was able to do this & the penny dropping that it was alcohol that was compounding my depression.

A few weeks later I found you lovely people and that definitely has been the making of this attempt. My sobriety also became number 1 priority and I refused social occasions at the start, I walked away from situations to avoid triggers, no matter what others thought of me. It was the only way for me.

I was thinking of others struggling at the start, and a couple of things other than above helped me. I have a counter app on my phone which I like to look at occasionally to remind myself, and also because my memory for numbers is dreadful! I use “Quit That” and also “Drinks Meter” which allows you to enter what you were/ are drinking and examine possible consequences. It was designed by a health professional with an interest in alcohol misuse and excellent I think. Re SWAN It took me a while to start sharing but as I’ve said before, having that connection and non-judgemental feedback & support has taught me so much about this “thing” we are all trying to do.

A prize if you managed to read this far – a ramble as per usual.

Thank you all who have supported, given me your pearls of wisdom, or just sent me a hug from time to time.

Ye are the best xxx


Binki adds: if you would like to join a confidential support group on Facebook please friend request me and I will add you.

into sober year two


Thank you to this swan member for her heart warming share:

Today marks the beginning of the second year of my sober life.

It seems no big deal now, however remembering how it seemed so huge to even contemplate three days , thirty days, 3 months six months much less an entire year makes no sense to me now. I no longer choose to put poison in my body no matter how pretty, well marketed, delicious or restful it is presented.

It’s the same as saying I don’t like soda pop drinks, or sweet coffee drinks, those beverages won’t kill me and its very socially acceptable that I don’t care for them, however when I say I don’t drink alcoholic beverages that shocks people. Do they feel sorry for me that I don’t drink sweet drinks? No .

Now when asked in any situation what I would like to drink, I just say club soda, water, tea or coffee, I don’t say anything about alcohol I don’t even mention that I don’t drink it. That works for me. I continue to educate myself and keep books about the reality of alcohol in supply for those who want to know more.

I do want to get my one year coin from AA, I’m shallow enough to want the complete set from my year, and to acknowledge the accomplishments that come with being sober financially, physically and spiritually. This is what I celebrate! It’s an extremely pleasant body of water we SWANS choose to swim in.