my simple AF (alcohol free) pleasures

From a member of the swan network – thank you, Binki xxx

My simple AF pleasures.

– Singing really loudly in the car.
– Afternoon naps.
– Climbing into a freshly changed bed.
– Choosing pampering bath products.
– My sons quirky sense of humour.
– Chocolate and midget gems.
– Being chatted up by a customer at work (compete swamp-donkey but it still counts!).
– Watching the sparrows in my bird bath.
– My work colleague (77 year old cleaner), in all innocence, announcing that she’s sorted out her back passage and just has her front entrance to do!
– Being part of this amazing group.

If you don’t mind Facebook and would like the support of like minded people who choose to live life without alcohol, please friend Binki Laidler and she will add you to the secret group.

Are drinking dreams a bad sign?

You can join all the swan discussions by friend requesting Binki Laidler on Facebook and she will add you to the secret group (no one can see it). Set up a dummy account if you want to keep your identity separate?  Binki xxx

From a swan


I wanted to share something with you. After years of struggling I’m finally achieving sobriety 100% of the time, it’s wonderful and my time is so productive now and people I haven’t seen in a while always comment on how well I look. Well anyway, last night I had a dream I had a wine binge last night. I woke up close to tears believing I had a hangover, and the familiar old thoughts of “oh god how am I going to cope with today?” And depression and sadness were crushing. And then I realised it was a dream!! So relieved. So grateful for my sobriety and the support that has made it possible. Sending hugs to anyone struggling – if even I can nail it, you can too – and it’s beautiful xxx

From another swan

I want to share my dream too. There was a bottle of gin lurking in the kitchen last night and I was sooo tempted to open it but didn’t. Had a terrible night’s sleep and dreamed I was really drunk and sick, had borrowed someone’s car, my phone had been stolen and I didn’t even know where I lived. And I was convinced I still lived with my Mum who has been dead for three years. It was so horrible that even when I woke up I still seemed to be in the dream and was convinced my phone had gone missing. I was in this car with other people and they were asking my address but I didn’t even know it.

Tipped the full bottle of gin down the sink this morning as I am sure the thoughts started me off. xx

And from this Swan…

I know quite a few SWANS have been having drinking dreams recently…I have shared this before but now seems like a good time to re post the link. This is an episode of The Bubble Hour that talks about drinking dreams. As you probably can guess I am a huge fan of these podcasts and they have been a huge part of my staying sober in the very early days and now. I still listen to one a day!

‘The Bubble Hour’s mission is to provide hope and inspiration to people who are wondering about their drinking, struggling to get sober, or who are sober and want to stay that way.

The concept of the “bubble” was something co-host Lisa N. came up with in her early sobriety. She recognized that her sobriety needed to come first, and as such she created what she call a “bubble” around herself to keep herself safe, and prioritize her recovery.

Talking with other recovering alcoholics was a big part of Lisa’s Bubble, but she also talked about the role of a good book, funny television shows, exercise, ice cream – anything that replaced the hole alcohol left in her life.

Pretty soon Lisa’s recovery community caught on to this concept, and she began creating “bubbles” for them as they struggled during difficult times of the day, events or simply adjusting to life in new sobriety.

People who had been sober awhile also recognized the importance of The Bubble, which essentially represents a ‘force field’ of safety and support you surround yourself with to remember you’re ARE NOT in this alone.

The Bubble Hour’s podcasts are a way for people to listen to real stories, interviews and conversations between real sober people, offering practical advice, humor and companionship, especially during the difficult hours of the day.

Is five o’clock a trigger for you? Did you usually drink while cooking dinner? Download The Bubble Hour podcasts, stick in some earbuds and listen to The Bubble Hour while you go about your day. Or riding in your car, or when you’re having a weak moment.

It is meant to be another tool we can use to comfort each other as we travel this path together.

The podcasts are the main focus of this page, but we will also be offering sober resources and websites, posting information and articles, or anything else we think may be helpful.

Please remember, no matter what, you are NOT alone.…

Welcome to Irrelevant Island

I have so far been through several phases in my ongoing recovery from drinking too much, for too long.

There was the initial period of wanting to go back to drinking, and feeling very angry because I knew I could not drink ‘safely’ and it felt so bloody unfair. It was all about me, then. I just hated everyone and everything and ‘it’ was NOT FAIR.

There was the angry period of hating alcohol and what it did to me in the past and wanting to write about that all the time. It was still all about me sorting out my head. The book came out of that.

There was the frustrated and angry period where I wanted other people to think like me, rather selfishly. I was starting to look round out of my own universe and think, look at all these people getting pissed, isn’t it terrible, how could they! If they just do what I do they will be fine! Silly buggers!
There was the fix it period where I felt if I worked hard enough I could stop other people drinking by sometimes shouting at them, sometimes laughing with them, but always wanting what I had, for them. I had a mission. Selfish again, really, as there were no compromises. I got into a lot of arguments and got called names.
More recently there has been a phase of just realising that trying to put my stuff onto other people is actually pretty pointless, because they aren’t me. They will stop if they want to stop. I can be there and be friendly, kind, supportive etc., but in the end they won’t stop until they want to. Stopping trying to fix people has been a great step forward for my personal journey.
If people ask for advice or support then I am happy to give it. But dictating to people is something I have recently stepped back from and it feels much better. I slip up from time to time when someone really gets under my skin and the old Binki resurfaces, but generally I am practising a spirit of ‘I am here if you want me, but ultimately stopping drinking is your responsibility’. I’m not saying that is what everyone should be like, but it is where I am at.
I think the reason for this is partly selfish because lately alcohol has gone from being ever present in my life, something I just hated and literally obsessed about, to actually something irrelevant. Like an ex-husband. I know that I still have to be vigilant, but somehow the idea of drinking alcohol these days just seems pointless rather than dangerous. I just don’t see the point any more. I just want to celebrate being alive.

I am really grateful for landing on this particular island and hope I get to stay here for a while, because it is a peaceful space. Hope I don’t sound smug. I guess what I want to say is, maybe if you persevere, you can expect to get to your own Irrelevant Island. Maybe you are already there, or have a different island you are enjoying. I was trying to explain the feeling to my husband last night and the closest I could think of was sobriety for me right now is like meat to a vegetarian – eating meat is entirely irrelevant to their lifestyle. It runs that deep.

104 weeks or 730 days

First posted April 4th by Rachel Black
Two Years Sober
Today I am 2 years sober.
104 weeks
730 days
many many hours, depending on how you count your sober time.
Either way, it represents a lot of wine I have not consumed: at my last pace this would be at least 500 bottles of wine and that’s only allowing for 5 per week! No extra at the weekend or other occasions deemed ‘special’ in some way or other.
500 bottles of wine! Picture that in your recycling bin for a moment, the image seems much more significant than merely saying two years!
I haven’t mentioned the date at home. My OH would not realise, ask, wonder, nor find it in any way relevant, so I quietly congratulate myself on my achievement, remembering how hard it was to stop drinking and how much harder it was even to decide to do so.
Did I celebrate? Yes and no. There has been no widespread marking of the occasion but I have gifted myself two identical, new beads for my charm bracelet. They’re fairly plain: white, with little metallic shiny details. Simple yet elegant, with no resemblance to a drink, a glass, a bottle of wine,  or memories of those things. I love them: they are totally my style, my choosing and I know exactly what they represent.
I’m surprised at how two years with no alcohol seems to be both a massive deal and a non event at the same time. Not drinking alcohol is a big part of my life because… it does not feature in any aspect of it. Further, as time passes it no longer features in my thoughts and does not often make it onto my day to day radar.
The ‘challenges’ are no longer challenging. The organising and planning no longer required. Things, stuff,  life, just happens and do so without booze by default. That’s just the way things are now. I firmly believe there is no option (for me) and I’m pleased by that. I don’t actually want any option: any choices to make or consequences to consider. I honestly would not now have a glass of wine even if you told me I could and that I would stop at that one. I don’t see the point any more. It would not enhance my life. I can see through the smokescreen to the hype and the myths that having a drink or getting drunk is fun. A quick flick around my facebook friends any day of the week confirms I am right. Tales of woe, regret, embarrassment, shame. Apologies for being vodka fuelled monsters and offers of amends that will be made, while knowing deep down, that whatever has happened cannot be changed.
I feel lucky to have learned this lesson and the one that follows: that the future can be changed and none of us are helpless to make the changes we truly want badly enough.
In my life, alcohol is almost like a massive storm, a tornado even, whipping up chaos and destruction in its pathway with me tightly sucked into its vortex. The devastation so significant my life cleaved into two parts; before and after.
For many years I stayed there, within its boundaries and control, feeling unable to escape its complex distortion until I saw the solution was not to try to control the uncontrollable, but to remove it completely from my life. Remove any role it had, remove the fuel from the fire and wait for the storm to die down.
It did.
I can see it so clearly now, and believe me when I say, there is no-one more surprised by this than me.
Read more about this on my blog here

Back down

Hey there – a warning to any reader: I am feeling very low today so won’t be a happy blog!

So I suffer from depression and have done for about 10 years.  I take medication, although I’m not entirely sure of its efficacy.  I am up and down like a tart’s knickers.  I have been ok for a while and today, I just want to lie in bed, watching rubbish on TV and trawling through similar rubbish on the web.  I have just eaten three two-finger KitKats in succession because I can’t be arsed to go for anything outside of my bedroom.  I haven’t had, nor do I want, contact with anyone.  I have replied to a message out of necessity and politeness, but other than that –  nothing.

I went to a talk last night about the Law of Attraction and my behaviour today would have them all in paroxysms of disgust.  I downloaded a type of gratitude diary and filled in some of that.  I chatted about the positive things that have happened to me recently – which made for a short discussion!  I listened to tips on how to apply the Law of Attraction.  I listened to a room full of people declare that ‘it really works’, as if trying to convince themselves more than anyone else.

I get it… but I’m not entirely sure about it.

Anyway, you’d think that all that positivity would have rubbed off a little bit? But no – between the time I fell asleep with thoughts of all I could have swathing through my brain to the time I woke up – some heavy weight decided to take up residence and screw me down.

As quickly as that and with no warning.  With no reason.

So, I can just see the lucky side of being sober in this situation.  I need to remember the necessity of being sober in this situation.  I’m depressed, yes.  But I’m not taking an overdose and being kept in hospital because my heart rate is that of someone about to die of a heart attack.  I can’t face the thought of going outside, of having to engage with anyone –  nope.  But at least I won’t be wandering the streets at all hours of the morning on my own, getting into fights – and not remembering any of it.  I want to be alone – yes indeed! But I have commitments this weekend and I will make sure I fulfil them, rather than get so wildly drunk and not give a shit who I let down or who I upset.  That’s the difference.

Sobriety doesn’t cure all – but it enables me to stay safe, stay alive and be trusted again.

And it’s Mothering Sunday this weekend!  I have daughterly duties to undertake!  My mum told me how proud of me she is last night on the phone and I still feel like shit.


The worst thing about depression is not knowing why you are depressed.  Not being able to put into words the reason you feel so dark and low and worthless and insignificant.  But at least I can say why it’s better without alcohol (on Day 74!)  I can clutch onto that tiny positive for now.

Happy weekend to you all and stay sober and safe :-/


Lots to think about…

I have stated before that I have been extremely lucky in this, hopefully my last, attempt to become sober once and for all.  I haven’t had cravings, nor suffered any withdrawal symptoms.  I haven’t fought with feelings of ‘Oh, normally I’d do this with a glass of fizz’ and if I have had anywhere near that thought, it has been fleeting.  I have been able to envisage a life without another glass of wine or ‘poshecco’!!  Picture myself totally in control at all future weddings (not mine I hasten to add) work dos, birthdays, funerals (again, not mine 😉 ).  I can’t give any other explanation for this other than my head is obviously ‘in the right place’.

Or is it that I was so ashamed of my behaviour over the last few years that I have been put off drinking for life?

Or is it the disappointment in my father’s face when I fell off a train onto the platform flat on my face because I was so drunk?

Or is it the money that I poured down my throat over the years?

Perhaps it was my use of social media to publicly humiliate an ex, when in actual fact it is me that is humiliated?

Maybe the possibility of losing my job over the aforementioned social media no-no?

There are hundreds of events that I could list that I wish I hadn’t done, people I wish I hadn’t upset, family I long to have not disappointed and the constant self-loathing and depression.  But nothing can be done to change what has gone before.

Now I have to think about the future.  My re-found confidence.  To look for another job and to meet new people, make new friends.  I have done more in 71 days than I have done in the last 10 years, if not more.  I have done a spot of public speaking!! I am doing a little more for our good friend Binki this Saturday!  I have agreed to do a talk for a friend to a group of people in May (on what, I have no idea!).  Public speaking was an absolute ‘NO WAY’ before I stopped drinking!

I have set up The Happiness Club, in conjunction with Psychologies Magazine and ‘Action for Happiness’ and I am embracing changes in my personal life and taking steps to overcome difficulties in that area.

I feel positive and I need to give something back, as corny as that sounds (albeit not as corny as ‘The Happiness Club’!!).  I have had counselling, psychotherapy, group support, CBT, help from A&E departments, help from the police, help from local medical professionals and services, help from friends and family, help from total strangers.  All because I was selfishly throwing alcohol down my neck.  I am nearing the end of my first course in Counselling, with the second course to start later this year, so that I can start to give back.

So you see, I have a lot to think about – but it’s looking forward and it’s looking positively to find a way to make my awful experiences over the last 20 years of my life count for something and somebody.

And if this post comes under ‘Recorked’s Blog’, I think I may have finally cracked it Binki 😉  Hurrah! xx




This is a post from when I was at about 60 days. I can remember it clearly as It was the first time I had had any real cravings…It is weird that I am re reading it today as I have been craving oblivion a bit today…the monotony of life gets to me sometimes, I do love the peace and calm I have now sober, but those feelings do creep up on me now and again. The difference is I have all the tools in place to deal with these feelings now…or failing them, bed and sleep!



What a weekend…

I feel exhausted.

Friday I had an appointment about my back, I have been waiting months for this and kind of trying to ignore it too. The news wasn’t great, as I have tried all the conventional methods it seems an operation is my only option and worse still I can not do any exercise…apart from swimming or yoga. I hate swimming!

Saturday was a long stressful day, I volunteered to help serving teas and coffees at an event my children were taking part in. I spent 8 hours serving, my brain was fried and all I wanted to do was have a huge glass of cold wine and switch my brain off. I came home and laid on the bed still in my coat for an hour. Thinking about that glass of wine and how I’d feel such relief downing it. I laid there and imagined that wine.

I came down and told my husband I could murder a glass of wine, he was shocked…then he kind of said I’d done so well, maybe a glass wouldn’t hurt. Oh those words…

Take me back 60ish days and I would have been praying for those words, that opportunity, any excuse to give in.

I’ve felt so depressed today, I have been beating myself up all day. It’s stupid, I am such a perfectionist and have felt like I have been doing so well, no cravings blah blah blah. But it all means nothing, this has hit me like a train.

I can not take anything for granted. I have to work hard and not get complacent. I have an appointment with a recovery service tomorrow, I am so scared but I don’t think just me on my own will cut it long term I need to throw all I can get at it.

I have to do this and I don’t want to be hanging on by my fingernails.