"My family know that I will not put my sobriety at risk under any circumstance, so if there is something I feel would put that in danger, then I don't do it."
This pandemic sobriety story comes from Beth M who lives on the South Coast of England.
Mrs D: How are you feeling about what's going on with Covid-19?
Beth: Worried. We are definitely seeing a massive rise in cases here in the UK, and due to the government handling of it people are less likely to adhere to rules. I am worried about another lockdown, mostly for the kids. I feel like their lives are being put on hold while this is going on. It's so unfair for them.
Mrs D: How have your emotions shifted and changed since the pandemic began?
Beth: It's been a roller-coaster! In the beginning, I was really scared, terrified that we would catch it and was super careful. Then I became a little complacent after being vaccinated, I honestly thought we were going back to normal. Now I am worried again. Not for catching the virus (although long covid does worry me) but for life-changing again and lockdown happening.
Mrs D: How long have you been sober for?
Beth: This time 6 months. I have had sober periods over the years, the longest being 10 months.
Mrs D: How is being sober helping you at this crazy time?
Beth: Being sober has helped me immensely. On a practical level, I am completely ready for Christmas which is unheard of for me. I also have so much more time on my hands! Whilst drinking once it hit 6 o'clock I would be sat on the sofa wine in hand and that would be me for the night. I am now much more available for my children and more importantly, enjoying time with my children. I am not wondering when I can have a drink all of the time. My anxiety levels have reduced greatly too, which has allowed me to think much more rationally about the situation we are all in. Alcohol was a big part of my anxiety issues. Everything is better without alcohol, to be honest.
Mrs D: Have you had any pangs to drink lately?
Beth: Not to drink, but in certain situations, I have craved something which would help me escape my feelings. Which of course, alcohol would do for a very short while.
Mrs D: Any particular self-care actions that are helping you get through?
Beth: I have created boundaries, there are things that I will and won't do. My family know that I will not put my sobriety at risk under any circumstance, so if there is something I feel would put that in danger, then I don't do it. I have read lots of 'quit lit' and visited sober sites and blogs. I am part of Hola sober, this has helped me immensely as I have met like-minded women, who I feel will be friends for life. It's so important to be able to talk with people who understand. I think this is where I fell down in the past, I just didn't have the sober support I needed so much. I have also started writing a blog called Singing Sobriety with B, It is so cathartic getting my feelings down in writing. Also, when I am writing I really have to think about my thoughts and feelings before writing them down. It's almost like therapy for me!
Mrs D: What are you doing to fill in the days?
Beth: Life has been pretty normal here for quite a while. Work, taking kids to school, walking the dogs etc. However, I now do practice self-care, so there are recovery zoom meetings and time to myself. I wouldn't have even thought about looking after myself in this way, but it has been a revelation. I don't think that we take enough time for ourselves. By doing so, it impacts everyone's lives around me. I am so much happier and patient now and this benefits everyone.
Mrs D: What would you say to people who are struggling with alcohol at the moment?
Beth: Read as much as you can, it can be so freeing to read that we are not alone. That those terrible things we used to beat ourselves up about have also been experienced/felt by others. Find your sober gang, it is so hard doing this alone, there are so many different groups out there now. Find the one that you feel comfortable with, I promise it makes the sober journey so much easier. Be kind to yourself, addiction can happen to anyone, beating yourself up about it will only lead to more drinking. Look at self-care, it may seem a little indulgent, but I promise you it isn't.
Mrs D: What's in this photo you've shared with us?
Beth: This is my swing seat. This area was a dumping ground before lockdown. My daughter and I did it up and my husband hung the chairs for us. I sit out here whatever the weather when I need a bit of peace and 'me-time'. The kids call it my 'special place'. They know that when I need time alone, I will sit here. I don't know why, but it just calms me and has been a definite benefit of lockdown.
Mrs D: Anything else you'd like to add?
Beth: During the first lockdown, my alcohol consumption went through the roof. I was drinking more than I ever have and much earlier in the day. I ended up in a totally desperate mess, which is why I reached out for help. Although this was a horrible experience, it did push me to get sober and I am so grateful for that. The fact that I know that this will not be a risk if we are in lockdown again, is so comforting to me.