Square It Up Friday


it’s not easy, I know. there are circumstances and life dramas and damn other people and outside crappy events beyond our control.

(would you believe that – literally as I am writing this – my cat has just regurgitated semi-digested mouse on my office floor? gee, thanks cat.)

shit happens, on an all-too-regular basis. and now I don’t use alcohol to regulate and drown out my feelings then I get to co-habit with those feelings in ways that are still pretty novel to me.

so I still need to remind myself that that is okay. that I am learning by doing: by choosing to respond rather than to react, I make it more likely that I will do so next time, and every time it will get easier.

Wishing you bananas and good choices this Easter weekend. Oh, and a little more chocolate than is good for you 😉

Prim xx


Square It Up Friday


note to myself 😉

I’ve not been around here lately…. I am still checking in daily to the soberverse, but seem to have less urge to write here. Trying to sit with that and accept whatever comes. All well with me – I hope with you lovelies, too? Prim xx

St. George fought THE dragon – not ALL THE dragons


St. George and the Dragon, Briton Rivière, 1914

this morning I was reviewing my diary for the month of January. I start each nightly entry with a couple of words summarising the day.  these range from:

very tough day / tough day / OK day / good day / happy day / very happy day

and overall, January has been a bit of a stinker round here. several very happy days, but also lots of tough and recently very tough days.

won’t go into the reasons for either, here – but a combination of internal choices and external events acting upon me have left me feeling drained and battered this morning.

so this post is to myself, as much as to anyone…

I chose this depiction of St George by the Edwardian artist Briton Rivière as I preferred his exhausted yet thankful version of St George to the more frequently seen vanquishing hero on horseback, skewering a cowering dragon while a grateful maiden languishes in the background.

the only person I am saving is myself.

the dragons I face – that we all face – on a daily basis can be of our own making, or they can come snarling in from the outside world, throwing us into disarray and confusion.

and often the dragons do come in battalions, or seem to – especially when we have been drinking for years, and letting them mount up, unchallenged and unfought.

I am four years and two months sober right now. I have given up expecting to be ‘fixed’ and instead believe that my recovery will progress onwards, in an eternal corkscrew, until my last (and hopefully sober) breath.

I remind myself that I don’t have to do everything at once.

that it took everything St. George had in him to conquer his one dragon.

if you are in early sobriety, and your dragon is alcohol, keep your eye on that one dragon. don’t let anything come between you and that battle. it’s one you have to win. 

if you, like me, are in longer-term sobriety, let’s fight our dragons one at a time to give ourselves the best possible chance of defeating the one in front of us.

and let’s all remember that, unlike St. Georgewe never have to do this on our own.

thanks for being here, as ever, my fellow sober warriors.

Prim xx

looking back on the first seven days of my own sobriety

the New Year brings to mind, as ever, thoughts of those who have decided to use it as a leaping off point into not-drinking, whether for a month for Dry January, or with hopes of the longer term. when I stopped drinking it was on an ‘ordinary’ Monday in November 2013 – nowhere near the New Year, but definitely at the end of the road.

I dug out my journal from those days. here are my first seven days – well, days 2 to 7 actually. I think I was too shell-shocked to think of writing on day 1.

Day 2: haven’t drunk for 2 days in a row for first time since June and possibly not before that since ? 2006? Five years? Eight? V. bad sleep last night.

Day 3: Felt unbearably awful today. Long run helped. Sleep bad but not as bad as previous night. Actually – did alcohol for Lent in ? 2010 or 2011.

Day 4: Feeling v positive in day but then drained by dull evening at [local social event]. Better sleep than Day 2, still some night sweats. Headache.

Day 5: Headache most of day. No night sweats but terrible skin itching in night on legs. Running low on NA drinks – need to buy more on Sat. Told [husband] I am doing a non-drinking experiment but that I don’t want to talk about it. 

Day 6: Doing OK. To theatre to see Paul Merton – had Diet Coke beforehand and no-one remarked on it. Sober laughing! Bit odd being with people drinking but ok. Good night’s sleep.

Day 7: Survived lunch with [family friends]. Small blow-up with (husband) afterwards because he asked me to take a sniff of his sherry glass because it “smelled like Christmas”. He doesn’t get it but I can’t use that as a justification to drink – I need to do this irrespective of his attitude. Need to NOT bring him into it. Good sleep tho strange dreams. Lovely email from Belle 🙂

reading this back makes me feel proud that I got through that really tough time. it was utterly grim and I had very little expectation that I would be able to see it through, because I had failed so entirely at moderation.

I am also surprised at how much I was going out and socialising in this time – it wasn’t a planned stopping point, I almost fell into it, so I hadn’t picked a time with no social commitments. it would have been easier if I hadn’t had three social occasions in the first week!

my sleep was all over the place. my writing is staccato and terse to start with and loosens up and lengthens even just by day 7. and I love that I wrote a smiley face in the journal on day 7!

in days 8 – 14 of the journal I expand on my moods during the day, continue to record sleep patterns, in particular that I have no energy in the evening. on day 14 I started my blog, and on day 17 I report being less tired in the evening.

On Day 20 I describe it as a ‘happy day’, and record receiving my first email from another sober blogger, telling a close friend that I had stopped drinking, and watching ‘the best ever Doctor Who’.

I think what I am trying to say is that if you have just started not drinking, feeling exhausted and dreadful is utterly normal. it is not a sign that you can’t do this, but a sign that you need to do it – that your body has begun healing and that it needs rest and nourishment. I started to feel better in what I think is a very short timescale, really – within three weeks, my mood and energy had lifted considerably and the world was an immeasurably brighter place.

if you are on your third day sober reading this, or if you are otherwise early in sobriety, I would love to hear from you in the comments.

how are you feeling today?

Prim xx

PS – I think you are BLOODY WONDERFUL.

How to close the books on 2017


I was listening to a podcast by The Good Life Project this week, titled ‘How to close the books on 2017.’ Highly recommended listening – I’ll see if I can add a link later (post edited to add – link now included in comment by Lisa below!)  I was intrigued by his recommendation of performing a physical ritual to symbolise the drawing to a close of the old year, and making space for the events of the future.

I thought about it today as I put the Christmas rubbish and recycling out (havers!) – would that do? No, too prosaic, too much of a weekly action.

I cut up browning bananas and bagged them for the freezer and future smoothies – how about that? Nearer the mark, but not quite.

Then I remembered the container-full of defunct batteries which I had been gradually filling over, I think, several years. All that past energy spent on activities, whether  important or time-sucking, vital or otherwise. So this morning I took them to the nearby recycling facility, and poured them in ceremonially, leaving me an empty space to fill with new things in 2018. It felt like a really concrete, deliberate statement of clearing the decks, and I’m glad I did it.

Is there a physical ritual YOU could do to mark the transition from things past to things future? No self-castigation allowed!

If one of the things you would like to leave behind in 2017 is a dependence on alcohol, then there is so much support and help available in many places, online and in real life. Bon voyage!

I wish everyone reading this a happy NEW year – I look forward to spending it in your company. Lots of love, Prim xx

Things we can and can’t control – a pocket guide


Control is a weighted word, with its anxious overtones of perfectionism. I prefer ‘change’, as in The Serenity Prayer, which has talked me down from many a high ledge.

It’s an entirely crazy-making time of year. Our self-care skills are never needed more, when expectations run high and time, money and solitude are scarcities. I find it hardest now to have good boundaries with other people – particularly heavy drinkers around me – and to avoid rumination about how others perceive me. I am working on that!

I hope that you and I can find the peace at the heart of Christmas. It is my very sincere belief that our sober selves are the truest, bravest and kindest versions of us. That’s who I will be continuing to become  in 2018, and I heartily wish those gifts of sobriety for you, too.

Happy Christmas! Prim xx


Square It Up Friday


this image was very kindly sent to me by Lou, who found it on Catherine Greer’s blog, who reblogged it from christinehassler on Instagram.

it really hit home for me – especially no’s 1 and 5. as we head into this craziest of seasons I need a very basic and frequent reminder of how I want to lead my life.

which ones speak to you loudest today?

happy sober Friday, dear cyber-companions! Prim xx

Square It Up Friday


A frequently recommended self help exercise is to try and write your own eulogy. At my time of life what seemed such a distant prospect in my twenties is now approaching with the speed of a cheetah in a particular hurry, particularly when I have news of friends who are nearing or sighting that finish line…

In my last days of drinking a description such as this wonderful one by Maya Angelou would have felt as far away as the moon. These days, at four years sober,  it seems far away but not impossibly distant – like, say, Glasgow.

How would YOU like to be remembered?

self-care resources for all phases of recovery – part 1


I came late to driving and view it very much as a means to an end – i.e. of getting from point A to point B. one thing that has driven my husband insane with irritation ever since I got my own car is that I never used to know what mileage it had done. I knew it had a mileage counter, but what purpose would be served by keeping that number in my head? so when very occasionally when discussing our household motoring requirements he would ask what the mileage figure on the Prim-mobile was, I wouldn’t have the faintest idea. 75,000? 180,000? some? many? lots?

eventually I decided that the purpose of knowing the mileage figure was to stop myself looking like a flake when my husband asked me 😉 so now I look at it occasionally and know roughly what it is. that knowledge has probably evicted some other vital factoid, such as the lyrics to a Bucks Fizz song.


hurrah for velour sweatshirts. and is that an ankle chain?

since getting sober I have discovered that I also possess a self-care-ometer. I literally never glanced at that, either, for my entire preceding life, ricocheting instead between gratification, denial, and self-destructiveness – shuddering at the memory, here….

the idea of doing things every day to keep myself on an even keel was not one that I ever got to grips with. and then I stopped smoking, then stopped drinking, and where was my safety valve then?

I had already started running, so that came to the fore. checking into the soberverse daily, blogging, and emailing with sober pen pals helped enormously in the early days of sobriety and continues to do so to this day. I have learnt – often by blogging about how low I feel, and then realising why – that when I feel lowest, I often feel least like doing self-care-y type things, just when I most need to do them. so I haul my arse off my emotional if not literal sofa and go and do it – mostly, anyway.

things are still low around here generally in the period after my father in law’s funeral. I am finding many implications of this bereavement inappropriate to talk about here so will not do so in detail. one specific thing relevant to my recovery is that the night preceding the funeral I had an absolute thumper of a drinking dream. the usual format for me of ‘realising’ that I had been drinking on and off for the last few months and that I am therefore not sober. the crashing regret, sorrow, anguish – I have not relapsed in real life and therefore my brain sees fit to imagine it in the most vivid detail. I wake shaken and uncertain for a few moments what the truth is. yes, there is relief when I realise it is only a dream, and I recognise that it is my subconscious putting swathes of yellow incident tape around the huge hole that relapse would be for me, to protect me from it. but it is so painful to go through, when I am already feeling vulnerable.


pavement art at its most stomach-curdling.

so, we are trying to get back into normal life. Verity recently commented hoping that we could ‘gently re-group’ which is a lovely way to think of it. as part of that I have been consciously upping my self care and in doing so have been taking a refresher course in the topic. I found a number of new resources which I thought I might pass on in case they were useful to others as well.

My experience of the earliest days of sobriety is of walking around in a haze, not really knowing which way was up in the absence of my previous force field of alcohol consumption. at that time I would have found this cogently named interactive tool helpful:

You Feel Like Shit: An Interactive Self Care Guide

‘This is meant to be an interactive flow chart for people who struggle with self care, executive dysfunction, and/or who have trouble reading internal signals. It’s designed to take as much of the weight off of you as possible, so each decision is very easy and doesn’t require much judgment.’

The tool leads you through a series of very gentle questions, which I find surprisingly powerful. When we are at our lowest even thinking of the right question to ask can feel impossible.

(If you do have a play with this guide, I’d love to hear what you think of it.)

I started drafting this post a month ago and the need for self care is still pretty high! There are more great resources to add but I thought I’d make this a two parter, so as to actually press publish before Christmas 😉

More soon, sober compadres! Prim xx

snapshot at four years sober


Sea: Mediterranean. Nail colour: Plush Pink. Toes: model’s own.

four years and still here! so, so grateful that I found my way out of that dark place, with the help of lots of marvellous people – like YOU, reading this!

you are all bloody amazing. thank you from the bottom of my heart.

in the past I have written detailed and obsessively  thought-through anniversary posts at my one, two, and three year anniversaries. this is not going to be one of those 😉 there will however be the traditional elements of sober bling, cake, and my next Word Of The Year, so please feel free to skip the chatsome middle section and go straight for those at the end!

for the snapshot at four years sober I thought it would be valuable for my own purposes to review what I am still doing on a regular basis that is specifically recovery-focused. not because there is a ‘right’ amount to be doing at any stage – I know people online whom I think do either considerably less or considerably more than this – but because I hope to continue blogging and will find it interesting in the future if this changes.

daily practices:

  • wearing my Stay Here bracelet and my two-year sobriety ring – usually also one of several necklaces that are also sober tokens.
  • I am still registered with the entirely brilliant Belle. I receive her free emails and subscribe to her podcasts, and spend 10 minutes every morning, while I do my creaky-middle-aged-woman exercises, listening to either a series of her free One Minute Messages or to a section of a longer podcast. Belle inspires me with how she is evolving in her own recovery and is a tremendous role model in how she is continually trying new things and keeping her life exciting!
  • checking in on WordPress and reading and commenting on sober blogs. by the nature of time passing the commenting is less as some of those bloggers I grew up with blog less frequently. I often add new bloggers to my blog roll and always appreciate their perspective.
  • listening to podcasts as I go about my day, some of which are specifically related to recovery, such as Since Right Now, Buzzkill, and The One You Feed (which just had a great interview with Maia Szalavitz, the author of The Unbroken Brain – highly recommended).
  • nightly journalling including a gratitude practice.
  • pretty much daily – checking in by text or email with sober buddies whom I now count as real-life friends: truly priceless.

less frequently than daily:

  • blogging – my posting frequency has decreased as time goes on. there is less urgency and the issues troubling me nowadays are perhaps less recovery-focused, more nuanced and more specific to me. also I think by writing here, and also by writing to sober penpals, I have become better at framing my thoughts and expressing them appropriately to those around me in real life, so I need this less as an outlet, perhaps? without getting all Captain Oates about it, I have had the thought that I should/could deliberately drop blogging at this point. however I think I would miss it if I did, so I won’t!
  • emailing Belle – again, I do this less. it is great to have her there as a resource but again I don’t nowadays often feel the need for it.
  • replacement drink – I make sure that the cranberry and tonic with lime is still always available as a 6pm little something, but it gets deployed only irregularly – maybe once every 10 days or so, when I am feeling in need of a boost – and not as a replacement for alcohol, but just because it is nice in its own right.
  • meeting up with other sober folks – very special. wouldn’t be without it! I am wondering who I will meet in real life in the coming year… now there’s a thought…

just to stress again – I don’t think there is a ‘right’ amount of recovery work that anyone ‘should’ be doing. I have taken to heart Belle’s advice to err on the side of caution. there is a ‘right for ME’ amount and there will be a ‘right for YOU’ amount. if we are sober and happy about it, that’s the right amount!

so – on to the cake! here it is – carrot and peach cake with a caramelised peach topping. please help yourself to a slice. you will need a fork!


a sober showstopper.

and now for my new Word of the Year, and the sober bling, which tie into one another.

my words in the past have been peace, and attention, and choices. my word for my fifth year of sobriety is going to be brave.  I think there is a pattern, a progression in those words. I hope to be able to live into that word as I carry on in my sober flight. here is my new necklace to celebrate 4 years sober and looking forward to the next adventure.


one final vignette: recently, in an effort to make paperwork more appealing, I have been lighting a small scented candle on my desk as I work. carefully, of course! flame + paper  -> potential conflagration, which seems an extreme way to reduce one’s intray.

soon after I started doing this, my daughter came into my office after I had put the candle out, sniffed, glanced at the table, and asked,

“Mum, have you been burning a scented candle in here?”

(you should appreciate that my daughter is currently at the age where if she had a dial it would be permanently set to either ‘Flounce’ or ‘Mild Scorn’.)

when I confirmed this, she responded, with faint pity,

“That is just such a Mum thing to do!” 

so my teenaged daughter thinks of me as doing paperwork while burning a scented candle? I will settle for that, sweetheart. I’ll settle for that.