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Christmas Eve

As I’m writing, I’m sitting with the Xmas tree lights twinkling, my little toddler watching Frozen (whilst snaffling chocolate buttons) and a bowl of potato salad on my lap. I’ve just looked at what photos to get printed from December and have some lovely ones from the Harry Potter tour this week with the husband.

This time last year I was knee deep in an assignment whilst juggling Xmas. Let’s face it, the year 2022 has been hard. I finished retraining in my new career (primary teaching), I started a new job that still stumps me everyday (and pays rubbish) and a neighbour has driven us to sell our home. Then dont even get me started on the cost of living crisis. I’ve personally struggled this year with anxiety, feelings of being an impostor as a teacher and the sensation of being so overwhelmed.

But united we are happy, we are content and we are together. We move, as a family, mid January into a new home, which will certainly be a project. I’m so excited to start working on our forever home. I can’t believe the changes that have happened this year and I’m open to all of what 2023 brings (or at least I like to think so).

None of this gratitude would be here if it wasnt for my sobriety. It has made me such a reflective, calm person. Today my step daughter went back to her mums after a lovely few days with us and I was actually sad to see her go. This was unimaginable 3 years ago. I’d have been knee deep in baileys and resentment. My husband gave me a massive hug and thanked me for organising everything. We all wore matching jamas, drank hot chocolates whilst eating croissants for brunch.

My eating is still disordered and I eat like it’s feast or famine. It’s been a long standing goal of mine to work through this. I’ve signed up with a food program, that has a nutritionist and a PT. I’m hoping if I get professional help I’ll beat this. It’s hard as with alcohol you can, in theory, just quit. Never touch it again. There’s not this option with food and I find it so hard. So that’s my new years resolution. To have a healthier approach to eating, so I dont obsess over it, like I used to obsess over alcohol.

I’m wishing you all a very merry christmas whatever that looks like for you. I know I probably appear wrapped up in the magic of it at the moment, and I am aware it is nauseating. However, there have been a couple of years (well more than a couple), where I have spent it alone, full of resentment, hungover/off my face, hating this season. If that’s you, sending light and love your way. Hang on in there.

See you in 2023

Love

JS xx

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858 Fairy tales

This week has been hard. Not with drink cravings thank goodness, but with the trials of being a new teacher. I’ve had a big safeguarding concern, where a child has been removed from their family due to abuse, which is heartbreaking. Every night I’ve thought about this poor child and the fear they must’ve felt. I’m glad I was a safe adult to them, it’s strengthened my thoughts of this being a career for me. I’ve just got to stay strong and support them with the next steps in their life.

Another trial is I had a meeting with parent regarding their childs extremely emotional behaviour. They were the child who hurt me before the half term. The mum turned up stinking of alcohol, which is a well known issue in school. She obviously thought she had masked it, but was defensive and erratic through out the meeting. She then took her child home. It was a humbling experience as I’m aware that couldve so easily been me. Functioning but kidding myself that no one could smell it at the school gates. Apparently she has previously been reported for weaving all over the place at home time. I really feel for her and also the effect you can see it having on her child. It so sad she isnt even aware, just wrapped up in drink. Just like how I would’ve been.

So today after working this morning, I’ve played with my beautiful toddler who is now 3! We’ve completed a gruffalo jigsaw, baked paw parrol cakes and weve now settled down with one and frozen on the tv. I love being curled up with her sticky fingers in mine, singing let it go.

This is my fairytale, my happy ever after. I’m so so lucky.

Thank goodness

Day 832 – the switch

I’m reading this book at the moment at bed time. It’s a fiction book, by adele parks and it cuts really deep to the bone. It’s about a woman who struggles really badly with alcohol addiction, the ripples it causes her family over the years and her working through these issues. Her rock bottom isn’t my rock bottom, but so much resonates.

One thing that has really grabbed my attention in the book, is she talks about the switch. She manages to go sober after a horrible event drinking and is sober for a good few years. She starts a family, lives in a lovely house. Then one day she kids herself she can have one glass of wine, then at the next event maybe 2 glasses and she falls down a slippery slope to a further rock bottom. After that she has years of every day being a new day, that she will give up for her husband, child, mother etc. During this time the character discusses the sober switch like a light switch. For years it was switched to sobriety, then she pressed the switch. And then she’s stuck, the switch is stuck, she can’t switch it back. She feels stuck, she remembers how good sober feels and knows she’s being a terrible parent, but she cant switch it.

It gave me the shivers reading it.

That 100% without a doubt would be me. I feel it in my bones. Occasionally, I think it would be nice to grab a glass of wine with my friends (instead of sipping herbal tea) and I got attacked by a student at work this week and the bottle of gin was singing to me. But I know, deep in my core once I flip that switch, it would be a battle and a half to flip the switch back. That’s what keeps me sober.

I think it’s why I struggle so hard with sugar and dairy. My body hates it, but I convince myself I love it. I did 4months once abstaining and I felt amazing. I had so much more energy, my cravings went and my skin glowed. But I flipped the switch at xmas and have struggled for 4 years since.

Anyway, that’s my saturday night grumblings. I’ve spent a lovely Autumnal day, chasing my daughter round and park and then walked with a friend.

Hope everyones ok, wishing everyone a peaceful weekend.

Love

JS xx

Finding positivity in the little things

Work pushed me over the edge Friday, with 3 physical assaults in my classroom and a lot of disruption. It broke me and I sobbed as soon as the last kid left. I feel like I’m barely keeping my head above water, drowning in work anxiety and feelings of inadequacy.

But a real strong positive was not once was I tempted to drink. 3 years ago I’d have nose dived into a bucket of gin and been sozzled all weekend. Instead I’ve journalled, spoken to my work place mentor, spent time with my gorgeous little family and got us all stomping in our wellies outside.

On Monday, work was still really stressful, the children were still wild, but something had shifted within me. I felt calmer, stronger, more resilient. This class is a tricky class and the last 2 teachers have left citing their behaviour as a reason. The behaviour policy in school is laughable.

But for now I know, turning up and trying my best, whilst protecting my personal life is what’s important. I can only try my best. Everything will fall into place and what will be will be.

I’m sure I’ll probably cry by the end of the week but for now I’m strong.

oh and for internet safety day the children had to draw 3 adults they trust. Most the class drew me (as well as their parents). How amazing is that?!?

Love

JS x

813 days -mortgage muddles

Our beautiful home has sold and we’ve had an offer accepted on one we’ve fallen in love with.

Obviously as all this is happening, our government meddles (or completely f*cks up) UKs finances and now we are waiting to hear if our mortgage goes through.

In the mean while our neighbour has continued to be an absolute, selfish scumbag. Our daughters been in hospital with her chest (pneumonia) for a week and it’s been really scary. Come home from hospital and hey presto, her room stinks of weed.

We go to her landlord and tell him, my partner also mentions he smelt it on morning too when I was staying with her but didnt want to mention it to me as it stresses me out. He goes to talk to her. She lies and says she can smell it too and she thinks it’s someone smoking over the back. It’s not very often I say this, but I despise her. She could go smoke it in her car or with her windows closed, but no she smokes it in a room whereby she knows it goes into my daughters room. She’s also aware she was in hospital as another neighbour told her to try and nudge her to stop. She rents, she could move. She chooses not to. Instead she smokes weed when living in a terraced house next to 2 families. ARGHH

I’ve started my job as a teacher and the children are really lively. They are the year group that’s missed most of their education due to covid and they are wild (think throwing chairs, book, punches and you’d be close). I’m not sure whether I’ve made the right decision but only time will tell.

I’m still sober, I’m still fighting on and will update soon (probably mid breakdown as our home falls through).

Love

JS

A pathway forward

To pick up from where we left off, unfortunately the issue with our neighbour has got no better. Her landlord spoke with her Tuesday evening regarding the breach of contract and she told him the same as what she has told us. That she is depressed, she is addicted and she is getting help. She also informed him she only smokes it in the garden which is a lie, but we can smell it anyway so it doesn’t make any difference.

Her landlord told us to “be kind” to her, that we needed to look after her mental health. I inquired about my daughters health and my mental health and got a shrug. Since they have spoken she has taken it as a green light to smoke every day and night which is infuriating. But it has driven us to put the house on the market and we have started looking for a new home.

Whilst I’m devastated that we are moving sooner than we wanted, I’m trying to see the positives. I brought the home by myself, but now we get the excitement of picking a family home together. We might get a place with more space, or better schools or parks. So whilst the situation sucks, there is a lot of good in moving. Also, I think I mentioned before, this is a tight knit community and other families are aware of the smell and why we are moving. It effects their lives too. So I feel by leaving, we are taking the moral higher ground and not causing and atmosphere and tension.

So that’s today’s ramblings.

Unhappiness and a clear head

I was driving up to see a friend on friday afternoon and got stuck on a particularly nasty motorway, the M6. I was stuck in standstill traffic with no distractions. And it hit me. I’m not happy. Or at least in that moment I wasn’t.

I know as I type I sound like an over privileged person and I’m sorry. Please skip on if it sounds annoying. I use this blog to process my thoughts and examine them as well as connecting with people.

I’ve been sober now for over 2 years so it couldn’t be SADs so what was driving me to feel this way?! Well… I think it’s been a few things, which on their own a little but together they are all encompassing.

Firstly, my toxic mother reached out to meet Thursday. The first real since I removed myself from the toxic family situation after learning they were all going on holiday together and had hidden it from my family. I felt such a rush of emotion when reading the message. The little girl in me still desperately seeks her love and approval, but I know it wont come. Or at least she can’t love me in the way I need to be loved. Someone once said the definition of madness was doing the same thing time and time again but expecting different results. This is my relationship with my family, it is a cycle likened to Lenore Walkers cycle of abuse. A loving, honeymoon period, then feeling like you are treading on eggshells, gaslighting and then a big blow up. I’ve felt so happy and healthy without this in my life. However, I feel like by saying I don’t want to meet, it is proving to them I’m the unreasonable one, the issue. Even though she hasnt bothered to see my daughter this year apart from for her birthday, which let’s face it was for show. I’ve left the message unread, not sure how to proceed.

The second issue is we live in a very tight knit area with tiny gardens and a pathway out front all the neighbours use. This was great in covid. We would sit in our gardens and drink tea whilst chatting to each other. We have a neighbour next door to us who is renting. She has been there 4 years and for 2ish years she was great. However, what we didnt realise was she has addiction issues and fell off the wagon last year big style. She smokes weed, constantly, and it is pungent and in our house, in my daughters rooms. At first I hoped it would go away and tried to give her the benefit of the doubt. But in Feb I cracked, baked a cake and took it over to talk to her about it. She ignored my knocking but I could see her in the window. Since then we have messaged her over 30x asking for her to he more mindful and to stop. We have told her it’s in both the girls rooms, that my toddler, BB, has respiratory concerns and they are inhaling second hand weed. We’ve explained it’s causing us great distress and high levels of anxiety.

6 weeks ago, I text her saying it was enough. That if we smelt it again we would report her for antisocial behaviour. She kicked up a massive stink, telling us we were policing her, that she had depression, that she was addicted and we were affecting her. I stayed firm and said nevertheless I would do it. We really dont want to as when we sell the house we have to declare it but we felt we had no choice.

2 days later she stopped me on the shared path and apologised. She said if it was her godson, she wouldve been banging on my door after the second occasion and she thanked us for our patience. We had 5 weeks of bliss, being able to have our windows open.

2 weeks ago it started again, we text it stopped. Then Friday I smelt it before i left to my friends and it madr me feel sick with anxiety. It was only 11am which normally means she is going on a session. Then when I got to my friends my husband rang me angry. BB and my step daughter were playing in the living room with the doors open to the garden and my husband noticed the stink. My step daughter (who obviously is a lot more switched on than we realised), informed him she must be smoking drugs again, which meant the smell would be in her room. she then went to shut her windows whilst my husband shut the living room doors to the garden. My SD is 8. She is too young to have to deal with this.

My first feeling was pure anger. We were already considering moving bc of her actions. My daughters couldn’t have fresh air in the house bc of her. I text her and asked if she was smoking again bc it was in our house. I got a reply stating she was trying but she wasnt going to quit overnight. I once again laid it out to her that it was in our daughters bedrooms, that BB suffered with her chest, that it was causing us so much anxiety we were looking at moving and we wouldnt tolerate it any longer. “Oh it would be a shame if you moved”.

My friend seeing how upset I was took me for a walk up the roaches. There is something so peaceful and restorative about a walk late afternoon as the sun is starting to settle. We realised the reason for the way I was feeling was bc felt out of control and sick with worry for my daughters. We made a battle plan.

When I came home, the next day, I informed her landlord. He wasnt aware and was horrified. I also informed him he had 2months to sort it otherwise I was taking the next steps legally which would go on his rental property as it would mine. He said he was going to speak to her by Tuesday. We are such a tight knit close, that luckily all the other families have rallied round. They have all agreed to provide evidence if we go to the next stage. Whilst it’s not in their homes, it’s in their gardens, they all have kids.

What I do know is handling this with a clear head is a blessing. When the anger subsides, I can actually feel empathy for her, although I think she is actually happy smoking it and doesnt plan on giving up. But being sober is helping me make fair, rational decisions and I’m grateful.

So that’s where I am. I’m feeling a little bit more in control and happier now there’s a plan. I also feel less worked up now I’ve typed it out. I’m also nervous about starting a new job in 2weeks but I think that’s natural.

Excited to read everyone elses blogs in a minute.

Love

JS x

The “No spend” week

A gorgeous field by our home.

So this week has been tough and I’ve spent money. To be transparent I have purchased:

•Petrol/gas for my car, which then led on to an unnecessary purchase of some chocolate for my toddler BB and a lotto ticket (didnt win damn it).

•An academic diary for when I start school. Necessary- yes, altho buying a personalised one at £13, not so much. Papier had a fab sale on where I got £15 off. I’d lusted over this diary for months. So whilst I could’ve picked up a really cheap one, I’m happy with my purchase.

•Tutoring books. I start working for a tutoring business in Sept so needed to purchase the books. I can claim money back on these thankfully, but I had to pay the upfront costs.

•Potty training rewards for BB. We have tried and tried to potty train without extrinsic rewards. However, like her mother, she is extremely stubborn and has been resistant. Dangle a chocolate button reward infront of her and she pooped within 10 minutes.

I’ve enjoyed thinking of ways to spend time without spending money. I’ve walked at least 4 miles every day, normally before it gets too hot, ober fields and down canals. Some times with friends and some times with the company of a podcast. I’ve suddenly discovered podcasts (late to the party I know) and have enjoyed listening to educational ones trying to pick up tips to improve my practice. Yesterday I took an old container and spent an hour blackberry picking whilst walking and then wandered home and made bramble jam. I managed to gain some glass jars off a free site and thought they would make nice presents. I’ve also finally finished the amazing “This is us” show and feel like I’ve lost some friends, which I appreciate makes me sound like a saddo 😂.

Tomorrow I have a uni catch up and have suggested a national trust building as it’s free for me to get in. I’m going to bring a picnic lunch and a flask of tea. I’m hoping then, the only thing I spend is petrol.

Today we are potty training so hopefully no money spent there. Altho my husband has mentioned getting a takeaway 2x and I’m trying to resist as much as I can lol.

Have a lovely day today. It’s gorgeous and sunny here.

Lots of Love

JS x

No spend weekend 1

So following my last post, we came back from the lakes and then this weekend I tried a zero spend weekend.

I was pleasantly surprised how easy and enjoyable it was. Altho it did feel like a maddening itch not spending any money.

Saturday morning I walked 5 miles with a friend… altho typically we got lost and ended up doing just under 7 miles. 2 glamorous wees in a field later we shared snacks and flasks of tea and properly caught up. The English countryside is so beautiful and was a stunning backdrop to some real in depth conversations.

Saturday afternoon we all chilled out as a family watching a film and then playing outside. We ate fajitas and the girls finished it off with chocolate mousse.

The sunday rolls round and my hubby suggests we take the girls swimming. Normally I’d get excited about taking them to the pool, but it was such a lovely day. So trying to cling on to as much of the holiday as possible, I suggested a hike. My hubby thought I was mad. 2 kids (one a toddler) and a warm day, what could go wrong?!

I chose some lakes by us with a woodlands next to it. We stomped 3 miles, taking in plenty of stops, countless games of hide and seek and a picnic under an old oak tree. It was lovely. My toddler managed at least a mile too before hopping onto my back. We came home, chilled out again and had tea. I finished the day with a 4 mile walk with another friend. When I returned my husband grudgingly agreed it was a wonderful day, but thinking about it, that maybe down to his 90 mins of uninterrupted TV time.

Spending no money has been hard. I keep finding myself browsing clothes shops online and falling down a rabbit hole. It’s taken restraint like when I gave up drinking.

But I’ve actually weirdly made money this weekend. I’ve sold £40 of clothes on vinted and I cracked open a money box and had saved £250 so deposited that this morning.

I’m going to try and continue with it this week too and see how I get on. I appreciate there are times when I need to spend. But stopping mindless spending for a weekend has been really helpful.

Back in my happy place

It’s weird to think it’s my 3rd summer holidaying without alcohol. It is definitely, in my humble opinion, better. This year we are back at the lakes with our toddler (BB) and we’ve brought my step daughter too (SD). We’re also holidaying with another couple and their little boy.

I’ve been a little bit apprehensive about 1) taking our SD up with us (I was worried she’d be bored) and

2) holidaying with another family and feeling restricted with their plans too. So far though it’s been lovely. My SD has loved being outside and helped with the little ones on a walk we did. We’ve visited waterfalls, the grot at Rydall and the ferry. The younger 2 have splashed in puddles and hunted out trolls. Yesterday we spent an evening running around a lawn doing a combination of tag and catch. Days are passing in rainy, squelchy blurs stopping intermittently for snacks.

the grot

Whilst here I’ve been reading, in the evenings, a really interesting book on money. I’ve noticed since I’ve stopped drinking alcohol my spending has been awful. Coupled with not working and retraining, I’ve blown through my savings and extremely close to coming into debt. Whilst the good news is I start employment in Sept in 2 jobs, there’s not going to be much paycheck left over at this rate.

So inspired by this book I’m going to try and do a no spend month. I’m still going to buy household food, petrol for my car (in the book she cycled everywhere, but with 2 kids this isn’t possible), but spend no money on clothes, cosmetics, food out, takeaways and the hardest one of all, no coffees. Our food shop is going to have to be done at one time, if we miss anything we make do until the next week. This, I think will be key as the amount I end up spending popping in to grab one item and spending loads more by being tempted.

I’m going to start it Saturday, however, on 13th I’ve got a uni reunion so I’m going to allow myself a lunch out there. Will keep you updated.

Lot’s of Love

JS x

Oh cute picture of BB enjoying the puddles