Tag Archives: writing

Standing vigil

Standing vigil

Where you are may be uncomfortable but sometimes there is simply no choice.

I am trying really really hard to make this time, this sobering, challenging time, as easy as I can for my family. In the early days of my decision, when I was inwardly crumbling, I was offered a spot in rehab. I declined not because I didn’t think I needed it, but because I didn’t want to feel any more of a failure than I already did.

In future years they may come to realise the magnitude, but at the moment my sons are deliciously naive of what I am going through thank god. It means the drama is all mine though.

Early on, sobriety for me meant that it felt somehow crucial to maintain mundanity. How could I have gone anywhere when so much needed done? Keeping up with the washing (which sat about in buckets, unsorted but clean at least), making sure bellies were full (so what if a few more meals were from the freezer section?) and children were present at school (skidding in as the bell rang) was achievement then.

In between the chores I tried to exude positivity, posting on Instagram with #gratitude, #sobriety, #livingwell. The only cringeworthy hashtag I have yet to employ is #carpediem. At the time of posting I do mean it, I am seizing the moment, shouting hooray for me, look at what I can do!

But there is the fall, the reversal. Recently I have just felt so bloody bored of being positive, of celebrating this thing I know and accept is necessary but sometimes is also just really fucking hard.

And then there is the weekend sigh. The collective exhale as time slows and Monday feels a long way off. From the promise of that Friday night deserved wine, to the friends coming over for Sunday lunch, the weekend is there for the drinking. Not be a part of that is sometimes more than I think I can bear.

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy has a much-used phrase called ‘distress tolerance’. Even the fact there is a name to describe how I’m feeling can sometimes be a comfort; so many people have been here, where I am, for them to have thought up a name for it, how brilliant!

I have been working through distress tolerance for months, long before I gave up drinking for good this time. (It is never wise, I realise now, to utter the words ‘for good’.) I need to understand that the risk will always be there, dimmed, more subtle, easier to navigate but present nonetheless.

There are three mindsets that come into discussions in distress tolerance. Addict mind, clean mind, and clear mind. This latter ‘mind’ is the aim. Fully committed to the cause but not so obsessed by  positivity as to be blind to danger lurking in the tiredness, the sadness, the celebration, the reward.


I must then stand vigil for my values, my decision; I am the soldier on the gate. There must, by necessity, be a shift-change, new energy brought in, new tactics. The common goal holds firm though, batting away the temptations, the desires, the cunning, wheedling voices carried on the wind.

Self-awareness is tough, confronting (and bloody boring often if it’s not your own, let’s be honest!), but somehow the mere act of removing the wine, the means of escape, that deceitful old ally, leaves no choice. I am by necessity present all the time.

Every conversation, interaction, raised voice, loving word, is authentic because there is no filter, no mediating substance to allow for future doubt. I will stand vigil, being watchful through the challenge, trusting others have done the same.


What a blether…


I’ve been called a blether as long as I can remember.  It is a particularly Scottish word for chatterbox.  It can mean simply talking a lot and it can also mean talking a lot of nonsense – I have been charged and guilty of both!  I am finally, ecstatically using my love of words to good effect and people have actually paid me to write!  It is amazing and I feel incredibly lucky to have found something I can fit in around my family life.  No matter that I was up at 4am today wrestling with the widgets on this website – words I can handle, widgets I most definitely cannot.  This might soon become apparent when none of my previous followers receive this post and it turns out I’m blethering to myself…

I have changed the name of my blog from ‘Me Without Sauv B’ to the above since I could no longer live with the worry that I was somehow misleading people into believing I’m teetotal.  I set up my blog to support a fundraising effort before I had any idea people would actually want to read what I have to say, though I have to say, words are proving as addictive as the wine that I gave up.

I thought I’d share my first ever words in publication, written twelve long years ago.  I’m going to use this as a hint at future posts that are currently tumbling about in my head; one about nature and mission possum rescue, another about writing and importance of words.  

I’ve been quiet for a few months, unlike me I know, as my life for a time was a whirlwind of pre-school fundraising activity.  We got there in the end after a fairly f… frantic few months (to read my article about the experience click here or see the articles page) and I am happy to be back at the desk wittering away into the ether!

Thanks for reading!






The last week has been a bit of a write off – literally.  I have upset a well known psychologist and had to defend a statistic in my second article – you’ll gather that the paper won given the correction at the bottom.  I didn’t reference correctly, a  dreadful crime in newspapers and a bloody big lesson learnt for me (especially since I am a keen and conscientious researcher, stupid stupid).  The psychologist bit irks me a bit more; just because she is a ‘someone’ is it right that my words – which were a direct quote actually – are pulled?  The words removed, ‘it doesn’t really matter how children eat their meals, it’s what they eat that counts most’ added strength to my article as I went on to disagree with her.  I expressed my opinion, so sue me.  Perhaps I used the wrong forum, perhaps I should stick to ‘fluffy’ articles and make life easy for myself.  I don’t think the answer is to become a hard-nosed journo taking on the world, my skin is most definitely not thick enough for that.

 Having a long weekend last weekend meant we drank SO MUCH MORE than we have been recently.  Three days in a row and there is no doubt that it saps my energy.  This means meal plans aren’t done (not toasted sandwiches again), washing is left longer (I am thinking of trialling a new system actually where I wash and then chuck into buckets each boys’ clothes which they can then rifle through at leisure when clean items are required.  It would save a lot of ‘Mum, I’ve got no pants!’ when actually they have and I have just been beaten, again, at bedtime by that huge pile of laundry to sort and fold.)  Sorry, so mind-numbingly boring but so relevant and unfortunately so me.  I blame it on never having been a corporate high-flyer (or even low-hoverer), as I have heard that treating your home as you might a bunch of recalcitrant juniors is a successful technique for imposing domestic harmony.

 So, with my small hiccup in newspaper-land and my many hiccups after more wine than was frankly necessary I am going to take this entire week for mental health.  I am going to pitch again and keep my fingers crossed that I haven’t tarnished my rep for ever and in the meantime whip into shape all the unruly socks in the house.

 Over the long weekend

 I cooked beautiful cauliflower soup – which darling Sam declared to be “the best soup I’ve ever eaten!”  Gorgeous boy, always knows how to cheer me up!

The best soup Sam has ever tasted apparently!

The best soup Sam has ever tasted apparently!

 We made pancakes which was a bit tense to begin with as I couldn’t cook them fast enough to keep up with demand and the whines of “Where’s mine?” were being laid on thicker than the batter.  I caught up though and we had wonderful fun tossing one poor pancake till it was cracked and split like the sole of an ancient old shoe.

The pancake while still whole.

The pancake while still whole.

 I read surprisingly little of the three fat newspapers I bought, but I did weep at Will Swanton’s wonderful account of a young surfer.  An amazing story perfectly told.  Surfing. Another thing to worry about.

 We tried to take in Vivid Sydney on Sunday with our lovely friends Morgan and Hannah.  It looked amazing the little we saw.  Our poor children though, being short couldn’t see much for the hoards of people.  We wildly wrote our phone numbers all over their arms so scared were we that they were going to get tugged away by the flow of the crowd.  They were amazing though and so uncomplaining.  They loved the sparkly tunnel called ‘Hundreds and Thousands’ and clapped like mad in order to elicit a response from the bright pink foxgloves.  No-one was prepared for the crowds, next year we have said we’ll do it better and manage that glass of wine we had been anticipating.  Thank goodness we were each with close friends though, it definitely helped us all cope.  I can’t wait for next year!

The boys inside 'Hundreds and thousands.'

The boys inside ‘Hundreds and thousands.’

Loud clapping lit up the flowers, gorgeous.

Loud clapping lit up the flowers, gorgeous.

Almost at the end of the week and despite all of my good intentions I have to admit to being really rather keen on a small (ish) glass (or two).  I’m sure I can find justification if I try hard enough!



The pile of books beside my bed - a tad optimistic?  Borne of a compulsion for borrowing from the library that has got out of hand!

The pile of books beside my bed – a tad optimistic? Borne of a compulsion for borrowing from the library that has got out of hand!

It’s been all about me this week!  The boys have been fed, watered, clothed and ferried about to wherever they have needed to be, homework has happened, stars and black marks doled out but while all of this has been going on my internal focus has been on all the bits and pieces I’ve got going on.  I’m going to call this distracted parenting.  It’s new to me as until this year the boys pretty much ruled the roost in terms of time and energy – that’s collective family energy.  Perhaps this is more akin to life as a working mum (which I actually a now too!) in which case, wow, I truly take my hat off to everyone who has juggled all these components of life from the word go with kids.

I am trying to teach myself to compartmentalise which is hard.  I am realising it is not so easy to try and do a million things at once these days even or especially with constant global communication literally at our fingertips (sorry, I know as a woman I am able to multi-task, I’m just finding that these days it results in difficulties…bad feminist?).  Yesterday we had two very similar incidents to highlight this:

  1. On arriving at pre-school I just had to finish off a tiny email I had started while waiting at a red light while Sam and Edward hung on in the back.

Me:  Won’t be a minute boys.

Boys:  Silence (happily doing sticker books).

Ten seconds later.

Sam:   Argh, Mummy, when are you going to be FINISHED?

 Me:  Almost there, just a second.

 Sam:  BUT I WANT TO GET OUT (shouted loudly).

Me:  OK, alright, I was just…realise they couldn’t care less what I was ‘just’ doing.  I probably always seem to be ‘just doing’ something.  This time was Sam’s time, he adores Northern Nursery and I felt rotten for spoiling his arrival there.  Of course, my email could have waited, it’s just too easy to think I can fit another little thing in.

2.  While the soup was cooking (yes, I know that’s a bit show-offy, forgive me, I’m trying to redeem a pinch of self-worth while I admit to my faults) I thought I’d check to see whether my article had been published.  It had which meant I had to phone Andrew (who was wonderfully, joyfully supportive and proud, thank you) which went on for a bit during which Edward (who had been happily watching Rupert the Bear I’m ashamed to admit – but it’s Rupert right?  Could have been worse, could have been Seseme street!) appeared to say ‘I hungry’ in a plaintive voice.  I said, of course, ‘I’ll be there in a minute poppet’ and continued to chat and revel in my new-found, hard-earned writerly ‘fame’.  A minute later he came back and began physically tugging on my arm to wrest me free of the technology that was binding me.  I felt dreadful so allowed him nutella on toast and apple juice for lunch.  Rubbish.

We are a bit of a technophobic household it has to be said.  We have no ipad, ipod, foxtel.  But perhaps I’m kidding myself and it is simply down to finances as opposed to my strict moral compass (you can get up now from rolling about in hysterics) or rather old-fashionedness.  Those technologies we do have are getting in the way.  They are stretching themselves over the compartments I mean to impose.   I don’t think I’m alone.  I go to a soft-play centre or park with the boys and find it hard not to get my phone out just to check if there’s anything that I need to attend to. What?  I am not a member of the UN,  nor am I a medical or legal professional on-call.  The most important communication I might have will be something from a member of the preschool social committee.  So nothing that cannot wait for me to have some time with my amazing boys.  I have taken to leaving the distraction in the car – not Edward, the phone.

reliant on technology

 I give Andrew a row for working on his laptop in bed.  Not only is it deeply unsexy, he works until he’s cross-eyed then wonders why he sleeps so badly.  I use my phone as alarm which means the first thing I do after hitting snooze is check my emails.

As if to prove my point, Andrew has just appeared (it’s 6.47am) to replenish my tea with Blackberry in hand which he insisted on checking to see what had come in overnight, phew the email he wanted was there.  It really couldn’t have waited, certainly not until the office and his work time officially begins.  I have 13 minutes of my allotted work time left before the hand ticks over to the next compartment and today I don’t want to be late, or distracted.

Since when were these not enough?

Since when were these not enough?

Edward demanded this be put in, starting young.

Edward demanded this be put in, starting young.

Incessant technological interuption.

“I never put off till tomorrow what I can possibly do the day after.” ― Oscar Wilde


Image  Three boys all set for the day ahead, unlike Mum.

My heart broke anew this morning as I left Edward howling in the corner of his day-care while the lovely Rachel tried to comfort him. He had already sat between my legs clinging onto me and when I extricated myself from his grip he crawled after me to the door.  Is there anything that goes against a mother’s instinct as much as walking away when your child is crying for you?  His two beautiful big brothers had said they wanted to help settle him so we had the pressure of getting them to school which helped – otherwise I might still have been there.  I am blessed three times over, so lucky.

I am of course meant to be working but the distractions are many and varied.  Luckily I am not at the kitchen table so I can ignore the dishes, washing, floor sweeping, window cleaning, bed changing, cooking, anything else taking my mind off the job.  I am procrastinating by writing so I can tell myself that’s allowed, building my readership etc.

I love this article by Dom Knight, and love the self-referentiality of reading it.


Image  So grown up.  Life is one long series of changes.

The Dorm and the Desk


Image  The Country Living connection ends here!

Image  Our shared space!  Never to be as tidy again.

Finally, years after buying the thing my massive desk is coming into proper use.  Not unusually for me it was bought on a whim without a tape measure or any means of getting it home from the ‘antiques centre’ where I bought it.  I think I doubled its price to about $100 by finding some poor mug who had unwittingly put an ad in the local paper offering himself and his van for pretty much any use.  He nearly turned and ran when he saw me in the rain with one small cross child and a massive bump (Sam).  I don’t quite know what I thought I needed a desk for at that time but anyway.  Since then it has been one of our two most annoying pieces of furniture (beaten by Andrew’s futon, see ‘Thanks Mum! April 23rd) used as a den, a jumping off platform for the bed it was beside, a sticker book storage depot, everything apart from my writing…until now.

I have my first commission for an article.  Someone (a well known newspaper) is paying me to do what I love doing the most (and do for free for all you lovely people).  This also means I have a proper grown up deadline to add to the balls in the air.  So far it’s working, the balls are still there while I try to smile serenely (more like a rictus grin) and keep paddling madly beneath the surface.

Andrew suggested I could call today my first day at work since mid 2002.  After I had finished bashing him about the head with the nearest heavy object – the last seven years have hardly seen me lazing about reading mags with my feet up (and my grey hairs, wrinkles and back problems are testament to this) – I understood what he meant (I’ll admit uni was not the most taxing four years).  Today will be the first time since leaving a corporate job to return to uni where someone has officially paid me for my time.  Scary thought.  I have to admit I’m a little nervous about being child-free for a day; they are as much my safety as I am theirs.  I know, I know it will be great but it will also be weird.

So we have a dorm and a desk.  All three beds fit in together really well which is a massive disappointment to William who was hoping desperately for a bunk bed.  Those of you who know Edward will understand our determination to squeeze three beds in!  Sometimes I do wonder why we bother with beds for Sam and Edward at all.  This morning I woke up with a crick in my neck, a knee in my back and a dead arm.  I would have been comfier on the bloody futon!

I had to check back to when I mentioned the futon and found reading the post of 23rd April a bit depressing as since then I have barely managed a decent run.  As people say, you can’t predict injuries but really, sports people get injured, not desperate housewives out for a light jog surely? Yesterday I took some stronger painkillers and went for a run anyway (aha, you see, you thought I’d gone all sensible without the wine, that’s much more Julia-like isn’t it?) as I am beginning to panic about next weekend.  I managed about 4ks and wore my 3 f’s t-shirt (fit, fast and fabulous) for motivational purposes (it distracted me at least as I thought of alternatives – flabby, frantic and foolish?).  I’m now beginning to see the run like childbirth –something to be endured in order to get a great result.  It is lucky it’s all for such a good cause, otherwise the towel may have been thrown in a while ago.

Darcy is back at school today after having a quiet week recovering from his last immunotherapy treatment.  It is humbling to imagine what he is enduring and here I am complaining of sore ankles.

Six days to go, roll on Sunday I say!  Thanks everyone for your support.