The Authentic Caroline Now Stands Up


So here she is, the real me, after six weeks with Sarah, Caroline is BACK. After twenty years of trying to be so genuinely passionate, somehow approved because of my wine habit. We all do it after all. My tribe, my network, both at home and at work. I wanted to approve myself most of all.

There was joy with it in the beginning, I would be lying if I didn’t recognise that a cheeky Chablis, or Pinot had the effect of arriving, being a grown up, living the dream. Having been a medical student I had got trollied at the weekends, giggled at the vomiting and wasted faces of my friends and I at the pub on Sunday, or a bar somewhere. We all got through it, there was no tragedy, no real consequences, and there was never a thought of it being a daily dose, just a binge, we all were in the same boat, floating down a river of well, any alcohol that was cheap and got us to where we wanted to be.

That changed. Joy drinking went, work responsibility and relationships changed the settings completely. This was not a conscious decision, it just happened, sneaking up on me and becoming a real concern at around 32. There was too much ease and acceptance with it. Initially it did the trick, it took the pressure off, but then very insidiously began to create problems, not solve them. I stopped, I started, I discussed with myself mainly the madness of the habit.

After a particularly heavy weekend, I started to look for help, found the Soberistas website, and then go in touch with The Sanctuary, and Sarah. She was the least judgemental, non-patronising, ever optimistic woman I think I have ever met. I didn’t decide immediately to start, just considered the options. Eventually, realising I was now sinking at least 70 units of wine per week, I made the call, her approach was just perfect for my situation, a woman very concerned about where this current habit was going to end.

Sarah is not remotely interested in addiction, only the dependence and habit. As she says, if you are physically addicted, then you are ill, you have a condition, very poorly, and ironically, that is when you must seek help from the medics, me!

So I am here, having broken a very bad habit, and considering the options it has given me. Not once did I feel as if this would be a life sentence of denial, just a choice, which thankfully was still mine to make. I am not a reformed alcoholic, Sarah never stuck that label on my head, I once had a problem, and issue and I have dealt with it, in a way that worked for me, and I strongly suspect would work for many more women and men for that matter like me. Those of us who were on the edge, the invisible line that could have been crossed, from habit to full blown need. I never needed wine, it needed me more, and all the promises it made were entirely false in the end.

So just a thank you to Harrogate Sanctuary for making sense, rather than coming up with all the weaknesses that I may still have, but focusing on the real strength of believing in myself and what was the right path for me to take. Needless to say, if I can introduce anyone who I feel is ready to take control of their own demons and particular situation with booze I will most definitely recommend Sarah’s unique way of ploughing another furrow towards contentment and satisfaction with life, without any fakery or con trick played by big alcohol.

Caroline. x

Time & Health


The two most important parts of our lives, time and health, if we are lucky to have them, and some to spare, are always taken for granted. With my clients we do go through a process of working out how much time we waste whilst in the chapter of concern about our drinking habits. It’s not just the act of imbibing, it is all the thinking time on top. For the most part we have set hours to ‘unwind’ with alcohol, prior to any kind of full blown addiction. Wine time, between getting home from work or school runs, until the bottle or bottles run dry. The rest of the time is spent wasted thinking about what was said the night before, how you can justify it, whether you should drink today, or not, until wine time rolls around again, and back on the merry-go-round, that is far from merry.

Out of 24 hours in a day, if we are lucky, we get sleep or for those who do drink more than they know they should, including me back in the day, passing out, anaesthetised, of 6 or 7 hours. The next 18 or so we spend at least 9 of them worrying, feeling shameful, regretting and beating ourselves up about this activity, and within that time convincing ourselves that tonight, it will be different and drinking again. It is exhausting and has in turn, a hugely negative impact on our health, emotionally, physically and mentally. The rest of the time we squash in work, family, home, shopping, and wishing that time away until the drinking hours begin.

Rarely do we allow ourselves to consider the outcomes, but that is just human nature, always convincing ourselves that we are not that bad, and we know people who are worse.

However, when you do get to middle age and beyond, being incapacitated by illnesses that are out of your control is saddening, but being similarly incapacitated by those that you could have done something about, is tragic and deeply upsetting made worse by the enormous bag of guilt and shame that goes with it.

This is not just a problem in the UK, for example, a daily Australian paper only last week reported that it is middle aged women’s heavy drinking that has not, unlike men’s, decreased, and more and more are presenting with the consequences of it. Link.

My clients are not weak or powerless, just unable to access appropriate care without feeling stigmatised and ashamed. If they do find quality care, their attitudes towards not only their own problem but that of others, changes dramatically, and they are able to care for themselves with compassion and thoughtfulness that they should have been allowed to do in the first place rather than being labelled and categorised as a failure, and of course ALCOHOLIC. So wrong, so outdated and extremely unhelpful.

To start to consider the vital importance of time and health rather than a fake quick fix from a bottle is surely worth a few of our precious hours.