There’s been a lot of talk about abusive relationships, in the week that the 50 Shades film is released. But whatever you think about Anastasia and Christian’s relationship, it’s fictional. Many of us have (or have had) an abusive relationship in real life – with alcohol. And, just as an abusive partner can lead to emotional, physical and financial damage, so can a negative relationship with alcohol. As Sarah says:
“It was like all bad relationships… It started in a hazy glow, but became increasingly abusive and ended with frequent tears and more misery than fun..”
Alcohol may exert an unhealthy level of control, or influence our behaviour negatively. Nina says, “It felt like I was in prison.” And Marie says, “I most disliked the way alcohol distorted my thinking and therefore my actions.” And then there’s money. Emma says, “My old house-mate is in thousands of pounds worth of debt because of her addiction to drink”
Changing your relationships
It’s not always easy to identify whether your relationship is toxic. Jim says:
“I didn’t really dislike my drinking much while I was doing it. I saw it as a problem that I had accepted as my way of life. Now it’s gone, the positives are more than I can easily go into. Mainly, I feel like I’ve woken up. My personality has changed somewhat, but for the better. The drink was masking who I am.”
Of course, it can be hard to change any relationship. Judy says:
“I’m trying hard to cut back and opting for mint tea after supper instead of yet another glass. When I remember. I hate the way I seem unable to say no once a bottle of wine is open. It’s a weird and unforgiving craving. And then I hate myself in the mornings for my stupid weakness.”
As Paul says, the worse thing about his relationship with drink is “The fact we should split up but haven’t yet..”
Love yourself this Valentine’s Day
So this Valentine’s Day, forget about whether ‘the one’ is going to send you a card. Instead, show your love for the most important person of all: yourself. While this may sound cheesy, the consumerist celebration/bombardment of ‘love’ that is Valentines’ Day can be an opportunity to reflect on the effect alcohol has had on your relationships: and on what you want your relationship with alcohol to be.
Some people may find it helpful to write a ‘Dear John’ letter: a tool I used in giving up smoking. Re-reading the letter every time a craving struck helped remind me of why I didn’t want smoking in my life. And while I’ve had the occasional ‘fling’ since, I’ve been off cigarettes for longer than ever before. Writing as a Way of Healing is filled with advice on using journalling for self-care: and evidence suggests writing can be a useful tool for ”healing’ of many kinds.
Happier by cutting down drinking
Only you what you want your relationship with alcohol to be. However, many people who have reduced their drinking report feeling happier for it. Sarzie says, “I got fed up of missing my limit, losing my memory and misbehaving. I don’t miss feeling lethargic; and enjoy being fully functioning and remembering everything about nights out!” And Beth says, “I gave up for two years and now only drink occasionally. I feel so much better, and not just physically. I feel more confident, sleep better and get up at a reasonable time, have far fewer mood swings and have achieved loads more..”
If you want support in ‘splitting’ from alcohol, or want to develop a healthier relationship with drink, join Club Soda and get writing.
By Emily Dubberly