Monthly Archives: August 2019

Ending an Abusive Relationship

Obvious fact number 1- If I had a good relationship with alcohol, I wouldn’t be writing this blog

Obvious fact number 2- A “good” relationship is one where both parties get something positive from the relationship

Obvious fact number 3- My relationship with alcohol is not good

Obvious fact mumber 4- Abusive relationships cause harm and pain

Many of my friends have a good, controlled relationship with drink. They take it or leave it, they can enjoy a glass of fine wine, sip a cold beer before doing something entirely different. They have lives not dominated by thoughts of alcohol. Me? I’m the opposite. I look at events coming up- will there be alcohol, who can I get to drive so I can drink? How to stop myself at such events getting pissed and sounding off about the state of the world?

Then I might have to plan some non alcohol days, they’ll be some craving for sure but there will also be that empty sense of, “so what do I do now without alcohol.” Alcohol has started to dominate my life. There’s very little I can do without alcohol peering over my shoulder and suggesting I take her with me. She pretends she likes me that this time we will have a good time, nothing to worry about. In short alcohol and I are in an abusive relationship. Alcohol holds me back, makes me feel crap about myself, makes me overeat, doesn’t like it if I do things without her,gives me the impression a few moments with her will make me forget the nagging sense of emptiness and unfulfilled promise that dominates my life. Wow, that sounded depressing. Hold on, it gets worse. She also has made me feel ill at times , gives me three day hangovers and even depresses my libido. What a bastard she is!

Except of course it’s not just her. It takes two to make a relationship, and I have often abused her. At university I thought it would be cool to out drink my fellow students, be someone who could drink a skinful and still stand up semi coherent. I made her attend all my social events not just the ones you might expect and I encouraged others to join me in abusing my dear friend alcohol. I abused her, she abused me. It’s been going on for 45 years. I think it’s called co-dependency

Sometimes people wonder why anyone would stay in an abusive relationship. Well for me and alcohol there’s several reasons:

  • I didn’t recognise it as abusive until fairly recently
  • I still get something from the relationship (fun, forgetting, changed state of mind)
  • At least it’s a relationship
  • It’s the glue for many of my other relationships
  • It’s familiar and has stuck with me where others have not
  • Maybe I deserve the abuse, maybe I CRAVE THE ABUSE

At some point most people do realise they have to leave an abusive relationship if they want to survive. I’m at that point. I don’t think and alcohol and I can be friends any longer. She keeps luring me back but the benefits are getting less and less whilst the negatives are stacking up big time. Like ex lovers we have to stay apart knowing that if we do get together we forget our promises and throw ourselves into an orgy of sensual love making only to feel guilty the next day. (OK , I know, I’m getting carried away with the metaphor now)

You get my point. Ours never was and can never be a moderate, mature, respectable relationship. We are too alike. She was good to me in the early days and we have had some great times, but I have to get away. We are hurting each other.

Update

I originally thought I was stopping on the 4th September but it will be the 1st as I mixed up a couple of social events. In the meantime I carry on drinking. Milton Erikson is the father of modern hypnotherapy. One of his patients was grossly overweight and tried all the diets. She saw Erikson and he told her to put on extra weight. She was confused but did what he said. He told her to put on more. She begged him to stop telling her to put on weight. It worked- she became so disgusted with herself that she changed her eating habits. She overcame her eating and weight problem. Now there’s a thought.

Thanks for stopping by.

Jim x

Man About to Give Up Alcohol- Exclusive Interview

Our correspondent, Yura Kiddinme, talks to a slightly confused Jim Simmonds about his upcoming challenge and his new Blog, “former drinker”

YK: Good morning Jim, thanks for doing this interview. I’d like to talk to you today about your new blog entitled “former drinker.”

JS: Hi Yura, yes I’m very excited about the blog and glad to talk about it with you.

YK: Great! so Jim the new blog is all about giving up alcohol.

JS: that’s absolutely right Yura a brand-new blog all about giving up alcohol.

YK: Jim I’m going to ask you straight, forgive the directness: are you an alcoholic?

JS: Great question Yura. The answer is a resounding “no”. Sure, I drink very heavily, can’t seem to moderate how much I drink, I also obsess about alcohol whenever I have to go into social situations and it’s beginning to affect my health and well-being. Other than that though I’ve got it completely under control.

 YK: Yeah okay Jim. Maybe when we finish this interview you might want to look up the term denial. Anyway let’s press on.

J S: Absolutely

YK: I guess it’s early days but how’s it going Jim with this “giving up alcohol?”

JS: Ah, well you see I haven’t actually started giving up yet, that is still a few days away.

YK: But Jim, you’ve called your blog “former drinker,” how does that work if you’ve not actually given up drinking yet?

JS: That’s an excellent question. You see I will be a former drinker but that will be in a couple of weeks time. In the meantime I’m gearing up to being a former drinker. It’s all about the preparation.

YK: Right so you’re still drinking, not strictly speaking a former drinker then are you? At least I suppose you’re using this time before stopping drinking to wind down your alcohol intake, is that right?

JS: To be honest if anything my alcohol consumption has been ramping up these last few weeks. In fact I’m probably drinking more now than I’ve had in ages.

YK: Jim I’m not getting a good feeling about all of this; so you’re telling me that in the run-up to not drinking you’re actually drinking more than ever before? That hardly inspires confidence that you can I give up. So why the increase in alcohol consumption?

JS: Yes I can see you’re a bit confused, it’s a bit counterintuitive. Reality is I like drinking…

YK: Woah…let’s stop there Jim. You’re about to give up alcohol and yet you’re telling me that you love drinking. Jim are you an idiot?

JS: That’s  interesting and you’re not the first person to ask me that question. But let me explain. I love drinking but I can’t carry on drinking.

YK: you love drinking but you can’t carry on? What is going on here Jim? 

JS: Look, I drink heavily, I like my drinking but it’s got to the point where I cannot be moderate in my drinking so what’s happened is I’m spending too long thinking about it and planning around it, it’s affecting my health, my sleep, my weight. I love it but I also hate it and it’s time for the alcohol to go.

YK: okay I think we’re getting somewhere now Jim. It’s harmful, you can’t moderate so you are giving up. So why not just give up now, why the delay?

J S: Will two main reasons I suppose. Firstly if I’m going to give up alcohol and it’s something I like then I want to enjoy a few days where I can drink before I finally put it behind me. Secondly I think I want to drink excessively so I actually remember what it’s like to feel sick of drinking, to wake up with a hangover, to feel nauseous, to experience bad sleep, excess weight.  To remember  those things, I think, will help me in the future.

YK: Jim this seems a very unique approach to abstinence. Are you sure you’re not just mad?

JS: look you got to do what’s right for you. In my mind this approach makes sense, it feels right therefore that’s what I’m going to do.

YK: I can respect that Jim if it’s an approach that brings results, then why not go for it. I’m guessing that you’ve experienced other success using this simple approach in other areas of your life Jim?

JS: actually no, not really. For example I’ve been trying to lose weight for several years now using my own individual approach. In fact this year I managed to lose nearly a stone in weight believe it or not.

YK: that’s brilliant Jim and how’s the diet now.

J S: well I’ve actually put it all on in the last couple of months and in fact got even heavier than I was at the start of trying to lose weight.

YK: so could we say that’s been a little short of success?

JS: no I think we can call it an abject failure.

YK: Jim again this is not exactly creating a feeling of confidence in your new venture. Why do you think this giving up of alcohol will be successful when you’ve experienced so many failures in trying to change in the past?

JS: I’ll tell you why. Because earlier this year I vowed to give up alcohol for three months and I succeeded and so I now think I’ll give up for a year and I know I can follow that through.

YK: and how was it giving up to 3 months, did you find it difficult?

JS: sure it was difficult but I found that it was socially and psychologically more difficult then it was physiologically. So staying at home during the week and not drinking was not too bad but as soon as Friday came along I could feel that old association of “it’s the weekend’ treat yourself’ let your hair down, have a drink.” When I went out to a restaurant I could suddenly feel that craving because of the association that every time I go out for a meal I drink alcohol. Every time I socialise with friends in the evening I drink alcohol so it was the associations that created the real cravings and that I found interesting.

YK: and Jim you say you’re going to do a year. Why not just give up completely and be done with it?

JS: When I gave up to 3 months,part of the reason I could do it was that I knew that it wasn’t a once and for all decision. I knew That I could go back to it after three months if I wanted to which is what I did. But there was also part of me wanting to not go back to drink.I think if I said never again when I next had those real cravings I’d give in as I couldn’t imagine dealing with those cravings for the rest of my life.  Having a craving but only having to deal with it for weeks is easier. So if I say one year I I can imagine that, I can imagine a year without drinking knowing that if it was an awful experience if I felt I was missing out socially and in other ways I could go back to it but what I’m hoping for is that with one year under my belt, feeling physically better and being  more productive,I’m hoping that I will say no way am I going back to drinking. That will be the point when I can truly think of myself as a former drinker.

YK: okay Jim well you certainly have a very individual approach to this and I’m guessing once you get into not drinking you are going to become something of Crusader, waging war against the evil drink?

JS: no, not at all. Believe me, if I could drink moderately and sensibly like many of my friends I would carry on drinking. My problem is for lots of different reasons I’m rubbish at moderating my intake and that’s not just alcohol. I’ma bit excessive all round. So no, those people who enjoy a little drink, fine no problem. But I know there are plenty of people like me and worse where drinking has really messed up aspects of their life. Now if one of those persons rethinks their relationship with regard to alcohol that would be a bonus.

YK: okay well thanks Jim that was very informative. I hope, against the odds, that you’ll be successful in your campaign to stop drinking. I shall follow your progress keenly by reading your blog. I wish you well.

JS: Thanks. I’ll drink to that. Well for the next week and a bit anyway.

RIP David Berman so sad that he took his life last week. Loved his music with the Silver Jews. Just listened to the purple mountains stuff he was about to tour with- “all my happiness is gone” track that says it all – not able to overcome those demons- the music lives on!

Alcohol is not the problem- I am

Well let me qualify that attention seeking title. Of course alcohol is a powerful, addictive psychoactive drug that can play havoc with minds and bodies and cause numerous problems for individuals and societies; but, if alcohol by itself was the problem, everyone who drank alcohol would be a problem drinker and that is again clearly not the case.

FINDING YOUR PLACE ON THE CONTINUUM

like most things, alcohol use and abuse is on a continuum. Obvious I know, but for me, I need to remind myself of that. I have enjoyed alcohol for many years and I’m already missing the thought of it three weeks before giving up. I am giving up because I’m rubbish at moderation and its impact on me means its time to choose- carry on with the alcohol with the negative impact it now has and risk early death and impaired living or give it up together and face the inevitable struggles and changes that go with abandoning a massively entrenched pattern of behaviour.

I’m recluctantly going for the second option. I say reluctantly because I would love to be able to be like my partner- a moderate, take it or leave it drinker. She can have a small glass of cider one day and then happily have no alcohol for weeks or months. She can enjoy A glass of wine and leave it there. I can’t. I have the cider, then want another, then maybe some wine and on and on it goes. I don’t get overly smashed because I have built up tolerance. I’m not at rock bottom,I don’t get aggressive but I know I can never be a moderate drinker. I have drunk heavily since college days, reining it in sometimes for work and family but drinking heavily to the point where I know it’s now doing me harm.

I’ve chosen to drink heavily over the years and the result is that I have lost the ability to control it when I do drink or I spend massive amounts of energy trying to control it in such a way that I do not enjoy myself. So there we have it, my partner and many friends are at the sensible end of the alcohol use spectrum and I’m going towards the other end.

Tried moderation

Yep, tried the moderation bit. I was so reluctant to give up my lovely alcohol and it’s seductive sensations that I was determined to control and master it. I counted units, kept bar graphs, had reminders on my phone to keep track of my drinking but all to no avail. Once I was in the pub or opened that wine, felt that first pleasurable wave of comfort, little voices would start saying, “You deserve this Jim, don’t become a miserable bastard like those abstainers, enjoy yourself- go on – have a drink boy.!”

So what’s different about me?

Yes this is the crux? Why do some people develop a problematic relationship with alcohol whilst others are fine? It will be a different answer I suppose for each drinker who develops a problem although there will be many things in common. For me it was growing up in a drinking culture, being anxious around girls, having an addictive risk taking personality, lots of reasons. But the reasons are, in a way, not important – I am where I am. Knowing what I know, I can now safely say that I need and want to try giving up alcohol completely.

Abstinence is easier than moderation

In January I had to lower my cholesterol. My doctor was suggesting statins. I didn’t want that and said that I’m sure if I cut out booze I would lose weight and less weight and no booze would bring my cholesterol down. It worked. I gave myself three months and my cholesterol lowered. I went back to the doctor but she said risk was still there due to a family history of heart attacks. back to square one and I thought,”why did I bother?” and started drinking again. But during that three months I noticed some strange things and that is what helped me reach my conclusion to stop drinking in three weeks time. More of that next time. This post has gone on long enough!

Thanks for dropping by

Jim x PS any constructive criticism/advice on blog (layout/content/organisation what’s missing) gratefully received

Song to check out – “I drink” by Mary Gauthier. Now an ex drinker. Great song by a great lady- one day I shall attend one of her songwriting workshops!

Building Up To a Big Change

Frogs- Proof that change is possible!

Much of my social life has been built around booze and trips to pubs. I enjoy trying new wines and beers, I like getting squiffy- in short I shall be giving up a lot.  So, not a decision to be taken lightly. It’s about weighing up pros and cons and it now feels like I’m in a relationship where it used to be great but has now gone sour-it’s doing me more harm than good- so it’s got to go. It will be hard.  It also has to be a journey that’s more than just about giving up alcohol. It’s about discovering new ways of being, of socialising, of drinking liquids that are great but non alcoholic. My world is about to change. Alcohol has been my “friend” for nearly 50 years and losing her will feel like a bereavement, but one of us has to go and I don’t want it to be me!

As I shall be starting on my journey in a fresh way I thought I should start a new blog, so if you have followed me on “Sweet Poison” or stumbled across this and want to follow my new journey please join me; I’d love the company and also your insights and advice. I hope that if I stumble across some new insights/strategies/surprises along the way these may in turn prove useful in some way to one or two people out there.

All scary but exciting stuff for me anyway. I aim to stop drinking on 2nd September. I will post a couple of pieces on here about my preparations and a little bit more about why I have taken this decision. On a broader front I want to look at why we all find it so difficult to make the changes we know we should make but which often elude us. That’s maybe for next time.

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Just a nice picture of some flowers- why not

Thanks for stopping by and I’d welcome your company on my new journey. I hope it is going to be transformative.

Jim x