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I had a friend called Al?..

Whenever I got home from work Al would be there, he would never judge me, he would sit with me and listen to whatever I said. Al could change; sometimes he could be dry, sometimes sweet and on the weekends, he could be cold. In fact, most of the time he was cold, unless on the odd occasion he would be spirited and warm me up. Sometimes Al would mix, other times he would be straight and he could be bitter and make me shake. 

Al was great company; at night we would watch movies together, he liked watching rugby with me. We would stay up late and listen to music and party. Me and Al didn?t go out much because we had each other; if we did go out we would indulge ourselves. Al never questioned what I was doing, he never made demands or asked me to do anything I didn?t want to do. Me and Al would do stupid things, say things and regret them, fall over and laugh, cry and argue.

I started to think I couldn?t go out without Al. If I did go out I missed him so much I had to rush back. I often looked for him when I did go out but couldn?t find him. I knew he would be at home waiting for me. I sometimes panicked without Al.

Usually in the mornings Al wasn?t there. Other people were there who didn?t like me and Al?s relationship. They said we weren?t good for each other, we spent too much time together and in the morning when we weren?t together we became irritable, impatient and not nice to be around. Sometimes Al would make me sick and I couldn?t get out of bed for hours which brought up feelings of guilt and regret. I would be totally helpless and wouldn?t wash and couldn?t look after myself.

When I went to work I knew I wouldn?t be seeing Al until later. I started to worry if I could cope without him being there. At the end of the day, I?d rush home to see him and I?d sit down with him and all my thoughts would be quiet and there was just me and Al.

One day I wanted to do something different. I wanted to make some time to spend time with my partner and kids. It was a lovely summers day and I wanted to go for a walk with my family without Al. I started to notice how much time and money Al was taking from me. I realised our friendship was hurting me and my family.

I wanted to stay friends with Al; I realised our relationship had to change. I started to spend less time with him and would only see him on Friday or Saturday night. But, this was still affecting my relationships. I made the decision to see Al once a week for no more than an hour.

Things improved – I started to get on better with my family, I got up in the morning in a better mood, with more energy and felt more optimistic. The mindfulness, yoga and regular exercise worked wonders – Al didn?t want to do any of those things!!  

At the time I couldn?t see how my relationship with Al was impacting me and my family. However I started using mindfulness, I recognised helpful and unhelpful habits. It is hard to break away from relationships that are hurting us; we think the loss will be worse than it is and can?t see what we will gain from being a loser.

As a Practitioner for Valleys Steps I use this experience to convey to people that change can be difficult and scary in the short term, but long term we benefit and so do others around us. We talk about this on our Stress Control course how short-term pain can bring long-term gain. This change can be like the pebble dropping into the pond rippling outward and can encourage others to join you on your journey of change.

Paul Griffiths

Well Being Course Practitioner


If you would like more information about sensible drinking go to http://www.drinkwisewales.org.uk/