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Recovery Tips When Holidays Hurt

02 December 2016 Written by 

What Do You Do With Alcoholism And Holidays? Living with addiction is tough enough, but throw in a holiday and it gets 10X harder. I don’t often use the word, “suck,” but when I lived with active alcoholism I would often say, “This holiday is going to suck. I just don’t know how bad it is going to suck.”

Unpredictable is a great word to describe someone suffering from the disease of alcoholism. They may be great and under control, they may be drunk and full of rage. I never knew which one would show up for a holiday.

What Life Was Like Before

  • My stomach would churn the weeks leading up to any holiday
  • I would be jealous of other “normal” families that didn’t seem to have the same problems I did
  • I would attempt, on top of all this turmoil, to create a nice memory for my five children

What I Did

I would often try to eat as early in the day as possible so my husband would be sober at the dinner table. Some years he would still be drunk from an all-nighter from the night before so dinner would be scheduled for later in the evening. No matter what I tried it always ended the same way. My husband passed out, the children looking for ways to get out of the line of fire, and me crying. Not a pretty picture and yet it was repeated holiday after holiday.

What happened to change al this was the simple idea that I had choices. I learned that at an Al-Anon meeting. Such a simple idea. Even early in my recovery I began to implement that thought.

  • I began to have a Plan B, such as going to another family’s home with the children if my husband disease got the best of him
  • I began to lower my expectations so I wouldn’t be resentful when it didn’t turn out picture perfect
  • I learned about the disease of alcoholism and stopped blaming my husband for everything that went wrong

 A New Generation Of Addiction

After my husband passed away from the disease of alcoholism I still had to use my recovery tools with my adult children’s various addictions.

While I didn’t have to live with active addiction any longer I still had to prepare for upcoming holidays being spent with people I loved who were actively using. So this holiday I will use many of the tools I have learned from Al-Anon:

  • I will make reservations at a local restaurant and have my children meet me there. This way I find they will at least be sober enough to drive themselves
  • I know they will behave better in a public venue
  • I will ask what is my part in every conversation
  • I will not give my opinion or advice unless it is asked of me
  • I will have my own car with me
  • I will keep it brief and amazing
  • We will eat at noon so I can plan something fun for myself afterwards, like a movie with friends
  • I will not have any expectations for the holiday
  • I will enjoy the parts of the holiday that do go well

While there are no guarantees for any holiday I know that when I do what is best for me there is at least one happy person in attendance. 

Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By: Madeline Schloop

Read 5197 times Last modified on Thursday, 22 December 2016 19:12
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Madeline Schloop

Madeline is the widow of a man who died of alcoholism and the mother of 5 young adults whom she parents with the tools of Al-Anon. Her children continue to be affected by the disease of alcoholism. Her stories  deal with life's daily trials and what has and hasn't worked.
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