From Heartache to Hope

Life with the Alcoholic/Addict

The Holiday Counselor's Corner

Looking forward to a healthier 2012


No New Year's resolutions - just a new year with goals and aspirations (objectives)

How many years have you heard people say that their New Year's resolution is to do this or stop that or in kind have asked others what their New Year's resolutions are? Why does a date on a calendar have to force someone to change something in their life? Probably something dramatic like the usual chants of losing weight, stopping smoking, quit drinking, find a better job, and on and on.

New Year's resolutions rarely work. The adrenaline rush from the moment of the commitment is short lived. Solid attempts are made for awhile, but usually something happens as life once again begins life and the same obstacles are presented as were before the holidays.

So, how can one make a comfortable, doable resolution? Reach for goals and objectives in a committed, honest manner through preparation and not expectation. You don't need to prove anything to anyone and sometimes that's more pressure than we want to (or should) give credence to.

One way to start this process in a healthy way is to map out the following:
1) Where were you last year at this time?
Take some quiet time to jot down where you were with your emotions, job, finances, health, personal relationships, etc...
2) Where are you this year?
How did the year unfold for you? Did plans pan out or were you thrown a curve ball or two? How did you handle that fork in the road that you weren't' expecting? Were the goals (either expected or not) you had set for yourself met and were they fulfilling?
3) Where would you like to see yourself next year at this time? Make a DOABLE list that can be accomplished. Write down what you need to do (or not do) in order to see these objectives come to fruition. And what is your time frame? If we just bump along the bottom without a committed schedule, the goal/objective can too easily be lost or forgotten.
If you are dedicated to reaching your personal plateau then make a schedule with specific time frames and days that you will spend contributing to your project. If you want to write a book, carve out x amount of hours, x amount of days to work on your book. Even if you do nothing but research or sit in front of a blank page, you have done what you have planned on doing and I promise will feel accomplished having suited up and showed up.
The key to this exercise is to be honest, do it for yourself and make your objective doable. Saying that you are going to win the lottery is fun and wishful, but frankly a waste of mind power that can be used for something more productive.

 

Your first holiday alone without the alcoholic/addict

We have read article after article about how difficult and stressful the holiday's can be. But, being alone on the holidays can be painful and lonely. There are no two ways of getting around it. Maybe this is your first holiday without the alcoholic/addict in your life; maybe somewhere about 5 months ago you finally realized that you could not continue this life and life style with the alcoholic/addict in your life.

You knew it was the healthy thing to do; even a relief by this break-up yet being alone on a Saturday night in June is not quite as difficult as alone for the holiday season. Even surrounded by friends and family can still make one feel like they are alone, and if you are not fortunate to have a strong support group, maybe you are the only one in the canoe, paddling on your own on a lonely holiday stream. Yikes and ouch.

When I experienced one relapse too many from my loved one, I was sad and angry, scared and choked with fear about every aspect of my future. I couldn't help but imagine every person in the world having a wonderful holiday season but me. Of course that's absurd, but our thoughts can get pretty vivid when we have our chin on our buttons.

Is there a happy way to cope with our holiday blues? Honestly, not really. We find ourselves caught up in the "Auld Lang Sine", let bygones be bygones and it's doubly difficult to stay the course that you put into healthy action some time ago. Reliving the past and questioning whether you did the right thing or not to extricate the toxic relationship out of your life is destructive with a zero positive outcome. My father used to say "Don't look back - you will die of a broken heart". But these feelings and emotions are real and they hurt; don't deny them and you might need to meet them head on. Sometimes our only option is just slog through it and know that change is a constant and that things will change; hopefully for the more fulfilling and positive.

I found that taking lots of hikes, strolling with my Golden Retriever to the local hospital for patient visits, and of course journaling were helpful in crawling toward the end of the year. I was on a tight budget, so I had to choose activities that didn't cost money for entertainment or gas.
Hey...isn't it said that "whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger?" No need to be a hero this time of year and put on a smiling face and a happy disposition for anyone. If you have an emotional tummy ache then take care of it the best and healthiest way you know how.

Thank you for allowing me to share with you some thoughts and impressions about living (or not), loving (or not) the alcoholic/addict in your life; I'm grateful for your readership and I wish all a New Year that's full of growth and renewed self dignity.

If I can be of service, please visit my website www.familyrecoverysolutions.com and I invite you to explore my new book Reclaim Your Life - You and the Alcoholic/Addict at www.reclaimyourlifebook.com or on Amazon.

 

Carole Bennett, M.A., is a family substance abuse counselor, lecturer, columnist and author based at her Family Recovery Solutions Counseling Center in Santa Barbara, CA.

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