The Sober Parent – Episode 232

Are you the sober parent in an alcoholic family? What challenges have you faced? How has recovery helped you?

  • What challenges do you face as the sober parent?
    • Keeping your children safe
    • Making decisions about how to parent. What happens when you disagree?
    • Taking everything on.
    • Anger, rage and anxiety.
    • “Parenting” your spouse?
    • Jealousy/resentment of the “fun parent.”
    • Attributing all “problems” to alcoholism.
    • Decision-making.
    • Not know what “normal” is.  Or what “healthy” is.
    • Trying to parent together when you don’t feel strong in your marriage… or when its actually breaking/broken.
    • Protecting anonymity while being honest on medical and education paperwork for my children
    • Traveling for work and setting expectations for care of our kids knowing I really have no control over whether or not my wishes/expectations are upheld
    • Not having control. Allowing kids to ride in the car or even just be at home alone with the alcoholic parent.
  • How did you react to these before recovery?
    • Resentment – LOTS
    • Snide, snarky comments to spouse, spitefulness
    • Anger, particularly misdirected anger
    • Guilt and self-loathing
    • Exhaustion
    • Apathy
    • Depression
    • All or nothing attitude/perspective
    • Relentless pursuit of “agreement” or seeing my viewpoint
    • Lack of trust
  • How has recovery changed the way in which you face these challenges?
    • Living one day/one hour/one minute at a time.
    • Setting boundaries
    • Focus on myself… self-care, self-inventory, stay in my hula hoop
    • Crazy thought train doesn’t stay as long
    • Awareness of my anxiety and anger
    • Learning to pause.
    • Not as hard on myself
    • I don’t always feel compelled to make decisions right away
    • I’m learning to let go of outcomes
    • I’m learning the difference between true issues/problems and simply unmet expectations
    • I apply program to my actions on a daily basis (first things first, how important is it, HALT, etc.)
  • What is a typical day like now?
    • More loving behavior with my spouse.
    • More patience
    • Make amends to my kids whenever necessary
    • I hear from my Higher Power through my children
    • More loving and accepting of myself and more compassionate toward my spouse, which creates a more peaceful environment
    • Imperfect – some days i feel like i’m right back where i started, but that doesn’t last as long
  • How do you face the fears and worries that you have for your children?
    • How do my children see me? My spouse?
    • How can I be the parent my children need? The parent they want?
    • How can I not transmit my resentment and anger at my spouse to my children?
    • But: fear of what’s to come in my children’s lives.
  • What tools do I want to give to my children?
    • “Pause”
    • God Box  (kind words, deep breaths)
    • Acceptance of their emotions
    • A parent who is approachable and thoughtfully responds rather than reacts

Upcoming topics include parenting an alcoholic/addict child, and how recovery has changed the way in which you are a parent. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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Begin in Stillness – Episode 231

Begin the new year in stillness, in contemplation of the year past and the year to come.

  • What do you want to let go of from the last year?
    • Write it down. Destroy what you have written (burn it, dissolve it in water, or crumple it up and throw it in the trash.)
    • You don’t need to share this with anyone. It is just for you.
    • As you destroy it, feel yourself letting go of the anger, the fear, the anxiety, the resentment, the desperation, or the sorrow.
  • What aspirations do you have (for yourself) in the new year?
    • Write it down. Put it someplace you will re-encounter it throughout the year. Maybe in your wallet or purse, maybe tucked into the sandals you will wear when summer comes. Let it remind you, when you have forgotten all about it, what you wish for yourself.
    • What is the difference between an aspiration and a resolution? Why is this important?
  • What gift would you like to give to someone else for the coming year?
    • Try for a single word, a short phrase, or a picture.
    • Give it to someone else. Preferably a stranger, maybe someone you don’t even know who. Leave it in a library book. Tack it on a community bulletin board at a store. Be original.

Share your responses to these questions with us by email or voice.

Upcoming topics include parenting. From at least these 3 perspectives: Being the sober parent. Being the parent of an alcoholic or addict child. And how has recovery changed the way you are a parent? Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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Holiday addendum

I just found a wonderful essay titled “Sanity and Sobriety in the Holiday Season.” I loved the questions he suggests I ask myself:

  • Am I feeling isolated, lonely, sad, or angry?
  • Am I keeping any secrets or telling any lies?
  • Do I have idealized (and likely unrealistic) expectations for family and holiday gatherings?
  • Am I feeling impulsive or obsessive?

Read the essay for more. (And thanks to my email feed from intherooms.com for the link.)

The Family in Recovery – Episode 230

In this recording from the 2010 AA Woodstock of the South, Bob B, Polly P, Ralph W, Michael E, Bill R, and Linda B share their experiences of family recovery in Al-Anon and AA.

Upcoming topics include parenting. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your experience, strength and hope. Our contact page has more information about joining our conversation. Or just leave a comment right here.

 

Holiday Expectations – Episode 229

Goodbye Jake. April 17, 2005 – December 17, 2017.

As we enter into a season where many of us are celebrating an end of the year holiday — Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, New Year — what expectations do we have? What anxieties does this season provoke? Do you look forward to spending time with family, or dread it? Or are you spending this time alone? How can expectations be deadly, this time of the year?

  • By expecting it to be just like it was.
  • By having unrealistic expectations.
  • This year, everyone will be happy and glad to spend time together.
  • Dreading family dysfunction.
  • How can we set realistic expectations or let go of expectations?
  • How can we protect our serenity?
  • What can we do differently?

I was inspired, in part, to this topic by the following article in the June, 2017 issue of the Forum, which reminded me of an experience I had when I was just a couple of years into recovery.

I Asked God To Guide My Words

By Anonymous

One of the countless new skills I began to learn when I came to Al-Anon was managing my expectations. My need to improve in this area was especially evident whenever I was anticipating a visit with my alcoholic son, who lives in another part of the country. Beforehand, I would build up the visit in my mind’s eye, picturing our family laughing together, doing fun things, talking easily and affectionately about our lives.

But it was never like that. Conversation was constantly strained. It was hard to find any safe topics. Our son didn’t seem to want to talk about his work, social life, whether he was working his program or much of anything else. He wasn’t particularly interested in doing any of the things I thought would be fun. My rosy expectations bore absolutely no resemblance to what really took place.

As a result, these visits left me feeling hurt, disappointed, frustrated, sad, regretful, hopeless and even a little angry. I definitely had to get my head into a better place.

With my Sponsor’s guidance, I began to study Al-Anon literature on the topic of expectations. I soon discovered that there is a close relationship between my expectations and my level of acceptance—or lack thereof—regarding the circumstances of my life. My expectations were unrealistic because I had not truly accepted the realities of my son’s life and their impact on mine. I was simply turning a blind eye to how things really were—not denial, but not full acceptance either.

In preparation for the most recent visit, I armed myself with lots of study, prayer, reflection, writing in my journal and a commitment to constantly seek my Higher Power’s guidance. I literally asked God to guide every word I said and everything I did. While I hoped the visit would be, at the very least, pleasant and congenial, I no longer harbored glowing images that had no roots in reality.

The visit went better than any of the previous ones, and afterward I felt somewhat at peace. There had been times of real connection and other periods when each of us just went our own way, giving each other plenty of space. I relaxed and didn’t try to force things into a mold that would never fit our life. I hope future visits will be even better, but I’m grateful to have learned a new way of dealing with my expectations that I can apply to all areas of my life.

Reprinted with permission of The Forum, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters., Inc., Virginia Beach, VA

I’m planning some episodes about parenting, but I need your help. Share your experience as the sober parent. What have you learned about being a parent to your alcoholic or addict child? How has recovery changed how you are a parent? Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with experience, strength and hope. Our contact page has more information about the many ways to join our conversation.
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