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 with experience, strength and hope. Our contact page has more information about the many ways to join our conversation.
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Resentment – Episode 196

Do you hold a grudge? Why is this harmful? How can our program help let go of our resentments?

  • What is a “resentment”?
  • Why is it a problem?
  • Where do you find your resentments stem from?
    • Anger at a past injury?
    • Others not doing things “your way”?
  • One method of working Step 4 (“searching and fearless moral inventory”) starts by listing resentments.
    • Why do you think that is?
    • Why can this be a useful way of digging into our inventory?
  • The book How Al-Anon Works talks about resentment in the chapter titled “Detachment, Love, and Forgiveness”.
    • How do these tools help relieve our resentments?
    • What other tools do you use?
    • Gratitude
    • Inventory
    • Taking a fresh look — maybe the behavior has changed and I don’t recognize it

Upcoming topics include Alateen, Parenting, and Obsessive Thinking. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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Expectations – Episode 186

Do you have unrealistic expectations of other people? Or, maybe, of yourself? How does this hurt?

  • What are “expectations”?
  • “Expectations are pre-meditated resentments” — how do you see this as true?
  • How can expectations set you up for disappointment?
  • How do your expectations of yourself hurt you?
  • How do you deal with other people's expectations of you?
  • How do you
    • let go of unrealisitic expectations?
    • set realistic / reasonable expectations and boundaries?
  • When has letting go of expectations improved an experience for you?

Eric referred to several other websites:

A correspondant mentioned the Hand in Hand Parenting support organization and how it had helped her.

Upcoming topics include a talk with Alateen sponsors, and the question “how am I trustworthy?” Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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Rediscovering Myself – Episode 163

bluemoonDid alcoholism erase you? How did you find yourself in recovery? Who are you? What do you want? Do you know now?

  • In what ways did I lose myself “before program”?
    • Focus on the alcoholic
    • Taking care of others before myself
    • Belief that others must participate in everything — I can’t do something if my partner doesn’t want to.
    • Isolation and withdrawal from life / activities
    • Expectation that my loved ones would read my mind
    • Expecting others to make me happy
  • What messages did I first hear in Al-Anon that started me to rediscovering myself?
    • Take care of myself.
    • Detachment with love.
    • It’s ok to ask for what I want.
  • What have I found out about myself in recovery?
    • Things I like (to do).
    • Things I don’t like that I thought I had to like because others like them.
    • New insights into my character
    • New things that I never thought I would like
  • What did I forget about myself that I have rediscovered?

Upcoming topics include choices and sadness. We will also explore the statement “Courage and fellowship will replace fear. We will be able to risk failure to develop new hidden talents.” to see how it has come true for us. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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Recovery on the Road interview with Mara – Episode 71

SunriseHow do you take recovery with you when you travel? I talked with Mara about her recent experience traveling for several months, and how she kept her recovery program alive.

Our conversation was very loosely guided by these questions:

  • Did you think about how you were going to take your recovery program with you before you left home?
  • What did you take with you? (Literature, phone numbers, meeting locations / list?)
  • What were your expectations about what you would find at your destination (that could support your recovery)?
  • How did you use what you brought?
  • Did you make program calls? Text? Email?
  • How did what happened match (or not) your expectations (of practicing recovery)?
  • Did you attend in-person meetings?
  • Did you attend online meetings?
  • What did you find challenging about practicing your recovery program while traveling?
  • How did your program help you enjoy your travel?
  • What else would you like to share about your experience?

Upcoming topics include Tradition 5, Progress, and Humility. Tradition 5 says “Each Al-Anon Family Group has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps of AA ourselves, by encouraging and understanding our alcoholic relatives, and by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics.” Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
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