Holidays are a joyous and memorable time, bringing families and friends together to celebrate. Of course, these holidays are also filled with food, parties, and alcohol. All the festivities can be a great time….unless there is an alcoholic/addict in our life.
The holidays are a time to have the family together, which for most is desirable. And of course, everybody hopes, desires, and promises that everything will go as planned. But due to the dynamic characteristics of alcoholism and the family disease concept, someone always has to take the role of thinking about how they would like to see the festivities go problem-free as it pertains to the involvement of their loved one, the alcoholic/addict.
It is important to be comfortable and confident to keep in mind that you are in control, not the addict/alcoholic. The active role on your part has you establishing fair yet concrete boundaries and keeping your expectations to a minimum. These are the cornerstone in dealing with an alcoholic/addict in your life.
The Huffington Post posted these concepts that, if implemented, cold make the difference between a successful holiday experience or a disaster:
1. Pick boundaries that are important to you and must be adhered to by the alcoholic/addict in order to be welcomed to participate int he family festivities. Such boundaries include arriving at the designated time, being well groomed and dressing appropriately; being clean and sober (this is paramount to participation: if you smell alcohol on their breath or they act intoxicated or high, you will not let them in, or if the live there, you will ask them to stay away from the festivities until the event is over); and maintaining a cheerful and kind demeanor (this is the entry ticket, as anger or a woe-is-me attitude is not welcome).
2. Keep your boundaries simple, doable, short and to the point.
3. Discuss these boundaries at least a week before the holiday activity is happening.
4. Don’t defend yourself regarding your decisions. If you don’t engage and stay neutral, you will be perceived as having a plan that is well thought-out and smacks of self-respect.
5. Please don’t bring up old examples of how the alcoholic/addict let you down in the past, as going to might provoke an argument, which serves no purpose.
6. Have clear ramifications if your conditions are not met.
7. Make sure that you both understand what those consequences are so that no one can dispute a misunderstanding or feign ignorance as to the intention of the plan.
8. If the alcoholic/addict does not like your holiday rules and regulations, be committed to a response like, “That makes me sad that you won’t be joining us, but that’s your choice,” They now have to shoulder all the responsibility for their decision even though they may try to blame you.
9. Don’t let your boundaries be built on quicksand, where you acquiesce because the alcohol/addict spins an excuse as to why he or she has not lived up to his or her end of the bargain, or because he or she resorts to tugging at your heartstrings by yelling and screaming. Please don’t fall prey to thinking, “Oh well, I’ll overlook this because it’s the holidays,” or, “It’s the holidays and I just don’t want to be unhappy or make my loved one unhappy.” This will turn out to b a lose/lose scenario all around.
10. Tell the other family members what the arrangement is so that everyone is on the same page and there can be no surprises.
11. Keep an open mind. If your loved one opts out of the family festivities for one reason or another, respect that with no guilt, judgment or cajoling placed upon them.
1. Keep your expectations in check. Realize that you are dealing with someone who might not be as true to their word as you would like them to be. Though you might be disappointed, you won’t be surprised.
2. Try not to involve the family too much in your desire that the whole family will finally be all together. conversely, help them to keep their expectations curbed as well.
3. If your expectations are not met, please remember that this is not an affront to you. It’s not personal; it’s just the nature of their disease and what they may be struggling with at this particular time.
Boundaries and expectations are difficult to implement and keep, especially when an alcoholic/addict is involved.
Remember that you and your family deserve a charming holiday. Don’t allow the alcoholic/addict take that away from you.
For those with an alcoholic/addict in the family, there is a program for you. Although these tips may be beneficial for the holidays, the disease of addiction is a 24/7 issue. These families are not alone. Al-Anon family groups are a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcoholics/addicts who share their experience, strength and hope in order to solve their common problems. They help families of alcoholics by practicing the 12-steps by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics, and by giving u understanding and encouragement to the alcoholic.
My family is riddled with the disease of addiction, which lead my mother to Al-Anon. She believe that it has changed her life. Not only has her work in this program changed our relationship, but it has encouraged her to apply these principles to everybody in her life. She swears by it!