Episode 130: Practical Tips When Your Partner Drinks Too Much
We are a sisterhood bonded together by the fact that we love a good person that suffers from addiction. We all know that holidays (including St. Patrick’s Day) can be hard. Any small holiday can be the perfect excuse for your loved one to drink more, smoke more, use more, or do whatever it is they’re addicted to.
St. Patrick’s day is one of those holidays. It’s completely socially acceptable (and even encouraged) to drink on this day. (That’s a whole other topic for a different day).
If you’re part of this sisterhood, you know that I’m always telling you to get prepared in advance. You can even use these “small” holidays to prepare for the major ones.
Even if your loved one is sober right now, I encourage you to make a contingency plan. If you have a Plan B in place, you’ll be prepared no matter what.
Best case scenario, they remain sober and you don’t have to use your Plan B at all. But if they change their mind, you’ll be prepared. And that sister, that’s empowering. You’ll know exactly what to do because you’ve given this thought, time and energy. You’re prepared.
I do feel that this is part of being a responsible woman when you have a partner that suffers from addiction.
No matter where they are in their addiction, or what they are (or aren’t) deciding to do that day, you’re prepared. You’re in your lane. You know what you’re doing.
If you know that you want to stay in your relationship (at least for now), this is part of being a good partner to your loved one. This is part of what you’ve signed up for. So practice, practice, practice every opportunity that you have.
Today I’m going to answer a question about St. Patrick’s Day, share 5 helpful tips, and then we’ll hear tips from our community. These brave and wise women are here for you, and I’m so proud of them for sharing their wisdom.
So, here’s the question from our community:
“It’s Saint Patrick’s Day and I’m starting to feel a little anxious. It’s a big trigger day for my alcoholic husband with his drinking and my anxiety. How am I supposed to cope with the anxiety?”
What a great question, isn’t it? I know when I was married to a good man suffering from addiction, my anxiety and the addiction seemed to go hand in hand.
When you love someone suffering from addiction, chances are, your life feels completely unpredictable. Addiction is unpredictable. So to find calm, grounded, peaceful energy, and to feel confident and solid in your space (and yourself) is extremely challenging.
So, how do we do it? We get practical.
We’re not talking pie-in-the-sky self-help fluffiness here. We’re talking actual, tangible, practical things that we can do to make a difference. They’re easy and inexpensive, but they do require two things on your part: commitment to follow through and the courage to change.
When what we’re doing isn’t working, we need to be willing to admit that. If you’ve been investing all your energy into fixing and researching for them, I have a loving truth to tell you: It will not get you very far. Trust me sister, I tried.
It takes a great amount of courage to make changes and a great amount of energy to learn new ways. It’s not easy, otherwise everyone would be doing it. Most people avoid it because they’re afraid, but not you sister.
You’re courageous. You’ve got what it takes to make these changes. You’re here listening, and that says a whole lot about who you are. You are a changemaker.
Are you ready for your tips?
Here we go:
St. Patrick’s Day Tip #1:
Make fun plans and follow through with them.
It’s time for you to create your own happiness. You can invite them or not, that’s up to you. But whether or not they join, you won’t be relying on anyone else to enjoy this day. You are an empowered woman who can have a good time without your partner.
We heard from our Love Over Addiction sisters about their plans and getting prepared. Here’s what they have to say:
Number 1: “I say make your own plans. I have made plans to meet up with my daughter and have a girls’ St. Patrick’s weekend. Get in touch with some friends and enjoy their company. Don’t let anxiety over what he might do ruin your day. Make your own St Patrick’s tradition.”
Number 2: “This is our first St. Patrick’s Day without my husband here – we’ve always made our family corned beef and cabbage and Irish soda bread … so that’s what our kids and I will be doing along with listening to NEEDTOBREATHE, Mandisa and Toby Mac.”
Number 3: “On St. Patty’s Day, I’ll take my youngest out for bouncy castle fun and lunch. We’ll make bangers and mash for the kids. He will be out with friends and I’m glad he’ll be out. I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep and going out for a beach walk with a girlfriend the next day.”
St. Patrick’s Day Tip #2:
Don’t count the drinks or mark the bottles.
We talk about why this is a big mistake in our Love Over Mistakes program. You’re not their mother. You’re not the judge of their life, and you’re not on their jury. You are their partner. Keeping track will only drive you crazy. You already know they have a problem, and that’s all you really need to know. For someone suffering from addiction, one drink is too much. One type of drug, and I don’t care what it is, it’s too much when someone is dealing with addiction issues.
If you see them start to use their substance(s) of choice, I want you to leave the room. Create distance and busy yourself with something that makes you happy. Their sobriety is their responsibility.
St. Patrick’s Day Tip #3:
Retreat to your safe space
We talk in depth about what a safe space is and how to create one of your own in this episode. As you’ll hear in that episode, it’s a must for women in our community. This is the perfect time to use your safe space.
If your loved one starts with the embarrassing behavior, or worse, abusive behavior, you’ll know what to do. Remove yourself from the situation, and retreat to your safe space.
When they start being rude, nasty, or mean that’s the addiction trying to bait you. It craves conflict and control. You don’t need to stand there and take it – there’s no need to take the bait.
You’re smarter and wiser than that. Please don’t fall for it. Remove yourself from the situation.
I remember one time this happened to us when we were driving. In my relationship, it did usually happen in a confined space. I always felt trapped in a way.
This time we were in the car and he was driving. He was in a nasty mood and trying to start a conflict. I remember thinking “Oh my gosh, this is awful because I can’t go anywhere. I can’t remove myself from this situation.”
So what did I do? I literally got out of the car. We were at a red light, and I opened the door and got out. We were close to home, so I just walked the rest of the way.
I tell you that to say this: Go to whatever great lengths you have to in order to remove yourself from that confrontational situation.
I want you to know that you do have options. If you’re willing to be creative and think outside the box, you’ll always have options.
Staying engaged in an argument or staying in a space where you feel physically threatened is never okay.
I believe in you.
Have the courage to remove yourself and retreat to your safe space.
If you have kids, take them with you. Take them to your safe space. Make the space safe fun for them too. Lock the door. Lock out addiction and its dysfunction.
Another option that I used, and always remind women they can too: leave. Leave the house. Load up the kiddos. Go to a friend’s house, drive around, whatever it is you need to do to leave the situation.
St. Patrick’s Day Tip #4:
Practice on the small holidays
Use days like St. Patrick’s Day as practice for the major holidays, and the whole holiday season. As we know, these days are usually an excuse to over drink or party too much.
When you can master the skills we’re talking about here for St. Patty’s Day, you’ll be a pro when Christmas comes around. Practice, practice, practice.
If you know you’re staying in your relationship with your loved one, these tools will be imperative to your happiness now, and in the future, whether they get sober or not.
Let me remind you sister, your job is not to help them get sober.
Your job is to accept your reality and plan accordingly.
Please don’t settle for hoping and praying that they won’t drink, use, or party too much. Don’t settle for just hoping they’ll keep their promise of remaining sober this time. When you’re just relying on hoping, you’re leaving the power up to someone else.
Don’t settle for just hoping they’ll keep their promise of remaining sober this time.
You’re literally leaving your happiness in someone else’s hands and saying “Okay, I can be happy. I can have a good time as long as they follow through with their word, with their promise.” And can I lovingly remind you what a good predictor of the future is? The past. How many times have they broken their promises to stay sober in the past?
I know it’s hard to hear, but chances are if they haven’t been able to stay sober in the past, they probably won’t in the future. Let’s be clear, I’m not saying this to be a Debbie Downer. I’m not saying this to depress you. I am saying this to make you wiser. This is a reality check so that you can become equipped.
And here’s the deal sisters: If they get sober permanently, wonderful! Terrific! Great! What an amazing surprise. But quit banking on it. Become educated, take your power back. You’re better than that.
St. Patrick’s Day Tip #5:
Have fun without worrying.
This is a big one. If they don’t come home, on time or at all, because they’re out partying with other people, let it go. Have fun enjoying your own plans without worrying about them.
And let’s be honest with each other: Do you really want them to come home if they’re partying? Chances are, you wouldn’t want to be around them anyway.
Create your own good time, and let them go.
I know I’ve been bold here. I realize you may have read some things that were hard to digest. Trust me, I totally understand. I’m here to be your friend, your sister. I’m here to tell you loving truths that may hurt a little to hear.
There’s never any judgment, and no one said it was easy. Listen, we’ve said this a thousand times, your loved one is good. We love incredibly gifted, talented, good people, but they’re unreliable because addiction is unreliable.
Some days are great and some days can be awful. And the thing is, you’re gonna have to get good at living your life in a way that does not depend on their sobriety. And if you can do that, you can have a happy future with or without them.
You do have everything you need in order to change your future. And if you are already putting into practice the tools that we teach inside the programs, the tools that I teach on this podcast, then I want to congratulate you. I’m proud of you. I love that you’re willing to do the work, you’re committed. I love that you’re thirsty for practical tips.
You have what it takes. Don’t settle, or stay stuck, or allow yourself to feel sorry for yourself for too long. It’s okay to feel sad. But you’re a fighter, you’re an achiever, you’re a dreamer.
You’ve got everything you need in order to make this a great future, and it has absolutely nothing to do with your loved one getting sober or not.
I believe in you. I’m your biggest fan and I wanna be that voice in your head.
Here’s one more thing I’m gonna leave you with: I want to be your friend that’s the voice in your head when that addiction voice, that negative, trash talking, yucky addiction voice gets inside your head.
Let me be the voice that challenges the addiction voice. I want to be louder than that addiction voice for you. I want you to listen to my podcasts, to join the programs and listen to them over and over again. So much so that you could almost finish my sentences, because that’s the only way that you’re going drown out that addiction voice.
Here’s the deal, I’m here temporarily for this season of your life to get you through, to help pick you up, to get you walking down the right path that will change your life. I’m not here in your life forever. You won’t need me forever. You just need me now and I hope and pray that I can be that positive influence in your life, that biggest cheerleader that says, “You got this. I believe in you, you can do this.”
And we had to do this – it’s a family recipe for Irish Soda bread.
Irish Soda Bread Farls
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
This recipe is a quick one (especially for a bread) that will take about 20 minutes including time to prepare. Soda bread or soda farls are a traditional Irish “bread” that can be served fresh with butter and jam, as part of a traditional Irish fry up, or even as the ends of a sandwich when sliced lengthwise.
1. Preheat a flat griddle or skillet on medium to low heat.
2. Put the flour and salt in a bowl and sift in baking soda. Make a well in the center, and pour in the buttermilk.
3. Be sure to be quick when mixing into dough. Once doughy, knead very lightly on a well floured surface. Form into a flattened circle, about 1/2 inch thick and cut into quarters or sixths with a floured knife.
4. Sprinkle a bit of flour over the base of the hot pan and cook the farls for 6 to 8 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
Enjoy! And send us pictures of what you make this St. Patty’s Day (or post them in our Secret Facebook Group).
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