Three Tips for a Happy Holiday + BONUS for Mothers
Three Tips for a Happy Holiday + BONUS for Mothers
Holidays… when you’re married to a man who drinks too much or suffers from addiction they can be difficult, can’t they?
You’re hoping for the best. You’re praying they will stay sober so you can have a beautiful, warm, and loving holiday.
Maybe you’re planning on visiting with family and they don’t have any idea how bad things have got at home. Or perhaps you have children and you just want their father to be the loving dad they deserve.
I know exactly how you feel. When I was married to a wonderful guy who struggled with this disease, I had really high expectations for the holidays. I decorated the house, cooked delicious food, or sometimes, if I was busy, I would purchase some delicious food, and I would invite my family over to celebrate and have fun.
But during all my planning, I was feeling nervous. In the back of my mind, I was worried that he wouldn’t stay sober and my big plans to have a lovely and happy holiday would be ruined.
And, the truth is, my reality was far different than the dreamy holiday I had fantasized about. There was drinking and drug use, sometimes even days before the actual holiday.
I remember during Christmas, I would see my father carving the turkey and my husband just sitting on the couch with a beer, completely in his own world and think, “Why aren’t you enjoying this holiday with us? This could be so wonderful if you just put down the drink and engage with the ones who love you.”
It made no sense.
And that’s an excellent place for us to begin with this holiday guide:
This disease makes no sense.
Here are three tips to help make your holiday happier:
1. Stop trying to understand the why.
They are sick, and this disease makes no sense, and that’s all you need to understand. The sooner you surrender trying to understand why they act up, the faster your healing begins.
Think about it: Who would choose to feel wasted over feeling the love their family has to offer?
Who would choose to feel a fake kind of joy that drugs or alcohol make them feel, over the real joy of laughing with your loved ones?
Who would choose mind-numbing drugs over receiving the warm love of a spouse?
Someone who is sick. Someone who’s out of control and who has a disease.
And the more you try to understand the reason why they make these unhealthy choices, the more frustrated you will become.
2. Have a plan if they refuse to leave the house.
When you’re planning your holiday and you’re wondering: “What do I cook, who should I invite over, or where should we go?” Or if you’re invited to an event or meeting up with friends, I want you to include a backup plan if they start to drink or use drugs.
In other words, what are you going to do if they start acting up? You might be thinking, “I don’t know what to do, Michelle.”
And I don’t want you to worry because I’m going to offer you some helpful suggestions if they refuse to leave and you have plans to go out.
If they start to drink before a holiday party or event you’re excited about attending, you have a choice.
You can leave the house without them and have a good time.
Here’s what you’re not going to do: you’re not going to make the unhealthy choice to cancel your plans if they refuse to go.
You’re a courageous woman. You can go somewhere without your loved one. You have excellent social skills and people enjoy talking with you. You will be surprised how much fun you can have if you leave them at home.
Think about it: you won’t need to constantly look across the room and worry if they’ve had another drink. You won’t feel embarrassed about their slurred words or awkward behavior.
The only person you will be responsible for is you (and maybe your children if they are attending).
You can do it! I know you can. I promise you’re more capable than you give yourself credit for.
Even if you have just 5 minutes of fun, it will be better than wasting the evening staying at home upset and disappointed he made his bad choices again.
3. Have a plan if they start drinking too much or using drugs when you’re out.
So let’s say you’re at the holiday party and they may or may not have promised to not drink or use drugs. You’re grateful they’re getting out of the house, and you don’t want to nag or start an argument, so you mention how worried you are they will act up.
And then, you see them start to drink. Your throat begins to tighten and you feel like you’ve been punched in the gut. You’re devastated.
But here’s the great news, you don’t need to lose hope. You’re not powerless over this disease. You can take a deep breath and remember: you’re a strong, capable woman. This is just one evening and you can handle it. You have choices.
You can leave the party without them – call a cab or ask a friend to drive you home.
Say nothing when you’re out in public and make a promise to yourself that next time, you will not agree to attend an event with them if there’s drinking or it’s at a bar.
One warning: if you chose this option to stay out with them and say nothing, make sure you get the car keys. Do NOT get in the car if they refuse to hand you the keys and are under the influence. You’re not only risking your life, but you could also be putting yourself at risk to be a part of a serious accident. If they refuse to give you the keys, take option one and find another ride home.
I am here to tell you, my wonderful sweet friend, that you’re not alone. There are thousands of us out there dealing with the same issue, and you don’t need to stay feeling stuck.
By exercising these choices, you’re choosing to do something about this disease. You’re not just letting it happen to you. You’re giving them consequences and you’re growing into the courageous, loving woman you were made to be.
It might seem scary or uncomfortable, but real change never happens when we are repeating old behaviors. I promise you can do it. Have faith in yourself and believe that God made you with so much more courage than you even realize.
You’ve got this. I am right here for you. You’re not alone.
For parents of alcoholics or substance abusers:
It’s not your fault. You’re a great mother. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this. You care about your child. You love them. And I know you would do anything to get them sober. You must believe you did nothing to cause this.
So if you’re worried about their drinking or drug use and the idea of spending time without them this holiday season is too much, here are a few tips just for you:
If they have too much to drink or they come over to celebrate, make a deal with yourself – this is the last holiday you will invite them over to.
When they have been sober for six months and shown consistent, respectful behavior you will extend an invitation, but until then, this is the last time their toxic lifestyle will be allowed in your presence.
I know this seems hard and perhaps even cruel, but your child needs consequences for their choices. I am giving you permission to relieve yourself of guilt for not including them. You are actually making a tough decision for their benefit.
By doing this, you’re helping your child. They need to see that this kind of behavior will not be welcome nor tolerated.
You don’t need to be mad or upset when you tell them. You need to be secure in your delivery and say something like, “I love you dearly and I miss you. I miss the best part of you. The child I know you were created to be. A sober, responsible, and honest person. And until they are around full time, I am sorry, but you are no longer welcome. I’ll be waiting.”
Or you can say “I love you so much and you need help. Until you consistently get help and are responsible, honest, and sober, I can no longer be around you. Your recovery is your responsibility now. It’s up to you”
By continually bailing them out, you’re enabling them. You think you’re doing it out of love, but it’s actually causing more of the same destructive patterns. We talk a lot more about this in the Love Over Addiction for parents program, and you can find out more about that here.
But for now, my biggest tip is to set the healthy boundary in place that the only people you will be celebrating the holiday with are the ones who are not currently struggling with addiction issues.
The Love Over Addiction, Love Over Addiction: Stay or Go, and Love Over Addiction for parents programs could be the greatest gift this season that will help you find your joy, offer you practical tips, and make you feel like a giant weight has been lifted off your shoulders.
Michelle Anderson has over 10 years of personal experience with loving someone who suffers from addiction. She was married to a good man who suffered from addiction to alcohol, illegal drugs, and pornography. She's used her experience to create powerful resources for women in the same circumstance. Using her own personal experience, combined with years of research and studying, she presents ideas, tips, and tools on how to handle this disease, and take care of yourself, and your family.
Explore the Love Over Addiction program
Remember being fun? Laughing? Feeling giddy? Being carefree? Addiction can take all those things away from you and replace them with worry, anxiety, fear, and anger. It doesn’t have to be that way. Discover how to change your life and your relationship today.
Explore the Love Over Addiction: Stay or Go program
Have you ever wondered? Or maybe you know… but you don’t know how. Staying or leaving your relationship is a huge decision. There are questions you need to ask yourself, and ways to prepare no matter what you decide. Find out how to make this decision, even if you’re not ready to make it today.