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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Survive by decision

Surviving while being in the hot coals of an alcoholic relationship requires a lot of jumping around while trying to keep your feet from feeling the heat for more than a few seconds. It’s tiring and painful. But no matter what you do you MUST survive.

The act of surviving doesn’t stop when the alcoholic exits the picture. You haven’t reached your goal until you can say that you have a life of your own and that it is a life that you enjoy. When someone asks you if you are happy and you hesitate before answering, you have probably not finished your survival journey at that moment.

What defines accomplishing your goal? When you can wake up in the morning and not listen for sounds that indicate potential chaos. When you can feel safe in your own space. When you look forward to holidays and events. When you can laugh and cry without feeling guilt. When you don’t hesitate in answering the happiness question with a resounding—YES! That’s when you know that you survived despite the roadblocks thrown up by the alcoholic and other people.

How? Is that what you are asking yourself? The first thing is to set yourself a goal to be happy. It’s a long-term goal and won’t be attainable in an instant. But it is the first step.

The next step is to DECIDE to be happy. Setting a goal and making a decision are not the same thing. Deciding to be happy doesn’t mean you will be happy every minute of every day. But you can decide to be happy about certain things in each day. You may be happy that there is coffee or that it didn’t rain today. When you find something that makes you happy, say out loud – “This coffee is so good that it makes me happy.” “I’m very happy that it didn’t rain today.” Declare your happiness. Eventually you’ll find that you’re happy more than you are NOT happy.

That will give you a start but there is much more to learn and accomplish. See if this makes sense to you:

You are in a war. Your opponent/enemy is chaos and turmoil created by alcoholism. How would you go about defeating your enemy? In knowledge there is power. Learn everything you can about alcoholism so you will be armed with the knowledge of intimately knowing the foe.
You can amass a wealth of knowledge from reading my books “Workbook for Caretakers of End-Stage Alcoholics” and “Surviving the Chaos.” (Books are available on Amazon.com) Read AA’s the Big Book so you know what AA is teaching the alcoholic. Do your research. I have found that Wikipedia has a lot of good non-biased information.

Talk it out – avoid using your friends to guide you instead seek the support of a counselor or coach. Make sure that the person you are talking to is focused on you and not on how you can help the alcoholic. I offer coaching sessions, a listening ear, and a bunch of hand-holding without criticisms or judgement.

My coaching sessions are different from a regular counseling appointment. I charge $30 per session. They are an hour long but the hour is open-ended. I will not end the appointment until YOU are comfortable with the end. If an issue / emergency arises before your next session you will have the opportunity to call me without paying an additional fee. In short that $30 payment secures you a lifeline between sessions. Another advantage is that I will do my best to make myself available during a time frame that fits your needs. 

Can't afford the $30? Talk to me and we will come to a price agreement.

To schedule an appointment, send me an e-mail to LindasFrontPorch@outlook.com or LDoyne@live.com. Please put COACHING in the subject line so it doesn’t get lost.

It’s a brand new fresh year with lots of possibilities and opportunities. Make this the year where you stop just “getting through” and start enjoying the life you can have.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Brand new calendar...

Here we go again! It’s the start of another year. I have a fresh new calendar. It’s the old-fashioned kind made of real paper that you can write on with a real ink pen. Right now it’s all nice, neat and clean. But that will all change within just a few weeks. I will write in appointments and reminders of birthdays and other celebrations. Then I will cross out the ones that need to be moved or changed. I’m not smart enough to use a pencil so the calendar will, in fact, end up a mess of scribbles, doodles and notations.

I’ve started transferring information into the new calendar about my transition to sanity. The info is scattered, disjointed, without organization. Putting it into the calendar may make it clear as to the succession of events that must take place. I have the kind of personality that want to do everything at once. Just take an item, do it, check it off, and done. Unfortunately, there are time constraints between the items, so my method doesn’t work very well.

By now, I should be basking on the beach; turning into a cooked lobster red while enjoying the soft hot rays of the sun beating down on my barely clothed body. There should be an umbrella drink in my hand and cold snacks within my reach. I should be hosting dinner parties and going to social functions with people that I do not know. But, that’s not how things are going down.

Instead I’m still in the cold, wet, countryside and miles away from any beach at all. I’m looking for jobs; having surgeries; saving money; and mostly staying to myself. No parties. No hosting dinners. No sipping umbrella drinks. I like to think of it as the preparation before the event. This prep time is taking longer than I had thought it would

Everyone in my circle thought it would be so easy to move on with my life after Riley died. Even I am surprised that “moving on” has been so difficult. Part of it is the lack of money… although I now have a Transition Fund that is growing. Another part is leaving my great-grandkids over the holiday season. It was too difficult for me not to have Christmas with them. Deciding to go back to work took a lot of thought and calculating only to find that the job market in Tampa for Real Estate Title Examiners is barren at the present time. I keep chipping away at the issues and it’s going slow. It doesn’t match with my trait to take care of the issue and move on to the next.

I thought transitioning into my own life would be much simpler. I didn’t think about the logistics or how much time each chore would take. I just felt that I had paid my dues with taking care of Riley and I should just get on with things. I see now that it’s far more complicated that I imagined.

I want to make plans for my goals for 2019 but right now my goals seem to be to get thought each month and do as much as I can each day to get me out of the countryside and onto the beach in Florida. My primary goal as things stand today is to do all the things on my to do list so I can end up in the Sunshine State. So let’s just say my goal for 2019 is to get moved. Period. That’s all folks.

However, I will be doing some things to change things up a bit in Riley World. These will be things I can continue to do no matter where I am. I think you will like what I have planned. Things to look for this year:

1.       I have a goal to hold at least SIX presentations. Ideally, I’d like to do one a month, but I’ll settle for six right now.

2.       Publishing of the sequel to Immortal Alcoholic’s Wife. Look for the announcement that the book is available around the first of March.

3.       The cookbook I started several years ago will be completed and published before the end of the summer – 2019.

4.       I will be putting more “smallish” books together and getting them on the market quicker than the full book that I usually write.

5.       By the end of the summer, I want to get out on the road for my book tour. FINALLY.

6.       Look for a new blog emerge from all the chaos. It will contain a variety of posts on a variety of topics. It will be about things learned from living life; housekeeping tips; beauty tips; and comments about different points of view. It will not be so serious as Immortal Alcoholic, but will still contain helpful suggestions for moving on in life. Watch out for Suzy Q… it will be her blog.

So my plate is full. On the calendar this week is my appointment with the orthopedic surgeon to set a date for my shoulder surgery. I’ll also be continuing my job search. Best of all, I’ll be conferring with “Suzy Q” about her first post on her new blog.

May all of you enjoy a happy, peaceful and quiet New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

OH No! Don't even try...

Those of you who post comments need to know that I READ each and every one. I post every one of them even if the comment is derogatory to my blog, my platform, and me personally. I do not respond to every comment but I DO read them. So here’s the deal… before I post the comment it is read and “moderated”. Which simply means I have the power to refuse to post comments that do not fit my criteria.

My criteria are simple. I only post comments that are directly related to the subject matter in my blog. I DO NOT post comments with contact information for individuals, companies, rehab centers, or ANYONE else. I DO NOT post comments that contain LINKS to other websites unless it relates to the subject matter in a post. But… that’s rare.

If you have a comment that is really a link to an escort service, miracle doctor, or your Great Aunt Molly’s whatever…. That comment will NEVER make it to the home page of my blog. It will be marked as spam and then deleted from my in box.

When a person or company contacts me and wants to collaborate on promoting something – no matter what it is – I do a lot of research. I make sure that the content will be relevant to the majority of my readers. I won’t waste your time, or mine, reading something that will encourage you to spend money needlessly, join a cult, pimp out your grandmother, or any other such ridiculous thing.

While it may appear that posting on my blog is a form of advertising, I will only “advertise” as a means of providing information. It’s a way of saying… “Hey… you might want to check this out.” I’m not telling you to go to a certain rehab center or purchase a certain product. I’m telling you it’s there, available, and I’ve researched it to be something viable to my readers.

I’ve been getting a lot of comments lately that link directly to an escort service. I have to say to them… nice try but take your business elsewhere. But, while we are on the subject, let’s talk about escort services and their “services”.

I understand that being involved with an alcoholic can be lonely. Sex is almost unimaginable, and the emotional closeness can be non-existent. But hiring out (or in) can result in an increase of the lonely emptiness that you’re trying to resolve. Physical gratification is pleasant but that’s all it is and having another human in the mix can get complicated – and expensive.

My suggestion is to take advantage of the electronic age and find yourself a device that will satisfy your needs. Find human contact and closeness in the people that you already care about and care about you. If you need a hug – ask for it from someone who knows you personally.

If you find yourself in a situation of becoming involved with another person, don’t shy away from it. Explore it. Think about it. Be careful. But don’t deny yourself happiness. This is NOT what you will get from a pay-for-sex arrangement.

Staying in a marriage/partnership with an alcoholic may be what’s best for you financially or for other reasons. Don’t forget that you are a real person with real feelings who deserves someone who can make you feel loved, desirable, and cared for. So go for it – if it doesn’t complicate your life more than you can manage. Just DON’T pay for any of it with cash – pay for it with giving your heart.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Are you playing the Hero? Part Three

Kelsey Brown of Nova Recovery Center contacted me about doing a post on the roles family members often play in an alcoholic family. While there are a few things in this write-up that do not match my point of view, I like what Kelsey has written. Since it's a long write up, this post will be shown in a series of three separate posts. I won't confuse the issue by writing in between the posts. However, when the last one is published, I will write a post giving my feelings / differences with Kelsey's post.


Guest Post by
Kelsey Brown
Nova Recovery Center 

5 Steps to Break the Dysfunctional Family Roles

If addiction is ravaging your family and you, your child, or your sibling is playing the hero, there are a few actionable steps you can take to break the dysfunctional family roles and regain a healthy, balanced household despite the addict’s behavior.

  1. Talk about what is going on. Ignoring the addiction and trying to pretend nothing is wrong is probably the worst thing you could do in this situation. This approach will only cause confusion and a disconnect among your family members. Conversely, talking about the addict’s behavior and the addiction, in general, can unify your family and promote healthy communication.
  2. Identify the dysfunctional roles within your family and take ownership. Once some communication is established, it’s important that each member of your family identify the roles they see and actively participate in and take ownership of those attitudes, beliefs, and emotions. Admitting that you need help to modify these roles and behaviors is another big step in the right direction.
  3. Make amends with one another. If you’ve lied, cheated, stolen, or harmed one another, a difficult but necessary step in the healing process is to make amends. This simply means you do your best to right any wrongs and restore justice when possible.
  4. Agree to work together to help the addict get treatment. Instead of working against one another in these dysfunctional roles, use that energy to come to an agreement in which you will all work together to get the addict the help he or she needs. Whether that means planning and organizing a family intervention or researching treatment options to present to the addict, working together is much more effective than working against one another.
  5. Practice new, healthier behaviors and be patient with yourself and others. It will take time and effort to establish healthy roles within the family unit. Try to take one day at a time and be patient with one another through the transition. Much of this will have to be very intentional at first, but eventually, the communication and healthy behaviors will become more natural.

Breaking dysfunctional survival roles in the midst of addiction is difficult, but family therapy is an extremely helpful tool that can help each member of the family heal from emotional wounds, address conflict, and learn how to communicate effectively in a healthy way.

  1. Dayton, T. (n.d.). Living With Addiction. Retrieved October 17, 2018, from http://www.nacoa.net/pdfs/The%20Set%20Up%20for%20Social%20Work%20Curriculum.pdf+
  2. Howsare, L. (1970, January 1). The Impact of Substance Use Disorders on Families and Children: From Theory to Practice. Retrieved October 17, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3725219/
  3. Nova Recovery Center. (2018, September 24). Benefits of Family Therapy in Addiction Treatment. Retrieved October 17, 2018, from https://novarecoverycenter.com/treatment/benefits-family-therapy-addiction-treatment/
  4. Smithson, K. (2004, June 30). Caught in the Crossfire: The Chemical or Behavioral Addict. Retrieved October 17, 2018, from https://www.ok.gov/odmhsas/documents/Smithson%2C%20Kim-handout%20Caught%20In%20The%20Crossfire.pdf
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2004). Treatment Improvement Protocol: Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy. Retrieved October 17, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64269/%20%20/

Author Bio:
Kelsey Brown has always been an avid reader and writer. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism from Missouri State University and now lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, daughter, and labradoodle. She regularly researches and writes on topics related to the substance abuse treatment industry, including detox, rehab, sober living, and mental health issues. When she’s not writing, Kelsey prefers to spend her time outdoors, hiking, camping, and biking.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Are you playing the Hero? Part Two

Kelsey Brown of Nova Recovery Center contacted me about doing a post on the roles family members often play in an alcoholic family. While there are a few things in this write-up that do not match my point of view, I like what Kelsey has written. Since it's a long write up, this post will be shown in a series of three separate posts. I won't confuse the issue by writing in between the posts. However, when the last one is published, I will write a post giving my feelings / differences with Kelsey's post.


Guest Post by
Kelsey Brown
Nova Recovery Center 

The Hero: Using Perfectionism to Cope

The hero role is very similar to the caretaker of the family, in that the hero spends a great deal of time attempting to restore the balance of the household and maintain the outward appearance that everything is okay. Although this person is often a perfectionist, extremely self-sufficient, and overly responsible, he or she may also struggle with fear, guilt, and shame regarding their loved one’s battle with addiction.

The hero is often an older child in the family, but this doesn’t necessarily hold true all the time. He or she will appear to be confident and mature and may also assume many of the parental duties in the household. As the addict’s substance abuse worsens, the hero may find him or herself struggling to keep up with it all.

In an attempt to do everything right and give the rest of the family some sense of hope, the hero often ends up extremely anxious, stressed out, and emotionally run down. All the focus on performing well and being the “golden child” ends up being an overwhelming amount of pressure.

If you are playing the hero, you may find yourself doing some of the following things:

     Covering up the addict’s mistakes.
     Giving a parent the emotional support they should be getting from their addicted spouse.
     Providing financial support after an addicted parent loses a job.
     Being overly concerned with performance-based behaviors like doing well in school or excelling at work.
     Being unable to accept failure.
     Lying to neighbors or friends about things going on at home.

Why Am I Playing the Hero?

For many people, the need to play the hero stems from a desire to “fix” everyone and everything going on in the household. They may also seek approval and self-worth through their accomplishments, although the constant race to perfection leaves them feeling inadequate and alone.

For some, taking on the hero role may also be a way to deal with uncertain feelings and emotions regarding the addict and his or her addiction problem. For example, on the outside, the confident, performance-based behaviors of the hero put off an air of strength, independence, and success. But on the inside, the hero is battling feelings of confusion, anger, and fear.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Are you playing the Hero? Part One

Kelsey Brown of Nova Recovery Center contacted me about doing a post on the roles family members often play in an alcoholic family. While there are a few things in this write-up that do not match my point of view, I like what Kelsey has written. Since it's a long write up, this post will be shown in a series of three separate posts. I won't confuse the issue by writing in between the posts. However, when the last one is published, I will write a post giving my feelings / differences with Kelsey's post.


Guest Post by
Kelsey Brown
Nova Recovery Center 

Families generally seek balance, even in the chaos of addiction. When a spouse, sibling, or child is suffering from addiction, family members often take on dysfunctional survival roles to reduce stress, conflict, and anxiety at home. In the face of addiction, this roleplaying is a feeble attempt to control the chaos. But in the end, loved ones only end up hiding the truth from themselves, their children, and their friends.

Playing the “hero” is a common coping mechanism for some people when they are struggling to function in a household that is choked by addiction. In an environment that is defined by instability and hostility, playing the hero may seem like the only way to cope. However, playing the hero is a short-term solution that will inevitably backfire and cause even more conflict, disconnect, and disruption of the family unit.

How Families Cope with Addiction: Family Survival Roles

When addiction is involved, family members often take on one of six different roles. According to the National Association for Children of Alcoholics, these roles include:

        The Addict: This person is the drug or alcohol abuser. They are generally at the center of all the conflict within the family unit and much of the attention is placed on this person because of their substance abuse.
        The Mascot: This person uses humor to deal with the conflict and tension in the family due to the addict’s behaviors. Though their humor is often intended to lighten the mood and help other family member’s cope, often it makes things worse and may even keep the addict from taking recovery seriously and getting the help they need.
        The Scapegoat: This person draws attention away from the addict by acting out, often in the form of rebelling. This is harmful to the family because it diverts the focus away from the real problem: the addict’s behavior.
        The Lost Child: This person is often quiet and reserved, never talking about the addict’s behavior or the possibility of recovery. They usually give up their own needs and fly under the radar, purposely avoiding any conversation about their own role in the family unit or the roles of others.
        The Caretaker: This person is the enabler, although their intention is most often just to maintain the balance within the family unit. They may make excuses for the addict’s behaviors, cover up for them, and attempt to keep everyone else happy in the process. They try their hardest to make sure the family problems never leave the walls of the home, so neighbors and community members don’t see the dysfunction.
        The Hero: The hero is usually a perfectionist and they want to make everyone in the family look good. They cover up for the addict’s mistakes and do everything they can to make the family appear “normal.” Their primary goal is to keep things positive and ignore the unhealthy roles other family members have taken on to cope with the addiction.

These six roles tend to oppose each other, causing more family conflict and turmoil and exacerbating the addiction problem of the addict. Family members adopt these roles for basic survival, which may temporarily reduce stress, but the addiction and the anxiety surrounding it often remains. Additionally, these roles can gradually become codependent behaviors, which continue to fuel the fire of addiction.

Other issues can exacerbate the conflict within the family, worsen the addiction, and make these roles even more complex. Such issues may include:

     Financial problems
     Resentment about drug problems, marital affairs, jealousy, etc.
     Personality conflicts
     A death in the family

Although each role plays an important part in the dysfunction of addiction in families, in this article, we’ll strictly focus on the hero, and the impact this role has on the family unit and the person fulfilling it.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Tornado warning (Re-post)

It's that time of year. It's hurricane, tornadoes and cyclones...

Below is a post I like to share around this time of year. It's a re-post so please keep that in mind as you read about Riley and I waiting out a tornado.

Tornado warning… (5/3/2011)

When the Emergency Broadcast came over the television announcing that we were under a Tornado Warning, I gathered my stuff – blankets, pillows, laptop, water, etc – and put it in a secure place in my bathroom. I was ready.

Riley was in his rocking chair watching his usual NCIS. I told him we needed to get his bathroom ready in case the worst came about. He just said – “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.” And being the good little caretaker that I am – I stocked his bathroom. Both the bathrooms are small and there is really only room for one person in each.

As the night wore on, I settled in and listened. Wind, rain, hail, more rain, quiet, wind and more wind – but there was no rumble. I was waiting for the rumble sound of an oncoming train. It never happened – and I was thankful.

As I was waiting, I could feel the house swaying with the wind. We have a brick rancher – solid as possibly could be – but the wind was so strong it was moving the house. I thought of the three little pigs who built their last house of bricks. What a smart thing to do.

In spite of the three little pigs’ wise decision to use brick in the construction – some lyrics kept running through my head -- but they weren’t verses about the pigs’ quest for a secure dwelling. Instead, I was hearing in my head the lyrics to a song from The Wizard of Oz.

The wind began to switch – the house to pitch and suddenly the hinges started to unhitch.

Life with an alcoholic is much the same as a house in the middle of a tornado. This first verse could well define what it is like to watch the beginning of an alcoholic downfall. Things are unsettled, the family never feels secure and things start to fall apart.

Just then the Witch – to satisfy an itch went flying on her broomstick, thumbing for a hitch.

The alcoholic (the Witch) needs to satisfy the craving for alcohol and so he/she seeks it out. Sometimes they ask others to help them obtain the alcohol – as in hitching a ride to the liquor store.

And oh, what happened then was rich.

I think if we substitute the word “sad” for the word “rich,” this would be exactly correct. Because what happens after the alcoholic gets the booze is rich with sadness.

The house began to pitch. The kitchen took a slitch.

Things become increasingly upsetting in the alcoholic household as the drinking continues.

It landed on the Wicked Witch in the middle of a ditch, which was not a healthy situation for the Wicked Witch.

The consequences of the alcoholic’s actions cause him/her to land in unpleasant situations. Eventually the health of the alcoholic deteriorates and puts the alcoholic’s life in danger.

Who began to twitch and was reduced to just a stitch of what was once the Wicked Witch.

The person who was once a vital, productive, happy member of the community is reduced to becoming a mere servant of alcohol. At that point, the entire family is not in Kansas anymore, but rather in some uninhabitable place – like Antarctica. No matter how many times you click your heels, those ruby red slippers are not going to help you now.

I’m told by fellow country dwellers that this is unusual weather for this time of year. Funny, in Linda and Riley World – living in a tornado is a way of life.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Linda's Transition to Sanity

It’s been a pretty busy and heart breaking few months for me.

I was told that I could not have the surgery I need for another six months. That’s disappointing since I’ve been working towards having this for more than a year. It would have been life changing at just the right time. It will still be life changing, but at a different time and place.

I was forced to move from my big old farmhouse onto a sofa bed in my daughters’ living room.

My daughter is working more than 1400 miles away and I am care taking her two pit bulls (who hate my spaniel) while she is off earning a living.

I want to move to Florida but my funds have been exhausted because, as a lot of seniors know, my income has been cut in half since the death of Riley.

I was in the process of having my teeth fixed when Riley died and I had to stop in the middle due to lack of funds.

My best friend of 54 years is very ill and she may not be around long enough for me to go visit her one last time.

TO TOP ALL THAT OFF – the man I’ve been involved with for about 2 years has been diagnosed with cancer. Our relationship has been long distance and with all the stress and miscommunication, we’ve ended our relationship. HEART BREAKING. As much as I would hope for a reconciliation, I just don’t see that in the near future.

I need a new direction. A start on a new life without the chaos of anything alcohol-related. This realization comes on the heels of having had an opportunity to turn the Immortal Alcoholic’s Wife in a documentary film. That task would involve a lot… I mean… a lot… of fundraising which would consume an enormous amount of my time when I should be working at a regular paying job. URRGGHHH!

What I need is something that I’m sure most of my readers will not like. I am retiring from all my alcohol-related ventures. However, I will continue to do coaching. I love the one-on-one time I get with people who actually LIKE talking to me. I am happy that my experience can make someone else’s life more manageable. I’m not sure what I am going to do with the blog, but I plan to turn the posts into a book. I will be posting for a while to keep my readers up to date on my progress. But, I don't know how long I will be posting.

I have begun my search for a job in my old profession – real estate title examining. Hopefully someone will consider my California real estate experience to be of benefit in the state of Florida. If not, I can always try for a job as a greeter at a big box store.

Yes. I’m still moving to Florida. Orange trees, sunshine, white beaches, friends and a new adventure.
I would like a hasty exit. A clean cut from the memories that this state holds for me. To make that happen, I am asking my readers to please help me raise funds for this major transition in my life. I am going to Florida with only the things that will fit in my car, so I will need just about everything to set up my new home – a small apartment in a lovely complex.

My goal is $5000 to cover the cost of transportation, apartment deposit, basic set up essentials, groceries and a portion of my remaining dental expense ($2000). I welcome donations of Marriott Reward points or other gift cards. The reward will be based on the dollar value of the donation.

Anyone who donates to LINDA’s TRANSITION TO SANITY Fund will receive:  

Available Rewards
Immortal Alcohol Blog Post Book

Immortal Alcoholic’s Wife


Workbook for Caregivers

Surviving the Chaos

That Reminds Me

Huh? ABCs of Understanding Women

90-minute Massage Envy gift card


Coaching Session (1 hour session)


     All donations, no matter the amount, will gain a shout out on my FaceBook and this blog.

Make your donation thru PayPal to LDoyne@live.com.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A bowl of cherries...

 Since Riley’s death, I’ve had a hard time focusing on a single goal. I call it “floundering.” There are lots of things than need my attention, but I can’t seem to do one thing to completion, but rather switch back and forth, back and forth.

I wake up in the morning and say to myself… “Self, you will do something today that is positive and will set the course for more positive things. Today you will complete just ONE thing.” Self listens to me – for about half a nano-second. Then it’s a little of this and a little of that. Back and forth… back and forth.

Back in the day, when Riley went to rehab, and there were lots of those times, I would sit in the empty, quiet house and think about all the things I needed to do. I made a mental list. Followed by a written list. Followed by organizing and categorizing the list thereby creating more lists. I would hold the list in my hand, smooth it out on the desktop, fold it into fourths, turn it over, unfold it, then tell myself I would start marking things off the list first the thing the next morning.

The next morning, I would have awakened from a wonderfully peaceful nights sleep because there were no interruptions from a drunken Riley doing whatever it was he was doing in the middle of the night. At first, I would be startled from the sheer quietness, but then realize, oh yeah, Riley is in rehab. I have my coffee, a cup or three, and take out my list.

Well, I think to myself, I can do this and get it done. But before I finish getting it done, some other task catches my eye and I start on that. That’s the way it continues until the day Riley returns from rehab and I realize not ONE of the tasks on the list have been completed. But, that should be OK because Riley is a new and improved person because he’s been in rehab and vows to never drink again. Maybe he will help finish the list.

OK… well.. the first six or so times he came back from rehab, I would probably have believed that line of recovery speak. After that, he could have been telling me that the rainbow landed in our backyard and there were several pots of gold out there just waiting for me to go cash them in.

FANTASY. It would be a fantasy if I truly believed that my life with a newly recovering alcoholic would be a bowl of cherries with a dollop of whipped cream on top. The truth is he will exchange the alcohol addiction to a support group addiction. That’s the way it has to be in order for him to maintain everything he gained inside the center.

He’s not going to help me cross those items off that list I so thoughtfully made while he was learning how to live without alcohol. There may be a brief “honeymoon” period where everything is all lightness and loving and just simply wonderful. But it never lasts. I enjoyed it while I could. Made the most of it because I COULD NOT depend on it being there forever.

Things would be good. Sometimes things would be great. But eventually, they would always revert back to being terrible. And I would ALWAYS be devastated.

You see… I screwed up way back up there when I was making out the list. That list should have been things for me to do that I WANTED for MY life. It should have been things to make my life happier, more fulfilling, without Riley in my life at all. They should have been things I wanted / needed to do that didn’t include Riley. While he was in rehab he was making his own list for his life and when he got out, he was acting on that list and life. It had nothing to do with my life. That’s what I should have been doing for myself instead of making a list of chores and tasks.

So, your alcoholic is in rehab. Now What?? Don’t expect that bowl of cherries life with him. Instead make it a bowl of YOUR favorite fruit and don’t share it with anyone. It’s your bowl. It’s your life. Make it what you want.

For more on what to do now that he's in rehab see this post:

Sunday, August 12, 2018

A place called "denial"

There is a place I want to visit. It’s Denial Bay, South Australia. It’s really just a fishing and tourist village on the western side of Murat Bay about 350 miles from Adelaide. This bay and village was named from the “deceptive hope [they] had formed penetrating by it some distance into the interior of the country.” In other words it was suspected that the bay would provide an entry into the interior regions of the country, but instead was simply a bay and not an entrance. Denial Bay is now a stop for tourists who wish to enjoy a change of scenery from the salt bushes.

It doesn’t sound like such a bad place to visit. It doesn’t conjure up visions of doom that the phrase “floating up the river of Denial” seems to generate.

Let’s take a look at the word “denial”. It can be a verb deriving from the word “deny” or it can be a noun indicating a place called “Denial.” In this case, the real place of Denial Bay and the fictional river of Denial.

I think the word “denial” has gotten a bad rap. Sometimes denying certain things is a means to protect ourselves from potentially harmful situations. For example, I deny that I like any food that is spicy hot. The reality is that I DO like a bit of spice to my food, but if I say I don’t, I won’t get a dish so hot that I need a fire extinguisher to put out the flames. I protect myself from that pain by denying that I want any heat at all.

When my doctor asks me if I have trouble sleeping, I tell him absolutely not. However, as that clock turns to 3:00 A.M. and sleep is NOT on the horizon, I realize that I’m in denial about my sleeping habits. I believe I may be trying to protect myself from something by lying to my doctor. I have no clue why. I just know that I’m in denial.

When Riley was alive, I denied that stress was affecting my life. In my mind, if I said it often enough, denied it vehemently, it would not be true. The reality is that stress was destroying my physical and mental health. In my mind, I thought that it didn’t matter if I denied or not because there was nothing I could do about the situation. It was better to accept that the way my life was, is how my life would be and denial made all that easier.

I have a friend who denies that he wants a committed relationship. He claims not to want a relationship in order to protect himself from a broken heart. So he ends each potential mating before there’s a chance to find out if she is Ms. Right. Denying that there could be a Ms Right protects him from the pain of heartbreak.

Alcoholics don’t want to admit they are alcoholics so they deny that alcohol is a problem. Spouses deny that alcohol has any effect on their lives because they don’t want the outside world’s image of a perfectly loving marriage to be blemished in any way. The spouse is denying as a means of protecting the marriage.

No one wants to admit that their thought process is flawed. Accepting the thing that you’re denying is downright terrifying. It means facing the fact that a change needs to happen. Sometimes we don’t know how to change and sometimes we simply prefer our status quo. Some people live their entire life in the fictional state of denial while others make a move to reality, confront and resolve their issues.

I believe my life would have been far more enjoyable if I had not denied that Riley’s condition was causing me harm. I believe I would have accomplished more, learned more, laughed more, enjoyed more, and been more introspective of my own needs, had I just admitted that I was in need of help to relieve the stress. My denial was not the protector I thought it was.

Image result for pictures, Denial Bay, South Australia
Those of you who follow me know that I plan a lot of things. Many of them don’t happen the way I plan or in the time frame I want to do them. I deny that they will never happen. I’m planning a trip to Denial Bay, South Australia. After all, if I’m going to be in denial, I might as well enjoy seeing the sights of a sleepy fishing village that is the real Denial Bay. Anyone want to join me?