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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.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Empty spaces on a page

Oh My… another fresh new year just waiting for some adventure and excitement. I have a calendar with 365 empty squares. There’s even more empty squares if you count the ones without numbers. They all look lonely, boring, and open to possibilities.

I grew up with my mother repeating “Do something productive with every minute of your time, because you’ll never have those minutes back again. Once the day is gone, it’s gone forever.” I imagine that’s why I must am driven to do something every day. Even if I plan to relax, I’m always working on something – needlework, reading, writing. It’s always something going on in my brain or in my hands.

My calendar process is much the same as my budgeting process. I put things onto the calendar that 
are “proposed.” Then as that day comes, I put in what I actually did. Of course, doctor’s appointments, etc. are pretty much not proposed, but actual things that must be done. Working my calendar in this manner, I can see if I’m accomplishing anything or not. Sometimes I accomplish things, but not the things I want to accomplish or not as much as I wanted to do.

I’m a list maker. In the morning, I make a list of things to do that only a person with three clones would be able to complete. About half of the items end up on the next day’s list, some fall off the list completely. I am flexible, but still wish I could get it all done.

Living with an alcoholic means a constantly evolving list of things to do in a order that’s as flexible as a strand of cooked spaghetti. There is no constant, no consistency, no order, no logic, in the tasks that need to be done or the priority of completing them. It’s especially frustrating for me as a person who has a vision but has trouble reaching the ultimate goal.

So I’m looking at this empty calendar and asking myself where to start. Hmmm… I can enter birthdays. That’s a good place to start. Then there are other milestones that can go in the appropriate square. That will at least remind me to remember to wish someone a happy birthday or anniversary or whatever.

Next to be scheduled would be all the recurring events – like the annual house lease renewal; my mammogram; annual writer’s conference; or the anniversary of my blog. I need those little reminders.

When Riley was drinking I would enter things into the calendar like – “jail” if he were a guest of the city overnight; vomiting blood; fell down stairs; and other things that I might be asked by a person in authority at some point in time. I also keep a calendar in my Workbook for Caretakers, so I always have an account of how many times he falls or vomits or eats a healthy meal.

After putting in all that vital stuff, I plan for what I would like to do. Let’s see… I want to go to the NIAA meeting in Washington DC every quarter. I want to attend several conferences and seminars on alcoholism. I’d like to host seminars and begin live OARS meetings. I’d like to take a vacation. WAIT!! What is a vacation?? As unrealistic as it is, I plan a vacation every year. I haven’t managed it in more than 12 years, but I plan it anyway.

The empty squares are fewer now, but I still see time to do things. If Riley were not either drinking or having cancer, I could plan some dinner parties. I love to host dinner parties. I could plan for the great-grandkids to come for the weekend. I could take them to Busch Gardens or the Pirate Festival. But, drinking or cancer always eliminates the real possibility of this happening. What the heck! I write it in anyway.

With a fresh calendar and a plan for ways to spend my time so that my idle hands will not become the devil’s workshop, I can start my year.  Seldom does my calendar ever work out to be a factual rendition of my life when I look back on New Year’s Day. I will probably only follow through on a few of the planned outings, conferences, meetings, and least we forget the vacation. They most likely won’t happen. But at least I had a plan. Someday that plan may work out right down to the minute. Won’t that be different?


What do you do when you get a fresh new calendar? How do you make things work?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to plan or anything living with my AH, life is always unpredictable. It is hard to focus on yourself or your goals even if you are a strong person. From the emergency hospital trips to the daily balancing of little situations. Every attempt at planning, be it a holiday or be it something you want to do for yourself is regularly sabotaged. After getting through the holiday season almost in one piece it still has left me that stressed that a week into the New Year I still have not taken one step towards my New Year's Resolutions, one of which is to set up a a calendar, personal organizer with goals, jobs I would like finished, so I can keep on track easier. Truth is I feel permanently drained and even trying to plan is failing. That is the hopelessness I feels after years of living with a chronic alcoholic. All my plans now on surviving each day as it comes without an incident.

Anonymous said...

I am recently divorced from my violent alcoholic husband but I still don't feel relief. I am beginning to doubt if I will ever be happy again after living with extreme abuse for 16 years. Shortly after coming out of jail for physically assaulting me again he went on a dating web site and is trying to buy a used luxury car so he can look convincing to some poor woman. As his daughter said, "There he goes trying to ruin someone elses life."

Anonymous said...

I am recently divorced from my violent alcoholic husband but I still don't feel relief. I am beginning to doubt if I will ever be happy again after living with extreme abuse for 16 years. Shortly after coming out of jail for physically assaulting me again he went on a dating web site and is trying to buy a used luxury car so he can look convincing to some poor woman. As his daughter said, "There he goes trying to ruin someone elses life."

Zowie said...

My New Year's resolution is to take care of myself the best I can under the circumstances. #1 is exercising more so I can deal with whatever happens. #2 is eating less, but eating better. #3 is treating myself to life's little pleasures whenever I can.

Remember, everything changes. You may think your situation will always be like this, but one day it will change and you will come out on the other side and everything will be alright.

Happy New Year everyone.

Kristen Durboraw said...

So, does ANYONE out there have a story about ACTUALLY coming out on "the other side" and everything being "alright"???

Kristen Durboraw said...

So, does ANYONE have a story about ACTUALLY coming out on "the other side" and everything being "alright"????