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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, 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:


ADDY said...

So true. Since Greg's death nearly 9 years ago I have made great strides with my list of things to do.

Anonymous said...

What a great idea. Thank you.

Diane K said...

I divorced my alcohokic husband 15 years ago. He passed away a year ago today.

I live with so much guilt for abandoning him. He died virtually homeless. He might still be alive if I had at least done something to care for him.

I can relate to this post about never finishing anything. I feel lost most days. I say I'm going to do one thing, but usually end up watching TV and playing on my phone. I'm gaining so much weight and losing some mobility. I'm scared for my future.

I've been remarried for ten years. My current husband is not an alcoholic or addict, but he has a lot of emotional needs anyway. Maybe that's why I just want to shut down when I'm alone. But it makes me feel like a useless waste of air.