You will be receiving this Newsletter the day Mary Ellen returns from a week in Iceland and I from a week of poking around coastal California. In preparing for some time off, Mary Ellen noted,
“We are very blessed to have such a great practice with such interesting clients. I bet there are hardly any other counselors in the US as blessed as we are.”
Of course I totally agree, and would only add that those blessings include what we have learned from each of you. Every one of you has contributed to every client who has followed you and we thank all of you for continuing to educate us.
Been Exceeding Your Carrying Capacity Again, Have You?
Most of us who are busy and accomplished know that “free time is not our friend,” and tends to exacerbate our alcohol abuse. But the flip side frequently has the same result – we overload ourselves to the point where we seek respite in, you guessed it, alcohol.
Thinking about it even briefly, I’m sure, will allow you to see that there is a very delicate balance here that many of us need to maintain. Of course, maintaining means paying attention and most of us aren’t as good at that as we need to be, especially as circumstances in our lives change.
Examples? The end of:
- active parenting;
- various physical activities;
- and other considerations that kept us engaged.
Whether you are an Olympic gymnast whose career is over at 18, a stay at home mother whose last child left for college when you turned 48, a professional whose career ended in your 50s or 60s, the result is the same. Now what are you going to do with all of that time and energy?
Not surprisingly, people who never had an alcohol problem, or only a small one, find that alcohol consumption has expanded to fill the available space.
At the other end of the spectrum are those of us who can’t say no.
We who keep on adding and adding, obligations, responsibilities, activities, favors to others, and so on, until we are buried under an avalanche that we can’t dig our way out of. So, having grossly exceeded our ability to fulfill all of the commitments we have made, we sit and drink and wait for some of the load to melt away.
Of course then we feel guilty so we drink even more to escape the guilt, which further erodes our ability to accomplish anything which results in…
The “cure” for all of this, and hence the alcohol abuse, is learning to manage your time, activities, emotions, and commitments. CBT will help with the erroneous thinking habits you have cultivated and you will learn to use your thought patterns and behaviors to manage your emotions rather than assuming it’s your emotions which drive your thoughts and behaviors.
But managing your life, so you are neither under-engaged, nor over-extended, will still be an exercise in self-awareness and actively learning to say resist taking on more than you can chew.
For that to happen, consider the following article.
We all tend to behave differently in the various compartments we have created in our lives. Most of us are successful in our professional lives because we have learned to be assertive, sometimes aggressive, in careers that require and reward that.
It’s no surprise that most of the attorneys we see are in either criminal defense or litigation. Nor will you be shocked to learn that the physicians are ER docs and surgeons. No room, here for the faint of heart. And of course the same goes for the corporate executives, diplomats, artists, business owners, and entrepreneurs and the cast of others who make up our client base.
What is surprising is how many of you, men and women alike, turn into complete doormats in your personal lives. Or have learned to be that over the course of your marriages.
Regardless of how conditions progressed, the result follows a familiar pattern: passivity leads to resentment; resentment leads to passive aggressive FU drinking; the drinking leads to an even greater imbalance in your marriage/partnership; which leads to even more resentment; which….. Yes, that downward spiral, whether it’s been going on for 5 years or 45, plays out pretty predictably.
What isn’t predicable is what the result will be if you stop drinking and start asserting yourself. That’s what keeps you stuck – fear of the unknown outcome. At least with the status quo, you enjoy the “security of familiar miseries.” Step up and who knows what might happen?
Still, if you are having to medicate ever more massively in order to even tolerate those familiar miseries, how is that really going to play out? Many of you are in your 50s. Are you really going to stay ever drunker, putting in time waiting to die, for 30 or 40 years?
Are you going to incapacitate yourself, and skip decades of the only life you’re ever going to have, rather than step up for yourself?
Frankly, as we often note, if that was working for you, you wouldn’t be reading this.
Is it frightening to contemplate change where the outcome really is unknown? Yes. And it’s why we stay in “contemplation hell.” But suppose, instead of ruminating on all of the awful possibilities, you concentrated on the positive ones?
Like, maybe, being less lonely, bored, resentful, dis-empowered, depressed, and so on?
That’s the upside as compared to being a passive, manipulated, demeaned, and exploited drunk. And teaching your children to be the same.
It is your life, your preferences, your choices. Please consider the thought of looking back a year from now and being glad you made the right ones.