Many of our clients are extremely busy people. They are so busy that they have no time to take care of themselves beyond daily hygiene or to recharge their own batteries. Not surprisingly, this leads to downing too many drinks at the end of the day. It is a quick and easy way to relax. But there is a price to pay for this way of relaxing.
For all the good things you do for your family, whether you are working long hours to give them a wonderful lifestyle, good schools, and amazing vacations or whether it is volunteering for everything at their schools, baking cookies, making Halloween costumes instead of buying them, at the end of the day, what they will remember most is that you were drunk.
Nearly every week I listen to some truly devoted parent tell me all about the wonderful things they have done for their kids, whom they love with all their hearts. I also hear from their spouse and/or adult kids, who are angry and hurt and casually brush off all these wonderful things because the drinking so colors everything in their family that it becomes the only thing.
Many times, these clients could have taken more time for themselves to relax, recharge, etc. but they don’t. They do yet another thing for the family or the firm. They run themselves into the ground and then drink too much. Why? What exactly are you trying to prove? That you can work longer and harder than anybody else? That you are the best Mom at the school? I know the “mommy bar” has been set pretty high at most affluent schools but you can never reach it. Why? Because as you approach it, the bar gets raised to yet another unattainable height. Same with the work bar, there is always somebody who can stay later than you. Always.
How much better it would be if you did a little less for others and a little more for yourselves! You don’t need to be involved in every activity for parents at your kids’ schools. You can buy Halloween costumes – that’s what those weird stores sell that pop up at Halloween! You can buy cookies at the bakery or grocery store. You can say no to the endless requests. Go get a massage, read a book, do nothing for once and enjoy it. You can work a few hours less each day and come home to that beautiful home and actually see your family when they are awake. You might find that you actually have an interesting spouse and some pretty interesting children. When your children are grown up, they will remember the time you spent with them, the fun, and the laughter and they will still be speaking to you.
Or you can keep working at the flat out pace you do now and drink your relaxation each evening and take your chances. I am sure you think you are different, that it won’t happen to you and your family. But why take that chance? This is one place you don’t get a do-over. Take some time to relax and care for yourself now. No, drinking is not taking care of yourself.
But that would be selfish, wouldn’t it? Taking time for myself? Actually no, it wouldn’t be. You can’t run on empty, you have to take time to fill up again. That is essential self-care. Neglect essential care and you eventually crash and burn and show up at our offices. Why not skip the crash and burn part?
We all hear a lot about people being “in denial” about their drinking. While I find that people are rarely in denial about how much they drink, they do tend to deny the impact their drinking has on their family or that their family even knows how much they drink. Nearly every week I hear somebody say “they have no idea how much I drink or where I hide it.” Then I will talk to the spouse or kids and they say “She thinks we don’t know how much she drinks or where the hiding places are. We know!”
Drinkers also are in denial about whether their families can tell if they have been drinking. They can tell instantly. The subtle changes that only your closest family would notice are the telltale signs that give you away. The slightly crooked smile or the set of your jaw or your shoulders – things that casual friends would not notice but family instantly see. So you really are not fooling anybody. Family members may ignore it because they don’t know what to do or say or they may call you on it and of course you will deny it. But everybody knows what is going on.
Is that the legacy you want to leave? Drunk again.
Why not try something different? Maybe you need to talk with your spouse about what is wrong rather than drowning your sorrows in alcohol? Maybe you need to speak up and have your voice heard in the family? Maybe you need to work a little less or do a little more for yourself? Maybe you need to think about getting some help? Many times, people are in such a swirl that just taking the time to get a little help and perspective is all it takes to jump-start real change.
Or you can continue drinking secure in the knowledge that “nobody knows.”