Do you remember paper calendars? The brand-new planner would arrive in mid-November. Opening the cover, turning the pristine pages – what a great moment. It was full of hope, excitement and new opportunities. This planner will be perfect. It will not be like the old planner, with smudges, crossed out words, double booked appointments, and illegible writing. This planner will be organized, without any mistakes. It will have impeccable handwriting. This planner will not have eraser marks and smudges. It might even be color coded. This planner is the perfect gift as it comes with the power to declutter a messy schedule. After all, this planner will be the key to organization and a life without stress, chaos, or crisis!
With that vow, appointments are scheduled and events are planned. Inevitably early December arrives with a painful reality. That perfect planner has smudges, mistakes, crossed out appointments and illegible notes. It is not even the new year. In truth, life is messy and the good times come with moments of conflict and chaos. This is especially true for families impacted by addiction as fear, anger, anxiety can be overwhelming and all-consuming. Unattainable expectations, resentments, desires to fix, and compulsions to control pave the path to increased crisis and pain. In this process, the good moments are overpowered by preoccupation and concern for others. Families are obsessively trying to ensure the safety of the addict or alcoholic while desperately managing an already chaotic schedule.
That perfect planner, personal vows and an incredible strong will not magically provide the ability to control others, cure addiction, or fix the family. It can serve as a reminder of Step 1, that we are powerless over this disease and life can become unmanageable. Do not lose hope as that planner does in fact provide an amazing opportunity to let go. There are things that can be changed. Implementing and maintaining boundaries can simplify commitments, decrease the number of appointments, and minimize stress. Although it may be difficult, certainly not as simple as scheduling appointments on a calendar, there are things that can be done to alleviate chaos and unmanageability. It may be difficult and feel counterintuitive but start by asking for help. Then implement some new changes. Engage in therapy, seek education, and build a robust, healthy support system.
Positive change can happen by letting go of resentments, compulsions, and unrealistic expectations. Letting go does not mean do nothing. In fact, the opposite is true. Letting go includes doing the difficult thing and making changes. In short, do the work. Be open and willing to experience the beauty in the ups and downs in life. Tremendous, magical moments are rarely planned in advanced and scheduled on the calendar, yet they happen every day.
In 2018, find peace and serenity in recovery, by remembering powerlessness and letting go. Enjoy those incredible moments.