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Post Info TOPIC: Managing expectations and a generally pessimistic attitude


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Managing expectations and a generally pessimistic attitude


Since this stuff started with my now adult Son about 18 years ago (initially meth addiction, joined by alcohol problems soon after, and recently mental health issues), it takes very little and sometimes nothing at all for my mind to spin up a scary story about all the terrible things that are probably going to happen in his future, or are probably happening to him right now.  Talking with other Al Anon folks, I understand that this is a pretty common problem that we all try to deal with.  I understand that managing our expectations about the alcoholic \ addict are very important - to that end, I have completely accepted (only because this disease has humbled me and beaten me into submission) that I can only be grateful that my son is sober and healthy TODAY, and that I absolutely can't have any expectations (hopes, dreams, etc.) about his future - reminding myself all the time about those two things are critically important to maintaining my mental health.  What troubles me lately and what I'm realizing now in my life, is that just like many of the things I've learned about in Al Anon have benefitted my life in many, many areas unrelated to my son's issues (relationships with my other adult kids, interactions with friends and neighbors, etc.), this pessimistic attitude regarding my son is overflowing into other areas of my life, when I really have no reason to be pessimistic about much of anything in the rest of my life - I'm fine financially, I'm relatively healthy, etc. - but the other day something took place in the neighborhood, and when I wasn't included (as I had been previously), I immediately figured that something I said or did had offended someone and I was excluded for what I did - when actually what happened is that the organizer simply mis-typed my email address and I never got notice of the event! 

I do try and catch myself BEFORE I start spinning stuff up and "awful-izing" outcomes - I try and remind myself that even if something is important to me, I often don't have all the facts needed to even form an opinion, much less take action - but that doesn't stop the tornado inside of me.

How do you guys deal with these types of situations to

  1. prevent those made up thoughts about the terrible things that are gonna happen to your alcoholic loved one take over and drive ya nuts, and
  2. prevent that same type of pessimism from crossing over into other parts of your life when ya have no real reason to be pessimistic  

Thanks in advance for any guidance!



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~*Service Worker*~

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Texas, I hear you! I too have a son that I have always worried about -- not alcohol or drug addiction, but other more garden-variety mental health issues since childhood. Now he is grown and lives on his own, and we have a good relationship, but -- it is all too easy for me to catastrophize. My brain has the habit of worrying about him because I've been doing it so long. If I ask how he's doing and he hesitates for a moment before responding, my brain says, "he's suicidal!!" And even when things are going fine, I am anxious before speaking with him on the phone because -- "what if I hear something bad?"

Anyway, the best solution I've found so far is to remember something I heard from a long-time member. She said her sponsor had told her, "If you're going to make stuff up (only she used a different word than "stuff"), why not make up good stuff?" That gets me laughing, and it helps me get off the worry train.

For worries that seem to be taking over my life -- and I will say that having a loved one with addiction or mental illness was traumatic for me -- I found therapy helpful, in particular a therapist that used EMDR to help me process past trauma. 

Thank you for bringing this question, as I'm sure many people have the same question.



-- Edited by Freetime on Tuesday 16th of November 2021 04:37:00 PM

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Senior Member

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"catastrophize" - yeah, that's an excellent description !

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I've learned that there are worksheets that help people "decatastrophize".

But in Al-Anon we learn that when we "catastrophize" or worry about the future

we are: (1) Not living mindfully and therefore not taking care of ourselves in the

present; (2) Projecting our fears based on past events; and (3) Not asking for HP's

help and trying to control a situation that is outside of our control. {{HUGS}}

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"Forgiveness doesn't excuse bad behavior, but it

does prevent bad behavior from destroying your heart". ~ unknown

Debbie



~*Service Worker*~

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{{{TY}}}. My gosh Ive been there so many times, especially when my A drank and drove. And thats something real to worry about! I now just lean into program: the serenity prayer, step 1, live and let live, let go and let God, Think, and Pause. If I can put my brain on pause I give myself time to stop the obsessing, get a grip, and get on with my day. I can only control myself, and that s on a good day. :)

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Lyne

bud


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When I obsess and "awful-ize" outcomes (love that term), it's based on a fear that I then magnify. Someone suggested when I start to catastrophize, that I need to slow down as soon as I notice. Lately, slowing down includes practicing the Serenity prayer, an awareness that there might be other perceptions, and extra compassion for myself and others.

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~*Service Worker*~

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I can certainly relate and have spent a lot of time living in the future catastrophizing all the terrible things that could happen to my daughter .

Even when things are going well, I can get caught up in wondering/worrying will it last?


I fear what I can't control and unfortunately that is most things.

There is really very little that we can control. Only myself, my reaction , what comes out of my mouth etc.


Every single day, I have to surrender my will to a power greater then myself, and live in the present moment. Its hard.


Developing a yoga practice has helped me immensely to let go of most things. 

Staying busy in my own life has given me much less time to meddle in others .

As I age I also notice that I simply do not have the energy anymore to rail against, concern myself with stuff that simply isn't my business.

Double edged sword perhaps, I'm aging yet becoming calmer with more peace in spite of anything that is happening around me



-- Edited by serenity47 on Thursday 18th of November 2021 12:58:20 AM

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Thanks for all the ESH ! I suspect that my ongoing efforts to "decatastrophize" (WHAT A GREAT WORD !) and de-awful-ize my thinking about potential future events is going to be a win some, lose some situation - but I experienced a glimmer of hope last night while I was sleeping \ dreaming - LOL, maybe it was nightmaring. I'm always a very restless sleeper, and at one point during the night a snippet of a dream had me agonizing about some kind of undefined event in my son's life - something bad that was gonna happen to my son - in my dream, I immediately started awfulizing the outcome, but very quickly (again, while dreaming), my sleep-time consciousness said "NO, stop this crazy thinking" - at that point I woke up and realized that maybe I'm starting to get this stuff under control - THAT was encouraging.

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(((TY))) - I'm late to this party yet can so relate. The best approach I have for my wandering mind and projections is truly to embrace one day at a time. Every time my mind wonders, even to tomorrow, I do whatever it takes to bring me back to this moment in time.

I do agree that when we are left/right of our center, it's really easy for our disease to creep well beyond our scope. I have spent most of my life spinning out in projection always assuming I know more than I do, and most often, coming to a negative conclusion. My go-to tool when I begin to feel that internal unrest such as when you discovered the lack of invite, is to Pause to Pray before I Proceed. This, almost as much as the Serenity Prayer has allowed me to calm myself and come to realize that it's quite possible another imperfect human has forgotten to include me.

My youngest is 'out of contact' right now which is a part of our 'dance'. In spite of what he is/is not doing, I have absolutely no choice but to accept what is, just for today. We all know this disease can bring about devastation, chaos, drama and possibly even death. My sponsor suggests to me that my goal is to trust my HP fully, not just when life is going well/good...so that's what I focus on, one day at a time.

My life and days are much easier when I can stay present. When I am way far from my center, I always increase my meetings, my literature and my writing. I try to lean in to my program as best I can to get my center back. I really, really no longer enjoy the opposite of serenity when it rises up, so will go to any lengths to align accordingly.

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Practice the PAUSE...Pause before judging.  Pause before assuming.  Pause before accusing.  Pause whenever you are about to react harshly and you will avoid doing and saying things you will later regret.  ~~~~  Lori Deschene

 

 



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Hi {TY}. on reading your sharing, I can relate so much to the Fears and what If's regarding your son and his journey. I have an awful lot in my Family that I can/so get concerned about. There are a few of them that tops my list. Only the other day, I looked at my wall, and decided to pick a Brick out and put all their names on it, my God has a real sense of Humour and put me in a Besser Brick Unit to live. So when I get frantic, and if I start to fight it, I can look at it and say to myself, "Just Pick Your Brick", as I am tired of bashing my head against a Brick. It hurts too much.

But, when I get into that frame of fear, I have found 2 readings from Courage To Change that will give me Peace and Calmness. They are on Page,17, and 321. I hope they can help you, as they continue to help me.

Love WendyP.



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I am so incredibly grateful for the ESH you fine folks have shared with me! After almost 20 years in Al Anon, you'd think that the program and my many friends in Al Anon would have penetrated my thick skull by now, but it's still a give and take, good days and bad days situation for me. It's insights like you guys have shared here that help me make progress - LOL, but I'm certainly NOT even close to perfection!

I had to do some fine tuning, make a "Take what ya like and leave the rest" adjustment on the "Let go and let God" slogan - my belief system about God knows a God that gave us free will, and because of that free will, He won't butt in and force or change decisions we make - I'll accept that God can and probably does work in ways that I can't even comprehend, but whether He will or won't do something to impact my situation is beyond my understanding - that, and most everything else (in my world) about God is in the "I don't know" category - I'm very comfortable with that approach - I can accept it with absolute certainty - it makes it easy for me - and I need it to be very easy, without any gray areas or wiggle room or "I wonder why God let this happen" kind of stuff. So, I've shortened the slogan to "Let go . . .", and that's it - I try my best to let go of trying to control and fix things because 1) I think I'm a smart, creative, forceful guy, but nothing I have ever done has changed anything at all related to alcohol or drugs in my son's life, and 2) if the (IMHO) divinely inspired "Let go . . " stuff has worked for millions and millions of AA and Al Anon folks for 70 years, chances are that if I let go, that approach will work for me, too - maybe not, but the odds are certainly in my favor.

Another reason why I'm maybe getting better at the "Let go . . ." stuff is that quite possibly history and experience and a lot of pain and suffering have finally beaten me into submission - maybe - I'm like an almost beaten and bloodied boxer down on the canvas, with my corner man telling me to stay down - but there's a part of me wanting to get up again, even though I know with almost absolute certainty that I am gonna take a horrific beating if I do get up again.

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HI {TY} I have just finished reading your latest sharing, and when I was reading it, I started to cry, as you will never know how much you have helped me with your honesty. Not because of your pain or what you are feeling and going through with your son and his journey. Because I feel for you, as even in that I can relate to you, as I have a much beloved Grand Son, who has been walking that path for most of his life. The difference being between yourself and me, is that I don't know where he is, or what is happening with him. I can only imagine of how hard it must be if you are seeing the results, for myself, I believe that my HP is shielding me from it, as knowing and imaging what is going on in his life, I wouldn't be able to cope with seeing him for where he is in his journey.

Why I cried, was because I have been going through some very heavy waters of late, with life, people places and things. When I read your sharing, I thought to myself that there is someone who is feeling just like me, I am not alone. Especially the Boxing bit, for I am a fighter, always have been, probably always will be. I use to say before Al-Anon and afterwards, whenever I was struggling, I would go down 9 and 3/4's not the 10th. But very nearly, I had to get my legs knocked out from underneath me, hit my own very painful rock bottom before, I got the real message of Al-Anon,. I had to become pliable, before I became teachable. But thankfully, I got here.

For me, I have the God bit down, I have trouble with the letting go bit. That does not come easy for me, never did. That is such a strong part of my character, until, until, I was helped, when someone shared of how much like me, they struggled with it, when they said, that "Everytime that God asked them to let go, they had claw marks in it". Gosh, like you sharing, did that make sense to me and help me. I am getting better at it, but if it has claw marks in my letting go, I am comfortable.  

Because I relate to your journey with you son, I wanted to say that each day, when I pray for my Grand Son, and my other Troubled Souls of my Family, Yourself and your son and Family are a part of my prayers as well, as I only know the heartache of it too well.

Once again, Thank You.

Love WendyP.



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I suspect that lots of us - even those that are working a solid program to the best of their ability - are "going through some very heavy waters of late" - the holiday season only adds to the misery - and I'm amazed at how this MIP group of such fine folks are always there with ESH that, for me, calms the waters a bit.  But, like a lot of things in life, we can read about what we should do to deal with this terrible stuff, and our Al Anon friends can tell us what's worked for them, but at some point we have to find the strength to just do it - by ourself - sure, we are helped by ESH from others, but it's like the first time we go swimming - ya ain't really "swimming" if someone is holding ya up.  Or like the first time ya actually rode a bike without Dad (or Mom), holding on to the back of the seat to steady ya - remember when they pushed ya off and said "KEEP PEDALING, AND WATCH WHERE YOU'RE GOING!  We have company on this bumpy, winding road, but we have to walk or ride on our own - no one is carrying us.

Luckily for me, and for my son, too, I guess, I'm not seeing the day-to-day stuff in his life - I wouldn't want to - more to worry about!   He's in another state - but I do know that he's alive and doing his thing and making progress - I am sure that not knowing anything would be its' own kind of hell, and I'm so sorry that you're dealing with that pain and suffering.  When I haven't heard from him for a while, and when my mind instantly starts spinning up horror stories without any provocation at all (catastrophizing), of course I increase the number of meetings I go to, I increase my number of Al Anon readings, I talk more with my sponsor and other folks on my phone lists, but for me, physical activity (as intense as I can stand it) that doesn't take much thinking or finesse has always helped me get through the storm.  Long walks, long bike rides, raking leaves in the yard, cleaning out the garage, washing and detailing the car - ANYTHING besides sitting there and letting my mind wonder about my son - because, for me, wondering about him can put me in a very dangerous place. 

I also remind myself that, even though I have absolutely no idea about the specifics of how God works in this world, and even though for some reason unknown to me God gave us free will and he's not gonna snatch it away on a case by case basis, that He loves my son at least as much as I do, and that He's gonna be active in ways I can't comprehend.  I also remind myself (LOL, and this only works part of the time for me), that given that God loves my son very much, and given that God is all powerful (factoring in the free will conundrum), if God's not gonna jump in and fix my son's stuff for him, what makes me think I have a right to try and fix my son, even if I knew what to do to fix him, given my own personal track record of misadventures. 

I'm also thinking that it's not so much about letting go, but maybe more about acknowledging that NOTHING I've done has changed much of anything about alcohol and drugs in my son's life - so why continue to try?  Like I said, I wonder about the second part of "Let go and let God", so I keep it simple and try to just let go.

Hang in there  . . .  



-- Edited by texas yankee on Thursday 25th of November 2021 11:50:42 AM

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