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“Hi, Scott. I have a question about transitions. It seems like each year they sneak up on me, kids getting out of school, summer ending, kids going back to school, the holidays and so on. And along with these transitions, my urges to drink seem to sneak up on me as well. I’m curious what you would suggest about these transitions and how to best handle them while living alcohol-free.”
This is a fantastic question because yeah, it happens. I remember when I was a kid, and I can’t remember who told me, I want to say it was my grandparents or an aunt and uncle or someone, I was complaining about how long the school year was, and they said, “Oh, just wait. The older you get, the faster it goes.” And boy has that held true in my experience. And so I know exactly what you mean about these things sneaking up on you.
It seems like all of a sudden the kids are starting school and then before I know it, it’s Christmas, and then before I know it, it’s summer again. And yeah, it can be surprising. Along with these transitions, we transition to kind of a new way, a new normal. That means that routines that we’ve established go out the window. Instead of driving the kids to school in the morning and then going to pick them up, which we had been used to for awhile, all of a sudden they’re here all the time. Or we’ve got to drive them to camp or we’re going on a vacation. These things happen and this change in routine can absolutely bring some unexpected triggers.
So I do have a few ideas about this and things that might help. The first one is to have your own routine that never changes no matter what. Now obviously, this is going to be different for everyone. I’m going to talk about what mine is. But the bottom line is having things that you’re doing for you each day, no matter where you are or what’s going on, that’s going to help provide some consistency for you. And if you can connect that to your alcohol-free journey, even better.
So my daily routine includes getting up and before I do anything else, I do a little bit of reading and I journal. There’s other things I add on to that most of the time if I can. But at a bare minimum, and I mean this can be like 10, 15 minutes, it’s a little bit of reading and my journaling. And I do that no matter what time of year it is, no matter if the kids are in school or out of school. If I’m at home, if I’m not at home, it literally doesn’t matter where I am, I can get that 15 minutes and do that.
Now, what that does for me is it grounds me for the day. This writing in my journal and writing about my thoughts, writing about how I’m feeling helps express things. And if any of you who have been in our programs, you’ve heard that I’m a huge fan of journaling. I’m big on it. And it was instrumental for me in my process of going alcohol-free because it gave me a place to express. It gave me a place to talk about what I was feeling and what I was experiencing. And through doing that, through expressing that, I was able to process it more efficiently.
So whether it is journaling for you, whether it’s reading for you, for some people it’s getting up and doing some sort of exercise, it doesn’t matter really what it is. But have some sort of foundational habit that you do every day and ideally at the same time every day through all of these transitions, through the school year, through the summer, through the holidays, at home, away. Whatever it is, whatever your circumstance is, if you can do that every day, you’re going to give yourself a sense of consistency, which is really helpful.
Also, if it includes journaling, you can talk about those triggers when they come up. You can talk about, “Man, I cannot believe that my kids are home for the summer already. It really makes me think of sitting on the back deck and having a beer.” And just the act of expressing that, the act of seeing that, it can be massively helpful in thinking through how to work your way through it. So that’s one idea.
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