Holidays Preparations – Setting boundaries & expectations

The holidays can present a number of unhappy situations for the family members of alcoholics. Just as the type and severity of the situations vary, so do the options family members have for responding to those situations. One option for anyone affected by someone else’s alcoholism are Al‑Anon meetings. There are local and virtual meetings available across the globe in many languages. Generally, groups still meet during the holidays. If you want to try a meeting but want to verify that they are still meeting locally, you can call the Al‑Anon World Service Office, +1 (888) 425-2666, or you can visit the World‑wide Al‑Anon Contact page to look up a local Al‑Anon Information Service.

This interview was recorded at the 2018 Al‑Anon International Convention in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Members were asked to share about various aspects of the Al‑Anon program and their personal experience.

Members’ anonymity is protected so that they can share openly and honestly about their experience with a loved one’s drinking and with the Al‑Anon program.

The opinions expressed in this video were strictly those of the person who gave them.

Video Transcript

Holidays Preparations ‑ Setting boundaries & expectations

Interviewer: Heather, you mentioned earlier that you had a particularly traumatic experience around the holidays—Christmas time in particular; could you tell us a little more about that?

Heather: Sure. That was kind of the year that, what do you say, the straw that broke the camel’s back type of thing. My husband—we had his family over for Christmas Eve, about 10‑15 people, the big Christmas spread—after everybody left, we had a hug blow up. And I didn’t even know what to do. Do you call 911? It was very, very traumatic. And that is when we kind of separated, and that’s when I started going to Al‑Anon. The next Friday was January third, and I attended my first meeting.

I was in the program for about a year and a half before my husband went into his own recovery program. And it’s been a journey that we have taken together. And now, when the holidays come up, I get stressed out about my parents—and I’m sure he gets stressed out by his family. So, we’ve kind of communicated about it and we set some boundaries. Like, what do you want to do? We’ll spend this much time with that family or this one—you know so much time with the other family.

And as far as, you know, kind of smoothing things out—I think it’s us talking and communicating before the actual event. And kind of lowering those expectations so that it’s not so stressful for each of us.

Interviewer: That’s great, thank you.