Summer vacations and family get togethers are great times to be had by all. Or are they? We all look forward to them and build them up in our minds to be something really special. The problem comes when we have a little too much family time or the expectations of the summer vacation were set too high.
So, let's start with the," Too much family time." Sitting in a car for long periods of time causes stress for everyone feeling trapped inside. The same is true for long plane rides with children. Planning ahead helps but doesn't always solve the problem. You can go through all of your games, toys, snacks and videos quickly with some children. Then what? Getting children involved in the solution seems to work well. As a parent we don't always have to have the solution for our children. They appreciate being apart of the process of solving a problem. Getting to meetings once we arrive to our destination is vital. It may seem a little strange at first.
Why in the world would I go to an AA meeting or a NA meeting when I am on vacation? Well, because we all go a little stir crazy when we are out of our element and our routine. Some of the best meetings I have been to are ones we attend while on vacation.
For starters, it's nice to walk into a room full of strangers and instantly feel that they automatically "know" you. They know how you are feeling, they know your stress, and they have a simple solution on how to get back on track. It's a comforting feeling of readjusting your attitude. After the meeting, we usually feel balanced and refreshed. If you find an "open meeting", which you can find on our Powell website under the topic "Support", then you can even bring your spouse and children to the meeting.
I never felt comfortable leaving my children in a motel room alone so they always went with us. It was just another experience that we all had together and could talk about in the future. As my children reached their teenage years, people at meetings thought they were the alcoholics and we were their support team. We got lots of laughs out of those experiences. It never hurts a child to learn first hand what goes on in a meeting.
When a child is at a meeting, most members try to use appropriate language and tell appropriate stories. Children will make up in their heads what an AA meeting is all about if they do not have the opportunity to experience it first hand and it could be frightening to them. Telling the children ahead of time what all is covered in a meeting helps them understand the process. Remember genetics are apart of this disease so the chances of them becoming alcoholic or involved in drugs are high if one of their parents are diagnosed with the disease. Wouldn't you rather they grow up with the information they need in order for them to know where to turn when they are adults?
I am the only sibling out of five that admits to being an alcoholic; therefore when we all get together liquor is overflowing and wild times are to be had. I can plan on it. It happens year after year. In some ways it is sad to me. I wish they had the life I have without drugs or alcohol. What I have learned is that they all have their own journey. They'll get it or they won't. I simply have to take care of myself and my sobriety when I am around them. I've been told by my older brother that I am no longer any fun. I've been told that I am really not an alcoholic. I've watched huge family get together's turn into fun parties for the first half of the night and then turn ugly. But isn't that how most alcohol fueled evenings go? They are good to a point and then it's downhill from that point on. That is when I need to leave and not be apart of the chaos. My husband and I usually attend an AA party before the big drunk... that way we are armed with AA thoughts and bring the group, in our minds, to the party. With this foundation under us, we know we can only participate for a period of time and then we must go and take care of ourselves and our sobriety. Nothing is wrong with this and most of the family don't even know we have left the party.
So, in the end, it all works out. It takes planning and forethought. I am always proud of myself when my vacations are over. I made it through yet another vacation without a drink and am proud of my behavior. I took one step at a time and handled what came my way. I know you can as well. Take a little AA with you and prepare and plan ahead.