My mom and dad have a lot of friends, a lot of relatives, and a lot of fun. Most of which involves alcohol. I, on the other hand, have a major problem with alcohol, and within the past year, decided that I had to give it up entirely. Now, whenever I visit my parents, they do what they’ve always done. They make it an occasion by inviting lots of people over, and having lots of music, lots of food and lots of booze.
I’ve tried to tell them how hard it is for me to be around people who are drinking and not drink myself. And they say, “Oh, just have one or two!” Or, “Oh, you don’t have to drink hon. We understand.” I don’t think they believe me when I tell them I don’t feel capable of stopping at one or two – never have been. Or when I try to explain how hard it is to just say no.
What can I do to make them understand? I’m really proud of myself for making this choice. They seem to think it’s no big deal.
Dear Strong, Wise, Wonderful One,
They’ll probably never understand unless they try to give up alcohol themselves and find out how hard it is, particularly for those with an addiction to it.
Here’s what to do. When you go to visit, the minute the first alcoholic beverage is poured or opened, leave. Period.
Then, the next day when you are called on to explain, just tell them that’s the way it’s going to be from now on. You flat out refuse to subject yourself to that. It’s not fun for you. You want to visit, but when the booze comes out, you’re leaving. Be loving, but very, very firm. If you’re coming in from out of town, make back up plans for a place to stay. Actually, having a place of your own to stay, even a hotel room, would probably be better for you anyway. Visit and enjoy and when the drinking starts, the visit ends.
You can do this. They may never understand how you feel, but they’ll definitely learn to understand your boundaries and that you are serious about this. And by the way, congratulations! You’ve saved yourself from a whole lot of misery, and made a tough, but wonderful decision. You should be extremely proud.