All posts by Lilly

21 Day Life Rehab Challenge

Day 1: Empowerment

 “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” (Lao-tse)

I think it was Einstein that defined insanity as ‘continuing the same behaviour and expecting a different result’. Let’s face it, if your loved one continues drinking or using, his/her life is only going to continue to get the same results.

The same goes for you. If YOU keep on reacting to their behaviour and continue to blame them for your resulting life, than your life is not going to get any better either.

It takes two to tango, and you are participating in this duo, which isn’t improving your life.

I was surprised to hear in rehab counselling that I was as sick as my husband, my mental illness was feeding off my reactions to his actions. I had been severely affected by alcohol without being the drunk. You too need to look at your own recovery and stop spending time reacting to your addict’s life decisions and wishing your life was different.

Today’s Homework:

Taking responsibility for the choices you make is an empowering energy. Decide today that your life is your own. Make the decision to take steps everyday to a better life. The step may be so small that no one but you will notice but make the conscious decision that you are going to do at least one little thing everyday to improve your life and your future.

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loving an alcoholic

Respect for Yourself

When you live with an addict you can find yourself doing and thinking things that are alien to the person you believe you are. You may have hateful thoughts, become bitter and resentful. You criticise and mock the person you once loved with all your heart. You roar, rant and scream in ways and words you never thought possible. You do things to spite the person …  ‘I’ll show them!’

Your confidence becomes low and you find it hard to recognise the person you have become.  You do everything in your power to change loved one’s unacceptable behaviour.

Changing someone else is not possible. Change must come from within them.

The same goes for you. You must change from within and become the person you were or want to be. This needs work. You need to change your reactions to their unacceptable behaviour. You need to be true to yourself and learn to love yourself again.  The first step towards this is taking care of your reactions and knowing and respecting your own limits. Telling your ALO (Alcoholic Loved One) what you are going to do the next time they drink does not make a difference, instead decide what your limits are, decide the course of action you are going to take and then act  if the time comes. Do it for you, not for them.  Start respecting your own reactions and establish behaviour that reflects integrity and the person you want to be.

“He that respects himself is safe from others; he wears a coat of mail that none can pierce.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



The 10 Minutes Could Save Your Relationship

For two years after my partner went to rehab we went to ‘aftercare’. This was a once per week group meeting with others who had been in rehab and a partner or friend or family member.  It was mostly couples with an alcoholic husband or an alcoholic wife who had been through rehab. It was here we really learnt to listen  to each other.

So when I found this exercise I thought I would share it as some of you may find it helpful. Try to get to do this with your partner once a week, obviously not when they have just drank or are hungover. Remember to listen and not be judgemental.  Ask that they listen to you too with out ‘stonewalling’ or interrupting.


Often we’ll listen to a conversation partner without really hearing him or her—in the process, we miss opportunities to connect with that person. This exercise helps you express active interest in what the other person has to say and makes him or her feel heard—a way to foster empathy and connection. This technique is especially well-suited for difficult conversations (such as arguments with a spouse) and for expressing support. Research suggests that using this technique can help others feel more understood and can improve relationship satisfaction.

Time required

At least 10 minutes. Try to make time for this practice at least once per week.


Find a quiet place where you can talk with your partner without interruption or distraction. Invite him or her to share what’s on his or her mind. As he or she does so, try to follow the steps below. You don’t need to cover every step, but the more you do cover, the more effective this practice is likely to be.

1. Paraphrase. Once the other person has finished expressing a thought, paraphrase what he or she said to make sure you understand and to show that you are paying attention. Helpful ways to paraphrase include “What I hear you saying is…” “It sounds like…” and “If I understand you right….”

2. Ask questions. When appropriate, ask questions to encourage the other person to elaborate on his or her thoughts and feelings. Avoid jumping to conclusions about what the other person means. Instead ask questions to clarify his or her meaning, such as, “When you say_____, do you mean_____”?

3. Express empathy. If the other person voices negative feelings, strive to validate these feelings rather than questioning or defending against them. For example, if the speaker expresses frustration, try to consider why he or she feels that way, regardless of whether you think that feeling is justified or whether you would feel that way yourself were you in his or her position. Youmight respond, “I can sense that you’re feeling frustrated,” and even “I can understand how that situation could cause frustration.”

4. Use engaged body language. Show that you are engaged and interested bymaking eye contact, nodding, facing the other person, and maintaining an open and relaxed body posture. Avoid attending to distractions in your environment or checking your phone. Be mindful of your facial expressions: Avoid expressions that might communicate disapproval or disgust.

5. Avoid judgment. Your goal is to understand the other person’s perspective and accept it for what it is, even if you disagree with it. Try not to interrupt with counter-arguments or mentally prepare a rebuttal while the other person is speaking.

6. Avoid giving advice. Problem-solving is likely to be more effective after both conversation partners understand one another’s perspective and feel heard. Moving too quickly into advice-giving can be counterproductive.

7. Take turns. After the other person has had a chance to speak and you have engaged in the active listening steps above, ask if it’s okay for you to share your perspective. When sharing your perspective, express yourself as clearly as possible using “I” statements (e.g., “I feel overwhelmed when you don’t help out around the house”). It may also be helpful, when relevant, to express empathy for the other person’s perspective (e.g., “I know you’ve been very busy lately and don’t mean to leave me hanging…”)

Evidence that it works

Weger, H., Castle Bell, G., Minei, E. M., & Robinson, M. C. (2014). The relative effectiveness of active listening in initial interactions. International Journal of Listening, 28(1), 13-31.

Participants had brief conversations (about their biggest disappointment with their university) with someone trained to engage in active listening, someone who gave them advice, or someone who gave simple acknowledgments of their point of view. Participants who received active listening reported feeling more understood at the end of the conversation.

Why it works

Active listening helps listeners better understand others’ perspectives and helps speakers feel more understood and less threatened. This technique can prevent miscommunication and spare hurt feelings on both sides. By improving communication and preventing arguments from escalating, active listening can make relationships more enduring and satisfying. Practicing active listening with someone close to you can also help you listen better when interacting with other people in your life, such as students, co-workers, or roommates.


Instructions adapted from: Markman, H., Stanley, S., & Blumberg, S.L. (1994).Fighting for your marriage. San Francisco: Josey-Bass Publishers.

New life


You love your alcoholic and you want to make your relationship work. You can’t stop him/her drinking, you can’t change them or control them but you can change your behaviour.

Sometimes they do something that triggers us and we completely over react. We know them so well that we know the thing that starts the chain of events that leads them to drinking. It could be a look, a day of the week, a sigh, a movement. And we react. Sometimes they then use this as a reason to drink and you are blamed.  We don’t like our reactions, it’s not the type of person we set out to be.

Have a think about your triggers, what does the alcoholic  do that makes you fight, blow up, freak out, break down, what triggers you to feel so annoyed or upset that you can’t hide it? Think back and identify the common triggers and your reactions. Write them down. If you don’t know what they,  then the next time you have a reaction take notice of what just caused it.

Now think of a different way you could react to this trigger in the future, maybe it means biting your tongue or ignoring certain behaviour or being somewhere else when the time of day comes that they starts drinking. This week put it into action, react differently. Know the trigger and know yourself.

Day 7; Dealing with your own Anger

Dealing with Your Own Anger

Anger is a powerful emotion and it is important to vent it in some way, but in a way that is not regretful.

When you feel the need to lash out, you need to call someone or go for a walk or do something that relaxes you and removes you from the situation. Take the children and go to the park, call a friend and go out for coffee. The more you keep the situation in control and the less you fight with the alcoholic, the more he or she will come to realize that it is their behavior and not yours that causes them to drink. They will begin to own their behavior as you own yours. You cannot control their behavior and it is not your responsibility to do so. The only thing you can do is control how you respond to their drinking. No response is often the best response.

Call To Action! The next time you feel that anger bubbling up inside and feel like you need to vent a humiliating attack on the alcoholic, walk away from the situation. Get a paper and pen and write every nasty thing you want to say. Writing is a great way of venting your anger! Once you have done this, you can burn the paper with the nasty words and be proud of how you dealt with the human being in your life rather than feel ashamed of your own behavior.

If possible or appropriate, find a time when the person is sober and communicate in a more calm and constructive manner. Ninety-five percent of what an alcoholic says when drinking is manipulative and hogwash anyway. Don’t start believing in the lies of the disease, even if the lies include hopeful messages such as “I’m never drinking again!”