Preparing For And Enjoying Holidays and Special Occasions With Complex Family Situations, with Lisa Pepper-Satkin

Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Hopestream for parenting kids through drug use and addiction
Preparing For And Enjoying Holidays and Special Occasions With Complex Family Situations, with Lisa Pepper-Satkin

Holidays and special occasions can go from being magical, fun times with family to days we approach with apprehension and even dread when complicated family dynamics are at play.

These feelings couldn't be more present than for parents who have kids struggling with substance use and addiction or who are currently away from home in a treatment program. And for moms and dads whose kids are newly sober – or trying to be – the strain and anticipation of all that might go wrong are next-level.

In this episode with therapeutic coach and consultant Lisa Pepper Satkin, we explore why holidays and special occasions can be so stressful and share ways to prepare better and approach them to keep our emotions and expectations in check.

It's one you'll want to listen to before Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Mother's Day, Father's Day, or any day that brings tension to your home and body.  You'll walk away with tools to help if you're trying to decide how to "do" holidays right now, learn ways to prepare instead of being blindsided, and hear how your mindset can make all the difference.


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SPEAKERS: Lisa Pepper-Satkin, Brenda Zane

[00:00:00] Lisa: And we have this fantasy vision of the holiday. I think each one of us does. And the more that we can claim that as our own and not expect everyone else to fulfill that, the better off we are, the more we release our expectations of how we want it to be. And. Find a way to be with how it is, the more we relieve ourselves of the angst and the stress of the expectation. 

[00:00:42] Brenda: Welcome to Hopestream. Especially if you’re new here, this is the podcast for parents of kids who are misusing drugs or alcohol, or who are in active addiction, in a treatment program, or in those early stages of recovery. I am Brenda Zane. I’m your host and a fellow parent to a child who struggled with addiction and who nearly lost his life to multiple fentanyl overdoses. 

So I am right there with you. You can learn more about me, about my story, and how I serve parents like you at my website, brenda And if you’re a mom with a son or daughter who is struggling or in the process of recovery and you wanna hang out with me and a bunch of other amazing moms like yourself. 

You can check out a private community I created called the stream. It’s where I am after the episodes and where you can connect with a village of other moms who get it. They get what you’re dealing with and you can find us at the stream community. com. It is that time of year friends. There are lots of holidays approaching for many of us and with holidays can come a lot of stress and anxiety. 

Especially when you have some complexities going on in your family. For some of you, this year will be different because you’ll have a child away at treatment and it may be the first time you won’t see them at Thanksgiving or Christmas or New Year’s. And for others, it will be your first holiday season with a son or daughter who is now out of treatment and working on living a new life of sobriety. 

And those are such big challenges either way. And then for some of you, things are the same as always. You’re in a pattern with your child of them using, or you suspect they’re using, and you don’t really know what to do. And that is stressful. So adding the strain of holidays and extra family around and all of those expectations around how these holidays are supposed to be is a lot. 

Today you’re going to get some amazing insight and some practical thoughts on how to approach holidays and special occasions when you have someone that you love who is struggling with substance misuse or if you just have complicated family relationships. I invited Lisa Pepper Satkin to join me for this conversation. 

Lisa is my therapeutic coach, and she is somebody I knew would have down to earth ideas for you, not just theory and unrealistic sounding advice. Lisa is an executive therapeutic coach and consultant, which means she combines her expertise and experience as a therapist. with executive coaching skills to help people create a more prosperous business and fulfilling personal life. 

Her list of credentials is way too long for a podcast intro, but just know she is a licensed therapist, a Brené Brown certified Dare to Lead facilitator, an addiction specialist, and also somatic psychotherapy, among so many other things. This is a conversation I wish I had had available A few years back, it would have been so helpful. 

So I know you will love hearing from my guest, my coach and therapist, Lisa Pepper Satkin. 

Lisa, welcome to Hope Stream. Today is a really meaningful conversation for me because As we’re recording, it’s November 1st of 2021, so we’re heading into, I won’t say everybody’s holiday season, because for some people it is not, but for a lot of people, we’re coming up on holidays that mean lots of families are getting together, there’s a lot of emotions, and A lot of expectations. 

A lot of expectations. And I had a really horrible experience my family did at Thanksgiving, back when my son was in his bad days. And I just think every time I’m putting together an episode, I’m like, Gosh, what would be really helpful for people out there? And I would have given my left arm to have somebody like you provide some thoughts, On how to navigate these times because I was just going it alone and so here you are. 

So thank you.  

[00:05:13] Lisa: I’m so happy to be here. I, I hope I have wisdom, droplets of wisdom to, to your listeners.  

[00:05:22] Brenda: you always have droplets of wisdom. Actually, you have I don’t know, you have full drops. They’re not even droplets. They’re full drops. Of wisdom. So exciting to talk with you. So why don’t we start out with just some background? 

I’ve given people a little bit of a snippet of who you are, but maybe you can give us some background of how you came to be doing what you’re doing today and what it is that you do today so that we just have some context for, for Lisa.  

[00:05:52] Lisa: Beautiful. So I started actually in the third grade leading women’s circles. 

that we were girls, right? Because I grew up in A state where swearing was not allowed and I decided to teach all my friends how to swear And so that was third grade and that’s what I did at recess And i’ve just grown my work since then and most recently I have this Beautiful body of work where I combine psychotherapy and executive coaching as a way to help people, all types of people, more of what they want in their lives. 

I think it’s helpful for us to understand how we got to where we are and then really envision where we’re headed. And what we want more of in our lives and then strategize around that. So I gave up like just doing traditional therapy and I never really liked just traditional coaching. And so I created this magical way of bringing them all together and create a process where we’re better together. 

It’s so  

[00:07:00] Brenda: awesome. I have to say, as somebody who’s on the receiving end of your magic, it’s a really unique thing. I don’t know if anybody else is doing it, but I, I can really see the benefit of having, like you said, I love therapy and I love coaching, but to have the two together is just amazing. Just incredible. 

So that’s a great, great thing that you’re offering to people. So you do that today. What’s your history with it? Because obviously I picked you for a reason to do this. So what’s your history with substance use and addiction? Because obviously the people who are listening here are parents for the most part, caregivers or grandparents, somebody, they love somebody who is struggling in some way with that. 

And so just maybe catch us up on. What that looked like for you or looks like for you in your life.  

[00:07:51] Lisa: Yeah, so I have always loved and i’m surrounded by Addicts, alcoholics that I love and care about and the one I love the most is my brother and he was a guest on another one of your episodes, I’m sure you’ll add the podcast episode it was and my brother struggled a lot and I felt for a very long time, overly responsible for his well being. 

And I was always interested in psychology and therapy. Asked my parents if I could see a therapist when I was 10, because they were getting divorced. And when my brother’s addiction was really Deep and messy and complicated. It felt like everybody took off. My dad was always there, but he wasn’t there Strategically, my mom just went absent and so I started learning more about addiction and recovery and alan on and started reading a lot about alan on and In graduate school in psychology. 

I started actually working in recovery and guiding families through healing and, radical self care and their own recovery and I just can, I just got it because I’m the sister of an albino.  

[00:09:27] Brenda: You had a front row seat to the whole thing. Like vip tickets  

[00:09:32] Lisa: I am and i’m grateful. Mark has a solid recovery. 

He’s just blows my mind all the time. I I refer clients to him. I look up to him. He mentors me He coaches me when I have questions and still Daily, i’m in my reading and i’m in my own recovery to Be the best version of myself I can be Codependency is too slippery  

[00:10:00] Brenda: Yes. Yes. The thing I think I loved most about his, and I will definitely put a link to the show that Mark is on because it’s an awesome one, is where he said, you couldn’t force me to drink today. 

there’s nothing you could do would cause me to drink today, which is just incredible. I’m sure from you seeing all of the bad and all of the good. Struggle for him to say that today with so much confidence, I feel like you’d have to tie him down and, waterboard him to get him to drink. 

[00:10:37] Lisa: Yeah, it’s just, it’s no longer an option. It’s just not a choice in his life. And as a sibling, as we all know, or as a family member, When someone has that level of recovery now after the chaos that we’ve been through, it’s very relieving, it’s very relieving, it makes me want to stand at the top of the mountain and say, recovery for everyone, but we know we can’t do that. 

[00:11:02] Brenda: yeah, that’s why we do podcasts, because then lots and lots of people listen.  

[00:11:07] Lisa: Totally. And your work is beautiful, it’s the support, it’s the community. That’s especially in November. We need it more than ever.  

[00:11:17] Brenda: Oh my gosh. So I’m sure that you had a lot of years then of different holidays and special occasions. 

It’s not even holidays, but like birthdays and Mother’s Day, things where there’s, it’s a special day and There’s so much, like you said, there’s expectations. There’s so much stress. what did you see and what do you think most families deal with? Like in these complex families where you’ve got, maybe it’s, maybe it’s a parent, if you have a child who is. 

Off the rails and you don’t know what to expect. and we’re heading into these times. What do you think people? Feel about this and and what are they going through as we sit here on november 1st?  

[00:12:07] Lisa: Yeah, so I think what’s most key is for us to look at How we want it to be right and we have this fantasy Vision of the holiday. 

I think each one of us does And the more that we can claim that as our own and not expect everyone else to fulfill that. The better off we are. It’s, it’s still surprising to me today where people say to me, it’s Thanksgiving and I’m like, and, and so what does that mean? Or it’s Christmas or it’s this holiday or it’s my birthday or the more we release our expectations of how we want it to be and find a way to be with how it is. 

The more we relieve ourselves of the angst and the stress. Of the expectation i’m always saying to people move away from expectation and move toward agreement And I actually have a a sweet tale about thanksgiving So I love thanksgiving It’s always been my favorite holiday and at one point it got really messed up because my mom Got really twisted around her expectations of us kids around Thanksgiving and not wanting to share it with my dad. 

And so I just sunk in one year and I was like, how do I want Thanksgiving to be and look? And I thought, I want to be at my sister’s house with the family sitting down together. I don’t want to be with my mom and her gunk. There was a lot of gunk there, right? And I want my dad to feel at ease. Now obviously I know none of their feelings are my responsibility, but I just had this vision of us all being together in that way. 

And very quickly, my sister had texted me, Hey, I think I’m going to have Thanksgiving at my house. It was beautiful. And, I started moving in the direction that I wanted to be in, and I connected with the people that I wouldn’t probably see on Thanksgiving, and just acknowledged that there may be grief and loss around that, and that it wasn’t personal. 

It was personal to me. That I wanted it a certain way. And then it’s interesting last year on Thanksgiving, my father passed away. And so now naturally we all will gather every single year in honor of my dad. It’s I just love that. It’s you go dad. I don’t know. I get, so now we’re offline to be together to honor my dad. 

And I imagine we’ll do that for life.  

[00:15:07] Brenda: That’s a really great Thanksgiving story. And what I love what you said is this just really stuck out to me. Don’t expect others to fulfill our vision that we have for the holiday. Cause I think we do that.  

[00:15:23] Lisa: Every holiday. Yes. Every holiday. Yeah.  

[00:15:29] Brenda: And sometimes I think our vision, based off of a movie or a TV show or some crazy unrealistic thing, that’s like, how in the world would I expect that my family’s Holiday, fill in the blank, is going to be like, I’m watching This Is Us right now, and I’m thinking, there’s the fantasy, and then there’s reality. 

And it can be really hard to think at these times because we think it’s just one day, can we just have one? Day and sometimes no we can’t  

[00:16:09] Lisa: and the answer is no and you know Let’s think about all of our different family members. We have introverts. We have extroverts. We have ambiverts We have night people in morning people for God’s sake. 

We have vegetarians and pescetarians and I love the metaphor of that everybody eats different foods, so Everybody can celebrate it differently and, and how do we just make space for people that want to come or don’t want to come, who want to be together or don’t want to be together?  

I get that it’s tricky, but I don’t know, I quite like that way of doing it. 

[00:16:49] Brenda: Yeah. I think I would love to get your thoughts around ways that we might be able to preempt the disappointment. Do you know what I mean? because I think we might set ourselves up sometimes, like I said, with these stories in our minds about oh, everybody’s gonna be happy, everybody’s gonna show up, no one’s gonna be under the influence of anything, it’s gonna be magical. 

[00:17:14] Lisa: come on. first of all, we just gotta let that, all that shit go. Let it go. Is that just pure? Made up fantasy. There’s no radical acceptance in that. I also know that we have to have clean and clear boundaries. I’d love for you to come at Thanksgiving. I’d love for you to come to Thanksgiving. 

It starts at three and my request is that you are clean and sober. And if you’re not, then you’re making a choice to not be with us.  

[00:17:56] Brenda: Yeah.  

[00:17:58] Lisa: these are our boundaries all the time. All  

[00:18:01] Brenda: the time.  

[00:18:02] Lisa: Yeah. All the time.  

[00:18:05] Brenda: That no longer works for me. That doesn’t work for me. So it’s not, you’re a horrible person, you do this all the time, you, you, you. 

It’s about, this is about me and what I can live with. And there was something I was going to say about that. Oh, that, that, if you have, let’s say if you’re a parent and you have a child, a young adult, maybe they’re in their 19, 20, maybe they’re 30. And you’re saying that to them, I think it’s important to let them know it’s not just them. 

It’s not like any Uncle Joe can show up drunk or high. But you can’t this is about anybody coming to my thanksgiving at three o’clock needs to be Sober and if you choose to come great if you choose not to come great If uncle joe decides that he wants to be drunk, then he’s not going to come either. Do you know what I mean? 

[00:18:57] Lisa: Yes, beautiful. It’s either it’s clear and clean boundaries if i’m hosting thanksgiving and I have my Ideal Thanksgiving planned out, then I’m gonna have to ask y’all to bring certain dishes, too, if it’s a potluck, right? Same thing, I’m asking you to bring your certain personality that I’m inviting to my table. 

I love the metaphor of it.  

[00:19:26] Brenda: Yeah, I do, too.  

[00:19:27] Lisa: The buffet and the buffet of personalities.  

[00:19:31] Brenda: And being prepared. I know I talk about this incessantly in the stream community and on the podcast is prepare yourself physically also, I think, so that you’re not at the end of your rope frazzled with no sleep and no water at three o’clock on Thanksgiving Day when people show up. 

[00:19:52] Lisa: And I live with a chef and I live with it. Someone who insists on a high caliber of quality of entertainment, and I’m sort of like, really? Why do that? It’s so hard. We could all have so much fun doing it together and simplifying it. he’s an artist. And so that’s how it is. And so then we set the expectations. 

Anyone who comes to my house for a meal knows that you should probably eat a little snack before you come because it’s going to be late. It’s going to be late. So they, they kind of land with a knowing. It’s a tacit agreement. All right, we’re going to eat late, but it’s going to be really good.  

[00:20:43] Brenda: It’s going to be amazing when it’s done. 

[00:20:47] Lisa: That’s right.  

[00:20:48] Brenda: Are there other boundaries that you can share with us that might be helpful? So we talked about, just being really clear about what we expect you to show up with, meaning the green bean casserole or A clear mind. Both are important. Anything else just from a boundary standpoint that might help if we’re just feeling that dread in our stomach like, Oh,  

[00:21:14] Lisa: Days coming. 

Can I ask a hard question? Why are we doing anything that brings dread to our bellies?  

[00:21:23] Brenda: that’s a good question, and I think it goes back to expectations, right? I always host at my house, so I have to host at my house. But maybe you don’t. Maybe you don’t.  

[00:21:35] Lisa: And I think it’s very interesting what’s running around right now with who’s vaccinated and who isn’t vaccinated. 

And to me, it’s just as clear as clear can be. I recently hosted a retreat and my dearest friend who was going to come isn’t vaccinated and I called her and I was like, sorry, you can’t come. You’re not vaccinated. I don’t know enough about the science to make a different decision. That’s the only decision I am capable of making right now. 

And it has. Nothing to do with you has purely to do with the technicality of the science and the rest of my other guests. Can you imagine if I called you and just said, Hey, Brenda, I’m having Thanksgiving and it doesn’t work for me to have you come because I can’t assess where you are in your recovery or drinking or not. 

And my system can’t handle that stress. And I love you and I’d love to do Thanksgiving with you maybe Tuesday night, whatever the hell Thanksgiving is, like someone put it on that Thursday, but we can do it any way we want to do it. Yes. So it’s a flexibility honoring our self care above all.  

[00:22:58] Brenda: Yeah. I like that just having the flexibility because I think we do get stuck in a rut of we’ve done it like this for 20 years. 

So we have to do it this way, or my mom expects me to do this, or my uncle expects me to do that, or my sister always does this, so then I have to do that. And I like freeing ourselves from that trap of maybe we don’t, like what would happen?  

[00:23:28] Lisa: The Thanksgiving that I chose to say goodbye to in order to be in my yes. 

My uncle’s dad Thanksgiving’s my favorite uncle. Kick ass aunt. wonderful people, wonderful family, wonderful food. Fifty years. And all of us kids said no, so that we could be with my dad and ease. I just love that decision. And then I went over before, I’d say hello, I gave hugs. And then I just knew it wasn’t the place for me on Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. 

[00:24:09] Brenda: Right.  

[00:24:10] Lisa: and not because of alcohol and drugs, but because of bad behavior that I didn’t want to be around.  

[00:24:16] Brenda: Right.  

[00:24:17] Lisa: Hurtful behavior that I didn’t want to be around.  

[00:24:21] Brenda: When you were just talking about that, a couple things popped into my mind, and one is that sometimes the anticipation of that conversation about what I am or am not comfortable with or what I am or am not doing, sometimes just the anticipation of it is way worse than the actual conversation. 

People might go, Oh, okay. All right. I’ll see you Tuesday. And, and we’ve been in our mind, freaking out about it, having an ulcer, so stressed out about it. So I think that’s one thing. Just when you were talking through that, I was like, Oh my gosh, I bet having that conversation, could be really hard in thinking about and then just go pretty well. 

So that’s one thing.  

[00:25:03] Lisa: Can I address that? Yeah, that’s spinning and anxiety, right? It’s spinning in the fear of the unknown, the fear of some unknown response. And so how I guide my clients in my work is helping them to figure out how will I land If so and so is upset and what I mean by that like, how will I get back to myself grounded? 

Solid empowered and a feeling of loved right? That’s key So we have to answer that question rather than just spinning in the perseveration of the anxiety Right, and we all know living around addiction or alcoholism Is huge anxiety trigger. Yeah, because we take on Loving the person more than we take on taking care of ourselves. 

That’s where the anxiety comes from.  

[00:26:04] Brenda: And we also are trying to make it okay for everybody else. So I’m thinking if my son shows up and he’s under the influence, how is mom going to react? How is dad going to react? How is aunt going to react? How is uncle, And we start making ourselves responsible for everybody else’s That’s where the Day, and that’s crazy making like no wonder. 

We’re all crazy. No  

[00:26:28] Lisa: And there are you know, I’m talking so matter of fact and I know it’s not matter of fact I live inside very complex Dynamics relational dynamics and that’s what we’ve got to lean in to support Al anon or a sponsor or a therapist or a coach or a friend because then we can check our thinking Right and somebody can help us correct Ourselves so we don’t feel so badly. 

[00:27:05] Brenda: Yeah,  

[00:27:06] Lisa: right. We can’t do it alone. It’s too hard It’s too hard.  

[00:27:13] Brenda: And I know that in working with you, there’s been a couple of times where, we’re talking through something and you’ll say, okay, and then what? Okay. And then what? And I think it’s so helpful because We think through the scenario like, oh, I’m going to tell so and so this thing and then they’re going to blow up and it’s going to be crazy, but then we don’t think okay, and then what, we’re all going to be alive, things are going to be okay, like we don’t go to that next step. 

So I, I like what you were saying about having a team, having a therapist or sponsor or community just to say, okay, that might happen. And then what?  

[00:27:53] Lisa: And being a part of the stream on Mighty Network, you can put your thoughts out there and people will respond. That’s what I love about it.  

[00:28:01] Brenda: Yeah, for sure. 

We’ll say, Oh, I hear you, sister. Maybe I’ll cook Thanksgiving dinner for all of the mamas in the stream who are wigging out about their, their upcoming holidays. Okay. So that makes a lot of sense. Even just like talking through this and I’m fortunate that I don’t have, at least this year, I don’t have any. 

Anticipated drama, but I certainly had many years of that. And so I’m just thinking through that for people. And we did have one Thanksgiving where literally all hell broke loose. It was so bad and I did not have any tools to handle myself. So what would you say if somebody does have that situation? 

Cause you know, somebody could show up. Perfectly sober and then become not so sober during the, during the event, what would you say if all hell breaks loose and people are just like, Oh my gosh, this is a disaster. What do we do then?  

[00:28:59] Lisa: Have your game plan. So I always say to people, put your game plan in the notes section on your iPhone or on the day. 

If this, then that. If this, then that. I’m going to call Brenda. I’m going to call my therapist. I’m going to call my coach. I’m going to call my sponsor. seriously have it planned out. And then also have the other planned out. When it goes well, send texts of gratitude. Love that. Send everybody notes of appreciation. 

I think we, we end up not celebrating the successes enough. No, I recently had a situation with somebody and I said it looks like you made some really awesome choices Made a couple of not so great choices, but you really made awesome choices. Let’s celebrate that Let’s not just be in the gunk  

[00:30:00] Brenda: Yeah, that’s so true because you’re right. 

We do focus on what’s going poorly and there can be a mix, right? There can be a mixed bag. this didn’t go so well, but this other part went really well. And so I love that. Just bringing that to the forefront. Because I think people expect to get the negative, the I can’t believe, I can’t believe, or you should have, or all of those kinds of things. 

Anything that starts with those, by the way, just don’t say them.  

[00:30:38] Lisa: No. Disaster. And also, I can’t hurt to send the affirmations that you want, the intentions that you want for the day. This is How I would really like the day to go. What about you?  

[00:30:56] Brenda: Hmm.  
[00:30:58] Lisa: And if you don’t have that level of communication, then what the hell are you doing having a dinner party together? 

And here we go. Let me go a step further. If you don’t have that level of communication and I sound like I’m talking out my, tushy or something, then find it. Al Anon is so available. There’s really good, inexpensive, powerful therapy and coaching and healing online. That is very doable. 

Al Anon readers, oh, I cannot celebrate them enough. Read them, daily, or any reader daily, that reminds you how your thinking wants to be.  

[00:31:45] Brenda: Right.  

[00:31:46] Lisa: Versus how your thinking may be.  

[00:31:50] Brenda: And back to what you said with the game plan, I think it’s great to say in the affirmations, this is how I want the day to be. 

And I’ll be okay if it’s not. I’ll still be okay if it’s not. Do you know what I mean? So that you’re not just like, going to the top of the roller coaster and expecting everything to be great. And then when the roller coaster goes down, it’s See, and then you get into the blame and all of that. 

[00:32:18] Lisa: So here’s how I look at that. Who we are as people is very different than how we want the day to go, right? How we want the day to go are the behaviors that we want to see, are the interpersonal interactions. But I am okay, it’s like I always say to parents, Try to stay away from good girl or good boy, right? 

Because that’s based on oh, they did something good or they did something bad I created a whole program for kids to grow self esteem And i’m thinking It certainly would help lower addiction and alcoholism rates if The program were in all the schools, but what it is it’s about who you are from the inside out not based on your behaviors, but based on your virtues and then how you take on and really Impart your values into your life and your world and it’s hard when you’re deep in your disease Is  

[00:33:25] Brenda: Yeah, that’s a good distinction, and it makes me think about Where you could, from just a practical standpoint, where you could say in your mind, or maybe this is just how I think in my ideal, the day would go like this, not, not like this is us movie TV land, but in your own reality, this is ideally, this would be an amazing day. 

If that doesn’t happen, here are things that I can do that I’m in control of that will please me. And. And I will still have a great day. And maybe that’s that you remove yourself. Or whatever it is. But that’s your plan B, right? Is okay. That didn’t happen. Plan A didn’t happen. But I’m still okay because I have plan B. 

[00:34:17] Lisa: Yes. And, I love it. I get so nuanced about language. I am okay. I feel badly, but I always tell people, don’t believe your feelings. Believe your values. And then create value. So if your value is I want to have meaningful conversation and connection on Thanksgiving, and I’m going to do my best to create that. 

Beautiful. And if it doesn’t work, then you come back to your values, right? We lead with our head, not our heart. Sometimes we get in trouble if we lead just with our heart, not our head. Oh, for sure. And then, it’s so simple when I talk about it, but I know when I’m in it, it’s way more complicated. 

[00:35:06] Brenda: I know.  

[00:35:07] Lisa: So we have to practice, practice, practice taking care of ourselves. Yes. Even when she has the fam with the people we love.  

[00:35:20] Brenda: and I think because like you said, yes, this might sound really practical and matter of fact, cause we’re sitting here on November 1st and we’re not in the moment, but I think that’s, what’s so valuable is to be able to hear. 

The words in a non emotional time to be able to think about them and say, okay, before this day hits, whatever day it is that you’re maybe feeling anxious about, you can listen to something like this where you’re hearing from people who are not in the moment. They’re not emotional. They’re not crazy. 

They’re not right doing all the things. And it just gives you some ideas of how you’re You’ll be able to apply those things because once the day or the moment hits, it’s too late. You need to be listening in advance to start preparing yourself because it is hard and it’s so there’s so much unknown I just know the anxiety that I felt leading up to some of those holidays when my son was in a really difficult place. 

It was torture. And, and I would love to find out what you think about. I think everybody was like, Oh, it’s going to be fun. Oh, it’s the holidays. He’s going to come home from treatment. He’s going to be here for a few days. And it was like, in my mind, that was the worst possible scenario ever because that just didn’t work. 

that was. Potentially a disaster, but everybody was so excited and happy about it. So how could we communicate, do you have any clue how freaked out I am about this?  

[00:36:56] Lisa: That’s right. So it’s both and, right? I can be super excited to see my brother, and you can be super freaked out about seeing your son. 

And we can both Exist in the same family. However, you’re the captain of the ship. You’re mama bear You’ve got to decide oh hell no. I’m not having thanksgiving this year There’s no way but we are going to walk on the beach and eat sliced turkey sandwiches. I don’t know simplify Release yourself from the expectation Of how it’s supposed to look  

[00:37:36] Brenda: right  

[00:37:36] Lisa: and be with how it looks how it is  

[00:37:39] Brenda: Right. 

Yeah. And if that means that you’re at a Best Western in somewhere near your kid’s treatment program, having Best Western Turkey,  

[00:37:53] Lisa: then God help you. And you seriously need help. yeah, pack your snacks, pack your favorite snacks.  

[00:38:05] Brenda: And those can be some of the most beautiful memories too, when you actually go with what feels right. 

[00:38:14] Lisa: Yes. Very good. Very, very good.  

[00:38:17] Brenda: Yeah.  

[00:38:17] Lisa: I remember when I, I didn’t have any experience in dealing with addiction. I just had a lot of therapy myself and because I went so early on. And. My brother called me and I think he was still drinking or using or something and I had my big licensing exam coming up. And I was like, what the hell? 

This is this is messing with my life. Noticed I answered the telephone. See, that was back then when we had phones and I answered the phone. So it was my, my problem. I didn’t have to answer it. But I finally picked up and said, do not call me until you have 30 days sobriety because I am taking the biggest exam of my life and you don’t get to take that away from me. 

And if you don’t make it, I love you and I’ll miss you and screw You I was mad too, but you have to get to that point where you release the addict or alcoholic that we love. That’s almost impossible. I can only say it now because I don’t think I’m in the middle of it. But we do literally have to release and respond through our radical self care, and that’s hard to do. 

[00:39:42] Brenda: Yes, it  

[00:39:43] Lisa: is. It is hard to do.  

[00:39:45] Brenda: Yeah, it is. When you just said, Oh, hell no, I’m not hosting Thanksgiving this year or fill in the blank holiday. There, there’s something about, Saying it like that that I think people would understand and you’re not apologizing for it and you’re not being timid about it and you’re not him hauling around and you’re not trying to explain all of the 18 reasons why you’re not wanting to do it. 

You’re just making a statement of this year. This is not going to happen. Period. And you, I think just the confidence that you had when you said that made me feel like if people could just own that and say, I get to decide. And I am saying it is not going to happen. It just, it felt really good when you said it with that sort of, I don’t know what the word is. 

[00:40:39] Lisa: Conviction.  

[00:40:40] Brenda: Conviction.  

[00:40:41] Lisa: and it doesn’t mean that there isn’t grief and loss around it.  

[00:40:44] Brenda: Right.  

[00:40:45] Lisa: The, the year anniversary for my father’s coming up and we’re not doing anything. That. Is my like Dream to celebrate my dad, but my vote is a lower vote right now because of what’s going on in my family and so it’s like i’m Nourishing my grief and loss But not passive aggressively acting it out with the whole family just doesn’t get to be the way I want it to be too bad Yeah, I can plan something later on if I want. 

No, there’s not a deadline where you celebrate someone who’s passed  

[00:41:28] Brenda: Yeah, the grief and loss. I’m glad that you mentioned that again. I know you said that earlier, but that is a real thing. Not just for us, if we’re grieving like a situation that isn’t going to happen, but I think for family members too. 

Are looking at that and saying, wow, such a bummer. And so I think it’s just important to honor that and say, yeah, it is a bummer. It was like last year, right? When we were all trying to figure out what to do for Christmas because of COVID. And it was like, yeah, it’s a bummer that we’re not going to be able to be inside and we’re going to be freezing out in the garage. 

But, we had some great memories now from that. Yeah,  

[00:42:08] Lisa: yeah, I think people really ultimately loved that quiet inn. You know what I, that was my humble opinion, it’s because people were in their truth. They just never had the, the chutzpah to say their truth all these years. Along.  

[00:42:29] Brenda: I agree. I think you’re right. 

[00:42:30] Lisa: So I think we’re going to see a real slew of disappointment this year because people are back into their expectations. Not me. I’m doing it yummy style, right? How you got it takes practice. To make sure you live from an authentic yes or an authentic no. Practice. It is not celebrated in society or this culture. 

No way. It is completely about don’t be selfish. Make sure you don’t offend anyone. Make sure you’re so much pressure to be a certain way. Ick. Don’t believe in it.  

[00:43:19] Brenda: There is. There is. And I think some of it has to do with a lot of it has to do with Also, with the delivery of the message, so the way you share with people what may or may not be happening or, or how you’re feeling about it all can go really well or it could go really poorly. 

Even if you’re saying the same words with the tone of voice, with the situation that you’re in, like dropping a bomb, like we’re not doing Thanksgiving. In the middle of Costco when everybody’s like crazy and frazzled, maybe not the best time, which I think goes back to self care and knowing and being aware of who you’re with, what’s going on. 

Is this the right time to have this conversation? Maybe not. Maybe needs to happen a different time and you very casually mentioned passive aggressive, but I’m glad that you did because I Think that’s such a dangerous trap that people fall into is I’m not really gonna say it, but I’m gonna say it and it’s just so bad that passive aggressiveness  

[00:44:35] Lisa: I think passive aggressive Behavior is It’s protection. 

It’s like I can’t really show you how hurt I feel because if I do It’s way too vulnerable. And so then I go into Sarcasm or or passive aggression. Yeah That is a whole other episode That literally is a whole nother episode. It is. It’s a whole what are the ways that we communicate? That help our family systems heal. 

[00:45:14] Brenda: Yeah, and we need a lot of it. this has been incredibly helpful because I’m thinking just in the community, in the stream alone, I know of parents who are, coming up on holidays where their kids are going to be in another state in residential treatment, or they’re going to be living out in the woods under a tent. 

Eating, I don’t know what they give them at Thanksgiving, a wilderness therapy, but we have moms who have kids living on the streets, homeless. We have kids who are baby, baby, baby steps into sobriety and recovery. it just runs the gamut. And You can imagine the level of anxiety that could be building in those parents who are just like, oh my gosh, are we going to make it through? 

[00:46:01] Lisa: Can I give you just a really simple, lovely exercise? Yes. For people to ask themselves, how am I feeling? How do I want to be feeling? And what do I need in order to feel that way? What does my tender, mama bear heart need? I recently had a birthday and asked myself those questions probably seven times during the day. 

And especially with no communication from my mom and not a very loving mom person in my life, I wanted some mama bear love. and so I reached out to some women that I really love, and it was my birthday, and I could really use some mom and bear love, and oh my god, the love I got back. It was beautiful. 

[00:46:55] Brenda: Yeah.  

[00:46:57] Lisa: No one can mind read. How would any of those women know to reach out to me? They didn’t. But I gave them the opportunity to gift me that.  

[00:47:07] Brenda: And that could be another episode about reaching out for help and asking for what you need. It would  

[00:47:15] Lisa: be totally my pleasure  

[00:47:18] Brenda: to do. We’re going to have a, we’re going to have a Lisa. 

like trilogy.  

[00:47:23] Lisa: I’d love it. I’d love it. Oh my goodness. What you do is so valuable.  

[00:47:31] Brenda: Thank you.  

[00:47:33] Lisa: It’s an honor to know you.  

[00:47:34] Brenda: Thank you. it’s an honor to know you and work with you. And I think this will be just very refreshing and Encouraging to the people who are in this anxiety boat that’s drifting towards the holidays and how can people find you if they want some of the, the Lisa love before we get the trilogy made? 

[00:47:58] Lisa: you can always go to my website, lisapeppersapkin. com and I’m sure you’ll link to that. I will. And then I really try and make myself available. I lead a group on Wednesdays that people can join and that’s a supportive community of women and I also have courses that people can take and they get a style of my thinking and teaching and I’m always available to reach out and ask a question. 

[00:48:29] Brenda: Thank you. Thank you so much for listening. If you would like to go to the show notes, you can always find slash podcast. Each episode is listed there with full transcript, all of the resources that we mention, as well as a place to leave comments if you would like to do that. You might also want to download a free ebook I wrote called Hindsight, three things I wish I knew when my son was addicted to drugs. 

It’s full of the information I wish I would have known when my son was struggling with his addiction. You can grab that at brendazane. com forward slash hindsight. Thanks again for listening and I will meet you right back here next week.

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