Staying Sober During the Holidays

sober-holidays

I don’t know what it is about drinking and the holidays, but it’s like the flood gates are thrown open and people start guzzling bottles of champagne and wine like the apocalypse is coming. I can barely scroll through my social media feeds without seeing an alcohol related post. I get it people. You’re stressed out, you’re still pissed off about the election, you’ve had it with your boss, your kids are driving you crazy – you NEED a drink! Well, for those of us who have “been there, done that” we know that getting sloshed will never be the answer and we will do whatever we can to protect ourselves from the onslaught of “if I only had a drink” type of mentality being thrown in our faces. Yes, this is what people in sobriety have to deal with ALL OF THE TIME. Like it or not, we live in a society that is obsessed with drugs and alcohol.

Despite having been sober for awhile now, the holidays still cause me anxiety. It’s a given that I’ll be in situations where I’ll be around more drinking than I normally would. And, it’s usually a given that someone will say something that’s disrespectful or ignorant in regards to my sobriety. While I’ve come to expect these things, I still take measures to protect my sobriety, including:

  1. Just Say “No.”: I don’t mean, “just say no” to drinking (although that helps), but, before going, really think about the situations you put yourself in. Will there be heavy drinking? Will there be other sober people? Will I have supportive people around me? Can I leave easily if need be? If you don’t think it’s a good fit, politely decline and save yourself the trouble and temptations. It’s not worth it.
  2. Set Boundaries: Your sobriety should be your number one concern. If I want to attend a function where I know there’s going to be drinking, I stay for a certain amount of time and then leave. Typically, I don’t host gatherings at my home during the holidays because I don’t want the expectation of providing a full bar and I don’t want that kind of drinking taking place in my home. You have to be willing to stand up for yourself and your sobriety, despite what others want or expect of you.
  3. Don’t Defend Your Sobriety: The first Christmas I was sober I actually had a relative make a dig at my sobriety. I was drinking non-alcoholic wine because I wanted something “special” to drink and she said something along the lines of, “If I couldn’t drink, I wouldn’t even bother with that stuff.” I was so caught off guard I didn’t know what to say, however, I think my husband would have liked to thump her across the head. Sure, I could’ve told her how I hoped she would never have to experience what I did to get to that point in my life or I could’ve called her out on her own perceived drinking problem, but I didn’t because what I learned in recovery is that it doesn’t matter what others say, do or think. As long as I’m taking care of my side of the street, it’s all good.
  4. Trust Your Gut Instinct: Honestly, this is what I listen to most. If something doesn’t feel right, if you’re questioning whether or not you should do something or go somewhere, don’t do it. There’s a reason you’re feeling that way and usually that reason is for the best.
  5. Remember, We’re All God’s Children: Okay, so this one’s a little different, but it helps! I once had a sponsor who, whenever I would be complaining about someone, would kindly remind me that “We’re all God’s children.” So, now, when I’m driving in crazy holiday traffic or in line with grumpy holiday shoppers, I just remind myself to be patient, be kind and “We’re all God’s children” – even that grumpy lady!

No matter how long we’ve been sober, I think it’s always good to go over some of these reminders during the holidays. If you’re new to this sober thing, don’t be afraid to reach out to other sober people along the way. We’ve been there and we know what it’s like to feel isolated and alone. But, one thing we’ll all tell you, is that you’re not alone! There’s millions of us out there who don’t drink and don’t HAVE to drink during the holidays. We’ve made the decision to have sober and therefore memorable holidays, ones we can be active participants in, not only bystanders. Just another gift of sobriety.

I’d love to hear other ways you stay sober during the holidays!

 

 

 

Reflections on a Year Sober

Endurance

For some reason I’ve been putting off writing this post. While I’m happy about celebrating one year sober, I’m emotionally drained. Last week I attended two memorial services for young women who were taken too soon – both mothers. And, in the middle of that I celebrated one year sober. It was bittersweet in so many ways.

After driving back from attending Sadie’s service in California, while tired, I went to my home group meeting that evening to get my one year coin. My sponsor was planning to be there and it was important for me to be with the people who had been with me from the beginning – those who loved me when I couldn’t love myself.

Ironically, the topic of the meeting that night was “love.” If there was one word to describe Sadie’s service and Malia’s service it would be “love.” The love that shown through their bright smiles and the love displayed by those who came to celebrate and honor their lives was immense. While I was saddened by their loss, my heart was full.

In reflecting on the past year, I realized that the love I have received and the love I am able to now give is what matters most. I am not cut off from the world anymore, instead I am able to receive all that it has to offer and to finally give back after so many years of taking.

Sadie and Malia both loved deeply. They loved their children, their faith, their families and friends. I am more grateful than ever to have the ability to love like they did. To live my life not for me alone, but to live as God intended me to live – honest, joyous, peaceful and loving to those around me.

So, now what? It seems like a year sober is a pivotal time for me. I will never be a fully “recovered” alcoholic. I will always be “recovering.” I might not feel the anxiety that I felt in early sobriety, but I continue to be challenged with new situations that I must learn to “walk through” sober. It’s not easy, but no one ever said it was.

I will continue to write about my sobriety and my journey living sober, however, I might delve into other topics along the way. Next week, I start the process to become Catholic. This has been a long time coming and I’m excited. My husband will be my “sponsor” (yes, they have them there too!) and I’m grateful for that. He has been an example of faith when I didn’t even know what faith was. It will be a new journey for me, but it will also be a journey for us together.

Sobriety has taught me a lot of things, but most of all it has taught me the willingness to change, to follow my heart, to be okay with the unknown and to be at peace with my life – just the way it is. Nothing more, nothing less.