Oh, what can be said about the wonderful holiday season!? It’s stressful. It’s demanding, it’s exhausting. It sure can be a challenge in sobriety! But it is nothing compared to the way I used to spend my holiday season… drunk and miserable.
This year especially, I seem to have many memory bubbles of the holidays past. It’s not a bad thing at all, they just remind me of how far I have come in my journey. Wow, was that really me? It’s hard to believe it! When I look back I can totally see the craziness of my addiction! I was so completely consumed by my disease that nothing else mattered.
I have that great memory of spending one Thanksgiving day at the local bar, after telling my family that I was severely sick and just couldn’t make it out of bed. I remember the bar was pretty empty. I spent the time talking to strangers and watching football, and drinking beer after beer. I actually though that this was just great and I was a bad ass! Ha! And next day I was surly “sick” with a massive hangover!
There was also that one Christmas that I drank port wine with my dad, and somehow got drunk (somehow…)! I ended up in a blackout for most of the day and I don’t remember much but some bits and pieces. I do remember waking up really early the next morning, horribly riddled with shame and guilt, I snuck-out the door before anyone got up. No one ever talked about that incident.
And there was that other Christmas that I took a bus to my parents’ house, because I lost my license after my DUI. This might have been a perfect time to stay home and get drunk, but I was so determined to keep up appearances, that I found a way to get to their house, some 45 miles away. That’s right, I took a train, and a bus, and a taxi! Then satisfied with my successful mission, I got drunk.
Oh… and there are more, but I don’t want to waste any more space here with those memories.
Today I have new memories. Sobriety gave me new life and a new perspective. It gave me holidays spent with family, laughing and hugging. It has made me focus on the important things in life, like family. Even giving presents has become a new ritual; I no longer focused on the appearances, and I am free to chose the gifts that really matter. It can still be stressful but the best part is that my drinking no longer adds to it! These days I get involved, step in, and help out! This keeps me busy and my mind occupied.
So if your struggling a bit or even a lot this season, I hope that you give sobriety a good chance. It sure can be a difficult time to get through, but let me tell you, hold on and keep sober, you will be glad that you did!
Here are a few of my suggestion on keeping sober through the holiday season:
Come prepared! All those holiday parties can be very stressful especially to a non-drinker. Don’t go if you don’t absolutely have too. Especially in early sobriety this can be soo difficult – you don’t need that kind of monumental stress. But… if you chose to go:
- Always have a drink with you, non-alcoholic of course, to avoid offers from others.
- Arrange for support buddy that you can text or call when the pressure gets overwhelming.
- Take mini breaks and often. You can go outside or sit in the bathroom, and breathe, letting the stress out as you exhale.
- Have an escape plan – when it gets way to stressful, leave! You can say that you’re not feeling well or have to go to another event.
- Check out my post 10 Ways to Stay Sober at Drinking Events for more tips.
When cravings hit, run the tape through. Even if you are fantasizing about having just 1 drink, you would most likely not be able to have just 1! You know this, yet your mind will try to convince you that this time it will be different! And yeah, you might feel better for a bit, but you may also end up getting drunk and making a big pass of yourself in front of your family or friends, thus adding to the stress of it all! Then the next day, you would be overtaken with guilt and shame and possibly drink again to numb those feelings. And then the cycle of addiction will be awaken and it would be even harder to get back to sobriety.
If you really can’t relax, and you absolutely cannot leave, what works wonders for me is to tell myself that this is just one day out of my life, I can do this for just this day! I can stay sober today and see how I feel tomorrow. Most likely the next day I will feel better, and I will feel even better because I stayed sober!
Here are a few ideas that help me survive the holidays sober:
- Let go of perfectionism. No one, and I mean not a single person in the world is perfect! It is OK to be imperfect.
- Accept things as they are, neither good or bad. The less judgement you place on a situation the better you will be able to deal with it.
- Focus on the moment and do not project. When we project how things are going to be, they almost always happen just like we projected.
- Don’t take anything personally. This is huge, when we are in our heads and internalizing everyone’s behavior, that they don’t like us, that they don’t want us around, that we embarrass them, we are the only ones hurting. The fact is that even if they feel that way, those are their feelings, not ours.
- Remember that we are all different people. And when we throw bunch of different people together it’s almost inevitable for tensions to raise. But that doesn’t mean that we have to get upset and we do not have to take their crap on and make it ours.
And lastly, be positive and enjoy yourself! After all that’s what the season is all about right!? And stay connected! Keep writing, keep reading and keep sharing. We all are in this together and together is how we can get through it, and stay sober!
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with alcohol addiction, please click the Find Support link for an extensive list of support groups. Also please check out the links to many useful resources in the sidebar, and always feel free to contact me anytime at email@example.com.
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