I know that this time of year is so difficult for a lot of people who are living sober lives.
This is a time where emotions are running high and if you are from a dysfunctional or unhealthy family, it can really be a stress filled time.
Family gatherings aren’t technically social events, but they are similar.
Often we can feel pressured to drink in this setting, and being around people who you are connected with can make for emotionally charged experience.
Many people may or may not have accepted or forgiven you at this point.
You might have to deal with the cold shoulder from a few, and hard or uncomfortable questions from others.
Most people will identify these scenarios as triggers.
A lot of opportunity for triggers to pop up.
My holiday advice for anyone who is dedicated to living a sober life is pretty simple.
1. Do what is best for you.
Period. Whether that means going and hanging out for awhile, or choosing to skip it. Try not to let guilt or any kind of pressure defer what you know is best for you.
2. Do have a plan.
If you attend any holiday related festivities make sure that you have an exit plan. Commit to sticking to your plan. Pre-plan what you will do if you are feeling the pressure, or if you just aren’t feeling the environment.
3. Do try to give it a fair chance.
Obviously, you don’t want to put yourself in a situation that you cannot handle yet. But you also don’t want to avoid everything either. Sometimes living in isolation seems like it would be easier to deal with but realistically, we know that we cannot learn to handle life or test our new found skills that are lying around in our tool box if we never accept any invitations to put ourselves anywhere other than a meeting.
4. Do have a list of phone numbers with you in your wallet, in your pocket or stuffed in your clutch. These are people that you can slip into back room and call if you need some right now or if you need sound, direct, helpful advice or someone to encourage you and take a quick assessment on how things are going. (this can sponsor, a caring best friend, a group leader, a counselor, social worker, case worker, anyone really as long as they are a healthy someone who cares about you.)
5. Do listen to your gut.
If you are feeling yourself break down emotionally, physically or any other way, acknowledge those ques. You are trying to tell yourself something. Don’t brush it off or ignore it. It can cause you unnecessary anxiety and it’s really not worth it.
6. Do interact.
If you are anything like me, you aren’t very good at being social and newly sober. In my experience, this gets better over time. Avoiding having to interact while sober will only delaying the inevitable.
Practice does help us to improve in any area and this is a great time to give it a try. This could be your first shot at building healthy, honest, solid relationships with people.
7. Do accept your decision. If you choose not to go for whatever reason own that decision and value your thought out choice. Don’t allow yourself to use it as an excuse to feel down or sorry for yourself because you are alone in a holiday. With all of that said, keep in mind that you opted out voluntarily, for good reasons.
If it is a choice between missing out on an annual get together somewhere—-and your sobriety…..
Always choose your sobriety.
People who love you and who empathize with your situation will understand.
If not, choose sobriety anyway.