We all know how awkward it can feel going into a party or celebration where people don’t necessarily know you are sober and you aren’t shouting it from the rooftops. You can feel a little out of place when your family and friends are drinking and you feel like the spotlight is on you and your glass of ice water.
This can make you feel super anxious- I know, I’ve been there.
But here’s the thing- regardless of what anyone else is doing, you are your responsibility, and I am my responsibility and if we go into these situations with our eyes open and strategies in place, we will make it out safe and sound… and sober.
If you do nothing, then you are making a choice to not protect your sobriety- think about that for a minute. This is your opportunity, right now, to make a decision to stay sober and to have a simple plan that will make that a lot easier before you ever walk in the door of a challenging situation.
Remember what we talked about in the ‘Is Relapse a Choice’ episode- if you don’t make a choice and take steps to protect your sobriety, then you are making a choice to protect your option to drink.
And drinking is your decision to make- make a decision right now that you aren’t drinking, no matter what- no matter how awkward or uncomfortable you may feel, no matter how high your anxiety gets, no matter how much someone is bugging you- NONE of those are reasons to drink. Just make the decision right now.
Are you with me? Let’s do this together, it’s simple, no one else has to know you’ve planned ahead, and we can sail through this without any drama.
Now let’s dive into this episode about staying sober during the holidays!!
Most of us struggle with family stuff, especially during the holidays- trying to manage finances, which house do we go to first, who’s cooking, cleaning, and traveling. It’s a lot to think about and worry about.
As addicted people there is a general difficulty coping with emotions. It is at the core of why we drink and/or use drugs and that ability to cope is the thing we work the hardest to develop to maintain our sobriety.
People get tripped up here- they think they are going to stop drinking and that’s the battle. But no. The battle is learning how to cope with feelings and discomfort- that’s what recovery is.
Feelings are overwhelming. They say whatever age we begin drinking and/or using drugs regularly is the age we stop maturing. The thought behind this is, we stop developing coping skills. Instead, our main coping mechanism becomes drinking and drugs. When you’re angry, you turn to your substance. When anxious, you turn to your substance. If you get your feelings hurt, are sad, lonely, or fearful of the future you turn to our substance.
Difficult conversation you don’t want to have? Substance. Important event you are super nervous about? Substance.
Unfortunately, substance masks the feelings but it does not solve the problem. And this is the issue with relapse. It’s not so much that you want to drink or be drunk, what you want is to stop feeling whatever feeling you are having, because you don’t know how to cope with it. You use the drink to numb that feeling so it isn’t so confusing and overwhelming.
But guess what? Numbing the feeling doesn’t get you farther along in the process, it’s just avoidance. And the problems and discomfort are just sitting there waiting for you with open arms when your hangover wears off.
The key, is to identify whatever you are feeling, and work on that!
Ask yourself what you are really feeling in that moment- are you anxious, are you mad, are your feelings hurt, are you in financial fear or job fear or relationship fear- are you bored? Put a label on what is actually happening, then you can figure out how to work through that feeling instead of just drinking to numb it.
As we approach the holiday season and all of the stressors that come with it, it is important to be aware of these underlying struggles so we can have a plan, and stay safe and sober.
We are going to go through my favorite 6 tips to stay sober for the holidays, and at the end, I’m going to give you a couple of bonus tips and tricks so you are armed in any situation.