This post will not keep you sober over the holidays!
The holidays are officially upon us! For many, this season is filled with joy, peace, gratitude, hope, gifts, ponies, sunshine, and rainbows! Ok so maybe that picture is more like the commercials and a Hallmark movie. If you’re like me, you wonder who the heck has a life that is even like a Hallmark movie?! Staying sober and clean during the holidays must be a priority for those of us who have the disease of alcoholism.
Hear the good news! You do not have to clench your teeth and fists or hold your breath to stay clean. There is freedom in sobriety. That freedom doesn’t come easy, but it does come with a ton of prayer and action. Addiction of any sort is complex and must be addressed in a serious way. So please get into a 12 step program so that you can be surrounded by a community who can support you from inside the issue. Family and loved ones are certainly close to the issue, and for that reason, they are not the ones to help you like a recovery community can.
Here’s a few things I’ve learned in sobriety that have helped me stay sober during the Holidays.
1. Always have a way to leave a gathering.
Drive yourself there or be able to call a recovery friend who will be able to come get you. You know those recovery meetings you’ve been attending? Ya, you should have a phone list of at least 10 people (sometimes strangers) who are on your speed dial. Keep calling down that list until someone answers. If they’ve answered, they’re ready to help. For me, this is my sponsor. (If you don’t have a sponsor, get one ASAP, even having a temporary sponsor for the holidays will do.)
2. Pick your drink.
If you are going to be at a gathering where alcohol is served, make sure to have your own drink in your hand at all times. This way, you have intentionally chosen a drink and then there’s no chance for a mix-up. I even like to bring a drink that I enjoy (that’s not just water) like Dr. Pepper or some of that fancy sparkling water.
3. Leave Early.
If you will be at a gathering where alcohol is served, make sure to have a plan of when you are going to leave. Some parties last late into the evening, and people get done with their meal and then the drinking just lasts into the night. This is not something for which you need to be present. You need rest more than you need to sit around and hear people tell the same story over and over again.
Which reminds me:
4. Get some freaking sleep!
Basic self-care will be your #1 priority. Make sure to get proper amounts of sleep, eat some dad-gone vegetables, and exercise. When your physical self feels good, you will feel good. All of these things require you to be assertive and speak up for yourself. You’ve got to put your oxygen mask on before you can help anyone else.
This also reminds me:
Possibly for the first time in your life, you will be attending your family gathering with a posture of servant-hood. Your new holiday mantra is “Be of maximum service” to those around you. This is something a special sober person in my family taught me, and I am truly grateful. #generational #blessing
6. Keep your serenity.
Stay close to God and pray as often as possible. When in doubt, see the #5. Keeping your serenity means staying out of as many arguments as possible. You will not be having an opinion this Holiday about how to cook something or family activities or the Syrian Refugee Crisis. You will not be participating in those riveting political debates between Grandpa Chuck and Uncle Ted. You’ve got to keep your head down and be loving people through acts of service. Just try it, trust me, you’ll be so much happier.
7. Make a Gratitude list.
End each day with a list of 5 things you’re grateful for. If it’s difficult to do this, call a recovery friend and ask for help.
8. Go to meetings.
Recovery meetings always happen on holidays. Not even snow keeps meetings from happening. There will always be someone from the community to whom you can reach out. It requires you reaching out. That’s often difficult to do, but it is a life-saver.
So, no, this post will not get you sober or keep you sober. The love of Jesus Christ can and will through a community of those who have walked the path of recovery. If you are struggling with an addiction this holiday, please reach out. You don’t have to go it alone. In fact, it doesn’t work alone.
Image attribution: Csaba Deli / Thinkstock