The Holidays are a time when our once drunken selves used to party, hard, because it was somewhat acceptable. It’s also a time when the normal drinkers even drink a little more than normal so it’ll seem like everyone is drinking. For those new to sobriety, this can be a time of fear and angst until we get through it a few times. Eventually, we develop a little rhythm that’ll see us through without any trouble whatsoever. Till then…
The first tip I can give, is “take a deep breath”. After a few months of sobriety, that desire to drink you feel is literally “just in your head”. It’s an idea, a notion; you do NOT have to entertain it. It will pass. I used to like to, in a pinch, simply repeat, “God help me”, till focus on that thought passed and I could point my melon at something else.
Second, don’t fight with family. Look at me, now; don’t f***in’ do it. Don’t fight with your spouse, don’t fight with your kids, don’t fight with your parents. This is a good time to practice being a doormat for a few days. You wanna be right, or happy? Pick happy, just for a few days. Fighting takes us off our center and fills us full of adrenaline and bad ideas. If you know anything about yourself at this point, you know that’s bad. Practice this, “You know what, I’m not going to fight this out. It’s Christmas, and we don’t have to do this now.” If you’re so selfish that you just can’t let a fight go, because you’re not a doormat, dammit, think of letting it go as a gift you’re giving the person trying to egg you into the fight. With that last sentence, before you get all huffy-puffy about the “selfish” part, think about how it might be I know about this problem in the first place. Light bulb? Right, I used to be that selfish.
Third, you will be around drinking unless you’ve got a big network “in the program”. Always leave an easy, fast way out so you can get your butt to a meeting if need be. At the very least, have a sponsor or sober friend on speed-dial. Don’t ever park your vehicle where it can be “parked in”. I ran into dozens of times, especially early on, where I simply had to leave to break the thought loop spinning in my head about getting drunk. Don’t get drunk, get out.
Fourth, even if you don’t like meetings, go to a few during the holidays. Get out of yourself and help someone else. You’ll be amazed at how good helping someone else makes you feel. There is nothing better in recovery than helping another person for your own sobriety. Nothing. Meetings, meetings, meetings. Hey, while you’re at it, read a few chapters out of the Big Book, maybe check out the Daily Reflections app in your App Store.
Fifth, get some exercise! Nothing brings me back and centers my melon like some good old-fashioned sweat equity. Take a run or go for a walk, go for a ride, go to the gym… heck, do some push-ups or something.
Finally, get some sleep. Sure, it’s a busy time of year, but take some time to enjoy your sleep. When we’re rundown, we’re susceptible.
Friends, the Holidays are meant to be a happy time. Do what it takes to be happy. Give yourself a break. Give others around you a break. And good luck. Just don’t f***in’ drink. Even if your ass falls off. And in the unlikely event it does, put it in a bag and take it to a meeting. Someone there will be able to show you how they put their ass back on.