Headed off to NY tomorrow to do an event...just like last year. Except last year I was there all week - this time its just 24 hours. Fine by me. Travel gets old after a while and I've been doing it for the last 20 years. It's officially old.
Last year's trip was a blast because it was my first time in NY at Christmastime. My two coworkers and I had such a great time! I did have a...um...pause...which inspired this post. That got me thinking about some of you who may be struggling and I decided that I'd like to add my two cents to the whole "Holiday Survival Guide" thing.
I mean really...what self-respecting recovering alcoholic doesn't have some advice to get through this time and what kind of self-respecting recovering alcoholic would I be if I didn't share?
Now say that last sentence three times fast.
First of all, if you're newly sober (and hell, maybe even if you're not), this is going to suck in ways you've never imagined. This is going to suck so bad your ancestors will feel it. But here's the thing - it's OKAY. Anything worth having takes WORK and sobriety is so worth having!!! Know that no matter how bad your feeling and how badly you want that drink...it will pass. I promise. It will pass. And when it does...you will still be sober.
Next, be sure to take care of yourself and your sobriety FIRST. Announce it to your family/friends if necessary.
"Look people, nothing matters more to me right now than staying sober so I'm putting you on notice, I come first! If I'm not here it means I'm taking care of me. If I don't answer my phone it means I don't want to talk you because you annoy me and that might trigger me so leave me a message. If I don't return a text right away it means I'm doing something good for myself like taking a bubble bath, getting a massage or eating chocolate. Get over yourself. Right now, it IS all about me."
Seriously, if you don't put this first and foremost in your life, you're no good to anyone else. You don't HAVE to do anything. I promise that Christmas will still come and the planet will still keep turning if you don't get around to wrapping all your gifts before the 13th, or making Aunt Betty's pumpkin souffle that takes forty gadzillion hours and 23 steps not to mention 37 different ingredients. If it's stressing you out then forget about it. You can do it all next year.
(And before you say anything, you are not special when it comes to this kind of thing. We all have those special things we're supposed to do and ridiculous expectations put on us this time of year. So what. Just say no.)
Now I'm sure you're probably worried about the holiday parties, saying no to the booze and/or not having a good time. I mean really...how in the world can you be expected to have a good time if you can't drink?
So let's do this. Let's just all agree that you are NOT going to have a good time at any of these parties this year. Remember that part when I said this would suck? Yeah well this is that part. It sucks (at first) to be the sober one at the party. It also pisses you off. Why can't I drink if he can? Well you can't. Plain and simple. So stay home and throw a hissy fit (I've thrown one or ten or fifty in my sober life). Or go and throw one. Or go and sit in a corner and pout. If other people don't like it...then fuck them.
YOU ONLY HAVE ONE JOB...TO STAY SOBER NO MATTER WHAT!!!
Go to the party and eat yourself stupid if you have to...which brings me to my next point. Fuck calories. If you are newly sober or if the holiday's are a particularly difficult time for you, give yourself a fucking break and eat the goddamn cookies! Or fudge, or mac and cheese or bacon or WHATEVER! Just eat it!!!! You deserve it! You're sober when no one else is! This eating thing will pass eventually and you'll get your life back on track, don't worry. It's temporary and, for a lot of us, necessary to our sobriety.
If you go to the parties (or family get togethers or whatever) I want you to take a moment and look around. Watch how everyone else is drinking. Sure, some people are getting shit-faced (and you'll either feel sorry for them or you'll be disgusted by them...most likely you'll just be glad it's not you this year), but many, many others are not. They are sipping their drinks. They'll have one, maybe two and be done. While you are looking longingly at their drinks I want you to remember THAT YOU CAN NOT DRINK LIKE THIS. So don't even try. Remember, one job - stay sober...that's it. NO MATTER WHAT!!!
Now to the good part. At the end of every night this holiday season (with the exception of Christmas Eve if you have little ones) you can go to bed early. You can put on your warmest PJ's and snuggle up under your blankets, read a little (and comprehend/remember what you're reading) or maybe watch a little TV. Have some hot tea, or maybe some hot chocolate with real whipped cream (after you've squirted some in your mouth right from the can). Then you can drift off to dreamland only to wake refreshed the next day and ready for whatever the day might bring.
One job...that's all you have this holiday season. ONE JOB.
You can handle that can't you? Yep...you sure as hell can.