Day 146. Is it me or does the holiday shit start earlier and earlier every year? It wasn’t even Halloween when I started seeing decorated trees, wreaths and elves. It wasn’t even Thanksgiving when we received the holiday catalog from Target. We can’t ignore it, people, the holidays are upon us.
This time of year is intense. It’s busy. It’s stressful. We’ve got family shit, work shit, kid shit. ALL. the. shit. We lay awake at night wondering: What do we get the teachers? The bus driver? Are we going to x’s house this year? Are we hosting? Are we doing Christmas cards? Because if we are, we need to do them like NOW. What about the school nurse? Is x going to be upset if we don’t go to their party? When is the school party? Did I sign up to bring something to the school party? And the biggest question swimming around in every people pleaser’s mind this time of year : HOW DO WE MAKE EVERYONE HAPPPY?
To add an extra layer of fuckery, those of us in recovery ask ourselves how the holidays will affect our sobriety. How will we attend all of these events without booze? How will we face the family gatherings without numbing out? Especially because, like so many other things in our culture, the holiday season is SOAKED in booze.
I want to share a secret. One that applies to any time of year, but specifically the holidays when the calendar quickly fills with commitments. It’s a simple idea, yet a challenging one. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. If something feels triggering or stressful or annoying or dull or it’s too far or whatever, don’t fucking do it. PERIOD.
It will be uncomfortable to say no, or set boundaries, at first. But I welcome you to sit in that discomfort. I promise that it won’t kill you. (Although depending on how big of a people pleaser you are, it may feel like it will.). And each time you do this, it gets easier.
I reached out to my sober community with this question and I got so many great tips, which I’ll bullet below. As with any advice, take what works for you and leave what doesn’t:
+bring your own drinks. Something special like a premixed mocktail. Drink it in a fun glass.
+have a plan. A plan for how to answer uncomfortable questions. A plan on when and why you need to leave.
+connect with the kids or other non drinkers
+pack candy in your purse (or pocket)
+use the money you’ve saved on booze and drugs to buy yourself something special
+bring a book and escape to a quiet space to read
+take your own car when possible so you are in control of when you leave
+forgive yourself. Forget the bake sale? Didn’t get your holiday cards out in time? It’s okay. IT IS OKAY. Forgive yourself and move on.
I don’t want to dread this time of year; I want to make it as enjoyable as possible. I want to look forward to this season and be able to feel joy about everything that I have in my life. Because I have A LOT. The best way for me to do that is to be booze free so that I can connect with a clear mind and to set limits with my commitments so I don’t feel overextended.
What about you? What’s you holiday plan? Do you have a tried and true tip that you want to share? I open the comments to you and your wisdom.