“My sobriety is not a limitation. Sobriety is not even a necessity, it is a superpower.”
I could not agree more.
I’m not an addiction specialist nor am I here to judge. I am a registered psychotherapist, a conscious parent, and someone who has benefited greatly from sharing a substance-free relationship for several years.
For some, it is a slippery slope between drinking casually and using it as a coping mechanism. I remember the day I made the decision not to drink any more alcohol. I never considered myself an alcoholic, although I was definitely exaggerating at times. When I told my husband necessary a drink after a long day of snow alone with the kids, scared me.
In addition to the pain and trauma caused by addiction to my own family tree, I have heard countless stories about the devastating effects of alcohol on individuals and families. I’m not saying it’s your family. But in case you are a little worried or want to try sobriety, here are some tips and tricks to help you maintain your sobriety during the holidays.
Choosing sobriety together
Although I can’t speak on behalf of everyone, since my husband decided to quit alcohol with me, our relationship has only grown stronger. We helped our children overcome the uncertainty and loss of the pandemic with vulnerable conversations and “natural highs,” such as daily walks in nature, family games, and movie nights. Now there are more laughter and healing tears in our home. We have supported each other to take risks and invest in our professional dreams. We also began to devote more time to our shared value of community involvement.
Keep this in mind when you go overboard
Don’t think about it like giving up anything. Think about how you can win them all and have fun. Increase your water intake (which most of us have to do anyway). Get creative with delicious non-alcoholic cocktails and soothing herbal teas.
Support each other for therapy or other forms of help. If you use alcohol to cope, you may find that the underlying pain, trauma, or anxiety may start to surface. Negotiate how to support the needs of others for healthy coping and daily self-care. Find a Gottman-trained therapist near you.
Make a plan on how you will spend your money saved on alcohol. Maybe you can give a little to a cause. You can sponsor other people who can’t afford therapy or save for a trip or special appointment nights.
Be united. Not everyone will understand. You may need to drop some people. Stay focused on the benefits you see personally and in your relationship. Just know that it is normal to overcome some relationships as you continue your journey of healing and awakening.
Tips for holiday sobriety
Maintaining sobriety can be especially difficult during the holiday season when you may feel pressure from family or peers to enjoy. Here are some ways to resist peer pressure and honor your commitment.
Get ready. Be prepared for people to notice and ask questions or make assumptions. You can practice your answer in advance to help you feel more comfortable claiming your sobriety as a personal choice. You don’t have to go into a long explanation. If people keep trying to pressure you, say no, thank you and leave.
Manage “FOMO”. You may feel “scared to miss” or as if you no longer belong, especially if the meetings place a strong emphasis on drinking. Root your reasons for choosing sobriety and celebrate that you are true to yourself. You can shorten your visit or suggest an alternative non-alcoholic place to make it a little more manageable.
Get out of focus. People love to talk about themselves. If you feel especially restrained without any “liquid courage,” take a moment to calm and soothe your nervous system by taking a deep breath. Then, as you look around the room, describe three things you like. Then try to ask people questions and focus on staying really present. In this age of distractions, people crave total attention. Your genuine interest is a gift they will remember.
Trust that over time it will be easier. If you are the host, let guests know that no alcohol will be provided and that they must bring their own if they wish. You don’t have to feel bad or embarrassed. Our guests sometimes bring alcohol, other times they decide not to drink either. Over the years, every outing and meeting has become easier.
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