“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon
The holidays are creeping in, and this means all of those parties and events are getting closer and closer together. Holidays are difficult for A LOT of people, so trying to stay sober during this time can feel like an impossible challenge. Aside from emotional difficulties, the holiday season comes marching in with an army of champagne flutes, wine, whiskey, and every kind of booze at every turn. Yes ’tis the season can feel like walking through a field of landmines for those of us in sobriety. Do not be discouraged! I know what it is like to “white knuckle it” through the holidays, and no one needs to live this kind of hell. While this may be one way, it is certainly not the one I recommend, so let’s look at how to make this holiday season light and enjoyable. You did not work this hard for your sobriety just to feel out of touch with life.
It begins with subtle intrusions. The space for routine starts to shrink, and somehow, at the exact same time, the room for another few excused absences seems almost non-existent. These close quarters and shrinking walls would normally be grounds for a panic attack. I totally get it, but what if the holidays were a season just like any other. They will not stop for our schedules or our needs. We learn to adapt here and there to make it happen anyway, just like every other season, and we might actually find out a few things about ourselves in relation to other people in the process. This week I noticed that trying to keep my life exactly the same around this time of year was sort of pointless, so I went to one of our friend’s going away parties. We got dressed up and went with the intention of being there for our friend, and guess what? It was amazing. I drank tonic waters and left after 2 hours. No one questioned my behavior. Maybe I do not want pajamas all the time anymore. I think I have outgrown needing to stay home because I am sober. I know I can always fall back on “she’s sober so she stays home”. This has been my “perfectly understandable” M.O. for a long time now, but what if I want to go out to the party? We learn how to find our true motivation for going to an event by getting in touch with ourselves. Put all of this hard work to use by really being kind to yourself. If you think you are craving alcohol be kind to yourself. Do what works for you, and only you can really know what that looks like. We are learning how to release unnecessary pressure.
What if we are allowed to be completely whole: A person who knows themselves enough to know what is right and best for them even during stressful times? Try that attitude on for a while and see what you feel. I found out that carrying your inner truth with balanced confidence means that most other people will not question your behavior. There are no struggles or fights for respect when you are a present and accountable person. The people who are unable to see and respect you, well, you will see them for exactly what they are with clear eyes and an open mind.
My confidence is blooming, and something in me knows what to do here. I am not confused about who I am in relation to other people right now. Why not take ourselves to the party just like everyone else? The mental shifts are happening on their own with all of this good work. There is a point in all of this where we really have to stop waiting for the transformation to happen because the entire journey is transformation.
There are no grace periods or perfect stages of life. This is one of the keystones for change as Siddhartha Guatama realizes early in his journey towards enlightenment. He realizes that the world he grew up in is capable of unpleasantness, and after his father attempts to cheer him up with a big party filled with entertainment and dancers, he falls asleep. Hours later, he wakes up to a room full of sloppy, passed out performers. He realizes that there is unpleasantness behind everything. This is real life beyond the party. Nothing is perfect or really what it seems to be at first glance. Real life is not perfect, so we do not need to make up for lost time in sobriety by being more than we are right now. This will only exhaust us and make it more difficult to continue. Again and again we will realize that consistency is something everyone deals with. This is not just for those of us in recovery. This is why it is really helpful to get out there and see for ourselves what the world is like. Pause and appreciate the opportunity to be around people without the burden or fear of morbid reflection. The social freedom of sobriety is a beautiful thing.
Benefits of going to Holiday Parties Sober
- Concrete Memories; You will know exactly what you said even if it was awkward. How many times have we embarrassed ourselves or our loved ones with a drunken debate or misunderstanding about that woman in the corner who does not like us? Drinking only makes it more difficult to see reality, and in social situations, reality is the juicy part where we can grow the most. If we open our minds to the situation as an opportunity to offer what we have and receive what is there, we are really receiving the fruits of our dharma.
- Honest Interactions; Stepping back into social living in sobriety means that we notice EVERYTHING. Take this as an advantage and embrace the engagements you have with those who honestly care about you. I have broken connections with other people in my sobriety because I found out that we only got along while I was drinking. This is an opportunity to be exactly who and what you are without any distractions, but it doesn’t mean that we have to give 100% of ourselves to everyone who walks up to us. It means that we can shine our light appropriately for those who are meant to absorb it. The right people will find us and hear us just as we are. We get more out of these honest interactions than we fully understand. This is living our true potential.
- Confidence; We all have those photos from the end of the night at someone’s wedding or holiday party where everyone looks destroyed in their nice outfits. Sobriety means that you keep who you are and how you appear in tact. Be confident in your clear head and mind because it will show. This is a silent reward in situations where things get out of hand. If I am sweating, it is because I am dancing so much, and if someone makes fun of my dancing, it is not my damn problem. You are responsible for yourself, so be confident about that! You will also be able to drive yourself home confidently whenever you want without having to worry about anything. This is saying a lot more than some. Responsibility looks beautiful on you. Trust me.
Welcome to your sober life. The gifts of sobriety can translate to places outside of sober situations. Be who you are because this is already more than most people are capable of doing. Never let your sobriety feel like it is taking away from your ability to fully enjoy people and situations. Look at this Holiday season as an opportunity to start new traditions and embrace new aspects of yourself with your loved ones as the person that you really are. If anything, this is where the richest soil for personal growth can be found. ❤
For more on the sobriety journey, follow The OAM on Instagram @the_oam, and check out The OAM facebook page. ❤