The Last One May Be Tough But Really the Only Way to Go.
“Choose to put yourself first and make you a priority. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary.” – Keysha Jade
As we gear up to go home to many of our families to see all those who we haven’t see in some time, there is probably a lot of anxiety around some who may have just started on the journey to alcohol-consciousness.
You may only be a month in, a week in, or even a day in, and the thought of being around your family and not being able to drink could be ABSOLUTELY terrifying.
Whether it’s because your family is full of drinkers and you will automatically stand out as the “oddball” if you don’t or because your family can be a bit tough to deal with, and if you don’t drink, you may end up facing an attempted murder charge in 2021, the reasons may vary.
Don’t despair, here have three simple tips that should help you get through the holidays and come out on the other side with your sobriety and alcohol consciousness in-tact.
The caveat to all of these three, however, is that they are all based on how well you know yourself and increase with intensity based on where you are on your alcohol-consciousness journey.
They start with the least intense and graduate to the most intense along the journey, based on how strong you feel you are as it relates to not going back on your commitment to stay in control.
The three tips are:
TELL THE TRUTH
I’m personally very passionate about this. Sobriety is something that can be a difficult journey. There are a lot of demons you have to fight along the way to help keep your mind in a good place to not succumb to the desire to drink.
When you are around your family and someone offers you a drink, be honest that you are working on giving it up. You can decide how much you share in relation to the reasoning or not. That’s 100% up to you, but I am wholeheartedly against the concept of lying about your sobriety.
To me, when you lie about your attempt to quit, it is your subconscious’s way of giving you an out to relapse without others knowing you have done so. You have not fully committed to quitting in front of everyone, so if you starting drinking again, then no one is going to look at you funny.
By lying about why you’re not drinking and giving an excuse that you’re just not doing it for the night or because of some medication, you have reduced your commitment to quitting to your feelings and have given yourself no safety mechanisms to help you with your journey.
On the flip side, when you tell the truth about why you have decided to quit/cut back and inform others of your decision, you will possibly create a few alliances with others who have also thought that they should do the same or perhaps felt that you DID drink too much and are on your side.
This way when they see you looking a bit lost and/or confused because you are trying to get used to your first sober holiday, they may come to your aid to make you realize that you’re not in this alone.
As shared in Why Having a Friend to Help You Quit Makes It SO Much Easier, when you have someone who is also aware of the journey with you, you don’t have to do all the internal battles yourself to be successful.
Who knows? Maybe hearing you say that you are giving up drinking is the catalyst they need to begin their own alcohol-conscious journey. They may look to your decision as inspiration, as they recognize the change and the brightness in you as an indication that it is something they should try as well.
On the other side of this coin, the reality is that if you tell people that you are not drinking, then there is added external pressure for you to keep your word.
By you going back on this and relapsing, there is a chance that some cousins or siblings could ridicule and hassle you for it, so it’s an added layer of protection to keep you sober/alcohol-conscious to prevent this from happening.
HAVE AN OUT
Your first time on holiday sober can be a tough experience because there are so many emotions taking place at that time. You may be seeing some family members for the first time in a while, and there could be heavy tension there for whatever reason.
For many people, this could be a very stressful situation overall and not the most conducive to someone who is battling their alcohol-consciousness battle at the same time. Also, if you have a family who is known to have a few drinkers in it and the holiday family time tends to revolve around situations with alcohol, this could be tough.
If that is the case, the only thing you need to do is to make sure to give yourself an out if things get a bit too stressful and you find the itch to grab a beer stronger with time.
I would suggest to get your own hotel room and NOT stay in a residence with a bunch of others who could be causing this stress.
The reason for this is while it will be great to have a friend who will respect your decision to quit drinking and encourage you to continue on your path to alcohol-consciousness, there will be others who may not be as happy.
As shared in Why Some People Will HATE That You Don’t Drink, there may be some who are not happy that you have made this decision.
Whether it’s because they loved the drunk you that would do crazy things and make them laugh during the holidays or because they secretly think they drink too much and fear that you quitting is a reflection on them, there are a number of reasons this could be the case.
These individuals could, unfortunately, try to encourage you to drink during the family functions by constantly putting drinks in front of you or telling you how stupid you are for making this decision.
This is the fear of many as it relates to telling people that they are not drinking.
The reality of this, however, is that if these individuals would ridicule you for something that you have clearly shared is important to you for your future, then it’ll give you a good indication of their true character and should probably have you question what extent should they be in your life at all anyway.
Since there is the chance that this could happen, however, you need to make sure you have an out to retreat to if this person becomes too much.
For some, staying at a house in which a lot of people are drinking and staying up late telling stories can be too much in your initial foray into sobriety, so it will be much better to get a hotel room away from this, so you don’t feel that you are missing out and are encouraged to drink again to partake.
Of course, you can partake without drinking, but the reality is that if you are new to alcohol-consciousness, there are going to be a number of things that are going to be a bit awkward for you without alcohol.
As shared in Things You Will Have to RELEARN When You Stop Drinking, this is going to be one of those things that are just going to take some reps without alcohol for you to get back in the groove. Telling stories without alcohol and being around a room full of other drunk people could be tough at first.
If you are newly sober and try to constantly be around this, the pull of alcohol could be too much for you to take, as your mind will tell you that it’s the holidays and you should “enjoy” this time with your family by participating in the usual manner that you do.
To prevent this from happening, you should have somewhere (preferably a hotel room so you’re not in the same house) that you can go to when it becomes too strong and you are at risk of relapsing.
It may seem silly to some, but if you followed the first suggestion and let everyone know that drinking is not something you wish to do anymore, many will understand, and, hopefully, you’ll have one or two who will either go with you or heavily support your decision to do so.
STAY AT HOME
Now, if you have a family that not only has a few drinkers in the crew but almost EVERYONE is known to be a heavy drinker or you know you have one or two cousins who will be there that will rag you or give you an EXTREMELY hard time because you’re not drinking, then the obvious choice may be to just stay home.
The importance of your sobriety is above anything else, and if you think by going home, you are almost assured to drink again, then the decision to just bypass the holidays to give yourself more time to increase your alcohol-conscious fortitude is the way to go.
Usually, this would be a pretty tough decision with the importance of the holidays for so many people, but this year the CDC is recommending no travel during the holidays anyway, so you’ll have another very good reason why you can’t come this year.
However, if this was during non-COVID times, the only thing you would have to tell them is that you need to protect your sobriety/alcohol consciousness and, therefore, need more time to do so before being put into a situation that might encourage you to go back on your commitment.
By being straight up and honest about this, you will show how serious this is to you for your health and your future and, hopefully, forgo an argument if you make up another reason for not going that your family member won’t accept.
This doesn’t mean, however, that you have to wait another year to see them, as you can just give yourself another month or two to increase your alcohol-conscious strength or visit certain family members during times that aren’t as alcohol-infused as the holidays are.
Regardless, it’ll be much better for you than to attempt to put yourself in a situation that you’re not ready for and hate yourself for going back on your commitment because you couldn’t stand the pressure.
And while it may be tough to not see your family and enjoy some of the exciting times you are used to in the past when you all get together, what could be a better Christmas present to yourself than that of living up to your own commitment to be the best you possible in 2021.