Yeah. Holidays. There are countless parties and events planned. Some of them are even fun (just kidding…ouch!). Anyways, many folks in recovery find themselves a little fazed when it comes to the overwhelming ideals of what festivities are “supposed” to look like. For many, especially early in their sobriety, this time of year can be a challenge.
But if you’re planning to go out in flames, I have some pointers. (Note: I don’t want you to go out in flames). Consider this the anti-tip post. Cheeky, no doubt, but the message is clear – stay on course. If you cherish your sobriety, protect it. That’s about it. Don’t get me started on the whole thing of “but I have to go to so-and-so’s shindig”. I don’t buy it. At any time of the year. But I will save that rant for another day.
Without further ado – some of my ever-so-friendly anti-tips to a produce anti-cheer.
1. Go to every party you’re invited to. Even the ones you don’t like. Get all Paris Hilton-like – take in all and any events, galas and campfire guzzle sessions. That midnight Kegger next Monday? Why not? Wouldn’t want to hurt the feelings of your sister’s hairdresser’s dog-walker’s cousin now would you? What would they think of you if you turned down that invitation? And the more uncomfortable it is, the more you need to punch your ticket to it. They say move through your fears, right? Well, what’s more badass than standing in the middle of a big piss up sipping on your warm, flat ginger ale while everyone dares you to do body shots with the hottie by the basement bathroom? This is time to get all social-like and be seen. You can’t do that hiding in your Panic Room doing Panic Yoga. Get out there – damn the torpedoes and throw caution to the wind! “No” is not in your vocabulary! Boundaries are for warring countries.
2. Don’t have an exit plan. – What is this, Ocean’s Eleven? What’s with the escape route? You’re at a party. The plan is to go there, pretend to have some semblance of a “good time” and then go home bitter and resentful. To ensure your enjoyment further, make sure that you are depending on a ride from someone who historically likes to “close the joint down” (or have someone dependent on you alone in giving them a lift home), make sure your phone is marginally charged, don’t tell anyone where you’re going to be at (shhhh…it’s our secret!) and certainly don’t feel that you can leave at any time. You can’t. You’re a ninja viking…act like it.
3. Put away that damned toolbox. Who are you, Bob Villa? Tuck that thing away. It’s the holidays. Ignore all the things that have kept you sober and happy until now. Meetings, prayers, meditation, therapy, support, writing, journaling, blogging, phone calls…these are all fine during the slow season, but this is different. There’s copious amounts of food, shiny things and people dressed up in funny costumes. Be festive, okay? You can always come back to that dreary supplicant stuff later. Even the Pope has to take his boxer briefs off at night. Live a little.
4. Host lots of expectations. Be the Johnny Appleseed of expectations. Litter your mind with them. Expect others to pick up on your vibes throughout the holidays. Expect others to read your mind. Expect others to keep you at front of their brains. Expect others to pander to you and any problems and struggles you may have. We all know that only alcoholics and addicts have issues around holidays, right? Everybody else is as level headed as a Mormon on a plank (I don’t know what that means either, but bear with me). Expect that you will be the focus of all attention this year and all will be super groovy.
5. Give your peeps the night off. You know, all those people in your life who you lean on and they lean on you? Give them a reprieve. Don’t bother them with your “feelings” and your “fears”. They have families too, you know. They may be taking little Timmy to see Santa at the outlet mall that day, then buy off-sized shoes and expired cheese. Don’t bother them. You hound them enough during the year. Bottle everything up and arrive at your event emotionally fatigued. Go sleep deprived too while you’re at it. Keep that phone off just in case someone wants to check in on you. You don’t need to be a bother!
6. Focus on what others are drinking. Counting everyone’s drinks is a wonderful way to pass the time when you’re trapped in a corner by the IKEA KNUDSENN umbrella stand / coat hanger. Reminisce about how much you used to pound Zinfandel down and how it’s nothing like those rank amateurs who are sipping the stuff like they will never have it again in their whole stupid lives. Fantasize about how good booze made you feel at one point and project that disappointment and remorse onto others. But don’t think of the DUI’s! That just kills the buzz you’re getting vicariously, right?
7. Compare yourself at every opportunity. Look, it’s quite apparent all that cheer they talk about comes easily and naturally to everyone but you. So just make broad assumptions about everyone and their lives while you ramp up the self-pity to 11. They, those normal drinkers, clearly have their shit together. You don’t and so make sure you remind yourself of that as often as possible. And remember rule #5 – don’t bug anyone to let your “feelings” know about this. Who knows, someone might actully show you the errors of your own thinking…but we don’t want that. Party on Wayne. Party on Garth.
8. Diagnose everyone else as an alcoholic. Oh we all know that Uncle Mike likes to spike his hot chocolate with Bailey’s just a little too early Sunday mornings, n’est-ce-pas? Alkie. Boom. Who’s next? How about that neighbour who has a beer after shovelling the front steps every single time. Alkie. Boom. What about Alice from accounting – you know, she has one glass of dry sherry too much every office party and sings La Macarena off-key. Alkie. Boom. Playing “name that addict” soothes the balm of our inner discomfort and ego. We know what it’s like, right? Everyone else is in denial, no doubt. Let’s take action and point it out to them. Make a game out of it! Everyone better now? Misery loves company!
9. Ride it out, cowboy. That feeling of being uncomfortable and anxious is normal. It’s growth, right? The inner turmoil, the feeling that you need to leave and get fresh air, that maybe you shouldn’t be there in the first place – that’s just The Suck that we need to stuff down and march on like a good soldier. We all know that once at the party you are there for good. The security out front will make sure that you don’t leave for any reason other than a blazing inferno or if the hostess has run out of Doritos and needs a 7-11 run pronto. You said “yes” to this shindig, so you’re in it until the dying embers are extinguished. How dare you think of yourself and your sobriety at a time like this? Selfish. Grow a pair.
Now, for “proper” tips for staying alright during the holidays, check out a few of these fine folks:
Some great podcasts talking about this :
Have fun y’all! And be safe.