How to Get or Stay Sober, Especially During the Holidays
Updated: Dec 22, 2021
I have had this question asked of me quite a bit recently, so I felt it was important to address the topic since it is Christmas in a few days. A lot of people have asked how I was able to get sober during the holidays. How did I start? How did I stick to my plan? How was it possible to do something so seemingly impossible during such a difficult and challenging time of year?
Here are some of the things I did last year... Maybe you will find some of them useful if you are struggling to find the motivation or stay sober.
First, it was not easy to say out loud, but I felt a desire and urge deep within, something that I could not deny. If you remember, I woke Evan up early in the morning and asked him to help me stop drinking right after Thanksgiving 2020. It was a feeling that had been building for a very long time, and I knew that when I finally had the courage to speak the words out loud to myself and my husband, that I needed help, I knew in my heart that that was my time. I knew that it was something I had been working towards for many, many months, and it was a huge relief to just take that first tiny step.
Admitting to myself and vocalizing it out loud to someone was key for me. My husband was that someone. I then called a few other friends that day, some who drank and some who were sober. All good, trustworthy, loving friends that could hold me accountable. I needed to make it real, and putting it out into the universe made it feel that way.
Evan and I then poured out all of the alcohol in the house, which was a very symbolic move for me. Watching the liquid spill out of each bottle, one by one, was challenging but it was cathartic to see them all empty, lined up on the counter afterwards. It was a physical declaration of sorts.
I joined online support groups - the Sober Mom Squad and The Luckiest Club and immediately started attending meetings on zoom. I made my meetings a priority, and attending these were key to giving me connections to other like-minded individuals. I created this blog as well as my sober instagram account. I started journaling and writing about my thoughts, attempting to process my brand new feelings almost everyday.
I listened to my support meetings sometimes on walks with my earbuds in, or I listened to Quit-lit books on Audible that I downloaded as well as other awesome sobriety podcasts. I pounded the pavement everyday for miles, just in my own thoughts. (See list below)
The hardest part of the day was around 5:00pm, when the wine witch would start her chanting. I always had a ritual of pouring wine around 4:30 or 5:00 when I started cooking dinner. Also, there was always a festiveness to Christmastime that made me want to cozy up by the fire with some wine. It was at this time in the evening that I needed to listen to podcasts and create new habits for myself, to break the cycle. Sometimes I would quickly cook dinner for the family and leave the kitchen, taking the dog for an evening walk. Or I would do a peloton ride at 5:00 at night just to break the cycle of drinking. I would do yoga in my bedroom upstairs, far away from the feeling of happy hour downstairs. I would take a bath, anything to get my mind off drinking.
A good tip - Just remind yourself what one glass of wine means and what it does to you. Play the tape forward for yourself. One glass always meant two glasses. Then three glasses and so on, for me. My nights never ended the way I planned for them to, so I needed to remind myself of that. I never felt happy at the end of the night, and I chased that buzz all evening long, only to wake up feeling like shit the next day.
The early days were hard. Extremely hard. I cried a lot. I felt sorry for myself. I hated the world. I was resentful of everyone and everything, and I constantly thought, "how is this my life?" But, I moved through the feelings. I sat in the ugly sadness for a little while, and I didn't drink. Eventually after a few weeks, I started sleeping so well. The headaches subsided, and my mood started to improve slightly. I stopped craving alcohol and thinking about it less and less and eventually I woke up one day and realized that things were looking up and I had a bunch of sober days under my belt. And I was feeling good. I just took it one day at a time. One sober day after another.
Over one year later, the changes in me are visible - emotionally, physically and mentally I am light years from what I was last year at this time right before Christmas. I can't wait for all you have ahead of you, if you are just beginning your journey. If you are sober, how are you feeling these days? How are you doing during this holiday season? Please comment below or shoot my an email. You are not alone!
We Are The Luckiest by Laura McKowen
Blackout by Sarah Hepola
The Sober Diaries by Claire Pooley
The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray
This Naked Mind by Annie Grace