Going to a Christmas party sober is an entirely different experience.
I mean, what holiday/special occasion/weekend/Monday is complete without getting hammered, right? That’s just what you DO.
Yet if you are trying to quit drinking, or are new to sobriety, parties can become a very uncomfortable battle if you don’t check in with yourself. You see, alcoholics love company. They want everyone drinking. If someone is not drinking, they want to know why the hell not. And most of the time, they will bring it to everyone’s attention if you don’t have a glass in your hand!
Have you ever been given that look of pity from an alcoholic? Yeah, I don’t like it either.
Our circumstances for quitting may vary, but we quitters have one thing in common: what was once fun and exciting has become a major disruption to our lives (and that’s putting it mildly). And now we still have to keep up with activities or obligations that we did before, but without the drink. AND without expressing that it bothers us. AND being optimistic.
Is that even possible?
YES, yes it is.
I’m going to be honest with you- when I first stopped drinking, going to parties and passing on booze was uncomfortable, but only for a little bit. Like 20 min, tops.
This is a far cry from how I used to feel when I arrived at said party. I thought that I just needed to “loosen up” and let things settle.
This way of thinking turned into complete social anxiety that paralyzed me until I had a drink in my hand and was slamming it. Just numb the shit out of this anxiety and then I’ll feel better. THEN I can talk to people.
But, and this is glorious, what I’ve found is that there’s ALWAYS those few moments of awkwardness at the start of anything new.
I don’t need a drink to loosen up…I just need to loosen the fuck up.
Seriously. This isn’t a big deal. We can do this.
I’m not going to sugarcoat the fact that your mind may start telling you to accept that drink at the beginning of your Christmas party. But that’s just it- it’s all in our minds.
I know some people may disagree with that last statement, and that’s okay. However, my eyes were opened years ago when I got hold of the book “The Easy Way to Stop Drinking,” and it changed my life. I read it, not entirely for myself- there were some people in my life that I thought could benefit from the info, and I just decided to screen it (yeah, I suppose I was a little bit in denial about my own issues lol). What I wasn’t expecting was that it transformed my point of view of drinking in general, and helped me kick my alcohol habit.
As described in the book, the act of drinking can be compared to that of the pitcher plant. This cup-shaped plant contains a sweet-smelling liquid which lures its insect victims into it’s mouth. Once the prey touches the juice, it slowly descends downwards towards its impending death.
Alcohol is very much the same way- we are the insects, captivated by the nectar of the Gods. And we are one drink away from sliding far, far down, unable to escape.
This really isn’t your fault either. Ever since we were children, people have told us that drinking is what grown ups do. “Juice is for children, cocktails are for adults.”
We see people drinking and having fun in movies, advertisements, and even CARTOONS (think Ratatouille, Dumbo, Sleeping Beauty, and Pinocchio, just to name a few). It’s been programmed into your brain to drink. You are just following your conditioning.
SO, remember this is all in your head. When you go to that Christmas party sober, remember that the power rests within YOU. Good times are still within your grasp. One of the best feelings for me has been walking away from a party and seeing that I didn’t need to drink to enjoy myself. At the party, I talk to people and mingle. I bring good food. I help out the host. Instead of placing the joy of the party on what kind of alcohol is available, focus on all the other fun parts of the party itself. Like YOUR FRIENDS. Soak up the feeling of being around people that you love. Take in the beautiful Christmas decorations. Pop in on the kids and see what they are up to (and if they need anything!). Help out with anything that you see needs extra care. And be the best damn guest you can be!
The best part of all this is that I go home happy. Being sober means that I don’t have to worry about getting home safely. I don’t have to think “Oh my God, did I really say that?” and panic because I called another guest a douche-bag. I don’t have to feel the morning after shame. And trust me, I’ve felt it.
Oh, and I also don’t have to wake up with a POUNDING HEADACHE from getting carried away at the open bar. I can wake up refreshed and ready to take on a new adventure.
Now, am I a saint? Hell no, far from it. I have my moments. I slip up sometimes. I go out with a girlfriend and decide that a margarita is a good idea. However, I’ve never gone back to my excessive behavior previous to reading that book. I don’t rest my value in the amount of glasses I slam. I remember that I am only an insect resting on the cup of the pitcher plant. I’m only human. And so, I be gentle with myself, and I continue doing the best I can, EVERY SINGLE DAY.
And remember, just because someone is drinking at a party, that doesn’t mean that they are having more fun than you. Chances are, they have just as many (if not, MORE) problems than you. Drinking only masks who we really are inside. Don’t be afraid to BE YOURSELF, drop the mask, and HAVE FUN.
You can do it!