As many of you know, a few weeks ago, I published five suggestions for ways to maintain sanity over the holiday season. A few of you wrote me letting me know I left out a few key important ideas. Yesterday, I found myself at the first of my holiday parties of the season, and I couldn’t agree with you more. I did leave some things out. So, without further ado, here are five additional, but none-the-less super important, suggestions for the holiday party season!
6. Work the steps: Okay, so I caught some grief from a few of you guys for not mentioning the steps in my first post. So… WORK THE STEPS! I often hear a member of the local community say that whenever a fellow comes back from a relapse, he always asks the once again newly sober man, “What step were you on when you relapsed?” According to the man, not a single person has been able to answer the question. I’m slow to believe absolutes, but I do think it is much harder to take a drink if one is actively engaged in stepwork. When I am engaged in the steps and meeting with my sponsor, I feel more strongly connected to the program.
7. Take a sober friend. Ugh, I cannot believe I forgot this one. First of all, friends are awesome. Secondly, sober friends are super awesome. One of my favorite Christmas pastimes is making fun of holiday party jackasses (mainly because it used to be me), but in order for this to occur, one needs a sober accomplice. I’ve tried relaying the shenanigans in narrative to people after the fact; it never translates.
Sober friends also supply a necessary buffer and additional accountability. My second holiday season in sobriety, I went to a huge Christmas party at a dance club in Houston. I honestly and truly thought I was prepared for the party. I had worked my steps I was living in a sober house. But once I was there, the mass consumption of alcohol became overwhelming. Luckily, I had taken a friend. After maybe 45 minutes, I told her I needed to leave. I thought, somehow, I was a failure for freaking out. But my friend made it easy to walk straight out the door. We ditched the high heels and ended up having a fun night of great laughs.
8. Watch your drink: There are two parts of this simple advice. The first part is especially key if the holiday party involves some sort of bartender. Over the years I have heard more than one story of a person ordering a Coke and receiving a rum and Coke, or an ice tea and getting a Long Island. Just order drinks that come in containers (water, Redbull) or else be sure you can watch the bartender pouring your drink.
Secondly, do not leave your drink unattended. Keep it in your hand. Its unfortunate circumstance when a person puts down his/her drink and accidently picks up someone else’s. Its an even worse circumstance when someone puts something in your drink. Don’t risk it. I know even if I have to pay for five waters in a night, my bar tab is still less than it was when I was drinking!
9. Check your motives: The Big Book says we cannot avoid places just because there might be alcohol, but that before we go, we should check out motives. Ask yourself the question, “Have I any good social, business, or personal reason for going to this place? Or am I expecting to steal a little vicarious pleasure from the atmosphere of such places… Be sure you are on solid spiritual ground before you start and that your motive in going is thoroughly good,” (101-102). I was just this morning talking about motives. It never once occurred to me in my drinking days to ever question my reasons for doing things before I actually did them. Its good practice, not just during the holiday season, but year round.
10. Tis the Season: Though I am not including them individually, I hasten to add some final little tidbits offered to me by some of my closest friends…
Be honest. This is a tough season. We always lose some people. If you are struggling, let it be known. You never know whom you might be helping.
Keep chocolate in the house. “He thought all alcoholics should constantly have chocolate available… many of us have noticed a tendency to eat sweets and found this practice beneficial,” (133-134). It’s in the Big Book. Look it up!
Finally, I was reminded of something important after my first post. My over consumption of alcohol was my problem and no one else’s. Most of the world drinks more or less responsibly. My recovery is an internal problem that stems from my mind, not an external problem that exists with Christmastime. Remember, we have a “Daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition,” (Big Book 85). So, stay in touch with your higher power, call another alcoholic, and go to a meeting. And as my friend would say, “I’ve done drunk Christmas and I’ve done sober Christmas. Sober Christmas is better.”
If you have anything you would like to add, please comment below or on Facebook.
Ann G. Kroger.