Happy new year…
I’ve been thinking today about folks for whom the whole alcohol thing is in a really difficult phase, and I thought I would type out a few thoughts about surfing through this tricky time.
First and foremost, be fiercely faithful to yourself. If you’re reading this, faithfulness to yourself probably involves not self-medicating with alcohol. So do whatever it takes to not drink tonight. And then whatever it takes to not drink tomorrow. (I’ve always, for some reason, despised new years day. I think it’s because it’s so blank and cold and nothing interesting is going on.)
What that fierce faithfulness looks like is very specific to you. What your triggers are, what your friends tend to do on new years, what that still small voice inside you desperately needs, what you’re willing to give it.
It could be that you stay home and do the most restful extravagant thing you can think of. Sew boxer shorts. Or engage in the old standby of watching reruns of The Office (I always get a kick out of that menu Netflix pops up at you, the top of which says “Continue Watching?” Yes, I am actually still here, watching. Outta my way.)
Maybe you drop in at the coffee shop that has a local band playing. Go to a movie.
If you go out to a party, the things that have helped me feel safe and sane are these:
- Get a nice yummy safe drink in my hand immediately. As so so many people around here have talked about, nobody cares what’s in your glass.
- Remind yourself that you are not alone. Even if you’re quitting alcohol secretly, and nobody knows you’re quitting or even that you have a problem, you can still feel not-alone by reminding yourself that there are likely other people in the room who share your same struggle. Others who aren’t drinking may be not drinking because they also experience(d) alcohol as a life-sucking magnet. Some people drinking may be totally kicking themselves in the ass that very second because they SWORE they wouldn’t drink. You’re likely not the only one there struggling.
- Picture your tribe. Picture the people not just in that room but scattered around town who are making the same gonna-drink-some-other-thing choice as you. I’ve done this for many months, and actually recently discovered that another sober blogger probably lives in my same city. I love this. We are not alone.
- Once you have your nice safe drink in hand, invent some sort of game to play. In other contexts I like Buzzword Bingo, but name your own theme. Or play anthropologist. The key is to distance yourself from the scene (if you find that you need to) and preserve your own little mental space.
If you try going out and realize it’s too hard or tricky, consider the coffee/mindless TV ideas above. If you’re thinking of quitting or starting down that path, do whatever it takes tonight to be smart and compassionate with yourself. You’ll be grateful tomorrow.
Peace be with us all.