If you pledged #NoBoozeNovember and you just now realized that includes Thanksgiving dinner, don’t panic, we’re in this together.
Too many people fall prey to the idea that “you only live once.” It was my excuse for drinking excessively for years. A serious case of FOMO mixed with introversion had me pre-gaming the pre-game parties or knocking back shots alone at home just to give myself the amount of livelihood it would take to go to parties I didn’t want to. Around this time of year alcohol becomes a member of your family that helps you deal with the members of your family. With all the jokes, marketing, and excuses out there to drink your way through the holidays there are not many people that stop to ask the question, “What if we don’t?”
What if we don’t feel the need to force ourselves into situations that make us uncomfortable? What if we don’t feel this nagging sense of obligation to someone else or something else? What if we don’t need liquid courage because we have healthy boundaries? For most people it is all easier said than done. You have to visit the in-laws. You have to go see your parents. You have to have that conversation about why you’re still single. You have to show up for everyone else’s sake. It's akin to being pecked at by wild turkeys, so...
What if you don’t?
Imagine for a minute, you stopped doing things for everyone else’s sake and started doing the things necessary to take care of YOU first? In early sobriety I cannot and will not put myself in a position that will set me back in my recovery. So I know for myself, and many others, that means simply not going somewhere where there will be heavy drinking and this faux sense of joy that makes my skin crawl. I choose to be around the people that make me feel safe, grateful, and whom have gotten me through this hellacious year. For some of us that isn’t the family we were born with but family that we’ve chosen.
We’ll say it takes a while, (months, years?) to set the kind of boundaries you need in your life without constantly looking back. Give yourself some grace and a bit of breathing room because contrary to your own negative self-talk, everything will be ok. Having done so much just to keep ourselves sane this year we owe it to ourselves to present as our truest forms. No fake smiles, cringe-y one armed hugs, or small talk with some distant relative you haven’t seen since you were in diapers. (A few moments amongst the many trivial moments that have driven me to drink.) Instead, trade up for warm fires, genuine laughter, real people that make “I’m grateful for you” actually mean something.
And for the love of God, ask if you can help in the kitchen…
One thing we can do for ourselves as the holidays start to ramp up? Keep a healthy distance from the people, places and situations that steal our gratitude, our peace of mind, and the sincerity in our lives and relationships.