So, we are heading towards that time of year again. The time of year that almost everyone looks forward to. Where we celebrate with family and friends. Work parties are in full swing. And every other advert on TV is cheap booze on sale. Yes, It’s almost Christmas!
My drinking ruined many Christmases for my family. They would head into Christmas day with an inkling of hope that I wouldn’t drink. But I always did. One year I just didn’t see my family at all and on another horrible occasion my dad had to drive an hour on Christmas morning to pick me up from a police cell.
For a recovering alcoholic this is the most testing time of the year. It’s a time that I used to dread. It doesn’t matter how long you have been sober; you have to be on your toes during the festive period.
Everywhere you look there is drink involved. It’s just how we celebrate in this country. Christmas even includes a few days where it’s considered ‘normal’ to begin drinking the moment you wake up! There have been years when I would have happily been locked in a box for that two-week period. It would have made life easier for everyone.
Luckily for me and my family, those dark festive periods are all in the past. We can now look forward to December rather than trying to second guess how I would ruin this year.
This will be my fourth sober Christmas on the trot, and I’ve developed a few ways to cope with the onslaught of temptation.
· Don’t put yourself in situations that you know could be dangerous to your sobriety – trust your gut! If you are worried about a party or event you have been invited to; then just don’t go!
· If possible, surround yourself with good friends and family.
· Do things that give you a sense of accomplishment – This can be anything from going for a walk to helping cook Christmas dinner!
· Keep busy – It’s so easy to get in a tug of war with your alcoholic head, but keeping busy helps me with this.
· TALK – If you start thinking about having a drink, you MUST talk to someone about it. Once again, telling someone about a thought can help you put it into perspective.
· Make sure you know where and when the nearest meetings are if you need them.
· I go for a run every Christmas day morning. It’s the best way for me to get into the right frame of mind for the rest of the day.
· AND REMEMBER! Cravings do not last forever – they will pass. If you get one – TELL SOMEONE! It is like a weight off of your shoulders and you are no longer battling it in your head on your own.
Christmas day itself can be the most daunting, especially if its your first in sobriety. However, on my first sober Christmas, I found that as the day went on, I began feeling more and more at ease. I began to beam with pride and realised I could do it. I started to think “what have I actually missed out on?”, and the answer of course was nothing!
Christmas doesn’t have to be that time of year that you wish would just go away. It is possible to enjoy it and stay sober. It’s not going to be easy, but it can be done. If I can do it, so can you.
One thing I can promise is that once you’ve made it through that period sober, you will feel pride like you have never felt before. And what a start to your new year that will be!
Good luck everyone, thank you for reading and have a safe and happy Christmas.