It’s difficult this time of year. Being single, shopping for the right gifts, accepting President Obama’s last Christmas in office – and add being a newly sober alcoholic to the mix and you’ve got a real struggle. It’s tempting to warm up at the end of the evening with more than just tea, and relax after a cold day of fighting the good fight.
Yet, life isn’t all that trying for me right now, in fact quite the opposite. I’ve got a place of my own, good friends back in my life, a new job. So my problem isn’t drinking to cope with stress. My problem is that I am a hapless dreamer. I want my holidays to look and feel like a Coke commercial, a British one where at the end of the spot, the family joins Santa for a round of Hot Toddies. It’s synonymous these days, Christmas being the season of cheer, and that cheer often comes in the form of mulled wine, hot cider and a splash of Bailey’s in one’s coffee. And when you are a sober girl, obsessed with all things Christmas, it’s hard to have to eliminate that part of the festivities.
Since being sober, I haven’t felt the pull of The Drink so much as I do now, and it being my first Christmas sober, I’m nervous. I’m reading all the holiday survival guides, making frantic notes about escape plans and how “now is not the time for heroics.” But my heart still aches a little. I still feel pinches of jealousy when friends share their story on social media of holiday socials spent sipping champagne. I often get lost in Christmas song daydreams of “putting on records while pouring a drink” at work. And in all this, the overwhelming feeling for me is longing. I long to do those things because pouring myself a nice glass and then getting lost in it was comforting for me. It was how I relaxed, how I laughed, how I cried, how I enjoyed my time to myself and with others. Now I carry on my days without it and sure I do just fine, but every so often that ache settles in and I consciously push it aside.
Tonight is my work holiday party and the whole neighbourhood will be there. My favourite brewery will be serving in a setting that is better than any commercial I could imagine, and though there will be plenty of non-alcoholic drinks, the warm buzz won’t be exactly the same. The longing may kick in, with a tight chest I may have to tell coworkers that I don’t drink, and I may even have to take a moment in the back to breathe and give myself a pep talk. I’m nervous, anxious, excited, blasé; I’m all those things and I’m going for it:
A. I’m going to forgive myself for craving a drink – I’m not a bad recovering alcoholic for wanting a drink! I just need to plan how Iam going to deal with the cravings while being gentle with myself.
B. I’m going to remind myself every day, several times a day, of what I’m grateful for in my sobriety – If I was drinking, I’d probably have broken a few ornaments while setting up the tree and that is basically the equivalent of End of Days for me.
C. I’m going to have fun for Santa’s sake! – I enjoy so many things besides drinking; ginger beer, kettle corn and Christmas chalk art.
All these amazing things I would’ve missed in my addiction while b-lining it to the bar. The treatment for my holiday reveries is to indulge in them, sober! I intend to be a dreamer this season, and I hope everyone out there, who is sober and loves the romance of Christmas as much as I do, will dream big.