The holidays are in full swing! This is my second sober Christmas and NYE, and while I’m fully aware that doesn’t make me an expert (is there even such a thing?), I want to share my thoughts on being sober during the holidays…
For me, alcohol and the holidays were like a movie and popcorn. They went together. It was a no-brainer.
Holiday parties meant little to no food and more than a few glasses of prosecco or champagne.
A cozy night at home watching Love, Actually? A glass of red wine.
Wrapping presents by the fire? Red wine. (If I liked spiked egg nog, I’m sure that would’ve made its way in.)
New Year’s Eve? Well, duh. I mean, what’s the point of celebrating if it doesn’t include the bottle of Dom we’ve been saving?
When I decided to quit drinking on January 19, 2020, I didn’t know what that meant. Fresh off a party with bottomless champagne, I simply knew I was done. I didn’t want to suffer through another hangover. Life is too precious to spend an entire day useless on the couch.
I was scared. Would I be able to do it?
I wasn’t afraid of not being able to stop because I needed alcohol. I wasn’t addicted. I didn’t need alcohol to function. I wasn’t a daily drinker. I wasn’t even a weekly drinker.
Still, I knew the tie between alcohol and pretty much every event in my life ran deep.
Hell, I’m from Wisconsin. Beer runs through our veins.
Over the next few months, I decided to take a serious look at the affects of alcohol on my life.
When I looked back at celebrations, events, parties – pretty much any time alcohol was involved – it became clear that alcohol actually didn’t make anything better. Most of the time, it was to blame for times when shit hit the fan.
Would I have said that thing if I hadn’t had 3 glasses of wine? No.
Would my husband and I have gotten in that fight about nothing if we hadn’t been drinking? No.
Would the night have become fuzzy in my memory if I hadn’t been drinking? No.
(Here’s where I need to say: being sober doesn’t mean I don’t do or say things that I regret. I still make mistakes. Obvs. But it feels good to know that there isn’t a substance that is altering me. I am in control of what I do and say.)
Almost every single time, alcohol had promised to make my night FUN! EXCITING! And almost every single time, it had done the opposite. So, why did I keep trusting it and expecting it to keep its promise?
Wasn’t it time to trust myself instead?
There had to be another way.
If I took alcohol out of the equation, would those events and parties actually be (GASP)…more fun??
My brain had fused alcohol and celebration, so I had to teach it something else. I had to learn that the fun was never because of the alcohol.
I had to divorce the movie from the popcorn.
The experiment went well. Actually, it went better than well. It went fucking amazingly.
That’s not to say it wasn’t hard to see everyone around me enjoying festive drinks, while I was sipping on my not so festive mocktail. It was lonely and confusing at times.
I just had to remind myself of my goal: to see if life could be fun and full without alcohol.
The answer was always, and continues to be: Yes. FUCK YES.
If you’re newly sober this holiday season, give yourself a chance to find out that the alcohol wasn’t ever the thing.
The magic of the holidays isn’t found at the bottom of the champagne flute.
Look around you. Look inside you.
That’s the magic.
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