Your First Sober Thanksgiving


November 21, 2022

I always say that firsts are the hardest moments in sobriety. As we enter the holiday season, a lot of scary firsts are on the horizon. If your first sober Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years feels daunting, this episode is for you.  

Today I’m sharing some of my best tips for surviving the holidays, so that you can experience a brand new kind of holiday magic: one that exists without alcohol. 

I am so proud of you, sober mama!

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Speaker 1 (00:00):

I wish more people would listen to our podcast.

Speaker 2 (00:02):

I know. I feel like this is why we need to do an ad. So this is an ad for brand new information, a pop culture and political podcast.

Speaker 1 (00:10):

We’re a couple Gen Xers who talk about pop culture and political stuff on the brand new information pop culture and political podcast. Okay.

Speaker 2 (00:19):

But we’re not a couple we’re siblings. It sounded like you said we’re a couple <laugh>. That was so gross. No, we’re siblings. That’s my brother. I’m his sister. Listen to us wherever you get your podcasts.

Hi. Welcome to the Sober Mom Life podcast. I’m your host Suzanne of my kind of suite and the sober mom life on Instagram. If you are a mama who has questioned your relationship with alcohol at times, if you’re wondering if maybe it’s making motherhood harder, this is for you. I will be having candid, honest, funny conversations with other moms who have also thought, Hmm, maybe motherhood is better without alcohol. Is it possible? We’ll chat and we’ll talk about all things sobriety and how we’ve found freedom in sobriety. I don’t consider myself an alcoholic. You don’t have to either. And maybe life is brighter without alcohol. I hope you will join us on this journey and I’m so excited to get started.

Hi, sober mom. Lifers. I don’t know. Are we sticking with that? I don’t know. I’m gonna try it out and see how it goes. I am tucked away in my closet. It is the afternoon. All of my kids and my dog are all downstairs. I told them they better not come up and disrupt me unless it’s an emergency, which, you know, kids, they’re eight, five and three. Like if they stub their toe, that’s an emergency. So we’ll see if we can get through this without some interruptions. But I have been wanting to sit down and record a Thanksgiving slash holidays episode for a while because I know that the holidays can be triggering for some of us. I’ve seen a lot of discussion on the sober mom life Facebook group about it, just about getting through your first sober holiday. I think a lot of people, I don’t know.

I know that I saw the influx of followers in the sober mom like Facebook group the day after Halloween, which I totally get. And then I, I think some of us are facing our first sober Thanksgiving or just our first sober holiday, and that can be tough. It can be scary. I, I always think the lead up to these things is scarier than the actual thing itself. We make it so big in our minds. I know I do that all the time with every damn thing in my life. I make things so big that they lose whatever meaning they had to begin with and they just become this all-encompassing thing that I can’t let go of and I just build it up for good or for bad, for better or for worse. I build it all up. And then when I’m actually in the moment, I am hit with the thought of like, what, this was the big bad monster.

This was the thing that I had built up to be so horrible. Which I guess is, I guess that can be good and helpful. I’m not caught off guard, but still like, how much time did I waste worrying about this thing that was just gonna be catastrophic and it wasn’t. I guess that’s for another episode, <laugh>. That’s my catastrophic thinking episode. But I did have, so I recorded a 4th of July episode, I think actually on the morning of 4th of July. I recorded that. That was maybe our second episode. So this might be kind of similar to that. I think that I’m gonna share some similar tools, but this might be a little bit different too, because I’ve gained more tools and I’ve gotten some more stuff under my belt. I’ll be three years sober in January. So why don’t you go listen to that after this. Just get all of these, all these podcasts, sober podcasts that you love, quit lit.

Just keep those going in your ears in the lead up to holidays. Don’t take a break from them because this is when you need them the most. This is what they’re here for. And then also go join our, um, sober mom life group on Facebook. We are now also, oh you guys, exciting announcement. We are having a zoom meeting every Tuesday at 11:00 AM central time. So I don’t know what it’s gonna be like. Our first zoom meeting is this week. I’m really excited. It’s just, you know, I always say I’m not a, cuz I’m not a therapist, I’m not an alcohol counselor, I’m not a coach. I’m nothing. I’m nothing except a sober mom who has some insights after almost three years of sobriety and who wants to spread the word. But also we are going to have my mom join us. And she is a therapist.

She does specialize in addiction and substance abuse. And I do want to say for pretty much every discussion I have all of my podcasts. And this does not mean that people who are addicted to alcohol are not welcome to listen because of course, of course I want you to listen and if it is helpful to you, that is just great. But I don’t come from a place of addiction. And so my message is not going to be for those who are addicted and in the throes of addiction to alcohol. That was not my story. So I can’t talk about that and I’m not equipped to even, you know, talk about that at all. And so if that’s you, please seek help from a doctor, from qualified people. That is not me. I just think that’s important to point out because there are these shades of drinkers, right?

And it’s all a spectrum. And so I’m speaking to who I was and that’s what Annie Grace calls the gray area drinker. And you guys, so what I’ve realized I’d say in the last three months, and it’s been a slow realization, you know, we have built up in our head this idea of a normal drinker. Like, God, I wish I could be a normal drinker and I wish I could be someone who just could take it or leave it. And you guys, that’s not a normal drinker. I’m going ahead and I’m saying it. That’s not a normal drinker because the vast majority of people who are drinking alcohol have questioned their relationship with alcohol. They have taken a break, they have drank too much. They have felt shitty about drinking too much. They have tried a dry January. They have stayed up late at night thinking about their relationship with alcohol.

It has nagged at them. They have felt guilt and they have felt shame. And so that is a normal drinker. So this idea of like, God, why can’t I be a normal drinker? I think we gotta just put that to the side because I don’t know, that is like a unicorn. And sure that I’m sure there are people out there and that’s, you know, I’m not saying that doesn’t exist, but we need to stop calling that normal because normal means that it’s typical, right? It’s the majority, it’s most people that is not, most people who drink alcohol. It’s just not. It’s a highly addictive toxin. And so I feel like this is a whole other episode because you guys, I could go on, have you noticed? I’ll just go on these tangents and then I’ll be like, wait, what is this episode about? But this is something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

It’s like, we need to, dude, we gotta rebrand this whole normal drinker thing. Because I think that only keeps the majority of people who are struggling with their relationship with alcohol, not even struggling, maybe just questioning their relationship with alcohol that only keeps them in shame of like, why can’t you be different when it’s not about them? It’s about highly addictive substance. Okay, moving on. So I want to just walk you through your first sober Thanksgiving and how do I break this down in a way? I don’t want this to seem like, well, obviously you just have to change your thinking because changing our thinking is hard and that takes work. But I also know that drinking too much and feeling the shame and guilt of drinking too much and dealing with a hangover is also hard. And that’s actually way harder. And so we’re gonna work on reframing our thinking in this week, actually less than a week leading up to Thanksgiving.

So here we go. I wanna start with a message that I got and it, I’m not singling out this person, um, because I get a lot of these. So this one says I’m six weeks alcohol free and struggling terribly with the holidays coming up. I just want a coffee with Bailey’s or a glass of champagne. It’s what makes it feel like Christmas or Thanksgiving or the holidays. How can I get past that thought? So if you’re similar and if you’re really kind of dreading the holidays coming up, you’re dreading Thanksgiving, you’re dreading Christmas and New Year’s, I don’t think you can get past that thought until you get past the holidays sober. So I don’t think the goal is going to be to trick your mind into being excited when it’s nervous or to talk yourself out of these feelings of being afraid to experience the holidays while you’re sober.

My biggest overall piece of advice is just to give yourself a chance to experience the holidays sober because you never have. And so chances are you’re weighing this idea of what a sober holiday is. You’re looking at it through a lens of without and of deprivation, you’re looking at it through a lens of missing alcohol. And I get it. But you’re doing that because you’ve never experienced the holidays sober. Now, almost three years in, I look at the holidays and I think to myself, not in a judging way, but I think, God, how could anybody drink through this? How could they miss this? Why would they want to miss this? But I didn’t have that thought during my first sober holidays before I was experiencing the magic of it while I was sober. That only comes with experiencing the holidays without alcohol. And so it is a reframing of your mind of thinking.

Like, no, I am not going into this thinking, well, I can’t have wine. And so obviously it’s not gonna be as fun. I’m gonna try to go into Thanksgiving and I’m gonna think, you know what? I gave alcohol 15 Thanksgivings, or maybe 20 Thanksgivings, or maybe 25 Thanksgivings like alcohol has had its chance. And you’re listening to this podcast because it continues to let you down. You would not be listening to this podcast if alcohol always delivered on its promise because it doesn’t. So this year, you’re just gonna give it a chance. You are going to see what Thanksgiving is like without alcohol. And you’re not gonna realize all of the stuff that is in there until you experience it. You’re not gonna realize every little thing that you missed while you were drinking, until you experience a sober thanksgiving. And you’re not gonna experience the wonder of waking up on the Friday after Thanksgiving feeling amazing.

There’s no hangover, there’s no grogginess, there’s no regret, there’s no shame. There’s just you. And I’m telling you, you will feel so thankful in this season of thanks and gratitude. You will feel so damn proud of yourself. And then that is what will propel you into Christmas and into New Years. All of that. It’s not a white knuckling through guys. It’s not. And if it was, man, I, I don’t even think this podcast would exist if that’s what it was. If sobriety was about deprivation for me, I would just be like, yeah guys, it sucks. But you know, you gotta do it. That’s not what it is at all, at all. But you gotta give yourself a chance. You have to try it. You have to do something different this year. You gotta try it. And then if you wake up on Friday morning and you’re like, yeah, you know, whatever I, I wish I would’ve drank, I want you to reach out to me.

Cause I don’t think I’ve ever heard that. Now saying this does not mean it’s going to be easy. And this does not mean you’re not going to have cravings even just out of habit. That’s not what this means. But this definitely means it’s gonna be easier than dealing with that brutal hangover on Friday. So I know I’m talking kind of in sweeping terms right now, but I wanted to give you an overview and just kind of help you set your mindset going into Thanksgiving. So let’s talk about some concrete things that we can do. This is where it’s gonna be a little bit similar to the 4th of July episode because I’m gonna break it down for you. Easy things you can do. And so the first is to make the decision. You’ve already decided you’re not gonna wait to see how you feel. That’s not gonna happen.

Because if you wait to see how you feel, and if you wanna drink those 15, 20, 25 Thanksgivings are gonna just kick right in and you’re gonna just do what you’ve always done. But we’re not doing that this year. This year’s different. You are different. You’re trying something new. And so you’re gonna make the decision right here, right now. Write it down. I’m a big proponent of writing things down. Okay? So you are gonna write down, this is going to be your first sober Thanksgiving. Write it down, put little hearts around it. Put stars by it. Put smiley faces. Okay, decision has been made. We’re not turning back guys, we’re not, okay, now we’re gonna lower our expectations. So thanksgiving can be a lot of pressure. If you’re hosting, oh God, just like release that valve and take off the pressure. Like if you’re hosting, buy the store bought food, like get some food delivered.

Get some food to pick up. You don’t have to do it all. You don’t. Your sobriety is what you’re focused on. It’s what you’re most grateful for this year. Like who cares if the mashed potatoes are from Mariano’s? No one cares. And if they do, if your mother-in-law cares, I mean, no offense to mother-in-laws, just keep it moving. Doesn’t matter. Nope, nothing to see here. I don’t care. Buy the store bought pies. If baking is a trigger for you, if cooking is a trigger and you want wine, then do a store bought. Ask people to bring stuff. You don’t have to do it all. And don’t, don’t do it all. Lower your expectations, okay? See where, where you can have somebody help you out. You don’t have to do it all. Okay? Now we’re gonna do a funny little thing that I, I rely on this a lot and I didn’t even realize how much I relied on this until maybe like a year ago.

And that’s visualization. I visualize everything, everything, every part of my day before I, I do it. I have already visualized myself doing it. So I want you to visualize getting up Thanksgiving morning. You know, whether you’re gonna fit in some yoga, you’re gonna take some time for you. Whatever that looks like, you’re gonna start getting everything ready. I want you to visualize yourself going through Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving dinner and that night without alcohol. So the thing about visualization is you’re kind of tricking your brain. Your brain doesn’t know that you’re not doing it. And so once you start doing it, your brain’s like, oh, I got this. Okay, yeah, we’ve been here. Which we kind of have to trigger our brain because you might just be reaching for the red wine out of habit. And so we’re gonna just, we’re gonna stop and slow that down and visualize ourselves having a full happy sober thanksgiving.

And what does that look like for you? Hand in hand with that is, what are you going to be drinking? What are you thinking about as you visualize, what do you see yourself drinking? So get creative with your mocktails. Have that planned out. We’re not gonna leave it up to chance. We’re not gonna leave it up to the moment. We’re gonna have a plan of what you’re going to be drinking. If you’re going to a friend’s giving, if you’re going to your parents’ house, if you’re going to your in-laws, you’re bringing whatever you want to drink with you. You’re not hoping and crossing your fingers that they have something cool for you to drink. Cuz chances are they won’t. And so you’re gonna get creative with it. If you want to feel included, then that’s gonna be a fun, festive mocktail. Go to my kind of suite on Instagram and I have some mocktails ideas on there.

I will be sharing a festive one. You know, just you guys, it doesn’t even have to be fancy. Put some cranberry juice, some sparkling water, maybe some lime and put it in a fancy glass. You deserve to be fancy cuz there is no ethanol in your glass, okay? So you’re gonna know what you’re gonna drink. You’re not gonna just wait and see. That’s not happening. You’re gonna have a plan. Also, talking about holiday parties, it’s okay to say no. And sometimes not only is it okay, but it’s imperative. And the people who are inviting you to holiday parties, if you say no, if they’re your good friends, they’re gonna, they’ll still invite you. Those parties will always be there. That will always be an option. But you don’t have to go, you don’t have to go. And it. So if you’re feeling pressured by anyone or by yourself to go to a holiday party this year and you’re just, it’s just not sitting right with you.

Say no, you have permission to say no. Okay? Now, you know, I said to write everything down and I have talked about, rather than counting the days in sobriety, I like the idea of counting the firsts. And so this is one of the firsts that you’re gonna write on your huge list of firsts. So if you have on their first sober date night, first sober wedding, first sober witching hour, and then you’re gonna write on their first sober Thanksgiving, you’re gonna write it huge. And you’re gonna write a big box next to it. So that Friday morning when you wake up, you’re gonna go get that giant sheet of paper or poster board or whatever it’s on, and you’re gonna put a huge check mark in there, or a smiley face or a heart. You’re gonna check this huge milestone off and then you’re gonna reward yourself.

So what is that? Is that whatever makes you happy in that moment. If that’s chocolate for breakfast the next morning, if that’s a massage, if that’s, you know, new yoga gear, if it’s something small, if it’s something small like your favorite donut from the bakery, that’s what you’re gonna do. Oh, because you guys, we’re not cutting down on sugar. Okay? We’re gonna eat all of the Thanksgiving desserts. We are not gonna think about calories, none of that bullshit, okay? We’re gonna eat whatever the hell we want on Thanksgiving, okay? We’re not gonna worry about sugar. So whatever makes you feel proud, and whatever reward you choose, that’s what you’re gonna do. Friday morning, you’re gonna wake up and you’re gonna give that to yourself. But I’m telling you, I’m telling you, I don’t think anything is even gonna come close with how grateful you feel that you showed up for yourself and that you came through and you trusted yourself.

There’s literally no better feeling in the world than being able to count on yourself and to trust yourself. It is hands down, my favorite part of sobriety. All right guys, I’m still getting over this cold, so my voice is kind of going in and out. I hope it’s not too hard to listen to, but that’s, that’s what we’ve got for our first sober Thanksgiving. And I am so proud of you that you are deciding you deserve better. You deserve so much better than those 15, 10, 5, 20, 30 Thanksgivings where alcohol continually tricked you. You deserve so much better than to be continually tricked. You do. And I wanna hear from you. I wanna hear how your first sober Thanksgiving went. I want you to write it down, write it in a journal so that you can read it before Christmas and before New Year’s Eve so you can remember. And I wanna hear, I wanna hear how it goes. I love getting messages from all of you. It’s why I do this whole thing. It’s why I’m here. So I just wanna thank you so much for trusting me, me, I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you for choosing yourself. You’ve got this. Keep going, keep going. Okay, until next time, guys, I love you. Bye.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of The Sober Mom Life. If you loved it, please rate and review it wherever you listen. Five stars is amazing. Also, follow me on Instagram at the sober mom life. Okay? I’ll see you next week. I’m gonna go reheat my coffee. Bye.

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