Techniques for being around drinkers…

It’s definitely an extra layer of ‘hard’ for us sober people if we have to spend a lot of time around people who are boozing. I don’t most of the time, but every Easter we go away to spend 4-5 days with extended family in a remote location. It’s a holiday weekend that presents a unique set of challenges for me. Similar to Christmas but different. Christmas really only covers 2ish days and time spent around drinkers is broken up.

This Easter holiday is far more intense as it goes for a longer number of days and we are in a very isolated, enclosed location that you can get to only by boat. So there literally is no ‘escape’ other than to our bedroom. And given our family of 5 sleeps communally in one big room it’s hard for me to get much time out!

It’s everything you’d imagine a big family gathering to be. Chaos and fun and laughter and catching up and lots of chats and entertaining kids and activities and stuff. And lots of food and drink. Every day at 5 o’clock the drinks come out  (sometimes at lunch too), and it continues through the evening. There are more kids now than in previous years (all my siblings and cousins have been busy breeding!) so it’s less boozy than it used to be, but still the 5 o’clock habit is there.

I’m the only sober person in our extended family which means I’m the only one who doesn’t touch alcohol ever, the only one who has gone (is going) through a recovery process, and the only one who sees the world through ‘sober eyes’ (so to speak).

I  don’t judge any of my family for drinking, I get what the appeal is. I did it myself with gay abandon for 20+ years! I just try to stay very focussed on me and my truth. That being I am infinitely more happy, calm and grounded now that I am no longer necking wine like it’s going out of fashion.

I once got so pissed at this Easter holiday I almost vomited at the dinner table and could hardly walk to my bed at the end of the night. That’s just one of a million pissed stories I could tell about myself. There is no doubt in my mind that things needed to change for me.

Since I’ve got sober I’ve had varying success at navigating my way through this Easter weekend. One year I felt shiny, sparkly-sober, newly-slim & invincible! One year I took every single alcoholic beverage consumed by another person as a personal slap in the face and raged at the situation privately in my room (with a pen and paper).

But now – finally – I think I’ve developed some good strategies that help me cope with the weekend, and I’m sharing them here in case they are useful for anyone else.

1) I tell myself to CHILL THE FUCK OUT about other people drinking and don’t let my thoughts start endlessly looping about how hard it can be to be around people whose brains are under the influence.

2) I pre-plan my non-alcoholic drinks and make sure that I make an effort to fix myself something nice. For my 5pm drinks ice cubes are a must, as is sliced lemon. This year I have asked my cousin (organising the meal plan, cooking roster & shopping) to get in mini bottles of soda water and limes (expensive but still cheaper than wine!) and I am taking the lavender sugar syrup that I made for the Easter ‘Drink of the Week’! I also travel with my own tea bags so I can make sure I have my favourite hot drinks in the mornings and evenings.

3) I take any moment I can to have a little ‘me’ time in my room or wherever I can. Even when sitting in a group I sometimes quietly ‘check in’ with myself.

4) I go to bed early! This was my big move last year and it worked really well. After dinner is over (usually quite late) and everyone is settling in for some more chatting or a game or whatever, I would announce ‘Night everyone I’m off to bed!’ and would head to our room to read a book by torch light (so not to wake the kids). No-one gave me shit for leaving, others sometimes peel away too. And I always felt so happy when I was lying down resting my lovely sober head on the pillow.

5) I consciously appreciate the mornings. I relish waking with a clear head, and a brain that isn’t wasting time feeling guilty or dysfunctional.

And this year there will be some new changes.

6) I’ll have this amazing site to check in with!!!!! I’ll keep monitoring the Members Feed throughout the days and updating/interacting with people here, so I’ll feel very connected to the online recovery community which will be AWESOME.

7) I will put together a Sober First Aid Kit thanks to @suek’s brilliant post from before Christmas. It will set me up to be my own Best Friend for the weekend.

8) I am still doing my Mindfulness Course from this book (and blogging about it daily here) so will need to find even more time during each day to follow the programme. I am seriously considering setting my alarm for 6am each morning so I can get up and do it before anyone else emerges. There is a tree house at the back of the property, am thinking I might go up there with a cup of tea each morning at the crack of dawn and do my meditations. Ha ha look who I am becoming!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Come on, you’ve got to admit that does sound nice. 6am. A quiet property. Early morning birdsong. Mug of favourite tea. Soothing voice of Mark Williams guiding me through some mindfulness exercises. A calmness and sense of pride that I am not lying in bed hungover feeling like utter garbage as I have so many times in the past.

Who needs booze? Not me.

Now I’ve just got to make sure I don’t overindulge on sugar.

Love, Mrs D xxx

  1. Anonymous 9 years ago

    Thanks Mrs D. I’m deliberating whether to go sober or whether just to try to control the binges. When I read this blog though it made me remember how lonely being sober is. I’ve just come our of the end of a fairly sober period because of pregnancy etc and I’ve loved drinking again so that I’m not always the first person the leave a party and I’ve been back in the room with all my buddies. I’ve had some really fun times since being back on the booze. But I’m now balancing that with a bad binge and feeling really regretful today. I guess the question is – how many chances do I give myself before I HAVE to choose sobriety.

    • Xxxx 9 years ago

      Hmm… You sound like me… Minus the pregnancy… Lol I’m 44 perish the thought! I have been doing the deliberating thing too… Can I slow down to just a drink now and then… I have decided to cut it right out for a month… I’m on day 3….LOL not far in I know! Then see if I can have one once and awhile and not overindulge. If I can’t, I will know it is time to stop for good. That’s my plan, hope it works. 🙂

    • Author
      Mrs D 9 years ago

      Hi anonymous, occasionally it can feel lonely when I’m with boozers and the only person not drinking.. But that doesn’t make me sad. It just is what it is.. Me being a non-drinker amongst drinkers. I’m still infinitely happier, calmer and more proud of myself now I live alcohol free. I love being sober! It totally works for me. I’d hate for you to think I’m giving sobriety a bum rap! But I’m always honest and yes this weekend does present some challenges, but I’m up for them… And pleased to report I had a very lovely time and came home happy x

  2. ClearRainbow 9 years ago

    Loved this post
    I am so happy you are doing the Mindfulness program from Mark Williams book
    I found it so helpful and his voice is now like a warm old friend to me
    A few months after I finished the program I sent him an email telling him how much it meant to me
    He replied with a warm and lovely message and encouragement
    Sounds like you are making at least part of the Easter weekend a renewing retreat!

  3. Anonymous 9 years ago

    Hey Mrs D, 277 days sober for me. Yay me. Going to my first ‘sober’ wedding tomorrow and I am really excited. Calm in the fact that I will be in the moment and fully aware. And I get to drive a car load home. Thanks heaps:)

  4. Flossie 9 years ago

    Read your excellent book Lotta and loved your honesty, and strength. After a recent relapse I am not feeling particularly strong at the moment, as this has happened so often over the past 7-8 years I was beginning to give up on myself. I find it so hard to deal with being older, and having so many losses, it disheartens me.
    Am going through the grieving stage of knowing that I have to leave alcohol alone knowing that it is wrecking me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually but it seems to be the last thing that I can have that I have not lost. Can you relate in any way to what I have said? Wish you could send me some of your “will do”!

  5. SoberChef 9 years ago

    We are going to a sunrise service by Lake Chelan, something we did years ago with another family. Our children are grown now and some may have other arrangements with their partners. My husband and I are both alcohol free but the other family is not. That’s ok. I embrace and respect others choices, or as I have heard “staying in my own hula hoop!” . I’m looking forward to greeting the day and the post service tradition of gathering asparagus from the ditches alongside the apple orchards or even going to a friends restaurant for breakfast. May you all be blessed with serenity, fun and friendship this Sunday! SC

  6. Lily 9 years ago

    I absolutely love getting up at 6am. I’ve been doing it for some years now.I started doing it a few years ago when I went back to work in order to fit in some housework in the mornings, just an hour, so I didn’t have huge piles to do over the weekend so I could relax. In the summer months I get up @5am. I use this time for “me” time. No one asking me where anything is etc, just me & my digs & the amazing, stunning early sunshine. I cannot compare this truly peaceful way of starting my day to when I was boozing. I actually went through hell and I never want to go there again. I truly believe that I am worth more than that xxx

  7. Untipsyteacher 9 years ago

    Those are great tips!
    I love getting away for awhile by myself when there is a big bunch of people!
    I am only going to be with family who will not be drinking much.
    Sounds like lovely, crazy fun!
    Happy Easter!

  8. Switchedon 9 years ago

    Oh, all the best for that @Mrs-D – it is a bit tough when we are the only ones not drinking – I was going to write “odd ones out” but I think we are the ones who “get it” – not the “odd” ones. Anyway, I have this on a mini scale in my family about every couple of weeks when we get together. Hard to swim against the tide sometimes but so worth it overall. Have a lovely holiday with your lovely family. Enjoy the 6am peace and clear head. x

  9. elhall 9 years ago

    I’m only 24 days in and haven’t had to deal with a big group yet. My husband drinks (two or three nights a week), however, and the way I’ve dealt with that so far is occasionally crying and burying my head in a book. Probably less than half the nights he’s been drinking I feel generally okay with it. After being drinking buddies for 20 years it’s a huge change. Last night we admitted that we don’t know how to be around each other right now. I hope this gets better.

  10. pinky 9 years ago

    Thanks Mrs. D., I can totally relate. Seems every social event these days involves lots of alcohol. Yesterday I played golf with my cousin and her partner (both big drinkers), and she told me about her brother who is in deep trouble with booze. Like the really low rock bottom kind. All the while she was telling me this she was guzzling gin and tonics and getting drunker and drunker. Her partner got so smashed that every second word began with ‘f’, and my husband happily drank along with them. When I got home, I walked the dog, made a cup of tea, and wrote long hand for a while. It was a very peaceful, happy place, and I was actually able to be ‘in the moment’ as they say. I’m of two minds about it – on the one hand I feel sorry for people who get drunk all the time. On the other hand, like you, sometimes I take every drink they imbibe as a personal insult. What a strange and confusing journey this is. Glad you’re all here . . .

  11. soberlynn 9 years ago

    A tree house? A f**king tree house for early morning meditations??? That alone has to be worth the trip!!

    • morgan 9 years ago

      I would just fall out of it & a huge drama would be created. I am a total clutz in the mornings

  12. hangoverfree 9 years ago

    ‘There is no doubt in my mind that things needed to change for me’. I wrote almost the EXACT same thing in my blog post yesterday Mrs D!! ( Have a lovely time and I hear you on the sugar thing!! 🙂 xx

  13. Rosieoutlook 9 years ago

    Thanks Lotta. I know I over think the ‘What If’s………. before I head out to catch up with my darling family and friends. After 8 months I still am very conscious
    of being different from them with how I see my relationship with alcohol. It does suck I’m not a normie. But really I should of known from my family history, it was never going to be a long, lasting love affair. I am so glad I ended it when I did and now it’s a matter of getting comfortable within my own skin. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us all. It helps to picture someone else going through a scenario, before I do. So then I can recall your tips when I need them. Have a fab family break. Xx

  14. ylang-ylang 9 years ago

    Honestly I don’t know how so many of you do these huge family weekends/holidays. I look on in amazement. I have no real sense of family (apart from my little family of me, kids, dogs and cats) and would not even know where to start in navigating my way around this. Good luck and have fun. May the force be with you 🙂

  15. joseph wala 9 years ago

    Sorry, enjoy ur holiday, no much pressure for me here in nigeria, hardly celebrate ester even with the National holidays.

  16. Anonymous 9 years ago

    How can I subscribe to this blog

    • Anonymous 9 years ago

      Just found you, thank you so much as my journey has just begun and I know I’m going to need you.

  17. Tryingagain2505 9 years ago

    Sounds like bliss & a lot of fab strategy ideas, thank you

    Have an amazing holiday x

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