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.
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