This is one of those posts: the ones that are trying to encourage newly sober people to believe that they CAN manage without alcohol, which I read, early in my sobriety, and thought – ” Yes, but ….”
This post is honest. I’m not going to write that its easy going to a work Christmas party and drinking Alcohol free beer. I’m not going to say that I felt as relaxed, as much part of the festivities, that I felt ‘included’ in the camaraderie as much as I used to. I am going to say that it is a) possible b) rewarding and c) I feel fab this morning !
So my advice… plan. Plan, PLAN. Assuming you cant avoid a party / gathering (which to be honest, in very early sobriety is almost certainly a good idea)… how to survive sober…
For many non drinkers this is ridiculous. They will OFTEN not drink at a party / gathering , for a variety of reasons; or they will have one drink, or two maybe, but always stop / drive home etc. This advice applies to people like me who NEVER missed a chance to have a drink – and never ever stopped at one … The very idea of going to my works Christmas Bash and NOT drinking would have seemed as stupid as it was impossible… but this year I am 280 days sober and this is just another first… ( the last Christmas I was not drinking , in 2013, I didn’t attend the party)
- Where is the party ? It helps me if I can visualize it; I don’t know why, but just knowing where I am going to be I find useful
- who is going ? allies? friends ? previous drinking buddies? people you may have been drunk in front of last year ? The list of attendees is very important
- do any of them know you are sober ?
- what ‘kind’ of do is it ? sit down ? buffet, drinks only ? This will influence how you ‘play’ the evening … how long do you HAVE to stay ?
Are you intending to say ‘ I don’t drink’ or are you planning on making an excuse? If the latter, practice in front of the mirror, ” No wine for me thanks, I’ll just have a coke” or whatever. Practice. I know this seems like a ridiculous overreaction – and it may be – but it helps when standing there and someone offering you a cold glass of wine – and the temptation is just to take it… and the habits of a lifetime are hard to shake off….
5. What ARE you going to drink. Think about this one carefully, think of a first choice and a back up, just in case your first option is not available. Again, it helps when you are put on the spot.
6. Plan an escape route for if it all gets too much. This can be a strategic trip to the ladies for 5 mins respite, or making excuses and leaving early. Either (or both) are FINE.
7. I suggest intending to leave early. When you are sober, especially newly sober, drunk people are not fun, and being in that environment its all too easy to say ‘sod it’
Remember what’s important. Being sober is important to YOU. No one else. YOU matter and You must act in your own best interests (listen to me, I sound like I know what I’m talking about) – because none else can or will.
So last night I went to our work Christmas Party. I am one of three partners in a medical practice in the UK, so effectively I am the boss. Not attending was not an option. No one knew I am now sober, Its not a topic for work. We have about 110 employees and had booked a section of a local pub for a drinks/ canapes evening. As partners we put £2,000 behind the bar. I knew from a previous quick attendance at a leaving do, that the pub serves Bitburger AF (0%) beer. Good: ok to drink, and easy to hide. No questions. As a partner I’m generally ‘buying’ / getting others drinks, so can stay incognito with respect to what I order for myself. I volunteered to work the late surgery (6-8pm) so that my employees could go to the party when it started, arrived at 8.20. Got my AF beer, circulated, assisted my partner in distributing gifts / awards to staff. Got another AF beer. Circulated some more, at 22.30 I decided I’d had enough, made my excuses (genuine – puppy at home alone, and had offered to do the early Saturday clinic , again to spare another having to) and left. Sober. Phew.
And guess what, It was ok. Not fab, not easy, not, as I said above, as jolly as some others – BUT this morning I went for a walk with K and my dogs at 8 am, came to work. Clear head. Feeling good.