The holidays present a heightened potential for emotional stress for those new to sobriety. You might find that you now have an entirely new batch of things to stress about in the upcoming season. How exactly do we get through the holidays sober? In some families such as mine, we found that we only really get along once we start drinking. I had to have a really heavy combination of alcohol and sedatives in order to feel fully comfortable being surrounded by my family during the holidays. Obviously, once I got sober, I developed some anxiety about how I was going to be able to cope. So, the first year, I skipped Christmas entirely and stayed away. I honestly wasn’t entirely sure if, away from my meetings and my sober supports, I would be able to turn away from that first drink or, if I was at my father’s house, that first hit of the joint. I remembered hearing all of the warnings of my friends who had gone home to visit and came back . . . straight into detox. I knew I did not want that to be me. Thus, I came to the decision to just avoid leaving my safe little bubble altogether. Mind you, there were a few crucial aspects of a strong sobriety that, if I hadn’t been slacking on, would have saved me from the ever-looming threat of relapse in those days. For example, I hadn’t started working steps. That was a big one. If I had, I would have had a much clearer perception as to why I felt so uncomfortable in my own skin and would have dealt with the guilt and shame from my past. Another was that I hadn’t started to seek out a higher power of my understanding (obviously, since I hadn’t started my steps). So all in all, I had no real immunity from that first drink or drug, and to be honest, staying home was one of the smartest moves I could have made at the time. If you are like me, you got sober far from home, away from your family, and away from the people that you used to run with. This can feel extremely lonely at times, and if I’m being honest, I can’t deny that I cried a little that Christmas when I stayed away. However, the only thing that got me through was the people that I’ve met through my fellowship. I attended four meetings that day. A local clubhouse holds an annual Alcathon that held meetings every hour on the hour through the holidays. So even though I wasn’t with my biological family, I chose to surround myself with another family. And this is where I found the strength to stay sober that holiday season. These were the people that understood me. We didn’t talk politics, we didn’t talk about my biological clock, and we definitely didn’t get drunk. These were people that had adopted me as one of their own, who didn’t judge me for being a violent, alcoholic-dope-fiend-crack-head in my past. They were people who had been the same, and who had grown above it. We talked about God, we talked about gratitude, having acceptance, and having serenity. We get through the holidays sober by surrounding ourselves with our program. We dive in deeper when we feel we are losing our footing. We feel grateful to be on this planet, to have a second chance at this life we may not feel we entirely deserve, and to be there with our families when we are ready. If you do go home for the holidays, here are some helpful tips to get you through the upcoming holidays sober. Don’t fall off on meeting attendance “because you’re busy.” Don’t stress about money!!! This is a killer for anyone alcoholic/addict or normal. You are alive and well!! Don’t let money make you forget that. Continue to keep your sponsor or sober supports updated on where you’re at. BE OF SERVICE TO OTHERS!!! If you’re feeling down and out this season, try to donate some of your time to a local homeless or animal shelter, there are so many things to be grateful for that we can sometimes take advantage of. Keep that Prayer going, baby! Feeling happy? Pray. Feeling sad? Pray. Feeling grateful? Pray. Feeling lonely? Pray. Pray, and give thanks, pray and give thanks. We’ve got a second chance, make sure you thank whatever higher power you have that you are blessed with that opportunity. Don’t pick up no matter what!! If things get sticky, CALL SOMEONE! Take advantage of that fantastic sober support network you’ve been building up around you. The holidays can be tough, but the true meaning of the holidays is to be grateful for the things that we have. We have sobriety this holiday season, we have the love of our fellowship around us, we have a new way of life, and we have everything in the world to look forward to. And when we are ready, and when they are ready if they aren’t yet, we have the love of our families and friends. We have the gift of being able to show them that this time, we want this. That, my friend, is the greatest gift we have, so use your gift to share love and light this holiday season, and I guarantee, you will stay sober and sane. Getting Help At Wayside House If you are a woman struggling with addiction, Wayside House can help. We offer a women-only program and provide a safe, supportive environment to recover in. We have outstanding treatments and therapies that are often only found in more expensive programs. We offer inpatient rehab with relapse prevention education, outpatient, and aftercare. Contact Wayside House at 800-655-0817 to learn more.