I think if there is a period of time that I dreaded most about being sober it was Christmas.
The thought of having no fizz or wine at the parties and the drinks receptions was appalling.
The idea of putting up the tree and wrapping presents without taking sips (yeah right!) of my red wine was unappealing to say the least. Christmas dinner without the dull head from the night before being eased by the pre noon Champange and no boozy gravy, well, I just couldn’t imagine how anyone could enjoy it?
So far I have had three Christmas get togethers. Now, I don’t think I would have even entertained the idea of going along had I not had quite a lot of sober time under my belt. If I had been in very early sobriety I am certain I would have faked illness and stayed home.
I sort of knew that I wouldn’t drink. I had kind of planned this great big announcement type thing in my head where I would finally ‘out’ my sobriety for once and for all! Not the blogging and sober buddies etc but just the fact that my non drinking is now a permanent thing…quite the turnaround for this party girl.
Turned out that at no time did everyone, yes I thought everyone would be focused on my partying, really notice or care that I wasn’t drinking. Here and there I had the odd comment about what was in my glass but not enough to warrant me making a big old deal of it. Some of the colleagues I am closer to of course asked me all about it and I was fairly honest in saying that it’s not for me anymore, too old, too greedy, too tired of it all etc etc. They were very chilled about it.
So, explanations aside, I put on my best party frock and huge smile and went along with the partying. The anticipation wasn’t the same but then neither was the rising panic about when someone would get the first drinks going! I did enjoy myself as I was in good company most of the time and we ate, oh boy did we eat? So, it was treats all the way. I felt lucky to have had the luxury of a new party dress, spent money on make up treats and my hair. I tried to focus on the fact that I was lucky to be taken somewhere lovely, not having to cook or clean up and generally having a break from the routine. I find when I take the focus off what I can’t have and put it on what I have, then I don’t feel so sorry for myself. I am also lucky because I don’t have horrible strong, pulling-me-to-the-wine-shop cravings anymore. I did slope off to bed much earlier than usual but I had put in a good day of chatting and socialising and it turned out that no one was too bothered about that either!
When I am out, I do ask for a drink that resembles alcohol in a way and I get it in a grown up glass. I find that after a couple of sips that I and those I am with, forget that I am not drinking and this makes for a more relaxing vibe for all concerned. I used to have my grown up drink at home in the those first few months, at wine time, but I don’t have to do that anymore, it just doesn’t occur to me.
I don’t think about the routine of drinking at home anymore, ever. This is so fantastic because that’s where most of my drinking took place. It’s gone, that obsession and I am grateful that I can be so relaxed at home without it, more than when I was guzzling wine. That was not relaxing at all. What bullshit I fed myself! I was so stressed out all of the time because of it and now it’s not an option, things are so much calmer.
So, when we did the tree and wrapped the presents (not all done yet!) I honestly didn’t think about booze. Thought that would be way harder than it was.
I couldn’t give two hoots about not having wine with Christmas dinner either and this was the girl who would order case loads this time of year! I will bring something nice to drink, we are going to my family who don’t know it’s a permanent thing but I suspect they will when I don’t have wine on Christmas Day! I am so excited about not having to watch what I drink on Christmas Eve. We are all going to the cinema and then having supper out. Oh the freedom of not having to answer the call of wine anymore. I really was a fucking slave to when/where/how I was going to legitimately get my next fill of wine and now I don’t have that hanging over me anymore, it feels like a new lease of life.
Christmas Day will be hangover free for the first time in years. My kids always get up super early and I will not have a throbbing head a panic rising through me that I haven’t done it all in time.
I am not saying that it isn’t hard at this time of year. I am exhausted from all the people time, smiling, socialising and sure, having wine would have given me something else to focus on. But that would be all it would do. It wouldn’t make the uninteresting people more exciting, it wouldn’t give me more energy, it wouldn’t make the parties more fun. I have been standing back observing how fun happens when I am not at the centre of it. Because I was there whether you wanted me or not, livening things up, oh how I am cringing now. I thought I was responsible for everybody’s fun. And I have found that it’s not about drunken loud people telling their stories, trying to be funny, acting inappropriately. It’s fun when you get a bunch of nice people in a nice atmosphere on a good day with the right mood. Sometimes there’s something missing and it’s not all that. Other times it’s just the wrong mix and it’s not happening and that’s all. All that is different for me is that I am not drinking my way through and around what is actually happening at these parties, has always been happening at these social occasions. I am not drunkenly blissfully unaware of other people’s feelings, the mood, the highs and the lows. It feels very grown up, not always in an exciting, super fun way but just like someone has finally got me to open my eyes properly to what’s always been there. Oh and other people just don’t drink the way that I did? Even when it’s free! With that frantic sense of panic…like there is something or somewhere I was trying to reach, urgently.
It is like I have been hiding inside my own party for one all this time and that’s not reality, this is. It’s different and it’s going to take a bit of getting used to. But that’s not a reason to run away from it, because neither is it full of regrets, shame, guilt, pain, embarrassment or any of those other awful feelings that seemed to be my constant companion for the last few years.
So, I am getting there. Bit by bit unravelling a new kind of Christmas where I am present, more connected with everyone, definitely less judgemental, more organised, less grumpy, not hung over…that’s the best best best!
And in January nobody drinks so we won’t be the odd ones out for a bit – Hallelujah!