10 Tips For A Sane And Sober Summer
For some reason, summer always strikes me as a tough season to stay sober. Maybe because of the energy it brings, or the increased number of cook-outs and drinking that goes on. Granted, I didn’t need the summer excuse to get my drink on, but I’m certain I used it anyway. If you are new to sobriety, or if you’re like me and get a little nostalgic, here are 10 tips for a sane and sober summer.
Stay connected to other sober people.
Whether it’s via online chats/support groups or face-to-face meetings, you can never have too many sober people in your life to support your abstinence. These folks can help you if you get stuck or have questions about certain situations, and in some cases can even help you avoid the sticky ones. Trusting women isn’t easy at first, but in my experience, there’s nothing that has helped me more in my recovery than connections with other sober women.
If you feel like drinking or using, tell someone that can help you decide if that is the right choice for you right now. An old drinking buddy or drug dealer might not be the best person to call if you’re struggling and need someone to talk to. Try reaching out to a woman who seems to be enjoying sobriety and who may have something in her life that you want in yours.
Try to avoid old people, places, and things
You know those old haunts we used to frequent and inevitably find ourselves drunk and/or high before leaving? Even if your intentions are just to “pop in and say hello” or “let people know you’re sober now,” it might be wise to wait until you’ve had the opportunity to check your motives honestly. There were many times I put myself in unsafe situations to “test” myself when I first got sober. What I was trying to prove I don’t know, but in some cases, I barely made it out without a drink. NOT worth it. Even today, fourteen years sober, I don’t go into situations where there will be drinking unless I have a really good reason for it. If I don’t feel 100% confident, I’ll bring a sober friend or decline the invitation. Spoiler alert: We don’t ever have to do anything.
There is safety in numbers
If you absolutely have to attend a gathering you cannot avoid where people will be drinking and/or getting high, bring a SOBER friend. Make sure she is aware of the situation and completely comfortable being your wingwoman. Have a serious conversation before the event about what the plan of action will be if EITHER of you feels uncomfortable.
Have a plan
If you are going out, whether it be alone or with someone else, it’s always great to have a plan. What time will you get there? What will be happening when you arrive? I find that it’s usually a safe bet to arrive early when the party is just getting started. That way I can stay busy and help the host set up if needed. In my experience, showing up late-night has never been an awesome idea. People are often drunk and high…and sometimes even obnoxious. Although I have come to appreciate “Obnoxious, Inappropriate, Drunk _____” as a remember when, it was not helpful to be around this early on in my sobriety. What’s a realistic exit plan if things get weird or you don’t feel safe? Who can you lock yourself in the bathroom and call if need be? Have her on speed-dial.
Have a back-up plan
As we all know, things don’t always work out the way we plan. Sometimes we take a sober friend to a gathering so that we can feel safer and she decides she’s had enough sobriety. What now? Don’t panic. We are NOT responsible for other people’s recovery. It is always a terrific idea to have a back-up plan that involves getting you out of a sticky situation even if it means leaving alone.
Understand that you are not perfect.
Everything is a process; being sober is no different. There is no perfect way to get and stay sober, and mistakes will be made. We will say and do the wrong things. We will disappoint people. Try to understand that these mistakes are all part of the process. If we can learn from them, they’re never wasted. They enable us to make better choices in the future and find out what doesn’t work! Life is all about lessons and it is so important that we learn to forgive ourselves. Mistakes don’t have to define us. It’s what we DO with those mistakes that makes us who we are.
Be kind to you
I wish I could tattoo this on my forehead backwards so that I could be reminded every time I look in the mirror. I don’t know why this is such a difficult one, but I’ll admit to struggling with it a lot over the years. I am my own worst critic, and quite often am much too busy focusing on the negative to give myself credit for the positive. We are all works in progress, and deserve respect for that. Let’s try to be as forgiving of ourselves as we are of others. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in motherland; where at the end of the day there’s no time for Mommy. Let’s make time. Whether it’s meditation, yoga, reading, or weekly coffee dates with a girlfriend, let’s make it happen. I always feel so energized and ready for whatever Life has in store when I’m taking care of me. Take care of you!
Take everything a day at a time
There’s no accelerated course in sobriety or life. For each day sober, we get one day of sobriety. Those days add up, but it still comes down to one day. Alcoholism and addiction don’t care how long I’ve been sober. An old friend of mine used to say that the longer we’re away from a drink or a drug the closer we are to one. I guess this means that time away from the pain can cause us to forget how bad it was, and maybe start to think that it’s okay to “just have one.” I do my best to stay in today and to connect with women that are still suffering. This both supports others and reminds me that I’m eligible for that pain again too if I pick up a drink or drug.
Think the drink or drug through
Whenever I start to think about “just having one,” I think it through to the end of that scenario. First of all, there have been very few times that I’ve had one of anything. Secondly, what’s the point of having just one? I’ll be honest, I see NO fun in that AT ALL. I want to get shit-faced…FAST, and having a sophisticated glass of fill in the blank is not something that interests me. So, let’s imagine I get drunk today. THEN WHAT? Then it’s only a matter of time until I’m putting my kids to bed early so that I can do it again. Sooner or later, it will turn into a daily event, and I’ll be lucky if I don’t pass out drunk while my toddler is playing with fill in the blank. They’ll take my kids away, and I’ll pretend to be devastated while I drink myself into a stupor; until my husband finally has enough and divorces me. Maybe I’ll stay in a shelter for a while before getting thrown out for starting a fist fight with another woman..and then, who knows. By the time I’ve thought the drink through to the end, I’d much rather be dealing with my sober life; no matter how miserable the situation might be.
Oh, and HAVE FUN!! Sobriety is not a death sentence for fun! Not only do I enjoy myself more now that I’m sober, but I actually remember the shit I do! What a concept!!
It is my sincere hope that you will let us be of service to you in any way we can. We have plenty of recovery reading, humorous posts, and stories about all kinds of things to keep your mind busy. We have forums and a Facebook page where you should always feel at home and able to lean on us. We love you just as you are, and we will never judge you. Being a sober mommy is not easy, but you never have to do it alone!!
Let’s have an amazing sober summer!!!
Julie Maida lives in Massachusetts with her amazing husband and three children. She has been in abstinence-based recovery since May 2, 2000.
Julie is eternally grateful for all the gifts of recovery and fiercely determined to advocate for, and connect ALL women with the appropriate support and resources necessary to achieve their personal recovery goals. She writes about mothering with mental illness at juliemaida.me.