9 ways to get through a holiday party, S O B E R.

This will be the 10th Holiday Season that I have been sober. I vividly remember the Holiday Season prior to getting sober; it was emotionally, physically and spiritually debilitating. And even so, it took me another three months to start my sobriety journey.

The nine suggestions below are ones that I still follow today. The 90 minutes sometimes turns in to 3 hours simply because of the company I am now keeping. The other thing that has changed is that nearly everyone I know, knows I don’t drink. And if someone does ask, there isn’t an emotional charge or physical response for me. I just simply say “I don’t drink.”

I really love the holidays; the crisp weather, the lights, the festive mood {of most people}. I feel very connected to the Divine this time of year; like I am closer to it. I am grateful that I am fully present for all the feels… and this year, there are many.

I wish you peace, love and light. Whether you are 1 day or 1000 days sober, I hope that something on this list resonates and makes your party that much more enjoyable.

1. Arrive on time.  Other people are likely to not be hammered and out of their mind right when the party starts.

2. Get a {non-alcoholic} drink.  Early on in sobriety, I ordered club soda, cranberry and lime. If you don't like cranberry juice, order soda water and lime.  If you like diet coke, get one in a glass with ice. The longer you are sober, you won't care if people ask why you aren't drinking.  If you are newly sober, it's hard to navigate and you are probably still trudging through the shame swamp... just make it easier.

3. Find a spot that feels comfortable.  Maybe it is by the fire or in the kitchen or by the TV. Claim it. Get comfortable and do some people watching.

4. Have a plan to exit.  My "rule" is 90 minutes.  That usually gives me enough time to have meaningful conversations with the people I love and a few surface conversations before people start doing *drunk* things. My first few years in sobriety, however, my rule was 90 minutes or the first time a guy said or did something inappropriate. 30 minutes was the earliest I ever left but that was because I didn't arrive on time. (see #1).

5. Go with a friend or plan to meet someone there that will be supportive. This doesn't mean that they aren't drinking, necessarily. It does mean, however, that they aren't going to get hammered and dessert you.

6. Ask questions.  People love to talk about themselves.  If you don't feel like talking, be prepared to ask open ended questions.

*What are you doing for the holidays?

* What is your new job like?

* Where was the last place you and the family went on vacation?

7. Begin your goodbyes BEFORE the 90 minutes. The more people have to drink, the more "huggy" they like to get.  This is Totally Great... but it can lengthen the time you are there.

8. Re-evaluate and de-brief. After each party, you may have to adjust the time frame.  Decide what worked and what didn't. You also may make different decisions dependent on who will be at the party and what type of party it's going to be. None of this is written in stone. Be flexible. Be compassionate.

9. Just because you are invited, doesn't mean you have to go.  No, really.  It's ok to RSVP, no.  I used to LOVE parties.  I would run up my credit card buying all the "right" clothes/shoes/accessories. Then I would have a couple of glasses of wine before the party... I would be drunk and unaware of any conversations at about the 90 minute mark (see? I told you) and then I would wake up the next morning looking at my phone to see who I called/texted and wonder where my car was.  UGH. 

Today, I go to one or two parties... I am an introvert, for the most part, and  I get drained by superficial conversation and drama.  So, I pick and choose where I go and I love every minute that I CHOSE to be some place; because CHOICE is way better than OBLIGATION.

Happy Holidays! 

You are loved, seen and heard.

Doing something new is rarely easy... but just think how far you will have come in one year.