Merry Christmas! Tools I Use To Keep Myself Sober For Holidays (and every day too)

All our tomorrows depend on today, no matter the day, regardless of our circumstances. For me, as I see it from where I am in life, all God wants is for everyone to love each other. Trees and all the pageantry are fun, but holidays can also be an extra challenging time of year for people in recovery and/or treatment like myself. Here are some things that have helped me string some sober days together over the years now (yes, some even were, in fact, all in a row), and if they can help anyone, even one person, I feel they are worthy of sharing.

It’s God’s birthday NOT mine.

Coming to terms in middle age with the fact that the TLDR of my life story is far closer to a theater kid who got lost on the way to a play, was dropped from cast and threw a tantrum and less of being the star of a big budget Hollywood movie should keep me busy with humility for a long time. A real thespian, I say. Willam Shakespeare I became the star of every play, in my mind. I was acting like a rock star without the Billboard hits. sigh Thankfully, I live a more purposeful life now, and the best part is that all I did was develop conscious contact with God. I know better than to speak for God today. I feel that in the selfishness, arrogance, and throws of it that we all experience, some of us might have developed egos comparing to a God complex in an effort to mask our insecurities and fears at times (we didn’t even fool anyone but ourselves), but that hardly means God needs us to play toastmaster for him. God is God, his most high and the king of all, and if he wants anything, he will manage it himself. It’s his day, not your own, and this can apply to any holiday or time ever. I celebrate sobriety dates more than birthdays, and I know that’s what God wants for me.

That will only make it worse.

A real special man who has helped me very much has this very deep bass register voice and used to work in radio. In those wooly white knuckling moments, I told myself this in his voice and hung onto my hat. Simple but effective because it cuts through the noise for me.

Meeting onesself halfway.

Everyone has things that they have to do. My circumstances aren’t really any different in that regard as someone who can’t swim near water or is allergic to bees, but I make a big production of it because I’m a star, right? Ha! If I’m allergic to bees, I shouldn’t take up beekeeping. It’s easier said than done at times, but it’s not very productive or helpful to beat yourself up because If you are anything like me, then there’s a high probability that did that enough already. As they say, “no one enters recovery on a winning streak.” Looking back, it’s shameful and embarrassing, but the worst part of the shame and embarrassment wasn’t my circumstances; it was the shame of not even knowing, let alone being able to do anything about it, and that’s kind of where the biggest gain is. I feel like once we take that first step, we have a responsibility for the rest of our lives to not only abstain from whatever issue your program requires but to actively improve the underlying issues, and from there is where we find the measure of men. Not in the struggles of the past. I do not live in the struggles of the past but in the recovery of today. I wish it was as fast as hot pockets, but just as it took time to find ourselves in that rock bottom, it takes time to climb out. We deserve this if we put in the work, looking at where I am today. The work is absolutely worth it, and the gains are undeniable, even if small at first. Small victories are everything in the recovery game. I was questioning the existence of God in the form of an agnostic and didn’t know if there was a God or not, but today I absolutely know there is. God didn’t reveal himself by way of any visions or light shining down hallelujah music like on TV, but over time, through listening and doing what the men who came before me in all these meetings did, God eventually found his way into my heart, and I had a spiritual awakening. I have been able to get through some very serious hardships sober, and remembering that helps get me past the next one or, better yet, allows me the privilege to help someone in their own hardships because doing good means feeling good.

Always have your sponser/support systems phone numbers and use them.

A sponsor for us is just someone that helps us understand how to do sobriety better though step work. Nothing ambigiuous here it can help save the day. You call them before you make a mistake not after. Write them down even and carry in wallet in case lose phone. I call em sober sherpas cause they show us the way.

Do you want to be correct or sober?

People talk about Christmas arguments a lot on all sorts of topics. I know I have been through enough of those, and ultimately, recovery is about being sober and putting more good into the world than we have. Sobriety is only obtained through accountability, developing healthy spiritual fitness, and tools. I don’t mind so much nowadays when I am wrong on a subject or issue as I did before recovery. I think the getting help process in time helps some. Recovery is a challenging spiritual and cognitive-behavioral healing journey, and you risk gains with certain types of behaviors. Debating or acting like an expert in things that don’t even matter very much can lead to relapse, so therefore, it’s always more important to be sober than correct. There’s a condition people call “dry drunk,” and it basically means people can think themselves into a state of intoxication. Blowhard-y, loud, and overly emotional are traits of a “dry drunk” and someone who has never gotten help alike. Opposite of those are what we strive for in recovery; examples are humility, measurement, and stoicism. We work hard to learn to look for the similarities in others, not differences, and therein lies an inherant contridiction to debate and recovery because, in debate, it’s all about fault-finding, defensiveness, and one-upmanship. Defensiveness, fault-finding, and one-upmanship are the opposite of what recovery needs to be doing, in my opinion. It’s not conducive to the practice of spiritual principles in all our affairs. Talking too. If you are anywhere I was and still am while coming to God, some people don’t want to hear your thoughts on well… most things. They don’t wish ill, though generally they wish a consistent action of trying harder than anything you have ever done and changing before even giving you consideration, which you may or may not be worthy of, and that’s of little consequence to our program in the grand scheme because our responsibility begins and ends with ourselves. It’s the hardest journey of our lives but also the most meaningful, so it balances it out. Life is not based solely around fear for us anymore; it’s based on getting real and better because what we once tricked ourselves into thinking was relief was actually just a destructive thinking process and wasn’t even fun or real at all in reflection. A lot of us think we have to tell the world when the truth is that people will be able to make sobriety gains on their own without us needing to say anything. I get acknowledgement for progress I have made in some very surprising places once in a while, and it’s very encouraging to know another person in the same circumstances as mine tends to have been through the same experience. One of our main jobs in our stepwork is to remind ourselves of all our resentments and not create any more, and words can hurt really bad. It says, right on the step, not to beat yourself up. Saying the wrong thing can really set recovery back, so it’s wise to be on the quiet side and listen for opportunities to say uplifting and encouraging things. This would be acting with a spiritual consistency that is conducive to recovery gains. Prideful selfish thinking, while unfortunate, can seep in naturally at times without us noticing, and that is the thinking we are working to change within ourselves, not reinforce.

I’m not writing about what got me to recovery, and I don’t want to sound like a moralist or preachy. Frankly, messing up like I did is not something that anyone needs help with or anything special. We are all seeking the cure, not the ailments, together, so I’m only writing to myself with no detailed specifics, just a general idea and some tools of what works for me one day at a time and may aid those who still struggle. It’s only when we let go and let God that we are able to enjoy some hard-won sobriety gains, and I feel anyone can find a blessing in that if they try hard enough, and it’s our responsibility to never stop trying. In recovery, we learn and work to get out of the way, break the cycles of our own self-sabotage, and aspire to enjoy our successes.

Though we may not always feel like we deserve beautiful things, we do. Everyone does. It’s only through spiritual tools, hard work, and determination that they can be obtained and, more importantly, kept. Nothing was taken from me. I gave it away, and even if I didn’t, for my recovery sake, I have to treat it that way.

Today, while no paragon of virtue, I work to overcome cowardice by facing fears and doing the work of recovery so I may keep the beautiful things I have. Measure me by that. Merry Christmas to all. Each and every one of us, unironically.

Just for today. 🙌 -z