HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all my friends over the pond! This post is in honour of you...
It's the party season. And parties are often the most tricky thing about getting sober.
I think it's especially hard for us because we, my friends, used to be the party people! That's what got many of us into this mess in the first place, isn't it? We were the dancers, the raconteurs, the life and soul, the last to leave....
....but we didn't do it alone, did we? We always had our friend - the booze - with us. Until our best buddy turned on us, defriended us on Facebook and made our lives hell.
Believe me, parties can and will be fun again. However, it's probably the area that takes the longest to deal with.
So, in the meantime, here's SoberMummy's Party Survival Guide:
1. Remember you do not have to go
I am, generally, big on honesty. However, in the early days of sobriety you do have to forgive yourself a few big fibs. It's obligatory.
And the great thing about the party season is that it's easy to say Oh gosh, so sorry! I've already got something on that night!
No-one will think you're a sad loser. They'll just assume you have invitations coming out of your nostrils.
And you do have something on.... an appointment with series six of Mad Men, a slice of chocolate cake as big as your head, and a hot bath with bubbles.
So what if you miss out? It's one party season in the long, happy, healthy life that you have to come.
2. You do not have to stay
Remember those days when leaving a party was a real chore?
You had to locate the host amongst the throng, find a taxi number, manage to type it into your phone while drunk, to sound sober to the receptionist so they wouldn't just hang up, and to look sober to the taxi driver so they wouldn't just bugger off etcetera...
NOT ANY MORE! You can drive!
Which means as soon as you're finding it too difficult you can just leave. Don't bother saying goodbye, as you'll just have to explain yourself. They'll all be drunk! No-one will notice, or remember. Just slip away, patting yourself on the back for a job well done.
3. Take time out
Sometimes you don't need to leave permanently; all you need is a bit of Time Out.
Go for a walk. Or just go sit in the loo for a bit (I believe you Americans call it The Bathroom, even when there's no bath in it).
4. Fake it
I think it makes it harder when you have to explain your not drinking, so why put yourself through it?
Just hang onto a glass that looks like it contains something alcoholic, and say nothing. No-one will notice, they're all drunk - except the sober ones, and they'll salute you!
(Note to self: we need a secret handshake!)
5. Deal with the envy
One of the problems with parties in the early days is that terrible urge to stab moderate drinkers in the eye with your fork (or is that just me?).
Yes, it is unfair that they can stand there quaffing away and you can't, but remember everyone has their shit to deal with.
For a start, they may well be battling the wine witch themselves and envying you your poise and serenity. If not, there'll be something they're dealing with, because that's life.
Maybe every time their husband asks them to pass the salt they're secretly thinking F**k off, you've ruined my life!
Maybe they have a child who's doing drugs, or a parent who no longer recognises them.
Nobody gets to our age without encountering something bad. You got alcohol addiction. It's not the worst thing that can happen - you can get over it!
6. Watch the drunkards
As the evening wears on, and you start getting a little bored, then see it as a nature programme:
Here we encounter the drunkard, in their natural habitat. Watch their mating ritual. Standing too close. Spraying their mate with saliva. Swaying on their feet and laughing too loudly....
Feeling smug isn't a nice quality. Nor is quietly sneering at people. But, hell, we have to get our kicks somewhere!
6. Know your enemy
The Wine Witch pulls out the big guns at parties, so be prepared. If you know what she's going to say you can deal with it. Here is the classic:
Hey, it's a party! Just have the one. You can quit again tomorrow!
We've been through this one many times, my friends. If you could 'just have one' you wouldn't be here, would you? You'd be reading a blog on 'perfect parenting for the mother of three' or 'quilting for beginners.'
Play the tape forward: arm yourself with visual images of where that 'just one drink' has got you in the past. It's never pretty.
If necessary, re-read my post on The Obstacle Course while you're on the loo (in 'the bathroom')
7. Pardon the turkey
I was reading about the tradition (established by Reagan in 1987) of the American President giving a pardon to the Thanksgiving turkey, who then gets to live out his/her life in turkey nirvana instead of being stuffed and served with cranberry and all the trimmings.
Another issue with parties is that they can give us flashbacks of the dark drinking days. You remember all your past misdemeanours, and often encounter those who you have wronged.
Well, now it's time to forgive your inner turkey. That was then, this is now: move on.
8. Focus on the morning
If things get tough, I always focus on the morning.
Just think how brilliant you are going to feel the day after Thanksgiving, while everyone else is in bed groaning, and filled with regrets. That is your payback time. Your reward. And you'll have earned it!
Please share this post as widely as you can for all the sober revellers out there, and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
Love SM x