Wondering how to get through the holidays without drinking?
Jean McCarthy, author of the Unpickled Holiday Survival Guide and host of The Bubble Hour Podcast, is here to help!
The holidays are both a wonderful time of year as well as a time that can trip up women who have stopped drinking, from those in early sobriety to those that might have quit months (or years) earlier.
A lot of us might get to November and December and think, I’ve been doing this not drinking thing for a while now. I’ve got this.
But the holidays are a unique combination of back-to-back drinking events + occasions, family dynamics, memories of previous years drinking, physically being surrounded by alcohol and powerful emotional and social triggers.
The holiday season can undermine your recovery if you’re not prepared to navigate it in a way that supports your sobriety.
In this episode, Jean and I share all the tips and tricks to having a wonderful holiday season without drinking.
We talk about:
How to socialize sober + reduce stress and anxiety around attending holiday gatherings
Specific strategies for navigating Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas + New Year’s Eve without alcohol
- Practical advice on attending + hosting holiday parties, traveling + staying with family or having family members stay with you
- What you can share with family + friends so they can make not drinking easier for you during the holidays
- Why annual traditions and the specific expectations around what events happen during the holiday season, who hosts, what is served, how long people are together, who travels + for how long, can lead to resentments + challenges for your sobriety
- Why it’s important to identify your expectations around the holidays + evaluate how they might impact you physically, mentally and emotionally
- How to say no, modify traditions + set boundaries without feeling like you’re high maintenance
- The fun stuff: why to set up a seasonal or holiday ‘bucket list’ with ideas of how to make the most of this special time that’s not centered around alcohol
- Ideas for new traditions that can make the season more joyful, memorable + fulfilling
About Jean McCarthy
Jean McCarthy is the host of the Bubble Hour Podcast, an award winning blogger + recovery advocate. Jean is an author of two books.
Her book, The Unpickled Holiday Survival Guide – staying alcohol free during the festive season is a wonderful resource about sobriety for people in recovery and for their families.
Her collection of poetry, The Ember Ever There – Poems on change, grief, growth, recovery and rediscovery was published in early 2020.
I interviewed Jean for this podcast in episode nine about her poetry and her story.
Jean started her blog, Unpickled in 2011, and has continued to chronicle her alcohol free lifestyle. Since her first day of sobriety, thousands of readers have credited Unpickled as a motivating factor in their decision to quit drinking.
Links and resources mentioned
Connect with Jean Mccarthy
Link to buy Jean’s Holiday Survival Guide and The Ember Ever There books: www.jeanmccarthy.ca/books
Connect with Casey McGuire Davidson
Get support during the holiday season from women who are on the alcohol-free path with the guide on How to find and join my Favorite Private Sober Facebook groups
Listen to more podcast episodes to drink less + live more.
Connect with Casey
Take a screenshot of your favorite episode, post it on your Instagram and tag me @caseymdavidson and tell me your biggest takeaway!
Want to read the full transcript of this podcast episode? Scroll down on this page.
READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THIS PODCAST INTERVIEW
How To Get Through The Holidays Without Drinking with Jean McCarthy
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SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Jean McCarthy
Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.
In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.
Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a bus, how to sit with your emotions, when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.
I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.
Hi there. My guest today is Jean McCarthy and we’re going to talk about survival strategies for the holiday season.
You might know Jean from The Bubble Hour podcast. She’s been the host for years and years and is an award-winning blogger and podcaster who is best known as a voice for recovery advocacy. Jean is also an author, her collection of poetry, The Ember Ever: their poems on change, grief, growth, recovery and rediscovery came out earlier in 2020. And I actually interviewed Jean for this podcast in episode 9 about her poetry and her story. Her book, The Unpickled Holiday Survival Guide. Staying alcohol-free during the festive season is a wonderful resource about sobriety for people in recovery and for their families. And Jean also started her blog Unpickled in 2011 and has continued to chronicle her alcohol-free lifestyle. Since her first day of sobriety, thousands of readers have credited Unpickled as a motivating factor in their decision to quit drinking. So, Jean, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it.
Well, thanks for having me. And I’m really glad to talk about this. I think it’s so important this time of year really trips up a lot of people and I think it can kind of blindside them because you know, even people that might have quit drinking in January, by the time they get to the end of the year, they think, oh, I’ve been doing this for almost a year. I’ve got this. And then you hit this cluster of gatherings and office parties. And then it’s your end. And sometimes this time of year is financially stressful. And it can really blindside people that there’s just so much happening at this time of year. And that can undermine the recovery.
Absolutely. I mean, I remember I quit drinking in mid-February. And so that was quite a bit of time, almost 10 months before Christmas and nine months for Thanksgiving if I’m doing the math, right. And, you know, I thought I was good. I had done a ton of work. I’d been on vacation to Europe not drinking, I’d done my birthday. I think it was my 40th or my 41st sober. I mean, I had seen all my friends, I felt great. And yet, on Christmas Eve, my husband said Hey, would you mind if I open a bottle of wine with your mom, a bottle of red wine, which was my jam. And we sat around Christmas dinner with the bottle of wine open and I swear to God, I’ve never seen anyone drink wine that fucking slowly in mind. It was killing me. It was absolutely killing me. Like, I was just, it ruined my dinner. And it wasn’t that I was going to grab it and drink it. It was that, it was my favorite thing right in front of me. And I had not had to sit around with that, you know, so slowly. I don’t keep wine in my house to this day. And I have parties and people come and go with it. But we don’t usually sit around with three adults with it just sitting in front of us. So, I thought I was good. And the next night, my husband’s like, we can open another bottle of wine. I was like nope, you’re done. No more.
And he was like, oh, okay, I guess we’re done. I was like, so there’s a lot of things going on in that store. You know, it’s not just that you were being presented with something that felt like temptation, but also a little bit of you having to be uncomfortable, so someone else can enjoy the occasion. But there’s also a feeling of, Hey, this is my special event as well. I’ve been waiting all year for this special time of year. And now I have to spend it watching you guys do something that makes me uncomfortable. And then what happens all the resentments start, and boy are addictive voice in our head loves nothing better than a good resentment that is the thin edge of the wedge.
It just starts the whole meaning go, and then they want to you know, it was a battle between two people, which I would have no trouble taking down in like zero seconds flat, right? I mean, but they, oh my god, like we went to play board games afterwards. And it was like just sitting there. Nobody was drinking it, but it’s right in front of me. And then I went to put my daughter to bed. And I took a good hour to do it. I was texting my sober bestie. And I was like, I’m gonna fucking kill them if I come down, and they haven’t finished that. I mean, and it was still there. I literally was like, y’all have to finish this. But yeah, you’re right. It was everything. It was everything. And I was still so glad I guess it was Christmas Eve to wake up on Christmas morning. Not hung over remembering everything, feeling the joy. But I was like, yeah, we’re not doing that again.
And there’s such a disconnect. Even the fact that your husband said the next day, oh, we’re gonna do that again. I thought, okay, you’re like, No, you nearly killed me with that. They have no idea. And that’s not their fault. Because there’s that disconnect. And that’s something I wrote about in this book, too, I included in every chapter on every topic, section for friends and family to kind of say, Hey, here’s something you need to know about either how you’re affecting the sober person in your life with your behavior, which they may not tell you. And also, you can do to be a supportive person. And, you know, it’s not their fault that they have no idea. If they’re normies, then they don’t know what it’s like to be so obsessed with a bottle of open alcohol sitting on the counter, because it doesn’t feel that way to them. And if you’ve said, Oh, it’s fine. That’s what they’ve heard, oh, it’s fine. They might not speak that hidden language.
Casey McGuire Davidson 07:32
If you haven’t drank in 10 months, how would they know that somehow this time, right, was right, because I’ve been to dinner parties. And I’d had people we had a white elephant party where everybody came over, and I would normally drink, and I didn’t. And that somehow didn’t bother me. So, you’re right. You don’t know what the event is that’s going to be triggering to you. And what was to me might be different for someone and how you feel today might be different than how you felt yesterday, or it might have bothered you last time, but you didn’t say anything. And you promised yourself next time you’re going to say something.
So, when that family member says Oh, Casey’s fine, if we have a glass of wine, she doesn’t mind because they’re thinking based on past behavior. And then this time to just to be able to speak up and say, Actually, I’m not fine. It’s not okay with me. Because the stronger we get in our recovery, the more we learn about ourselves, and we have to be willing to speak up. I found that really hard.
When I first got sober, I was in the camp, the very much the people pleaser and saying, nobody has to do anything differently. This is all on me. Life will be exactly the same except I won’t be drinking. Well guess what? Part of the reason I was drinking was because of the way my household was running. You know, I was just doing too much. And I wasn’t really saying what I wanted. And I think it would have been much better to say right from the beginning. Okay, let’s try this with no alcohol in the house. Let’s try this with not having me host me bartend whatever. And the more I healed myself in recovery, the more I did learn, to advocate and to speak up. So, I think it’s important for family members to realize that just because you were okay with it, or they thought you were okay with it, or you lied and said you were okay with it.
Last week or last month, maybe you’re not actually okay with it this time they really need to, or if you are white knuckling to be Yeah. And it took everything out of you that it could have done right. yet. And also, I hear from a lot of people like people who are going on vacation and they’re like, well, it’s my husband’s vacation too. It’s my mom’s vacation, too. You know, you’re like it’s their Christmas Eve too, I don’t want to put a damper on it. They will resent me. You know, they will be mad at me or have a terrible time if they don’t drink and the truth is, you know what? You are in early sobriety or anytime you’re the one doing all the hard work. And this is difficult and addictive. And if you have sober momentum, it’s so precious, you’re allowed to make them be a little bit put out like it’s okay. If they don’t get everything that they want in life, we’re so used to doing everything for other people.
Yeah. And I also think sometimes we get a little bit addicted to Well, there’s the people pleasing, but then there’s also the drama. And there’s the idea of like, if I’m not people pleasing, then I’m causing drama, you know, I’m causing people to not let me and the truth is, most people don’t mind if you set a healthy boundary, especially if you’re not demanding that they accommodate you in every way. So, it’s okay to say, all right, I understand that it’s a champagne toast at midnight is really important to my friends and family, at this party, now, you don’t have to demand they not do it. You can say, Hey, guys, I’m leaving at 11. See you later. Have a wonderful time, right? That’s a healthy boundary. And you don’t have to do it in a way that is explosive. And it’s like, I’m leaving, if you don’t do this my way, it’s okay to say, you can have what matters to you and I can have what matters to me. And you know what, what you’re going to give up is that you’re going to leave early, if you’re if that’s what you choose to do, you’re, you’re not going to be part of that. But you’re also not going to be part of the discomfort of it either. And honestly, I would rather be in my PJs. At that last part of the night anyway. But there’s middle ground. And that’s what I think people really need to start reimagining is what the middle ground looks like. Because when it comes to the holiday season, we sort of have these glorified, you know, TV commercial ideas of how everything should be so sparkling and perfect. And this is how you celebrate certain holidays. These are the elements of a perfect looking Thanksgiving. These are the elements of a fun and perfect New Year’s Eve party. And we don’t actually stop to ask ourselves what we want or how else we could do it. We sometimes just follow those traditions unquestioningly. put tons of pressure on ourselves to make it look fabulous and be fabulous, and then lose our self in the process.
Casey McGuire Davidson 12:38
If you’re listening to this episode and have been trying to take a break from drinking, but keep starting and stopping and starting again, I want to invite you to take a look at my on demand coaching course, The Sobriety Starter Kit. The Sobriety Starter Kit is an online self study, sober coaching course that will help you quit drinking and build a life you love without alcohol without white knuckling it or hating the process. The course includes the exact step-by-step coaching framework I work through with my private coaching clients, but at a much more affordable price than one-on-one coaching. And The Sobriety Starter Kit is ready, waiting and available to support you anytime you need it, when it fits into your schedule. You don’t need to work your life around group meetings or classes at a specific day or time. This course is not a 30 day challenge, or a one day at a time approach. Instead, it’s a step-by-step formula for changing your relationship with alcohol. The course will help you turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life. You will sleep better and have more energy, you’ll look better and feel better, you’ll have more patience and less anxiety. And with my approach you won’t feel deprived or isolated in the process. So if you’re interested in learning more about all the details, please go to www.sobrietystarterkit.com. You can start at any time and I would love to see you in the course.
I love that. So, tell me, you know, when should people start thinking about the holidays and our sobriety or how to successfully stay alcohol free without just being totally miserable about it.
So, I you know if you’re on the doorstep of the of your parents’ house about to ring the doorbell, you know, at least that’s one time to be thinking about it. But I say back right up before the invitations even come, I mean we’re recording this in October, now’s a great time to be thinking about it. And I think the thing we have to start with is our expectations. So just take some time to yourself and think about what are my unspoken expectations of the holidays? Do I have some kind of glorified ideal in mind that I’m trying to live up to? And what price is that going to cost me emotionally and mentally and physically to uphold those. So, one thing we’ve learned that is so helpful in recovery is that resentments that we hold can really mess with our mind and resentment is where addiction loves to flourish. You know those little mental anger and discomfort that is like mental cancer really, like it’s what addiction grabs onto and anything that we can do to sort of identify and lessen resentments helps. And what we learn is that resentments are usually the product of expectations. So, what we learn to do is to not just address our resentments, but to start to identify our expectations, because the expectation is a resentment waiting to happen. So, the reason I talk about this now is because traditions are basically an expectation. And we have, and we place them on ourselves, and we place them on others. And we feel that, you know, this is how my family has celebrated this holiday for 30 years, and I’m going to come along and ruin it with my sobriety, well, then you’re expecting a certain outcome that may not be true, and to say to your family, Hey, I know we always do things this way. I know me. And so maybe if a tradition is that your family dinner starts at 4:00 p.m. And it starts with drinks, and it goes till midnight, and there’s alcohol the whole time, and you’re thinking there’s no way I can make it through that that is not going to work for me. Um, here’s a chance to talk to family members and say, you know, that way, we always do things. I don’t feel like that’s going to work for me this year. So how can we make some adjustments to make it better? Could we start it at three? And have, you know, a coffee our first and maybe you just go for that part of it? Or could we make it alcohol free? You know, some families that would be fine. And some families No way. So maybe you can carve out some time within it that it would be alcohol free. Or you could say, you know, I can handle the first couple hours. It’s only, you know, after dinner, when things get sloppy that it starts to get uncomfortable with me. Fine planned to leave at that point. But really, look at the traditions and understand that you’re setting yourself up for expectations and try to see what you can adjust to be better for you.
Casey McGuire Davidson 16:58
Yeah. And I think that we feel like we’re required to do things and we’re really not and suggesting new things. is okay, like instead of starting at 4 and having it be a booze fest.
I love starting at 3 or 2 and going for a hike, going snowshoeing, you know, there’s snowshoeing in the winter around here, going for a sleigh ride, like, try something different that isn’t necessarily centered around alcohol or sledding. And just saying that you’re doing it because it would be super fun for the kids. It will be super fun for the kids and great for adults who’ve never been slow showing if they’re able or whatever, and you’re actually improving it. And then you got exercise. You’ve got fresh air, you come home, you have dinner, and it’s over. And it’s awesome.
Exactly, yeah. And there’s so many things like that decorating cookies. Last year, my sister and I made her come snowshoeing in the woods with me. And we made a labyrinth in the snow, a walking Labyrinth, the meditation, Labyrinth, and it was so fun. And that’s something we would have never done together in the past. So, there’s a lot of ways that you can rethink things and introduce something new. And here’s another thing, especially in early recovery, if you are in those baby stages of your recovery, it’s really fragile. It’s really tender. Traveling can be difficult. socializing can be difficult. You know what? You have my permission; you can stay home. Yeah, you don’t have to go. If you had caught a flu at the last moment, you wouldn’t have gone, right? I mean, you say I have to go, I can’t not go. Well, no, it’s that you’re afraid of the consequences of not going. But just say you’ve got the flu, a little white lie is okay, if it’s going to protect something as important as your sobriety. Just consider the idea of not going and see how that feels. And give yourself that break. Because even though you might not want to miss out on it, or you might really worry about what people are going to think or how it’s going to be I can tell you, it’s okay. I’ve got three adult children that are married some years, they don’t all make it to Christmas, some years. They all do. And it’s wonderful. Regardless, obviously, my preference is always to have them always together all the time, like most mothers, but if someone says, Hey, we have to go to the other side of the family this year, that’s great. I’m happy for them that they have other places to be. And if they said we all got food poisoning, and we can’t come. Well, what am I going to do? Right? So, I think it’s totally fair to remember that the sun will still rise tomorrow, if you stay.
Casey McGuire Davidson 19:48
Well, and not only that, I mean, I actually did that I stopped going home for Thanksgiving to my mom’s right around the time that I stopped drinking the same year. It was a big deal in my mind because cause her mother always hosted Thanksgiving that was actually the big holiday. My Nana and Nana is now the Nana of my kids. And it was this big thing that Nana host Thanksgiving, everybody flies in. And we live in Seattle and my husband works at a school so he could not leave before end of day Wednesday had to be back for Monday, we were taking red eyes with kids to DC. And it was just super stressful, super expensive. And I drank there, right. That was my, that was my habit. That’s what I did. And I just, you know, I was terrified to say it, but I was like, Hey, Mom, I think we’re gonna stay in Seattle this year. And I didn’t necessarily say it was because I was sober, not drinking. And I think that was part of it. But it was also that I didn’t love it. It was hard. For me it was a stress. And you know, in sobriety, if you don’t want to do something, or you feel like you’re going to be triggered to drink because of something, rethink what that thing is, and what ended up happening, which, you know, my mom was gracious about it. And I’m sure she would have loved having everyone in our house. But you know, also we had two kids and it was far away and whatever, and our family adjusted. So, my mom now goes to my sister’s for Thanksgiving, and comes to our house for Christmas for over a week.
And I love Christmas in our home. My mom’s a widow, that’s another reason I felt bad not going right. She lives alone. It’s the least I can do, you know, give her this one thing. But it ended up being a new tradition and my family, my little nuclear family. Now, I actually don’t even like to cook for Thanksgiving, like it’s just not something I love. So, we now my husband’s like, I don’t care. But I want Turkey. And not only that, I want leftover turkey like and so I somehow found a restaurant on the waterfront in Seattle where you get a whole turkey dinner, they literally bring you a turkey and carve it at your table, it’s got a view of the water with all the sides. And when you’re done, they give you the turkey sliced up in a paper bag to take home. And we are home in our pajamas by 5:00 p.m. watching football and it is heaven.
Right? And you, would you ever have considered doing that in the past?
No, how amazing. And when you talk about when you used to go to your mom’s for Thanksgiving, you would drink there. And to me that says that you drink to cope. So, the traveling was stressful and being there was stressful. And much as I’m sure you love your mom, you know, it’s just it’s a hectic thing, especially for families that are leaving a business behind or have kids to pack up. Like, really, for me as a grandma, I say, Hey, guys, it’s a lot easier for me to come to you than it is for you. To me, like let me drop in, rather than other people shuffling their families around from place to place. So, it’s really, it’s so great.
And you are at home, you have some stuff like I had my morning workouts I had the things that I did, I had all my tea I had, you know my morning routine, you know my room to retreat to, it’s a lot easier than when you’re bunking in room with your two year old next to you to be like, okay, I’ve had enough. So, having people if you can travel to your safe space has its own challenges. But for me, it was so much easier and just opting out of going places or I know people who go home, but get a hotel room, so they can leave and then retreat to a safe place in the evenings and leave early if they need to.
That is a wonderful tip. And it’s something I recommend in this book, if you are visiting family and your family is even if you all get along really well if there’s going to be alcohol on site, and there’s not an easy way for you to retreat to stay off site somewhere in a hotel or Airbnb or in your RV. If you have one, whatever you can do to give yourself your own space. And that might be a little bit hard for people to accept to if it’s something new. But I think we just have to be mindful of you know, we need to treat ourselves with the same amount of consideration and kindness as we want to extend to our families. And I think that’s really important. As I mentioned in the book, there’s a section in each chapter for friends and families. And this is something that has turned out to be a real help because people hand this book to their loved ones and say, you know, read this, because then, they don’t have to have that conversation or when gal wrote that she was reading the book and when she got to the friends and family section, she would read it aloud to her husband and they would use it as a discussion starter. And it’s a chance where maybe she didn’t feel quite comfortable saying to her husband, I need you to do this for me. But to read, hey, this book suggests this, what do you think of this? I think that would help. Let’s talk about it. So, it’s kind of a non-threatening way to have some conversation starters. And you may find that all of the suggestions that I have for friends and family aren’t exactly what you need as a person in recovery. But it’s still a great discussion starter to say, hey, this suggests this, this isn’t what I think I would need. But let’s, let’s make this a little bit.
Casey McGuire Davidson 25:28
Well, and just in your book, you give concrete practical ideas of different ways to think about it. And I think that’s so important to have someone else spur that idea. Like, I remember talking to a client, and she’s like, why haven’t asked my husband not to drink on vacation? And I was like, why not? And she was like, Well, I don’t, I don’t know. Like, I just haven’t. And I was like, Well, why don’t you say maybe it’ll be fun. Maybe we could try something without drinking. Here’s why I think it would be great for us, including, like, not having the kids see alcohol around every night and us getting up earlier. And so, then she texted me, it was like, Oh, my God, I asked him, and he said, Yes. And I’m over the moon. And I was like, that’s wonderful. Awesome.
Casey McGuire Davidson 26:08
You know? Yeah.
Yeah. Because, you know, we think it’s so important that, because when you’ve experienced addiction, you know, it was like, so important to you. You couldn’t imagine going on vacation without it. But a lot of people could take it or leave it. Yeah. And especially if it’s to the benefit of some of my love. So, asking the question, or having the discussion, finding ways around, it is great. I love that she did that. And I think that is so important. And this is really what preparing for the holiday season comes down to is thinking about things and talking about things. So, there’s a lot of assumptions. You know, it’s your turn to host this year, we just assume that all 30 of us are coming to your house for dinner. Every year.
Yeah, every almost every year, or you know, we’re just assuming that you’re going to bring the mashed potatoes for 40 people or so let’s again, assumptions, expectations, resentments. Those are not good for us as people in recovery. Not good for anyone, but particularly have consequences for people that are trying to support themselves in suffering.
Casey McGuire Davidson 27:17
Well, and especially if you can get creative and suggest a win-win or suggest a new idea, right? So, I know a lot of people are uncomfortable. You know, maybe they don’t want their family to know why they’ve stopped drinking, or they don’t want to make a big deal with it. Or they’re just saying they’re on a health kick. So, they don’t want to be like, well, it shouldn’t be an issue if I’m just on a health kick. But you can still suggest a different setup than you have had previously. You can suggest brunch instead of dinner. If you’re seeing extended family you can you know, there are lots of excuses. Oh, gosh, the traffic’s really bad. I don’t want to drive at night, or I’m staying in a hotel because my husband’s having trouble sleeping like the white lies. No, exactly.
I think that’s so true. And I think we just have to, if we’re going to be people pleasers, great, let’s people please ourselves, let’s give ourselves the same effort of people pleasing everyone to someone else. Because guess what you’re a person to you matter just as much as all those other people that you’re trying to please. That was news to me for sure. And that’s a new way to look at it. So yeah, we talked about some of those fun things we can do you know that hot chocolate and snowman making contest or having some more family-friendly stuff. But I think there’s some really good socializing strategies that I have relied on over the years that are just tried and true ways of getting through the events that you can’t get out of the office, Christmas party, the neighborhood Christmas party, or New Year’s Eve party or Thanksgiving, whatever, you know, ugly sweater party, whatever you can’t get out of.
And for me, you know those really important tips are first of all, show up with your own nonalcoholic drink of choice. You don’t have to carry in four cases of Lacroix, you’ve only going to be there a couple hours. So put a couple cans in your purse. And or keep a couple in your vehicle if you need to run out and get more but show up with your drink of choice. And if you do this every time you go to visit friends or every time you get together with your friends, you know what the people who love you start to do, they start to have it on hand for you. Or if you leave some behind, they’re probably not going to drink it. They’ll have it next time you’re there. But we can train the people we love as to what is great to have on hand for us. But they probably if you’re new to recovery and you haven’t been talking about it a whole lot or if people don’t know that you’re not drinking, well, they’re not necessarily going to plan ahead, and most people are notorious for having horrible nonalcoholic options.
You know, there’s, they basically have what’s there for the children. So, there’s water bottles, yeah, juice boxes. And so if you want to make your own, you know, lovely nonalcoholic mojito is metal cement and some soda and a little bit of sugar and put that in a pretty bottle and put your name on it with some tape bring that along or bring a few cans of something that you like.
Casey McGuire Davidson 30:28
I love nonalcoholic mojitos. That’s like my favorite restaurant. Everyone really loves me good. And there’s really awesome stuff that isn’t sparkling apple cider, which I’m like, Yeah, like there is I love this company called groovy their websites get groovy and they have nonalcoholic Prosecco. It’s 100% Prosecco, zero percent alcohol. It comes in these little Tiffany blue kind of bottles. It’s sparkly. It is my really go-to and that there’s lots of lovely choices.
One thing I think there’s talking about is when we’re talking about nonalcoholic drinks, or mocktails. Sometimes that is a point of disagreement among people in recovery. There’s lots of people who say No way man, like nonalcoholic drinks are for nonalcoholic. I find like I would never drink a nonalcoholic wine because wine was my thing. And I would really worry about it triggering me, but I seem to be able to have one or two nonalcoholic beers. And, you know, I’m just not that interested in them. So, they don’t make me want to have more. But then I think well, why I am drinking something I’m not interested in.
Well, I actually love nonalcoholic beer. And when I went to Amsterdam, I had a ton of knock nonalcoholic beer and people who even drink alcohol has it just when they’re like, Oh, yeah, I don’t feel like the buzz or I’m getting up early. So, I am totally, it is up to you. In my mind. I see the alcohol as the problem, not the flavor or the can. I mean, I’ve been drinking nonalcoholic beer for four years now. And I don’t I don’t have any problem with it. Same for Prosecco. I’m like there’s zero alcohol in it. How can it be a problem? I haven’t felt I just feel like it’s like better tasting Apple sparkling stuff. But I know everyone is different. I mean, some people don’t think you should drink kombucha, and I’m not a kombucha girl. But I know tons of sober women who drink it. So, there are options completely. that are you know, not even referencing alcohol. But, you know, in my mind, if you are not consuming alcohol, and you’re not really yeah,
I think it’s more of a trigger warning. That’s what I think I think it’s more know that it some things might trigger you. And that’s what you have to watch out for. And so, if you have if you if someone gives you a case of nonalcoholic beer, let’s say and you try one, and you think, Oh, this makes me want real beer, well, then, okay, don’t have that. And the key is, don’t keep that case of nonalcoholic beer in your house either. Get it out of there.
I agree. But if it’s not triggering for you, then I think we all have a certain amount of agency in our recovery, right? I mean, we can define for ourselves how we want it to be and, and, but I always think that’s a, that’s a good point for people to be aware of. And especially if you’re going to your first big party, and you’re taking something along that you’ve never had before, just to know like, Hey, if you’re going to be around alcohol, or alcohol is going to be around you. And you’re drinking this nonalcoholic thing that looks exactly like what everyone else is drinking, and you’re putting yourself in a position where there could be a fine line, if you’re feeling really triggered to pick up that glass instead of this glass. So that’s just something I like to caution people about. And again, so plan ahead, bring your own drinks. Have your own transportation. That’s another really helpful tip. For the first Gosh, I don’t even know even still, after almost a decade, my husband and I if we go somewhere, there’s a discussion first of like, Hey, I’m probably gonna want to leave before you do. So, do you want to take two vehicles? Do you want to take a cab home? I’ll come back and get you in my PJs when you’re ready to leave, but I’m leaving when I want to leave. And that’s really important. So sometimes when people know you don’t drink, there’s pressure on you to be the designated driver. Oh, great. We’re all going out. And you’re the only Sober.
Oh, that is a great suggestion. I haven’t thought about that. Designated drivers. Yeah.
Don’t get yourself in that position. You lovingly tell your friends Oh, yes, I have another thing I have to get to. So, I can’t be your designated driver. I have to bring my own vehicle. I’ll meet you there and I might have to leave early. This is my favorite tip. So, when you arrive, you have in one hand you have your beverage of choice that’s for you. In your other hand, you have some lovely hostess gift for the hostess. Just a nice little gift bag. And as you hand it to the host or hostess, you say thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here. This is lovely. By the way, I have something else I have to get to, I might have to slip out. So, if I don’t get a chance to say goodbye, just so you know, I might have to slip out. I’ll just leave quietly if I have to. Thank you so much for having me. So now you can write if you stay till the end. And they’re like, Hey, did you have something else to go to? You can say, Oh, yeah, it’s fine, I think got cancelled. But if you think this is getting this out, all I can handle and it’s been an hour, you can leave. You don’t have to say a word to anyone. The host already knows. Oh, gosh, she said she had to go somewhere.
Casey McGuire Davidson 35:43
Well, and I never thought about that, while you’re giving the hostess gift, you know, just planting the seed there. So, it’s not rude. Like that’s genius. And also, I love to plan like a sober retreat for yourself after leaving being like, yep, I’m going to this party, I’ll get to talk to people. And when I get home, I’m going to watch this movie, I’m going to get a big cup of cocoa I’m going to grab get my bed with my Essential Oil Diffuser, whatever it is. They don’t need to know that it’s a date with yourself, right? They don’t need to know that it’s a date with the bubble bath on the end. It really is that make a date with yourself or make a leave something special for yourself to go home to that’s the other thing. You don’t want to leave the party. And then the you know, want while walking into your house and then having a pity party
Casey McGuire Davidson 36:37
when it can be watching the holiday right with Kirk Cameron Diaz. Yeah, you know, that it wins it like that is a good, that is a good. So, treat.
Yeah, save some fun thing on Netflix, that’s just for you to watch, have a little treat in your fridge ready to go, whether it’s some ice cream, or you know something that’s an extra serving of that lovely mojito that you made for yourself nonalcoholic mojito, or some new slippers that you’re going to put on just a some lovely thing to go home and say, Good job, Casey, good job team. Now it’s now here’s a little treat for me.
Casey McGuire Davidson 37:16
Well, and the other thing I thought of I thought of two things, as you were saying that one, when you walk in, if you don’t know the host that well, they’re usually so busy greeting a ton of people, they won’t have a ton of time to be like, what is that thing or What a bummer. Like usually they’re just like they see you then they’re greeting the next person ever. Again, it’s just so perfect. That is perfect. And with a good friend, I actually think coming early and leaving early is really nice. I had someone tell me the other day that they went with a bunch of girlfriends. In the beginning, it was really nice, because it was like three of them. And they got to talk, and it wasn’t a big deal not to be drinking. But the ones eight of them were there. And they had six bottles of wine around a small table and they were getting you know, talking really loudly and getting really over the top. It wasn’t as fun. So, going early, if you’re close to the people, and they you know, you actually want to spend time with them can also be good. You can help them get ready and put out the food and have a little chat and then leave.
Yes. And I think announcing that you’re leaving draws attention to it. And then it makes you kind of nervous. And then people say Where are you going? Or Oh, don’t go we’re just getting started. You want to avoid all of that. You don’t want to get into the Oh, I totally thing one thing I’ll you know, if you just like just slip out. It’s the best feeling in the world. It truly is. To me it feels like the end of the graduate, you know, when they’re driving away on the bus. I was at an awards night industry awards night thing, you know, a real shisha event. And I’ve kind of realized partway into it. I can leave like I’ve already done I had to make an appearance. I had to say hi to the mayor, you know that kind of thing. And when dinner was over, and then there was this long thing afterwards, I realized I don’t need to be here for any of this. So, I just said to my table mates, oh, medical Potter, my nose. And then I laughed, and I just got the giggles in my car. I felt like I was skipping school. It was so great. Yeah. Yeah, it was wonderful. So, think about that. See, that’s something most of us wouldn’t really do. Most of us when we’re drinking, we’re the last ones to leave. And we regret it the next day. So, it’s a really great experience. I mean, on top of being a great way to protect your sobriety. It’s kind of a fun thing to do. So, I definitely recommend that.
Yeah. And you feel great the next morning, like you probably aren’t quite so sluggish the entire holiday season. You’re actually getting up, you’re still exercising, maybe you’re hiking. Maybe you’re doing more active things on Saturday morning. Could cooking breakfast or pancakes or getting your coffee by yourself, Like, there are a lot of joys that are not centered around the late night at the party, and you probably have just not experienced them.
And even just the freedom from Oh, what did I say? Oh, I’m remembering that conversation. I wonder how I came across, you know, all of that not worrying about that anymore is a really wonderful feeling to you remember, every exchange you feel good about things? If you are awkward. Oh, well, you were just awkward, you know, least you weren’t drunken, awkward. Yeah. So yet, it is really a great feeling to be in charge of how you’re interacting with people. And I think for a lot of us, a lot of the reason why a lot of us drink is because we feel a little socially awkward, or have some social anxiety, and think that it takes the edge off. But it’s kind of makes things worse, not better.
Casey McGuire Davidson 40:54
Yeah, and I love what you’re saying about you don’t have to go to everything. Because there are some people that you absolutely love, and you want to go to, and they’re super close to your family or your kids will have a great time. Or sometimes it’s family, right? And you feel like, you don’t have to do everything right, you probably should see them. But that does not mean doing everything you previously done. But there are also a lot of invites that people may or may not care if you actually come like you’re on the giant list, you could just as easily be like, Oh, so sorry, I have a conflict, or my spouse has a conflict, or we’re gonna we already have time, you know, plans to go somewhere. And so that’s legitimate, too.
Yeah, I think just the knee jerk, acceptance of invitations, is a really easy way to get overloaded. Feeling like you need to say yes to everything thing you’re invited to. So, it’s really, for the first time in our lives, I think, for a lot of us is recovery is an invitation to ask ourselves, what do I really want? How do I really feel about this? And to honor that, that’s something new, and it’s really important.
Casey McGuire Davidson 42:09
Yeah, absolutely. So, you mentioned briefly a big work event that you had to go to, but what about those office holiday parties?
Well, they’re tricky, right? They’re tricky, because you, depending on your profession, you there’s some obligation to show up, you know, there’s some important things that need to get done. And for the people that are hosting them, I think there’s some there’s a reason why they’re being held in the first place. So, I think it’s really important when it comes to work stuff is just to take a pause and understand, why is this event being held? Why is my work doing this? Is it to socialize with clients? Is it to drum up new business? Is it to say thank you to our trade suppliers? What’s the purpose of this event? And rather than just showing up and feeling like you have to show up and represent and be fun or act fun, appear fun to actually be able to say, what’s the purpose of this and then meet that purpose. So if the purpose is this is to network and increase your business, if you’re in sales, for example, great, go early, talk to everyone you need to talk to, you know, zoom the room, and then leave.
You don’t need to stay?
No, the purpose of it. If the purpose is FaceTime with, you know, higher ups in the company, or lower down in the company or peers, I mean, there’s usually a reason why that event is being held. And so, figure that out, go and do what your purpose is in doing it, and then leave. But again, it’s going through the motions of, oh, there’s a staff party, alcohol is free, I’m going to show up and drink as much as I can and eat as much as I can. Because it’s all free. that mindset we have to let go of might have been okay in college, but we’re adults, okay, don’t need to do that. We just need to really figure out what’s expected of me, what’s the purpose of this, go do it and leave. And if the expectation is, you know what, listen, you are a person in this company who needs to be at this event and stay till the very end, then that’s something that’s going to need some work some planning for.
And I think you have to just build a lot of supports into your evening. So, you need to make sure that you’re going to have things that you can eat and drink at that event that will suit you. So, if there’s a way to make sure that those things will be on hand, if not keep them in your car, so that you can slip out and bring in what you need. My husband has actually at events made the bartender go and run across the street to the 711 and pick up nonalcoholic drinks because they didn’t have any there. There are ways to sort of protect yourself and make sure that you have what you need to get through the evening, there’s a great acronym H.A.L.T., hungry, angry, lonely and tired.
So, to me, all of these happen by the end of a party, right? I’m hungry, and there’s nothing but potato chips or something to eat. I’m angry because I didn’t want to be there in the first place. And now everybody’s drunk. And I’m not and I feel weird, lonely, because I feel like an outsider and I’m tired. I just want to go home. Well, those are the big triggers. And they, I can just, I can almost feel it in my body, even as I talk about it. So how can you head those things off, right? Have a bag of granola or something in your purse so that if there’s nothing for you to eat, when you’re hungry, when your blood sugar starts to dip, you can deal with that independent of whether or not the buffet has been set out yet not angry? What can you do about that? Can you go in the bathroom and text a buddy? Can you get in an online group and check in with your group? Can you flip through your pictures on your phone and look at some happy images that make you feel better? Can you go and book yourself a massage for tomorrow through some online booking system? Like what can you do in the moment? Yeah, to address the discomfort that you’re feeling. So, I really think that we have to be proactive for ourselves. But again, this would be a planning ahead of what’s expected of you. How long do you need to be there? And what do you need to have on you when you go to make sure you’re going to make it through that?
Yeah, I mean, it sounds counterintuitive, but I’m always like, eat before you go to a party, or even a business dinner or whatever. Because hunger is a huge trigger, it just lowers your defenses, you want what’s in front of you. And also, like, a lot of times food is not served right away. So, like, if you have a string cheese in your purse, if you have a granola bar, all that kind of stuff. It helps a lot. Like, I know that when I’m hungry, like people are like, Whoa, watch out my mom’s hungry. Do and then it is fine to tell people like I’m on antibiotics, I have to meet a friend super early. I’m not feeling 100%. So, I’m going to duck out early. And like grab the waiter if it’s one of those big you know, I know the school auctions where there’s wine, just report and report. And they come by every two or three minutes and say, Oh, do you want red or white? If they see you without one, one grabs a drink. Doesn’t matter if it’s a Diet Coke, but like you can usually get cranberry and soda and lime. But also tell the waiter like, Hey, I’m not drinking tonight. They don’t know if you’re pregnant. They don’t know what the deal is and say so please don’t bring me any wine. And if you could keep this stream coming,
I mean, there Come 10 bucks if you need to your sobriety is worth it. Right?
Yeah, you would have spent that on alcohol when you were drinking, like, make your right like wait. I mean that the porters in the busboys, they typically don’t get I shouldn’t say busboys bussing staff, they typically don’t get tipped by people, it’s usually the servers that do so you know, make somebody your wingman, basically, you know, pull them aside, give them a tip, ask them to keep your water glass filled, I find usually at events, there’s pitchers of water around on the tables. So as soon as I get there, if there are glasses out, I will give my wine glass to the waiter. And so, you can take this away, or I’ll fill it up with water. And I will just keep it filled so that if there’s something in it, they never tried to pour anything else in it. I still like the look of holding a stem glass, especially when I’m dressed up. Oh, so I’ll make my water into my wine glass. But if that’s triggering to even just have a wine glass in your hand, or if you feel like it’s confusing, and it might get filled up by mistake with wine, then use a water glass and just keep it in your hand and you’re in charge of keeping that thing full.
Well in ginger ale, like most people won’t question what ginger ale is in your glass very much. And most people don’t care what’s in your glass.
Right? It’s just that there’s someone there’s a host, part of their duty as the host is to make sure everyone gets enough to eat and enough to drink. So, if they see an empty glass, they’re going to try to fill it. And if you’re able to say Oh, don’t worry about me, I brought my own it’s here or I’m really great. I’m having a wonderful time. Like give them the grace of saying you’re doing a good job.
Casey McGuire Davidson 49:31
Yeah. And I know a lot of people feel triggered or put on the spot when hosts immediately come in the door and they say, oh, what can I get you to drink? There’s wine, there’s beer. Here’s the thing. All they want to do is checking list as you’re good so they can move on to the next person. Like there. It’s a shorthand because this society that means I want you here. You’re welcome. I want you to have fun. It they really as long as they feel like you’re doing Good, whatever it is.
Here’s my other tip that got me through the early days. And that is practice before you leave home in front of a mirror, practice saying, No, thank you. I’m great. Thank you so much, I brought my own can I put it in the fridge? This sounds like something we shouldn’t need to rehearse. But I promise you, if you say it a few times, when you’re alone, your brain instead of trying to come up with it out of thin air in the awkwardness of the moment, it’ll be pulling from the recall, you’ll build a little bit of muscle memory, it’ll come out just a little bit easier out of your mouth in the moment. And it gives you a little less of that deer in the headlights look of like, Ah, what do I say now. So, practice some of those things, I actually have a list of things in the book of nice ways to say no, thank you, or I can’t come, and I need to leave. And to just actually, just read them aloud, save them a few times, they’ll be easier for your brain to recall, in the moment when you need them.
I love that you have that. I mean, that is such a script that is helpful that nobody really thinks of how to do it. And a lot of us are not used to bowing out of stuff. Because we feel bad or we feel like we can be there I mean, including PTA stuff. Just be like, oh my gosh, sounds wonderful. I know you’re going to find the right person that to help you with this. I can’t right now my schedule is completely full. But you know, thank you for thinking of me. That’s it.
Yeah, you have to say, and we feel like as grown adults, we should be able to come up with simple. Yes and No. in the moment, we think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves to navigate these moments easily. But the truth is, it’s hard. It’s awkward. And as cheesy as it may feel when you’re by yourself and you’re practicing, saying those simple things. It’s really worthwhile. I highly recommend it. It helped me so much. And then when you do say it, it’s like yeah, this little internal like, yes, I did it. I got through that.
Casey McGuire Davidson 52:13
No, it’s awesome. The other thing that I think is really important, because it’s so easy to feel like you’re missing out, or you’re not going to all the things that typically would bring you joy or would mark the season is to create a seasonal bucket list. So, what? Like, literally, jot down what are all the things, the fun things, the new things that you could do, that you haven’t done before or that aren’t centered around drinking or that you used to do as a kid, like driving around to see people’s holiday lights, like in the paper, there’s always that list of the amazing holiday lights or going snowshoeing, going hiking, going sledding with kids, cutting down your own Christmas tree versus just going to a store or you know, doing the elf on the shelf. I know it’s stupid, but like, if any parents know The Elf on the Shelf, like, that’s something that’s pretty fun. And you can get more creative with it when you’re not drinking all the time.
So, you know, there are different ways to bring joy that that you might be really excited about that you don’t realize, because you’re going to have a little more time in your life than you used to. This is to me was one of the most surprising and wonderful aspects of recovery that I hadn’t anticipated. A lot of the reason I drank was because I was so stressed all the time. Part of the reason I was so stressed was because I was over scheduling myself. Part of the reason I was over scheduling myself was because I felt like I had to hustle for my worthiness. When I stopped drinking, just as you said all of a sudden, I felt better in the morning. So, I had a little extra time. I was able to drive places at night where I couldn’t before because I was you know, home doing my evening routine. But, you know, by eight or nine o’clock at night, I definitely was not picking up the car keys anymore. I shouldn’t have been driving. So, I just thinking, hey, it’s 10:00 p.m. Walmart still open. I’m gonna go get some groceries so that I don’t have to do that tomorrow. I mean, just you have energy, you feel good, and you have a lot more freedom because you’re not managing this elephant of a problem of addiction.
So, I think that’s a really great thing too. Is that, yeah, you have more time to try some of these other things you have time to feel so you might have thought I can’t do Elf on a shelf. I don’t have time for that. Oh, guess what? You’re probably I mean, if you don’t, some people don’t feel good for the first little while detoxing is uncomfortable and all that. Yeah, there’s a good chance you might have a little fresh energy to put towards things.
Casey McGuire Davidson 54:59
Yeah, and it’s experiment. I wanted to like, just trying new things and seeing if it’s fun. I remember driving across the bridge from where I live to Seattle, Washington at like seven in the morning on a Saturday morning. And all these people were out there jogging and biking. And I was like, oh my god, do these people do this every weekend like, it was an entire universe of people that I knew nothing about. I mean, maybe I did back in the day, but I was just like, look at them, I should go to a park early.
Again, you’re like, Oh, I never thought of doing that. Hmm, something new. That’s a point, you know, something else I want to talk about when we’re talking about the holidays. And I think this is an important part of this, too, is that not everybody celebrates the same religious holidays. And not, not everybody celebrates any religious holidays. And when we were talking about resentment, I did talk to someone who said a big piece of her resentment is that the Christmas season is so much about Christmas, that she felt like her faith was completely just disregarded and minimalized. And people just assumed you know, that your Christmas shopping, people just assume, I mean, it’s everywhere. And she said that she had to really work hard to keep her resentments in check, because she felt forgotten. And not important during this time. And I think that that is something that is so important to remember too, is that that falls into the category of assumptions, we’re assuming that everybody is having the same stresses, you know, we’re assuming that everybody is over scheduled and overstressed out but some people are alone. And that’s hard.
Some people are, like I said, feeling minimized because they don’t celebrate certain holidays that others do, or that I don’t know, even people that my son is a vegan. And here in Canada, this weekend is his Thanksgiving weekend. And just to make sure I checked in with him and said, Okay, so let’s talk about the menu, I want to make sure there’s enough for you to eat, and I want to make sure that you’re okay with what else we’re going to be serving like a thought that is comfortable for you. And yeah, those are, those are things to I mean, how many people have shown up at events, and realize, oh, there’s nothing on this menu that I can eat, you know, and they end up having to have carrots and dip for their dinner because they weren’t considered. So, it’s almost a parallel experience to recovery to so there’s just so many ways that so many levels to think
and what do you suggest about that? Because I hear you on feeling lonely, feeling excluded, sometimes people have gone through divorce, and it’s their first holiday without their kids or loss where their parents aren’t around for the first time or the strange children like whatever it is, there are a million reasons why the holidays, aren’t you missing out on big parties or happy memories, but are also you feeling this deep sense of, of loss and loneliness and grief and, and sort of otherness which can be huge triggers? What do you have suggestions for that? Or what’s your best advice?
Well, I definitely think that if you’re going through something like that, planning ahead is huge. Talking to a therapist or a counselor to try to head off and what your expectations are. So, are you expecting that it’s going to be the way it always was? except you’re somehow supposed to get through without crying? Or are you expecting this is going to be terrible? I mean, is that the only option you’re giving yourself? This is going to be terrible. I’m going to feel awful. I mean, I think some people feel like they are being disrespectful to the loved one that they’re missing. If they don’t cry at Christmas, right? Like because you’re not showing that you missed them. So, wait, how can how else can we honor this person in a way that is lovely and happy and joyful? And maybe there might be a few tears, but could it also be beautiful? So again, planning ahead, talking to someone who is outside of the situation who can help you navigate it, and identify what some of your beliefs are around it.
That might be what you’re bumping up against and looking at new ways to handle it. So definitely, I don’t think, and we talk again, hungry, angry, lonely, tired. If everyone else is out at a Christmas dinner and you’re going to be sitting home alone. Are you going to be hungry, angry, lonely and tired? You know, sitting home alone? Well, your children are at your expenses for Christmas dinner and you’re not okay, well wait a minute, that’s not going to be good for you. What can you do? Do Can you go volunteer somewhere so that you’re at least not alone? Can you join someone else’s event so that they can bring you in under their wing? Can you do have a sobriety support group that you can connect with on that day? Do you know someone else going through something similar? So, rethink that. And this is a chance to make some new traditions and build in the supports that you need. But it’s not going to be easy. I mean, it just and it doesn’t need to be easy. And it can still be hard, and it can still be good. You can still come through that feeling like Okay, that was hard. Maybe it wasn’t how I would prefer it to be. But I did something good with that. And I feel okay, when it’s over. That’s, that’s a good place to start.
Well, and there are two things I thought of when you were saying it’s okay, if it’s hard, like one is I love the quote, we can do hard things. Like, I just am like, yeah, you can do hard things. The second is, you know what, being lonely being excluded if that’s how you feel, feeling a sense of loss, yes, that’s hard. So is over drinking and regret and having that self-loathing and that crappy talk and being hungover, that is hard to. And if you are sober and going through a hard thing, you get to process that, and you get to be proud of yourself for doing a hard thing. And you get to have some sense of pride and peace, even if it’s difficult, and you’re moving forward with something that’s really important. So, it’s not that not drinking is hard. And drinking is easy. You get to choose your heart and one is moving, you fall in love with life. Yeah,
I love that that is so true. I also think it’s important to remember that it’s just a day, it’s a random day. And you can have a wonderful event on a different day. That’s also a random day. So, for example, my sister has been divorced for many years, and she has created an event with her kids that’s earlier December, and they’re all her children are all grown, and several are married and have children of their own. Anyway, they all come to her house, they all get a new pair of pajamas. And everybody puts on pajamas and has a big dinner and a gift exchange. And it’s usually earlier mid-December, and that is their Christmas. And she says What difference does it make if it’s December 14, or the 25th. And then it always frees up the 25th for them to go to the dad’s side of the family. And that is really, really important to him. And he’s really grateful that they never have to negotiate that. I mean, it was just something that she did early on, because she said it really wasn’t that big of a deal to her. As long as she had something with her kids, as long as she had time for them to have that special event. She didn’t care whether or not it was that day. So I think that is a great mindset as well to have like, what is it that’s really important to you, the day on the calendar, or the event that you’re holding, or the exchange of love and gifts and, and food together? like really? What’s your goal there. So, it is a little bit of thinking outside the box and planning ahead and loosening up a little bit, you know, prioritize what really matters.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:03:27
When you want to reduce, you know, anger, resentment, self-pity, overwhelm drama, tension, you just do and it’s not for the other person. You know, I know with divorced families, it can be difficult. There’s a lot of baggage there. And people not always being kind and understanding to each other. And I think when you opt out of some of that you feel like, but they don’t deserve it. It’s not for them, yes for yet. You don’t need that in your life. So, it’s not that you’re letting them win because there is a lot of baggage and history and you likely were treated unfairly, but you’re doing it for yourself. So, you’re finding something where you can drop the rope, I think of it like a tug of war that you’re never going to win, they’re just going to pull back harder. And the only way you win is by dropping the rope but you’re finding what you need and want, and you just are you’re not butting heads all the time for your own enjoyment.
I really love the idea of the drama triangle. That’s a really useful tool for me. So, with the drama triangle, it’s when we take a situation, Christmas dinner, and we insert it into the middle of a triangle which has a victim and a villain and a hero. So, if something is just reality, it’s just a reality but when it’s a problem when it’s drama is when you create into that situation. This person did that to me. And now I have to Xyz or this person did that to us. Now I’m going to do this to fix it. That’s a victim, a villain and a hero, right? So, if you’re looking at any situation, and you can identify that either you or someone else has cast those roles, then what you’re dealing with is drama. And that’s unnecessary. You have a situation, it can just be a situation, it doesn’t have to be drama, it doesn’t have to be a problem. It’s just a reality. But if you’re going to draw those roles, and then oh, then what happens? No, I’m not the villain, you’re the villain. I’m the victim. Or I’m the hero, you’re the victim
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:05:38
that is so common in families, right, with siblings, with parents with exes. I mean, a lot of those childhood a lot of those resentments and hostilities and, and stuff. I mean, that is from when you were eight and 10, and 12 years old, like that is way back those dynamics and, and you’re an adult, and it is hard to let that stuff go. But you can also say, I’m just not going to participate in this, or I’m going to opt out of this event, or I’m going to minimize my time there. Or, you know, I always say, you know, you should wake up every day and think, how can I take care of myself today? And sometimes that’s emotionally? How can you take care of yourself in this situation with your sister, your brother, your uncle, whatever it is? And sometimes the only way to do it is to Nacho and other ways is to talk to someone who you love who is you know, only spend time in a certain place like if the tension start, grab your kids grab the pet, oh, why?
I’m a great tip from my therapist about getting through those family things and avoiding the temptation to get into casting roles and creating drama. And taking up your position on the triangle as I do. Most of us like to be the hero, but we’ll settle for the victim, right. But if we’re bored, maybe we’ll be the villain just to start some drama. But anyway, if you find yourself feeling that way, you notice that drop the rope? Well, if you drop the rope and say, Fine, I’m dropping the rope, oh, you’re kind of being a victim, or you’re kind of being a hero. So, you’ve got to set it down. Anyway, what my therapist suggested is that she said, Take a value that you really, that’s really important to me. So, for me, that’s kindness. Kindness is usually my guiding value. And I’ll think, Okay, I’m going to show up at this event. My only goal is to be kind, no matter what happens, I’m going to honor my value of kindness. So it doesn’t matter if it’s appreciated, or acknowledged or validated doesn’t matter. I know, I’ve been kind of, I’m not going to be passive aggressive, because that’s not kind. I’m not going to be snarky, cuz that’s not kind. I’m going to show up and be kind.
And I remember standing on the steps of my parents’ house with a plate of muffins for my dad one time. And I realized, oh, gosh, I’m wanting his approval, I wanting to give him these muffins and have him say, oh, how wonderful. You’re such a good Baker. And I had to stop and think before you ring that doorbell gene, you’re here to be kind, giving him these muffins are kind and it doesn’t matter if he throws them out or eats them or likes them or doesn’t like it does not matter. Your only goal is to show kindness. And as I waited until I could really get in that mind space before I rang the doorbell and said, Hi, I brought you a treat, you know, and those are just some little reality checks that we can give ourselves like why am I here? What do I value? How can I honor my own values in this moment, and really resisting if you find yourself in the middle of a drama triangle? And you’ll hear it you hear it in conversations, you feel it in your family, you can feel yourself getting sucked into it. The way to dismantle a drama triangle is to take a step towards another person. So, if you are feeling the victim, and someone is being a villain towards you, or being a hero and saying gosh, you know, I’m here to rescue you, you poor thing, you need my help. They’re trying to cast you as a victim. They’re trying to draw you into a drama triangle. Take a step towards them. So, you can take a step towards them by saying You are such an amazing person, like let them be the hero. Step out of that victim thing and focus on them. Or if someone is trying to make you is trying to say that you are the villain. They’re trying to cast you as the villain and that they’re the victim. Take a step towards them. Gosh, yes, I really hear how this is hurtful for you like validate their feelings, you’re stepping towards them. And that shrinks your corner you know you want to take that triangle and make it a line. If you refuse your corner by stepping towards one of the other positions and empathizing with that person. You immediately poof, the triangles gone. The drama doesn’t exist.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:10:00
Well, you’re doing two things, right? You’re disarming them. Because they’re like, Whoa, I didn’t expect that you’re kind of taking away their leg that they were standing on. And you’re sort of killing them with kindness, right? It’s, it’s a couple of different strategies, you know, which is not easy to execute if you’re kind of dug in, but I can see how you just are kind of ending the conversation by not continuing to pull backwards.
Exactly. Yeah, don’t take in. Don’t take it.
Yeah, one thing I wanted to talk about was New Years. Because I personally, I think new traditions are great. And I have a couple that I absolutely love on New Year’s, and I want to hear about yours, too. So one thing that I found that I’m just the biggest fan of is flying wish paper, which you can get on Amazon, I swear to God, it’s like 12 bucks, or 15 bucks, there are a million different kinds. And it’s this little tissue paper that you bring out. And you get to write a wish on like, they’re like 12, or 15 pieces of paper, like I do it my husband, my daughter, my son, my mother in law, who’s always there at New Year’s, and then we do three just for the world. Like they’re not our personal ones, and you roll them up, and you put them on like a little plate, and you light them on fire, and then they go up in the air. And your wish just takes off. And my daughter loves to catch the ashes and a little cup, but that’s beside the point. That’s not a thing you have to do. But sometimes we share our wishes with each other. Sometimes we keep them private, we turn off all the lights to see the little ashes go up. I mean, it is beautiful and wonderful. And it’s a way of focusing on your dreams and the future. And you know, no alcohol required. I also make vision boards, I’m really indivision boards and, you know, quotes and things. And I make them every year. That’s sort of my New Year’s Eve tradition. And my daughter loves to do it with me. And so that’s something that’s really fun in terms of they’re not resolutions, right? vision boards aren’t resolutions, they are your dreams and your attentions and what you want to keep front of mind and they remind you for weeks and months ahead of what you want to bring into your life. And then the third thing is like get a little untraditional. Like, we used to ask my son like, what do you want to do on New Year’s Eve? Or what do you want. And he said, I want a birthday cake. So, like now we make a birthday cake every year. He’s 12. It’s just kind of fun. So, we do the fine wish paper I do vision boards, we do birthday cake. And then of course my daughter six. So, we do the East Coast, we live in Seattle, we pretend the East Coast. fireworks are actually midnight, then we send her to bed, and everybody just watches a movie afterwards. But that’s our New Year’s Eve and it’s less awesome.
One of my favorite New Year’s traditions is the word of the year to choose a word of the year. It’s something that an online group that I’m in does. And so that’s where I learned about it. And so every year, I start thinking about what’s my word of the year going to be for next year. So in past years, one of my words of the year was utilize. I mean, it’s, it’s a very, it’s very pragmatic word to choose. But
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:13:30
yeah, I was gonna say no, I love dance. But I thought no, I’m going to be a good, a good user of these tools that I have, you know, I’d been in recovery for a few years, I’d learned all this stuff. And my goal for the year was to use everything I had learned, like actually put this into practice, you know, it’s not enough to own every Brené Brown book, it’s not enough to listen to every self-help podcast, you’ve actually really got to try to use the things you’ve learned. So that was a really helpful word of the year. And this last year, my word was shine. And I had a coach Tell me a few years ago, oh, you hide your light. And because I often I don’t tell my friends and family, all the things that I do. And I don’t you know if I want it I want a beautiful award from she recovers a few years ago in New York. And I didn’t tell a bunch of people in my life about it, because I just, I didn’t want them to feel bad or know that about me or you know, I mean, it was such a lovely thing. And then they of course they would have been happy for me. But she said what you’re doing is you’re hiding your light and you need to shine. You’re not being your authentic self if you are not standing in your truth. And that was a really challenging thing for me, because I don’t want to be braggy and that you can shine without being braggy. Right. You can shine without being obnoxious, without being selfless. Promoting. And so that has been, I love how that’s just such a gentle idea of I’m not going to hide my light anymore. And I’m not going to it’s really a form of people pleasing, which is a form of manipulating others. So, in hiding your lie, you might think, Oh, I’m a bit of a martyr. But the truth is, you’re really kind of trying to manipulate other people and control how they see you, even if it is under the guise of being less than. So, choosing a word of the year is a great tradition. I love that. And then, just before we go, because it’s Thanksgiving here in Canada, I’ll tell you a tradition that I’ve done a few times that I really love. And that is, whoever you’re having for dinner, I bring these scrapbooking papers that are just kind of like a quarter page, and their pattern on one side, and I write each guests name at the top of the paper. And then I do a fan fold down it and I pass them around. And I ask each person to write something that they’re grateful for about the person whose name is on the paper. So, you might get five papers, and you just have to write something on each of them. Why you’re grateful for Campbell, why you’re grateful for Mallory. And so, you write a little thing, and then you fold it, and it gets passed around the room and the next person writes on it unfolds it. And then I take that, and I put that on that person’s plate, it becomes their name card on their plate. And when you sit down to dinner, you get to unfold this little list of lovely compliments about yourself of why the people at that table are grateful that you’re there. And I love that tradition. It’s just the sweetest, and it got everybody in that spirit of gratitude and love for each other. And if they don’t know somebody, they can say, I’m grateful you wear that tie. I love that tie. I’m grateful you’re here so I can get to know you. And it’s just it’s a really wonderful tradition. And so, I think even I love that I’m going to start.
Yeah, I recommend it. So, my family is coming for dinner in the garage. And we have a socially distanced dinner in the garage with heaters set up and lock the garage doors open and tables in different corners so that each COVID cluster family can sit together. So, we’ll be having this crazy banana 2020 Thanksgiving dinner, but I think that’s something really lovely that we can still do is that we can still share gratitude for one another.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:17:23
Yeah, well, Happy, Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you for coming on and sharing all these tips. I know they’re gonna be really useful.
Thank you for having me. And just so your listeners know, they can find out about this book and everything else. I do https://jeanmccarthy.ca/. And there’s a link there for books. There’s a link for my podcast and my blog and everything there. So that’s the simplest way to find it. And I just I really wish the best for everybody take care of yourselves out there. It’s not easy, being sober in a drinky world, but we can do it. And we’re not alone. And we are worth the extra effort that it takes.
Casey McGuire Davidson 1:18:01
Absolutely. All right.
Thank you, Jane.
So thank you for coming on here. I couldn’t appreciate it more.
Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit hellosomedaycoaching.com. And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more.
ABOUT THE HELLO SOMEDAY PODCAST
The Hello Someday Podcast helps busy and successful women build a life they love without alcohol. Host Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life coach and creator of The Sober Girl’s Guide to Quitting Drinking, brings together her experience of quitting drinking while navigating work and motherhood, along with the voices of experts in personal development, self-care, addiction and recovery and self-improvement.
Whether you know you want to stop drinking and live an alcohol free life, are sober curious, or are in recovery this podcast is for you.
In each episode Casey will share the tried and true secrets of how to drink less and live more.
Learn how to let go of alcohol as a coping mechanism, how to shift your mindset about sobriety and change your drinking habits, how to create healthy routines to cope with anxiety, people pleasing and perfectionism, the importance of self-care in early sobriety, and why you don’t need to be an alcoholic to live an alcohol free life.
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