Let’s party and stay sober!
This November is especially exciting for me because I'll be celebrating two years of sobriety on the 5th (yes, today)! Cheesy smile here. It's interesting that this sober birthday comes on the cusp of Thanksgiving, given it is a holiday typically slathered in gratitude gravy. And, it's amazing to look back and think about how much personal, internal growth can occur in such a short amount of time.
I'm immensely grateful for making the life-changing decision to quit cold turkey. Nothing about it is easy, but it gets easier...if you allow it. Once I acknowledged the fact that I had to do a 180...and actually committed to it, I began to feel an unexpected freedom. It's almost like a virtual door magically opened before me and I chose to walk through it. The day I broke up with alcohol, the door shut behind me and hit me in the ass. It hurt quite a bit, but little did I know then that I was pushed out to find my way home...
Finding yourself again (or at any point, for that matter) is challenging, but each new discovery allows you to dive in and explore deeply into the core of who you really are and what really drives you. I, like so many others, spent so long building my unnecessary fortress shell for protection. From what? I'm learning every day. It just takes time and effort to chip away and get back to the foundation in order to rebuild.
One of the biggest challenges for me in the "discovery zone" is understanding that I have challenges with anxiety. There...I said it. Just the written word makes me squirm a little. Maybe it's the X in the middle - I'm not sure. In any case, it's real. And, it reared its nasty head after I stopped the silly sipping.
Sometimes, basic tasks or planned events will punch me with a heavily-weighted basket of ingredients - worry, stress and fear. My mind spins through a cornucopia of tiring "what-ifs" and imaginary concerns. Anxiety causes such a dreadful feeling of panic that momentarily freezes my focus, creativity and concentration and stops me from performing to the highest of my ability.
I looked to the poison bottles and pours as a straight-up coping mechanism. I adapted to avoiding the real issues or putting them off till later, ultimately making it worse. I basically got used to avoiding things that stressed me out. I hid my anxiety episodes by ritually drinking through them and functioning on numb status. I did it too well, for far too long. Avoidance adaptation. I'm no doctor (and, this is not even a real term, yet - lol), but I believe this is a big part of why I drank on and off for so many years and also why I was able to give it up like flipping a switch.
I am not, by any means, trying to simplify alcoholism because it's a beast. I was able to let it go, but I definitely realize that everyone experiences through their own difficult recovery process. And, I'll be very clear - mine has been hard. I just hope that my experience can add another perspective piece to the alcohol use disorder puzzle.
Working through the paralysis from anxiety is still a struggle, but at least I understand what it is now so I can rationally work through it. It's getting easier and will continue to as I move forward on my journey...one day at a time.
One of the best ways I've found to cope is simply to slow the f down, breathe, take it one step at a time, face crap head-on (knowing that it always makes things easier) and prepare earlier whenever possible to relieve stress. Which is what brings me to share the following as we roll into making plans for the season...
For so many years, holiday time (for me) meant knocking back a couple of glasses of wine before moving on to the fancy cocktails and “adult” drinks...only to forget half of the lovely party conversations the next day. The only beverage alternative was…well, there wasn’t one.
Fast forward to 2022 and things are way more interesting in the NA drink department!
In preparation for your festive parties and get-togethers, you’ll want to stock up early on some key NA supplies. It’s always a nice gesture when hosts think about their guests so everyone feels included and comfortable. Plus, there’s bound to be a designated driver or two who will appreciate your thoughtful consideration!
Here are five quick tips to get your party started:
1. Prepare a do-it-yourself bar with several interesting choices and make it fun!
For a larger gathering, try to offer at least one NA option for each of the following:
NA spirits such as whiskey, gin or tequila (the vodkas are still a work in progress, imho). You cannot go wrong with Monday whiskey or gin. As for tequila, try Ritual Zero Proof if you are planning to mix cocktails because it's got a nice burn that mimics tequila. For a Campari-like tasting apéritif, go for Lyre's Italian Orange!
sparkling water, of course! From my experience, people who no longer drink really enjoy the bubbles. The list is endless.
2. Prepare one "seasonal" cocktail that works for all of your guests and can easily turn into an alcoholic option with minimal substitutions (stay tuned for a forthcoming recipe blog post).
3. Serve NA cocktails using the same glassware variety that you would for any other sophisticated libations. The presentation matters and guests want to hold party drinks!
4. If you are going to a gathering, BYONA (Bring Your Own NA)! Spread awareness and positive NA Vibes wherever you can! I often pack a couple of the Lyre's RTD (ready-to-drink) cans. My favorite is the G & T, but you cannot go wrong with the Amalfi Spritz (like an apéritif - Bittersweet orange and peach) or Classico (NA champagne).
5. Arrange a garnish bar so guests can prepare their own drinks.
Join me (in spirit) - ha - for an unforgettable NAvember. 🤪
Enjoy. Engage. Remember November!
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