How to navigate your first normal summer in two years. Have you been sober a while but haven’t actually told anyone? Do you find summer and drinking outside triggering? Chip and Veronica discuss how to navigate a new normal in sobriety.
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Romanticizing outside drinking is a really big thing.
The media and advertisements show us young, beautiful people drinking at a barbecue or at an outdoor party. Our rose-colored memories show us happy times drinking and watching sports in the sunshine.
The part we don’t see and that our memories selectively filter out is the making a fool of ourselves, bad choices, and poor boundaries side of it.
As we get closer to summer and reduced pandemic restrictions, it’s time to think about getting back to your new normal. In this episode, Chip and I are talking about breaking the summertime-alcohol associations many of us have and how to set yourself up for success so you can keep prioritizing your sobriety and create a healthy new normal that supports you going forward.
As the weather starts warming up, seeing people sitting outside at a bar with lager glasses sweating in the sunshine can be absolutely triggering for many of us.
Outside drinking was the trigger that lingered the most in my sobriety.
I remember being about four years sober, living in Cambridge in the UK. It’s a wonderful place to be, especially in the summer. With daylight until about 11 pm, there’s so much to do from ancient pubs on the river and beautiful scenery to lots of outdoor festivals and activities.
For me, whenever football was on it brought back memories of having a drink and enjoying the match. Luckily, by that time I was solid enough in my sobriety that when the thought came to mind it was quickly followed by the reality that that refreshing drink would be followed by several more, then cocaine, then I’d get a bunch of strangers to go to a nightclub with me, and then I’d wake up and feel horrible.
All of that would replay in the space of about 20 seconds in my head.
Another often hidden trigger can be alcohol-free drinks.
There are so many alcohol-free choices available now including alcohol-free wine or alcohol-free beer but we always say approach that with caution.
Even after 22 years, it’s something that I still approach with caution. They can be triggering for people so tread lightly.
Navigating a new socially sober dynamic
For people who got sober starting in 2020, you probably haven’t had the opportunity to navigate many situations sober. So even though you have a significant time sober under your belt, many of your friends may not be aware.
The types of situations that pre-pandemic would have cropped up within the first 6 months sober, now are coming up a year, 18 months, or more into recovery.
With lifted restrictions, friends will assume you’re going to come to the parties and drink like before and you’ll have to navigate a new dynamic with them even though your sobriety isn’t so new anymore.
You’ll start to see how different people react and find that some people may really struggle with your sobriety.
On top of that, the past two years have really changed a lot of people. Many people have gone through shifts that are quite profound and life-changing so it won’t be like picking up where you left off at the end of 2019.
It’s your job to assess your relationships and figure out who is safe and supportive and who it would be better to part ways with.
As you start to go out and socialize more, it’s important to keep your expectations open.
It’s highly unlikely that you’ll have the same dynamic as you did before so make sure that you’re comfortable with what you’re doing and why you’re doing it and that your expectations are realistic.
Before you go into these situations, think about how they might react and what your response will be. Know what your non-negotiable boundaries are and be prepared to share and enforce them.
Use the tools we’ve spoken about and remember the cost-benefit analysis of your drinking and why you decided to get sober in the first place.
Going to go into this summer and navigating your new normal, having a community is immensely helpful.
Having other sober people who are going through or who have been through similar experiences makes all the difference.
When you first find a sober community you connect with it can be such a wonderful revelation to feel like we have people who get us and to feel that real feeling of belonging.
You don’t need to feel weird or strange or left out because you know you’ve got your people, even if they’re not here right now.
That sense of belonging is crucial.
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