Some people find that weddings can be a big challenge to experience sober. Especially the first time.
If you're in the first few weeks or even months of sobriety it might be better to avoid any situations, like weddings, that are likely to cause you to feel triggered to drink. Once being sober is programmed in to you at an unconscious level and you find yourself dealing with tricky situations 100% sure that you won’t drink, then you’re probably more ready to face the more challenging social situations.
Having said that, some people find that once they have made the decision to become sober, and they go into more challenging situations mindful and prepared, that they are easily able to cope, no matter what the triggers.
We all respond differently to similar situations. No one response is better or worse, they are simply all different. You will know yourself well enough to understand what situations you have the courage, determination and strategies to deal with successfully. And which situations are better avoided.
I’ve just got back sober from a big family wedding in the UK and am feeling great.
The prosecco was flowing, there were bottles galore of white and red on the tables and many people were enjoying drinking and getting drunk. There were plenty of triggers for me to want to reach for a drink, but at no point during the day was drinking a consideration.
One of the triggers was a brief moment of anxiety when food was served and I didn’t feel hungry. It felt like the start of an anxiety attack, which in the past I would have relieved with copious amounts of alcohol. However, I noticed what my thoughts were doing (or what they were saying), recognised they were just thoughts passing through, recognised they weren’t true and let them go. The dodgy moment lasted all of five minutes and I enjoyed the rest of the evening.
Another trigger was my automatic programming. Every other wedding I had been to, I had used drink to escape anxiety, to feel more confident, sociable and likeable. My eyes, mind and body would light up when the trays of fizz appeared. I would inwardly “claim” my bottle out of those on the dinner table, sometimes even deciding which colour to drink based on who else was on the table and which wine was likely to be less popular – that would be the one for me as there would be more of it. My conscious desire to remain sober had to override the programming I had instilled into my unconscious mind at previous weddings.
My drive to stay sober had to be stronger than the ingrained habit to reach for the prosecco and the wine. I’m at the stage in my sobriety where this is now easy and takes little thought. I don’t feel at risk in these situations but this wouldn’t have been the case two or even three months into my sobriety. I would have needed to prepare, or to have found an excuse to not go.
We left the wedding reception early (about 20:30) and came back to the hotel I'm staying in as we were giving my partner’s parents a lift back to the hotel and they needed to get to bed early. My partner decided to return to the wedding (it was his niece getting married and all his family were there) and I decided to stay in the hotel room and get an early night (I'd had next to no sleep the night before and I was tired).
I mention this because it is important, whatever we are dealing with, to look after ourselves, to nurture ourselves and give ourselves what we need. I knew I needed an early night and a good night’s sleep. I knew that, although going back to the wedding and conversing and dancing would have been fun, it was more healthy for me to stay in and catch up on the sleep I missed out on the night before.
Plus, if truth be told, I don’t really enjoy big social gatherings, I had little in common with some of the people at the event and felt like I had done my bit.
So, it’s bed, book and herbal tea for me and then breakfast (as much as I can eat 😊) with a clear head both physically and mentally. No guilt, no blank-spots, no shame. Just clarity, energy and satisfaction.
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